Bullet the Blue Sky: Weka visits Vegas’s Sphere for U2 concert

Rock band U2 has a residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas and Weka is storing and moving video data for the gig.

The Sphere at the Venetian Resort is an expensive spherical entertainment centre near the Las Vegas strip, 336 feet tall and 516 feet wide, with an outer surface incorporating a massive 580,000 square feet (53,800 sq m) video display and an 18,600 seat auditorium inside. This is enclosed inside a 16,000dpi, 60 frames/sec wraparound LED screen and a 167,000-speaker array, and features spatial audio beamforming and wave field synthesis. The haptic seats are able to provide vibration and motion effects.

Weka’s Data Platform is a fast scale-out and parallel filesystem with integrated data services, and will feed data to the video screens. 

A statement from Stefan “Smasher” Desmedt, technical director and video director for U2, enthused: “This is a whole new level of rock and roll.  Once again, U2 is breaking new ground, pushing the limits of what’s possible in live entertainment and setting trends that people will emulate for years to come.”

The Irish rock veterans explained: “U2 hasn’t played live since December 2019 and we need to get back on stage and see the faces of our fans again. And what a unique stage they’re building for us out there in the desert … We’re the right band, Achtung Baby the right album, and Sphere the right venue to take the live experience of music to the next level […] Sphere is more than just a venue, it’s a gallery and U2’s music is going to be all over the walls.”

Desmedt continued: “The sheer scale of the Sphere is extraordinary – it’s like a spaceship in here, with 16K x 16K pixel screens that require that we move 200–300 gigabytes of video data every minute. In the past, we used 4K video – this is uncharted territory.  We needed to find a storage server technology partner that could meet both the band’s vision and the production’s extreme scale and performance requirements and deliver flawlessly in real time. Weka quickly became the clear choice.”

The U2 tech team had to migrate more than 500TB of archival video footage rendered in the United Kingdom to the venue’s servers in Las Vegas. Weka, with its data platform software, provided a way for Desmedt’s team to render, load, and migrate large video files via the cloud to its local cluster at the Sphere. 

The U2:UV Achtung Baby shows begin at Sphere in Las Vegas on September 29. For more information, visit https://www.thespherevegas.com/shows/u2.