When looking for lighting installations that visually capture the raw energy of dance music, the owners of the world’s most legendary nightclubs know where to turn. Dublin-based Audiotek has designed, installed and maintained lighting schemes for a host of super clubs, including London’s Fabric and God’s Kitchen in Birmingham.
The Irish audio-visual specialists have also created breath-taking lighting designs for some of Las Vegas’ most opulent night spots, such as OMNIA in the iconic Caesars’ Palace Hotel and JEWEL, at ARIA Resort and Casino.
Offering exceptional sound, lighting and video, the company always strives to push the boundaries of what is technically possible. Technical director Chris Kmiec describes the design at Omnia as a prime example of this ethos in practice.
“On that project we brought U2’s set designer ‘Willie’ Williams onto our team to work with us on ‘thinking outside the box’. This resulted in us designing a ten-tonne sculpture that moves over the heads of the crowd on the dancefloor.”
Part of a $107 million club redesign, this jaw-dropping sculpture is a gigantic, kinetic chandelier that takes up most of the 75,000-square-foot-venue’s ceiling. Built by US stage engineering specialists TAIT Technologies, it consists of a series of concentric circles that rotate, rise and fall around a dazzling cascade of crystal droplets. It is such an extraordinary feat of engineering that Williams compares its unique spectacle to a spaceship in flight. Even in the highly competitive Las Vegas club scene, it stands out as a truly directional piece of grandiose design.
Established nearly 30 years ago, Audiotek is a byword for innovation in the club industry. As well as its Dublin head office, the company has offices in the Guildford, New York and Las Vegas but keeps the core team small and integrated. For larger projects, Audiotek has a raft of trusted, specialist freelancers on call – to ensure there are no gaps when it comes to technical expertise.
Owner and CEO Frank Murray works out of Dublin. Mega clubs aside, one of his favourite ever projects was designing the lighting for the luxury Clarence Hotel in Dublin when it was refurbished by its owners, Bono and The Edge of U2. Len Bolger, the company’s installation director, was a rave culture technical pioneer – responsible for installing a massive JBL sound system into God’s Kitchen in the early noughties. Based out of Guildford, Chris Kmiec not only leads on UK projects, but has been key in bringing Audiotek’s services to the USA – including the trailblazing installations at the OMNIA and JEWEL clubs, which are both owned by the Abu-Dhabi-based Hakkasan Group.
Concerning technical kit, the company always uses Avolites lighting control and media servers. Kmiec says this is down to the “simple user interface” of its Titan software, which allows designers to bring their artistic ideas to life intuitively. He is also, however, a fan of the British brand’s customer service and innovating culture.
“The support from Avolites over the years and the introduction of video with Ai have meant we’ve never needed to look anywhere else,” explains Kmiec.
As the global clubbing industry has grown and evolved over three decades, Audiotek has led on so many trends, including video. Today it is an integral part of the company’s repertoire.
“Video has now become an integral element in all the high end nightclub design projects we do,” says Kmiec. “The Ai media server series from Avolites has been a big factor in this for us, most recently featuring in our designs for OMNIA and JEWEL. JEWEL sees total integration between video and lights, with the Titan/Ai platforms essential to its successful operation and the overall immersive experience.”
Kmiec refers to JEWEL’s custom control system which integrates video content, powered by Ai media servers, with a wall of dual-sided Ayrton Dream Panel fixtures controlled by Avolites consoles. The Titan Key Frame Shapes feature of 2d points within the video is directly linked by the Ai media server to the fixtures’ movement. The Titan console constantly receives video updates from the media server and uses these to control the timeline of any Key Frame Shape, ensuring the wall of vibrant panels morphs along with the visuals.
Photo: Al Powers
As for the future, the Audiotek team is gearing up for growth, having recently taken on new staff in both its UK and US offices. Now largely able to select new projects, the core team is already on site in Bali, Indonesia, working hard on a top secret, ‘massive’ installation. Kmiec guarantees that once it’s up and running it will show that, in the nightclub world, Audiotek’s lighting designs remain in a class of their own.