The Luxor Hotel/Casino was our first time-lapse project, thanks to Mel Larsen at CIrcus CIrcus Properties. We had been photographing the model of what was to be the new Luxor Hotel, but was called "Project X" to keep it under wraps, when he asked about time-lapse. Of course, you never tell a client "no", so we took time for some quick research and found the best tools for the job through Norris Films, creator of the Norris film controller (intervalometer). Dan Norris and his associates helped us find the right cameras and gave us invaluable information and generally making us look good on our first ever time-lapse project. We still rely on Norris Film products on many of our time-lapse projects.
Photographed from the roof of the Hacienda Hotel (since imploded to make way for the Mandalay Bay), the 18 month project was filmed from the clearing of the original trailer park to a vacant lot, to the final opening of a gaming hotel/casino resort in the shape of a pyramid. Not since the ancient Egyptians had a pyramid been attempted on such a large scale and with so much intricate, complex physical characteristics. Boasting 120,000 square feet of gambling space, the project ended up costing $390 million to build and soon became one of Las Vegas "destination" hotels.
The time lapse film of the Luxor presented a unique challenge to us simply because the sides of the slanted, mirrored window-walls of the hotel are very reflective. Our concern was that the sun would reflect back into the camera lens and ruin much of the film. As it turned out, reflections of the sun and clouds at different seasons of the year and of the times of the day actually enhanced the final film. Even the rainy days became part of the art when they popped up in the final edit.
We learned many lessons on this first project. The most important one was that it would take more than one camera in one position to actually make a film. No one but the construction company would sit and watch a 15 minute film of construction from one angle. Just like a movie film in the theatre you have to have other views for cut-aways to keep it from being boring. Although it was not part of the commissioned film project, near the end of construction we decided to do some additional footage from the ground. It wasn't much, mostly footage of the final clean-up before the hotel opened, but it turned out that watching workers slide up and down the pyramid washing the glass in time-lapse was one of the most interesting visuals. We now make what we call "ground footage" or "short-time time-lapse" a necessary part of every job.