For vacationers on the road to the Choctaw Casino Resort, the guest experience begins on the approach to the hotel, with the series of LED-illuminated, color-changing pylons that flank the boulevard. Drawing up to the resort, motorists see a circle of nine obelisks around an entry fountain that incorporates not only dramatic water effects, but lighting and fire. These scenic elements point the way, provide a sense of arrival, and set the mood more distinctively than any signage could do.
Inside, guests are greeted with a second fountain — a dazzling water-curtain programmed to change colors and water quantity as a kinetic backdrop to a buffalo sculpture. The synchronized magic of all these scenic effects – as well as the entire exterior LED wash lighting of the building — is performed by ETC Unison® Mosaic show controllers. The Mosaic units control the architectural-lighting fixtures, fountain pumps, rain curtains, and underwater uplights. They are interconnected with an ETC SmartSwitch™ relay panel, an ETC Unison Smartlink® DRd Rack and are networked using the ETC Net3™ ACN-based control-protocol system.
Lighting-design and theater-consulting company Visual Terrain, under contract to FlintCo Inc. and WorthGroup Architects, specified the ETC products as part of their role in providing system design, lighting layout and programming for the suite of effects. “We programmed some 19 different looks that change out every five minutes, and had some 14 effect shows for predetermined holidays,” says Michael Mahlum, senior project designer at Visual Terrain, who along with colleague Jen Goldstein, programmed the six Mosaic controllers — three primary and three backup, paired for redundancy.
The Mosaic units interface with the building, a digital music-playback unit, and other elements via RS-232 serial commands. They interface with the water pumps using a DMX-to-analog converter and employ an RIO 4/4 from the Mosaic line to control the start and stop times of the fire rings in the entry fountain. The operator interface is simplified to a single point of control. Visual Terrain configured a custom Web interface, for use on a computer, which allows the user to alter the regular programming or suspend it for special events.
“It was really pretty amazing how we were able to control the whole system via Mosaic,” says Mahlum. “You can turn the entire building on and off with the 48 relays, and they allow you to cycle the power on the LEDs and reset the system if necessary. They also give the client the ability to turn on individual elements if they want to, which provided the flexibility to program singular shows or looks that could be controlled independently using just components, or as a whole with all elements being active. Tying it all together with the ETC’s Net3 nodes allowed us to profile what DMX values went to which area, using Ethernet to distribute DMX to the entire building. Without the Mosaic as the controller for the system, we would have needed double the time to program many of the dynamic effects. And as always, ETC tech support was very helpful if we encountered any issues in the field.”
The elaborate fountains and scenic elements were part of the venue’s recent expansion. The Choctaw Nation invested $300 million to enlarge and upgrade the resort (the property originated as a bingo parlor in 1987), which now boasts 111,000 square feet of gaming space and 204,000 square feet of hospitality space and opened in February 2010. Visitors come from the primary market of the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, and beyond.