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New realities for iconic landmark

Hilton Hotel Glasgow has transformed its 944sqm ballroom into an immersive, digital canvas to aid the creation of event experiences. Installation was given the full lowdown

Hilton Hotel Glasgow is an iconic landmark in the city and has been for over 28 years. It is home to the busiest ballroom in Scotland, which is frequently booked for award celebrations, as an inspirational conference setting, and a theatre destination.

The venue underwent a refurbishment 10 years ago but an ambitious new project was intended to create a fully immersive experience for guests, with every inch of walls illuminated with imagery, and content aligned and perfectly blended for a fully immersive experience when guests step inside.

Different vision
Integrator Vision Events Glasgow was charged with bringing this vision to life – a very different project to their usual rental and staging engagements, according to managing director Malky Todd.“Our core business has always been live events but over the last 12 months as the Covid pandemic hit and no events were taking place, we were keen to diversity into the installation market,” he explains.

“We already worked with Hilton Hotel Glasgow as their preferred audio visual supplier for events, so jumped at the chance to take on this project when they asked us to look into solutions for them. We have used BenQ’s LU930 BenQ projectors before and the price point combined with the vibrancy and high quality of the projected imagery is a winning combination.”

Fine details
Twenty LU930 BenQ projectors were deployed to realise the immersive experience, with the manufacturer’s BlueCore laser technology unleashing the full WUXGA resolution and creating an ultra-high contrast ratio of 3,000,000 for true deep blacks, rich colours and fine details.

The BlueCore laser diodes boost luminous flux into the light tunnel, improving light efficacy to 5,000 lumens, according to BenQ. The company’s LumiExpertTM technology automatically detects the ambient light conditions of the space and adjusts the projector’s brightness to maximise clarity and comfort.

“Having a laser light source was very important to us, as with multiple blended projections you would quickly notice any degradation and fading from a lamp based light source,” said Todd. “With the reliable 20,000 hour lifetime of the LU930, we can be confident that the adjacent projectors will stay matched during their entire operation.

“The laser light source also means that the projectors start up instantly with no lag time, ensuring a prompt start for events and eager organisers wanting to see their content for the first time.”

The installation team took three days to install the ceiling mounted projectors, each accompanied by a Kramer TP-580Rxr extended-reach HDBaseT receiver which extends the video signals to up to 100m over CAT copper cables at up to 4K@60Hz video resolution.

The signal feeds into a Kramer VM4DT HDBaseT extender distributor which equalizes and reclocks the signal and distributes it to four identical HDBaseT outputs. These are controlled by a Kramer VS44DT HDMI/HDBaseT matrix switcher. Content for the whole space is streamed by three BrightSign media players and one PC input.

Alignment took just one extra day thanks to the built-in two-dimensional keystone correction in the projectors. This gives a range of ±30o on both horizontal and vertical axes to counteract the trapezoid effect. Additionally, ‘Corner Fit’ control allows adjustment of each corner respectively, for perfectly aligned image geometry.

Immersive experience
The immersive experience is being offered to all organisers in addition to their event package, with options to utilise existing content – including snowy scenes for Christmas parties, fiery furnaces for events that are hotting up, or to create their own unique setting, perhaps in conjunction with Vision Events Glasgow. The company can create bespoke graphic content tailored to any event, providing a platform for brand promotion, to add value to sponsorship and to convey key event messaging.

“All content is uploaded to the BrightSign media players which are synchronised with an iPad for familiar control on a user-friendly interface,” explains Todd. “We can also access the system remotely to upload and manage content.”

Managed simplicity
Management and maintenance of the projectors is simplified thanks to the IP5X certified dust-proof mechanism and LAN control capability, allowing them to be paired with wireless devices to access the content and manage alignment.

The audio to accompany the projections is installed on a case-by-case basis through the Vision Events Glasgow rental division, as requirements vary depending on the style of the event.

“Knowing how hotel event spaces work certainly gives us an advantage in understanding what’s required with regards to installed equipment,” explains Todd.

“The ballroom space can be utilised for a conference, exhibition, award evening, fashion show or even as a conventional ballroom! Each of these have varying sound requirements so we work with organisers individually to get this right for them, often devising a solution that allows us to transform the space throughout the day, from a conference venue in the daytime and into an awards reception space in the evening.”

Background audio
However, the foyer, where guests typically gather before the doors to the grand ballroom are opened, has had the benefit of a new audio solution to deliver background music, compère announcements and paging applications.

This features five Bose Freespace loudspeakers with a 4.5in full-range, paired with Bose Freespace amplifiers to elevate the audio experience. Bose Freespace subwoofers deliver the low frequency signals with deep bass down to 40 Hz without audible distortion. Volume levels are easily controlled with the Bose CC2-EU Volume Wall Control.

“We are blown away by the end result – it’s everything we ever imaged and more,” says Calum Ross, general manager at Hilton Hotel Glasgow.

“It’s so rewarding to see this vision finally become a reality. Our launch has been delayed due to Covid but we’re looking forward to seeing the first events taking place, where the imaginations of brands and organisers will take us and the faces of guests when they  step through the doors.”