A culmination of talents behind two of Miami's most successful nightclubs, LIV and Amnesia, Story is a unique destination for clubbers looking for an unparalleled, high-energy nightlife experience. Its stylish design and sophisticated feel is backed by a premium bottle service that goes hand in hand with any quality US nightclub.
With four different nights on offer, covering everything from hip hop to commercial dance to underground, technologically, the venue is capable of a whole host of effects and pulls out all the stops to suit the varying nights. Story is an overwhelming experience for the senses, with lighting design coming from Steve Lieberman of SJ Lighting, who worked closely with the club's Technical Director and Lighting Designer Max Moussier, and a high quality sound system from Lord Toussaint of Infinite Audio Systems - mirroring that installed at LIV.
Well-known for his love of linear design and geometry, Steve got straight to work on designing a huge, monolithic lighting feature with the intention of overwhelming the dancefloor. Commenting, Steve told mondo*dr: "We spent the money on the centrepiece as we wanted to create a 3D element that engulfed the space. A lot of the additional lighting gear in Story has been repurposed from Amnesia as the club recently had a refit."
Looking not too dissimilar to a lighting version of The North Star, Steve's creation comprises an EYE Sphere system using 800 LED strips, each with eight LED RGB balls, that are hung from a custom built unistrut grid, while mirrored disco balls are interspersed throughout the design for added reflections. To bring the rest of the room to life, intelligent lighting previously used at Amnesia has been reinvented at Story, a total of 41 Clay Paky Sharpy moving heads highlight the room along with 21 Martin Professional MAC 301 Wash moving heads; 25 Chauvet Professional COLORado 2 IP lighting fixtures and six Chauvet Professional COLORado 3 IP lighting fixtures have been installed; there are also 90 Philips Color Kinetics lighting bars. Lighting effects come from 30 OXO FunStrip active blinders and four HungaroFLASH Quasar Pro blinders.
Commenting on the choice of lighting brands used at Story, Max told mondo*dr: "My previous experience is in the world of TV and designing fashion shows so I've only ever worked with top, professional brands which is why we've got Clay Paky and Martin Professional in here, there is a lot of Chauvet Professional as well - these are brands I'm used to working with.
"While we made use of the existing Amnesia lighting inventory, we're also continuously adding to the kit, we're always trying to bring more effects in as people get bored very quickly. We've added more lights on the mezzanine since opening so we can get a bit more creative, as well as some special effects."
One of the special effects additions is the Chauvet Professional Geyser RGB fi re and fog effect machine - eight in total have been placed the length of the DJ booth. There are also two Look Solutions Unique 2.1 haze machines and two Look Solutions Orka heavy smoke machines. No high-end club would be complete without lasers and so there is also an X-Laser X-Beam 5W RGB laser.
As well as creating a focal point for the room, any good lighting design will highlight and make use of the architecture available. At Story, Steve made use of the venue's supporting beams and sidewalls, bringing them to life using Elation's Flex LED pixel tape - a total of 5,200 RGB pixels have been used throughout.
"The LED panels around the walls are all pixel mapped," said Steve. "This was a huge undertaking because it's all LED tape and none of the walls are straight - it's not an asymmetrical room - everything is at an angle and comes proud off the wall. I couldn't just copy and paste, we had to clip on every pixel and map it into the software and this took some serious doing."
Shoe horning a symmetrical design into an asymmetrical room is no easy feat and for Steve, it is times like these where he is truly challenged, telling mondo*dr: "I designed the centrepiece for Story while working on Electric Daisy Carnival festival the year before it was actually installed. The original design for the ceiling was the inverse of what is there now. I laid everything out and something just wasn't working and we fi gured out it was because the columns aren't laid out evenly in the space. I had to look at which column was causing me the most issues, strip everything back and then work the design out from there."
Such is the complexity and size of the lighting feature, that the frame to support it had to be built off site in a warehouse and then brought in and assembled on site. "That is one thing people don't realise," said Steve, "when you put a system like this in to a venue and you start getting into advanced geometry, you have all these critical angles that you have to work with and if you're off by one degree or even half a degree it looks skewed, especially in a space like that - preciseness is critical."
To further complement the lighting system, Story makes good use of video with 172 FX Blaster 10mm video cabinets, which are controlled by four DBSTAR processors. "The video element adds to the atmosphere and brings more energy and more dimensions to the venue, especially with the layout," said Max. "I work very closely with the VJ making sure we match the colours to the vibe of the room - most of the VJs we get in here bring their own content so we can incorporate different logos and so on if required." Control for all the lighting and video comes from an MA Lighting grandMA2 madrix system.
A first class lighting design needs a top of the range audio system to work alongside. Having previously supplied LIV with a sound system, Lord Toussaint and his team at Infi nite Audio Systems was called in to design a similar system for Story.
The venue covers a large amount of space and has high ceilings, which is great for lighting but for audio can be problematic. According to Lord, the most important aspect was to distribute the energy evenly throughout and in order to do so, he applied the company's moto of ‘more is more,' telling mondo*dr: "If you have big time DJs coming in and playing at the venue then you have to consider that their programme is going to be full of energy. You've got to make sure you've got the right system in place, which is why I would never put a line array in a nightclub, they are built for a completely different purpose and when adapted to the house music environment I personally don't feel they have the low-mid frequency energy needed to envelope you.
"If you look at our Infi nite Hybrid Array Dance Top boxes they have a proportional amount of low-mid frequency information with two 15-inch low frequency transducers, horn-loaded - there's a lot of low-mid energy at Story - that's the kind of energy you really feel," continued Lord.
The main dancefloor system comprises 14 Infi nite Systems Hybrid Array Dance Top loudspeakers and 12 Infi nite Systems VLF-1, very low frequency loudspeaker systems, which are powered by six Crown MA-5000i power amplifiers.
Lord continued with the same full sounding, horn loaded system for the VIP areas, specifying four more Infi nite Hybrid Array Dance Top loudspeakers for the fi rst fl oor main VIP area and the VIP DJ and stage seating area - two for each section - and powering them with a combination of eight Crown CDi and MAi amplifiers.
Across the second floor mezzanine there is a distributed audio system featuring 10 Infi nite Systems ND 216 loudspeakers, powered by three Crown CDi 1000 amplifi ers and three Crown CDi 2000 amplifiers. For the DJ monitoring system, Lord took the decision to use the same Infi nite Systems Hybrid Array Dance Top loudspeakers used for the main PA system. A move questioned at fi rst by some, Lord explained his thinking: "We were met with a lot of resistance to begin with but by using the same loudspeakers as the main PA system the DJs are hearing exactly what the people on the dancefl oor are hearing - this is a unique experience. For once they're not listening through loudspeakers that are designed to be compact and effi cient in a small space - they're hearing what everyone else is hearing."
Along with the two Infi nite Systems Hybrid Array Dance Tops, there are two Infi nite Systems VLF-1 very low frequency loudspeaker systems in the DJ booth and everything is powered by a combination of five Crown CDi and MAi amplifi ers. Processing for the whole system comes from four Biamp Audia Flex control monitor systems and one Biamp Audia Solo system.
"Story isn't the softest room acoustically," continued Lord. "It could really do with a little absorption but the fi nishes that have been used are ones that help make the club successful and add the glamour. There's a lot of glass and a lot of elements that sound designers hate but at the end of the day it's the price we pay, if it makes the room popular then we look to overcome the issues through raw output and distributed energy so that acoustical issues don't come back to bite us."
While the acoustics might have been a challenge for Lord and his team, keeping the project in budget was also a test, as he explained: "We insisted that the distributed systems be effi cient and have high output. The only way to achieve this was to use tri-amplifi ed distributed systems which is unheard of - most systems use passive crossovers, at best typically, there'll be a three-way system with a subwoofer and a two-way top that has a passive crossover in it. There's not a single passive crossover in this building, which is pretty impressive considering that it's a large system. It needs the energy to be distributed and needs to be dynamic and have impact, so the fact that we chose to tri-amplify even, distributed sound gives us an edge; even though they're compact, our ND216's sound as though they're not."
With competition in the clubbing market high in Miami, it is imperative any venue strives to be the best it can be and keep up-to-date in both consumer trends and technology, from what mondo*dr has seen so far, Story has certainly got off to an impressive start.
LIGHTING & video
90 x Philips Color Kinetics lighting bar; 41 x Clay Paky Sharpy moving head; 21 x Martin Professional MAC 301 moving head; 30 x OXO FunStrip blinder; 25 x Chauvet Professional COLORado 2IP lighting fixture; 6 x Chauvet Professional COLORado 3IP lighting fixture; 4 x HungaroFLASH Quasar Pro 1500 blinder; 8 x Chauvet Professional Geyser RGB fire / smoke machine; 2 x Look Solutions Unique 2.1 haze machine; 2 x Look Solutions Orka haze machine; 1 x X Laser XBeam 5W RGB laser; 1 x Eye Sphere system: 800 x 8 LED RGB Ball strip; MA Lighting grandMA2 Light lighting console; 1 x Pangolin QuickShow laser software; 20 x Stagemaker hoist; 22 x James Thomas GP 6ft truss; 172 x FX Blaster 10mm video cabinet; 4 x DBStar processor
20 x Infinite Systems Hybrid Array Dance Top loudspeaker; 10 x Infinite Systems ND 216 loudspeaker; 14 x Infinite Systems VLF-1 subwoofer 22 x Crown CDi 4000 amplifier; 11 x Crown MA-5000i amplifier; 3 x Crown CDi 2000 amplifier; 3 x CDi 1000 amplifier; 4 x Biamp Audia Flex processor control monitor; 1 x Biamp Audio Solo systemwww.facebook.com/storymiami