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Execs from MSG Entertainment and Burbank city officials came together on Thursday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open MSG Sphere Studios, a massive dome with adjacent production and office space near Bob Hope Airport that will house development of original content and immersive experiences for MSG Sphere venues.
The first such venue is under construction at the Venetian in Las Vegas and scheduled to open during the second half of 2023.
When completed, the Las Vegas sphere is expected to be the largest spherical structure in the world, at 336 feet tall and 516 feet wide, and serve as a radical new entertainment venue that can accommodate up to 20,000 spectators. Construction costs have been estimated at $1.826 billion, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The Las Vegas Sphere is expected to house a record 160,000-square-foot wraparound LED display on the interior, while the exterior will be coated with a record 580,000-square-foot exterior LED display, both of which could accommodate 16K-by-16K picture resolution.
“This is a milestone in an idea that started a long, long time ago and is finally coming to fruition. The Sphere has a mission, it’s about being a new medium,” said Jim Dolan, executive chairman and CEO of MSG Entertainment, likening the viewing experience inside the Sphere to cinema’s transition from black and white to color. “This is a medium that is designed to convince you that you are not really [in the dome].”
It’s something that needs to be experienced. Inside the new Burbank Dome — which at nearly 100-feet in height is a quarter-scale prototype of the Las Vegas Sphere — a footage presentation on the wraparound screen was designed to give guests transportive experiences, from gliding in a seaplane over Lake Powell in Arizona to circling the course at the Atlanta Motor Speedway before visiting the frozen Antarctic continent. Footage also included a roller-coaster ride that was definitely not for the faint of heart.
The MSG Sphere in Las Vegas is the start of a broader intent to build spheres and large domes around the world. Plans for a London site have already been announced. “The content, no matter where the Sphere is, will be created here in Burbank,” asserted Dolan.
In his remarks, Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes noted that this “brings something entirely new to our city. … We can’t wait to see what you create here in Burbank for the MSG Sphere.” During the ribbon-cutting, he presented MSG with a certificate in recognition of the grand opening.
MSG is already talking with everyone from Hollywood directors to musicians about creating immersive content opportunities. To accommodate filmmaking for the Dome canvas, MSG will also house in Burbank an active R&D team that developed the new camera system — resembling a VR rig on steroids — that was used to shoot the demonstration footage. Through a partnership with Berlin-based audio company Holoplot, the Sphere will house a custom spatial audio system, and additional plans include 4D capabilities from wind to scents, as well as connectivity for all guests.
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