Sphere Entertainment Co debuted The Sphere Experience on October 6, a signature content category featured at Sphere – the “next-generation entertainment medium” that opened on September 29 with U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere.
The Sphere Experience is a “new genre” of live entertainment that is said to transform the shared experience and put Sphere’s 22nd century immersive technologies on full display. The approximately two-hour program begins in the Atrium, which tells a universal story of how culture, technology, science, art, and the natural world have been intertwined throughout human history. Through one-of-a-kind immersive experiences created specifically for Sphere, guests will gain a better understanding of how technology amplifies our human potential. The Sphere Experience then continues in the main venue bowl for a muti-sensory cinematic experience at an unparalleled scale – Darren Aronofsky’s Postcard from Earth.
“Every aspect of Sphere was designed to transport audiences to new places, both real and imagined, and The Sphere Experience is where that vision comes together in its most integrated form,” said James L Dolan, executive chairman and CEO of Sphere Entertainment. “From the moment guests enter the venue, Sphere’s next-generation technologies will create an unforgettable journey, which includes a sci-fi exploration of our planet via Darren Aronofsky’s Postcard from Earth.”
Darren Aronofsky added: “Sphere is a temple to the arts. It’s not built for sports, it’s built for performance and for this new moving image medium: this experiential cinema. I can’t wait to share Postcard from Earth with the world.”
The Sphere Experience journey is curated by five humanoid robots – named Aura – that serve as interactive guides to Sphere, each focusing on one fundamental aspect of human ability: connection, creativity, innovation, longevity, and productivity. Aura was developed using next-generation technology in robotic mechanics and artificial intelligence.
Aura guides guests through an interactive demonstration of Sphere Immersive Sound powered by HOLOPLOT which shows how beamforming technology can simultaneously send unique audio content to specific locations, allowing guests to hear completely different content – such as languages or instruments. Sphere Immersive Sound is touted as the most advanced concert-grade audio system in the world – using 3D audio beamforming technology and wave field synthesis to deliver targeted, crystal-clear and uniform audio to every seat in Sphere.
The Atrium experience ties directly into the main cinematic feature – Postcard from Earth – a first-of-its-kind immersive film by Academy Award-nominated director Darren Aronofsky. Postcard from Earth is designed as a portrait of Earth re-imagined as a sci-fi experience. The film brings audiences on a voyage spanning all seven continents, and deep into the ocean, high into the mountains, into the eye of a storm, and out into space.
Postcard from Earth takes full advantage of Sphere’s experiential, next-generation technologies to transport audiences and engage the senses, making them feel like they have traveled to new worlds without ever leaving their seats in Las Vegas. This includes utilising the interior LED display plane that wraps up, over, and around the audience to create a fully immersive visual environment. At 16K x 16K, it is the highest resolution LED screen in the world. Through Sphere Immersive Sound, a variety of technologies, including beamforming, enable audio to be directed to specific locations at a volume that remains consistent – from point of origin to destination. Sphere’s audio system also allows sound designers to create a virtual point of origin and place it in a precise spatial location – meaning audio can be directed to the listener so that it sounds close, even though the source is far away.
Postcard from Earth is also the first production to feature the venue’s multi-sensory 4D technologies. This includes immersive seats with an infrasound haptic system that will use deep vibrations so guests can feel the experience – such as the rumble of thunder or a soaring rocket launch. Sphere also utilises environmental effects to rouse the senses – the feeling of a cool breeze and familiar scents – which help audiences conjure the feeling of being there.
The size and scale of Sphere required a playback engine like no other system in the world. Behind the scenes at Sphere, 7thSense’s new suite of products, collectively known as the ‘Performer Range,’ collaboratively breathes life into the LED displays.
“Sphere’s LED displays redefine the meaning of immersive,” said David Dibble, CEO of MSG Ventures, a division of Sphere Entertainment. “On the interior, never has an LED screen combined this immense scale and field of view with this level of clarity, while the exterior is a dynamic canvas that has already become a new global landmark. 7thSense has been a valued partner in delivering high-quality video playback solutions for MSG for over a decade, and we trusted the team to work closely with us and push their technologies even further to meet the unique demands of Sphere. The result is an experience that takes audiences from simply watching content on an LED screen, to feeling like they have been transported to new places.”
Richard Brown, CTO, 7thSense added: “With the opening of Sphere in Las Vegas, we are excited to introduce our new Performer range, including Actor media server, Juggler pixel processor, and Conjurer – our generative media solution. Developed over several years with a focus on the evolving landscape of video technology, and the challenging workflow requirements associated with a media storage and playback system needed for a project the size of Sphere, these products are intricately designed to leverage SMPTE ST 2110 IP video streaming.
“The pre-rendered content at Sphere is stored on a network-attached storage (NAS) solution and streamed in real-time to dozens of media servers, which each output 4K video at 60 frames per second over an ST 2110 distribution network – a world-first in terms of technology capability at this scale for a live entertainment venue. 7thSense’s Juggler pixel processors handle combining playback media with other video sources, such as cameras, to create overall compositions that tell larger-than-life immersive stories. The integration of these products into Sphere isn’t just a step, but a leap forward in our journey of innovation. I am immensely proud of our team and everything we have accomplished to help bring Sphere to life.”
7thSense has worked with the team at MSG since 2011, when the company’s award-winning-technologies were used as part of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes in New York. Since then, the 7thSense and MSG collaboration has produced several other project installations.