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Mirage Resorts Embraces Sonic DVD Creator

By Paulo de Andrade
It's been just two months since the corporate multimedia department at Mirage Resorts took delivery of a new Sonic DVD Creator system in their production facilities at the Bellagio, Las Vegas's latest destination hotspot. But already DVD has emerged as a key component of a planned revamping of corporate video delivery technology, and Sonic DVD Creator as the essential tool that will make this a reality. In initiatives underway at several locations, Mirage Resorts is moving away from tape and LaserDisc while embracing DVD wholeheartedly. The integrated capture, compression and authoring capabilities of Sonic DVD Creator gives Mirage Resorts the power, ease and flexibility to make full use of DVD's advantages.

Underscoring DVD's versatility, the DVD projects at Mirage Resorts cover diverse areas such as point-of-sale video displays, exterior signage, corporate archives, and "back of the house" communications with the company's 10,000 strong workforce. Describing the point-of-sale application, Randy Dearborn, director of multimedia, says video displays are distributed throughout the properties, "in some of the retail shops and next to the box offices for the shows. When you walk in the north valet entrance at the Mirage, for instance, you see a display window with collectables like T-shirts and mugs that are related to our dolphin show, and there is a looping video of the dolphins that plays on a 19-inch screen."

"Currently all those videos play from LaserDisc," Dearborn explains. "For each one we have to prepare a Beta SP master and pay several hundred dollars to have it burned onto a disc. And the LaserDisc players are in constant need of repair or replacement, because they play 18-24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they have a lot of moving parts. Because DVD is much more reliable than LaserDisc, we are now in the process of replacing all those machines with either DVD decks or hard-drive based MPEG-2 players. We use DVD Creator to capture and encode the video, and then either transfer the MPEG-2 stream to the hard-disk player or author and burn a looping DVD-R to use on our Pioneer S-101 drive."

Another new application for DVD is feeding video to the "reader boards" on the Bellagio's towering marquee on Las Vegas Boulevard. The boards, giant NTSC monitors made out of LEDs, run video clips advertising the cuisine and hours of the resort's several restaurants, the entertainment playing in the showrooms, the retail outlets, and special events. The current system requires playback from $15,000 Pentium II workstations with Perception video boards and 9 GB hard drives.

"We are in the process of switching over to a system using Pioneer DVD-V7200 players," Dearborn says, "which let you schedule playback of specific chapters on a DVD at a specific time. For instance, we can play chapters 1, 5, 9, 3, 14 on a continuous loop, but every Tuesday evening we can throw in chapter 17. I bought two of these decks, one as a backup, for only $1600, and I'll never have to worry again about whether Windows will decide to crash." DVD Creator is already being used to create DVDs for the new system; final switchover is scheduled for the end of March 1999, when installation of a new fiber optic video link out tothe reader boards will be complete.

Dearborn is preparing to make a similar changeover in the video playback source for the Bellagio's Video Site system, which is used to deliver human resources information to television monitors dispersed "back of the house" in employee hallways. Much of this information--special parking arrangements on a given day, upcoming events, reminders about benefit signup deadlines, employee awards, etc.--is computer generated text with graphics. Video Site also has an RS-232 port for video input, allowing video content to be interspersed with the other information on a scheduled basis.

"For events such as our Employee of the Year awards," Dearborn explains, "we pull together a sampling of video clips from past events, and edit highlights on our Avid system to create a trailer to play on Video Site." Dearborn has two Pioneer industrial DVD players on order; when they arrive he will replace the current videotape decks feeding Video Site and instead play video from DVDs authored on DVD Creator. Not only will that yield better video image quality on the big-screen TVs, but the discs will then be ready to go right into the corporate video archives that Dearborn is building up on DVD.

"People from all departments are constantly checking stuff in and out of the video library," Dearborn says. "For instance, we do 30- and 60-second TV spots to promote the various properties--Bellagio, the Mirage, Treasure Island and two Golden Nuggets--and to advertise our boxing matches and shows like Cirque de Soleil. We just recently switched advertising agencies after ten years with one company, and the new agency wanted to look back and get a feel for what we had done before. But the spots are all on different formats: 3/4-inch, Beta SP, 35 mm film, VHS. With DVD Creator I didn't have to send the agency umpteen tapes. We were able to take different spots from throughout the history of the company, build a custom menu using graphics that we prepared in Adobe Photoshop, and burn one single DVD with all the spots."

As time allows, Dearborn's department is now transferring the entire video archives of the company to DVD, categorizing clips and creating menus that make it easy for users outside the department to access the material. And he is also looking at ways to use DVD to improve the presentations his department creates both for in-house use and for executives that speak publicly. The speakers like to incorporate high-quality video, but they currently have to bring a tape and rely on the AV person at the control board to manually switch back and forth between a video deck and the laptop running the presentation. "Using Apple Macintosh G3 laptops that come with a DVD drive and decoder card," he says, "the presentation and the video will both be coming out of one VGA output on the computer that will feed the video projection. And I can easily author the DVD with several videos, so the presenter can pick and choose depending on the audience."

Dearborn's enthusiasm for applying DVD to all these diverse needs at Mirage Resorts reflects both the versatility of the format and the flexibility of DVD Creator's integrated compression and authoring capabilities. "I could have just chosen some authoring software and a separate video board," he says. "But then I would be dealing with different companies who are not even sure how they are tied together in my particular system. For a new technology like this, I really thought it was important to buy something that was already integrated into one package from one vendor. I read a lot of articles and talked to people who had authoring systems, and all roads pointed to Sonic Solutions. They really seem to be leading this industry, and they are the ones who offered a complete package that handles everything I need."

3600 Las Vegas Blvd.
South Multimedia Division
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
702.693.7148 Phone
702.693.8570 Fax

Contact: Randy Dearborn
101 Rowland Way,
Novato, CA 94945
Phone (415) 893-8000
Fax (415) 893-8008

Page: 1

Related Keywords:Bellagio, DVD, Corporate Video, Sonic Solutions, Sonic DVD Creator


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