Behind the Scenes of ‘Brilliant! Jackpot’ with Director Aaron Berger

“These signs, the ones that are on display, are beyond conservation,” says Neon Museum Executive Director Aaron Berger. “These signs could have easily ended up in the landfill.”

Las Vegas has the market cornered when it comes to cities with fantastic shows. In this city, we see aerialists take to the sky and perform death defying stunts above a crowd. We watch shows where illusionists perform the trickiest of disappearing acts up and down the Las Vegas Strip. Headlining music and comedy acts come from all over the world and set up residencies here. 

Any and all of these shows happen everyday of the week, sometimes twice in a day. The point is, Vegas has some stellar shows on its roster. But, just north of Downtown Las Vegas in a little corner adjacent to Cashman field is The Neon Museum. And folks, they have a show that is downright brilliant.

Courtesy of Neon Museum

What is Brilliant! jackpot?

Across the street from the Neon Museum’s Boneyard, their North Gallery is showing Brilliant! The 360-degree immersive show offers visitors a walk down Las Vegas’ memory lane. Travel though the history of our city with actual authentic signs of Las Vegas past. Currently, this feature is the biggest augmented reality experience of its kind.

This Neon Museum experience revives antique neon signs of Las Vegas’ past. Through sights and sounds, visitors step back in time to explore our city’s history.

In this case, if the restored signs are the canvas, then artist Craig Winslow is Picasso. Winslow created Brilliant! And his creation is an outdoor hidden gem. 

“That’s one of the things that I personally love about Brilliant!” says Neon Museum’s Executive Director Aaron Berger. “Seeing the lights go down as ‘Brilliant!’ begins. You are surrounded by these amazing historic signs, all defunct. And yet, if you just take your eyeline out of the gallery and look off into the distance, you see Circa and Fremont Street off in the Horizon. It’s such a great juxtaposition. It’s such a great contrast to see what was and what is now in our space. I love that,” Berger explains with great excitement. 

From Trash to Treasure

The outdoor setting is just one area beaming with pride for Berger who is new to the Neon Museum. With a degree in art history, the Neon Museum provides him with a life-long dream job. Not bad for the man who is eager to collect, preserve and exhibit Las Vegas’ own history.  “These signs, the ones that are on display, are beyond conservation,” he says. “These signs could have easily ended up in the landfill,” says Berger.

Courtesy of Neon Museum

Thanks to the technology known as ‘projection mapping’ some of the most iconic signs of Las Vegas have gotten a new lease on life.

“We (Las Vegas) build up and then we tear down. We continue to innovate here in the city and in that quest for innovation we can forget about the history of something that may only be a few years old.”

With that in mind, the Neon Museum dusted off some of the most iconic signs and allowed them to continue entertaining visitors near and far. “Had it not been the technology we utilize, there is the threat that these would have ended up in the landfill,” says Berger.

Signs like Lady Luck, Binon’s Horseshoe and Palms have all found a home in Brilliant!

Courtesy on Neon Museum

Projecting a map for Brilliance

The technology they use is called projection mapping. The description of how it works is complicated and incredibly nuanced. To put it simply, projectors are aligned at precise angles on any one given sign. 

In the space, there are two towers that house eight projectors and twenty-four 3D-sound speakers. Those projectors have combed through flat photography, drone video and 3D photogrammetry. They utilize that information to create visual references for each sign, bulb by bulb. Once that data is compiled it, then goes in for a process called ‘structured light scanning’ and bada bing, bada boom, you’ve got an old sign all brand new. 

Ok, so it’s more complicated than that, but we can’t argue with the brilliance of it all. 

Courtesy of Neon Museum

New Jackpot Jives

Jackpot is the latest imagining of Brilliant. In other words, Brilliant got even more brilliant. With the reimagining came a bigger and better attitude.  And what better way to strut your stuff than with a new soundtrack.

Brilliant! Jackpot added new music to the show. There are now 54 songs featuring a variety diverse artists that all tie into the Vegas theme. In fact, Spotify now has a Neon Museum playlist. Songs from Frank Sinatra to Katy Perry are featured. 

Courtesy of Neon Museum

If that isn’t enough, Berger teased another bigger, richer reimagining coming later this year.

“We were scheduling Brilliant! shows every half hour. We’re now expanding that to one hour.” Berger continued, “Our visitors are going to have a deeper educational experience, have a chance to see more signs and of course still thoroughly enjoy.We just want to make that experience even richer.”

And that folks is music to Las Vegas’ ears.

Show information

WHAT: Brilliant! Jackpot

WHERE: The Neon Museum, 770 Las Vegas Blvd N, Las Vegas, NV

WHEN: Show runs for 25 minutes at night (show times vary)

TICKETS: $23 per ticket, $19 for locals

More info is at https://www.neonmuseum.org/

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