When Retail Developer Meraas wanted to create an unrivalled destination in Dubai they turned to Montreal-based studio Float4, Christie partner XYZ Cultural Technology and Christie Pandoras Box.

Dubai is not a city known for half measures, and the City walk project is no exception. The scale may have been immense - more than thirty LED displays in twenty-one different formats and nearly thirty high-res projectors - but the challenge of controlling them was bigger still.

Christie Pandoras Box is synchronising more than 100 million pixels of Float4 content at Meraas City Walk in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. City Walk was conceived as a destination par-excellence for both locals and tourists complete with upscale shopping, dining and living with a park-like ambience by Meraas, a Dubai-based holding company with extensive assets in real estate, retail, hospitality and entertainment.

Large-scale installation

Meraas approached Float4, an award-winning studio that designs and produces site-specific interactive multimedia installations, to create a digital feature for City Walk. The scope grew to encompass an outdoor digital experience that includes more than 30 LED installations, nearly 30 projectors, and a water fountain show that uses water screens. All totalled, there are over 100 million pixels that cover a space the size of 12 football fields.

"Meraas wanted to differentiate themselves," says Alexandre Simionescu, co-founder of Float4.  "One of the things they wanted to do was create a location that was pedestrian-friendly. It's not something that you find in Dubai, so they're very innovative. They like to question things beyond 'can we do it bigger' and ask 'can we do it better?'"

Float4 worked with XYZ Cultural Technology, a long-time Christie partner, to design a system powerful enough to synchronize and control all 100 million pixels.  XYZ used Christie Pandoras Box Players, Managers and Widget Designer to manage the entire digital experience.

Eric Cyr, partner and co-founder, XYZ, says, "Christie Pandoras Box includes the strong technologies that let us achieve a synchronised and immersive space of this size.  It is a server with strong acquisition capabilities that can keep all these playbacks in sync, and has a strong logic to create the schedules we need."

Seamless content

Christie Pandoras Box allowed XYZ to seamlessly manage varied, scheduled content – including ambiance, advertising, and show content – on different surfaces while providing proof of playback to sync it all together. "There's a daytime and night show, ambience, publicity – we were able to give them a system that synced. The nice thing with Christie Pandoras Box is that one system always has the same content as the others. Just by changing the matrix and IP address, we were able to have a spare player in two minutes," adds Cyr.

Producing and managing content throughout the 1.8 kilometre space was not without its challenges. "When producing digital content for these types of installations, you need to understand what the technical implications are, so you can effectively take your idea and execute it. That's one of the challenges: how do we produce content that can be used for advertising, ambience and shows on a different set of displays and make them work together?" says Simionescu. "What do we do with an 85-metre wall, and the projection on the floor that's 100 metres long, and then the water fountain? All are different aspect ratios and different technologies. It combined a lot of technologies in one place."

Mahesh Singh, Regional Sales Manager for the Middle East, commented, "City Walk has certainly succeeded in making themselves a stand out destination. The combination of the water fountain, projection and LED screens – and the sheer scale of the installation – is truly a spectacle. It was a hugely ambitious project yet the complexity and synchronisation is perfectly executed with Christie Pandoras Box."

The goal for Float4 and XYZ was to create a destination for locals and tourists alike, which is no small feat in a city like Dubai with its many attractions. By focusing on how Meraas could set themselves apart, City Walk has become an outdoor digital spectacle like no other.