The tech behind U2’s mind-bending, spherical reality in Las Vegas

Outlet: Digital Trends

Client: Disguise

November 30, 2023

I recall sitting in the back of a Las Vegas taxi in January 2022. CES was upon us. While Las Vegas is extra on a typical Tuesday, CES week ramps things up to a totally different level. The pandemic meant a couple of years without having to do the CES thing, and Vegas reinvents itself in the blink of an eye.

 

That still didn’t explain the giant black orb that seemed to pop out of nowhere on Sands Avenue.

 

“What the hell is that?” I muttered in the back of that cab. I’d soon learn that it was a new event space and was going to be covered with LEDs, inside and out. At the time, though, the opening was 18 months away, and all it seemed to be was a big, black sphere.

 

We know differently now, of course. The Sphere opened in late September 2023, with Irish rock band U2 having set up shop with some three dozen shows for “U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere” scheduled through mid-February 2024. Thousands and thousands of fortunate fans have already experienced the spectacle. Millions more of us have gotten glimpses through cell phone video and online videos. And while that certainly doesn’t do it justice, even that tiny, two-dimensional peek inside makes it pretty clear Sphere hosts the sort of futuristic live experience that simply hasn’t been done before. (And none of this includes what you might see on the outside of Sphere.)

 

So we have some idea of the magic that goes on inside, during the show. We wanted to get a glimpse of what powers it all. What makes that magic happen.

 

“There’s nothing that we couldn’t do in terms of, you know, if we have an idea, we could certainly make it happen,” Brandon Kraemer tells me. He served as a technical director with Treatment Studio, a London-based creative agency that has worked with U2 for years. Kraemer says that line casually, as if creating mind-bending visuals behind one of the world’s biggest bands is an everyday experience for Treatment. But the fact is that U2 and Treatment have been at this for a while. Even before Sphere opened, U2 shows have been known for their visuals — The Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour and Experience + Innocence tour, to name two in recent memory — and Treatment Studio (founded by Willie Williams and Sam Pattison) was a driving force behind that.

 

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