The Chateau Nightclub at Paris, Las Vegas maximizes its prime location on the Las Vegas Strip right under the Eiffel Tower. The nightclub and its dynamic elements of theatrical spectacle will dazzle the night-life, while during the day the venue is well-suited to host a corporate client banquet and its presentation/entertainment needs. Switching back and forth with state-of-the-art audio and video for each, has become a more straightforward process this past year with the installation of a new AV system and control panels featuring products from QSC and Crestron.
For a year now, Joe Garcia has been the Corporate Technical Director for the properties the Chateau Nightclub owns, which includes many associated retail stores and restaurants. The Chateau Nightclub is a three-story structure including the Chateau Terrace on the rooftop underneath the Eiffel Tower and the Sugar Factory American Brasserie with flagship retail store on the first floor.
“This is a 24-hour operation that functions as a nightclub on multiple nights of the week,” said Garcia. “Then during the day, it is a completely different environment as far as video and audio needs with digital signage and other media.” In the cutting-edge nightclub, the Chateau’s 15,000-square-foot main room has an oversized spiral staircase, 10-foot tall marble fireplace, elevated DJ booth and giant LED screen that spans the entire length of the back wall. As opposed to a typical nightclub or music venue that is driven by the entertainment of the evening, the atmosphere at the Chateau changes from day to night. “We require more of an enterprise-type functionality so we installed a very robust system,” said Garcia. “The environment is very demanding and we have to be able to adapt to whatever the task is: entertainment or basic business needs.”
Every company that is hosted by the Chateau for a banquet or a company event has a unique need. Some are more business-oriented, with a massive award ceremony requiring PowerPoint presentations and talking heads on the giant LED screen. Some are corporate but still just want to have a good time with some cocktails and some food. “We have a snappy banquets department through the American Brasserie downstairs, so we do everything,” said Garcia. “We have a large Microsoft banquet next month and the next day can be totally different.” That is the banquet side. On the flipside is the Chateau Nightclub with DJs, huge nationally-known acts like Nicki Minaj and LL Cool J, and all the audio needs that go along with an upscale nightclub.
Zero lag time is important for Garcia in making changes to suit each zone and requirement. The entire building is matrixed utilizing the proprietary technology of the QSC Q-Sys Integrated System Platform, which is installed in the main portion of the Chateau Nightclub. The Crestron DM-MD32X32 Digital Media Switcher is in the main area and the Crestron DM-MD16x16 is on the first floor. The digital graphics engines are all 12-inch touchpanels around the venue and there is a wireless touchpanel as well. “We go in to our Crestron system and say: ‘Hey, today we’re going to need smooth, jazzy music for the lounge.’ It’s got to be able to change over immediately,” said Garcia. “What’s different about the Q-Sys for me is its zero latency,” said Garcia. “That’s a big game changer! In addition, everything integrates very easily with the Crestron controls. It’s a simple button press and you got everything going on.”
Everything is networked together with fiber connections between the Crestron and the Q-Sys: the first floor and the two levels of the second floor. There are three amp (rack) rooms between those floors and there is an additional one on the roof level. “While the Q-Sys does have the ability to set up control panels, we use the Crestron general control interface,” said Garcia. “We have a Crestron system that controls the audio and video matrixing as well as level adjustments.”
The rooftop space is tied in via Crestron and the Q-Sys system to the rest of the club so when they have special events on the roof, they are able to pipe in the audio down to the first or second floor. The night of the Chateau’s one-year anniversary party, a company had a big awards ceremony banquet on the roof during the day. The audio from the banquet was piped in from the roof to the main room that was their entrance into the building. “Then we flipped that over,” said Garcia. “We had a DJ from 6:00pm to 10:00pm and then at 10:00pm we post it to the nightclub. We used the Crestron, switched over to our DJs from the banquet audio feed, and we’re good to go.”
Particularly for audio, Garcia has a four-way sound system inside so he can line up his cross over points inside the compression mastering and limiting. It tightens and cleans up the sound, no matter what the DJ is doing. “One thing I am able to do inside of Q-Sys that I haven’t been able to replicate efficiently in any other DSP, is to keep the DJs in line regarding their abuse of mixers,” said Garcia. “We have matrixing going everywhere and I had to be able to keep the levels in check so as to not blow smaller speakers when I’m running music to different areas.” Garcia was able to fabricate a four-band multi presser, similar to a mastering compressor used in a studio. “The fact that I can see everything going on real time as it’s functioning is something that other companies can’t do,” he said.
The same goes for the video matrixing and switching. “When we have live performances in the nightclub, I pop in my videocamera and pop that in to the Crestron interface and that ties in to our video feed,” said Garcia. “We have a motorized projector screen and the performance is shot on to that. For people who can’t be inside, we run it on the TVs that are outside. We can pipe over the audio as well, so you have audio and video streaming in different locations around the club of the performances going on inside.”
With every moment of the club accounted for day and night, the possibilities for the venue have no where to go but up. Garcia sees his system at Chateau to be futureproof. “The system is so expandable that even if they wanted to add another 20 stories on to the building at some point, you can using the infrastructure of that QSC core already there,” he said. “You’re just getting some additional IO frames as opposed to having to get a bunch of separate DSPs for each floor or each room and figuring out a way to get them all together. The robustness of the system, its expandability and low cost of ownership are definitely the big pluses.”
Q&A with Joe Garcia, Corporate Technical Director for Chateau Nightclub and its properties
How will this AV system affect your network?
As far as our IT scheme goes, the networks are independent. The data infrastructure is on its own network. AV is a sophisticated one, especially for this type of business. We are running a fully redundant rig for audio and control systems. It has been a life-saver.
How can you justify the investment to your company?
Ease of use and maintenance. The new installation featuring the Q-Sys system definitely turned out to be a time-saver in the grand scheme of things. Even the greatest system in the world can go down for one reason or another. With the redundancies we have in place, we don’t worry about down time or worry about lost revenue due to system failure.
Will all the users in the organization be easily able to use the system?
As far as the system goes, its set-up is fairly simple. With the Crestron control panels and basic button presses, you get what you need. It’s not difficult to use.
How reliable is the system? Have you needed to use the redundancy features?
Yes. Initially, when the system was first installed and we were having some hiccups, the redundancy features made sure there was no down time. Turned out we had a bad fiber optic; that was a ghost in the system. Had we not had a redundant system, we would have been down until we figured out what the heck was going on with it.
We were able to locate that the problem was a dropout between rack room 1 and rack room 2. That was possible because with the QSC Q-Sys, you can see your racks and processors. They start blinking when you get package dropouts. The fiber optic installer shined a laser light down the pipeline. It’s a good thing it wasn’t one of the permanently installed hard lines. It was a tiny one-meter fiber optic jumper going from network switch into a converter. It was the needle in a haystack.