Step by Step: Sin City Wrapped
BPGraphics shares details of massive print projects for CES, the largest tech tradeshow on the planet.
At an event as massive as CES, a bare wall is a missed opportunity. Stretching across nearly three million square feet of event space throughout Las Vegas and drawing more than 180,000 people, CES is the largest annual convention hosted in Sin City. Spanning 11 official venues in early January, CES features every aspect of consumer electronics, from tech utilizing artificial intelligence and augmented reality to innovations in TVs and home appliances. The sheer number of attendees filling the Strip for this event makes every wrappable surface an easy advertising target with immense reach for tech companies.
Working on behalf of four clients, BPGraphics, a Phoenix-based wide-format print shop, supplied more than 130,000 square feet of graphics for CES 2019. The company started producing billboards in 1961 and still considers out-of-home to be an area of specialty. While the PSP, which employs 80, has also branched out into retail, fleet, environmental, and political graphics, projects like CES remain their bread and butter.
BPGraphics has printed visuals for the consumer electronics show for the last four years, with each subsequent year growing in project scope. For the 2019 event, the company provided graphics installed at seven different locales near the Las Vegas Convention Center featuring various advertisers via their media buyer clients (Elite Media, Las Vegas Monorail, Outdoor Solutions, and Vector Media):
- Apple on the exterior of the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Las Vegas Convention Center (Elite Media project)
- BMW on the exterior of the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel (Elite Media project)
- Veoneer on the exterior of the Las Vegas Marriott (Elite Media project)
- Google and Veoneer on Las Vegas Monorail train cars (Outdoor Solutions and Las Vegas Monorail projects, respectively)
- TCL on a bus shelter near the Las Vegas Convention Center (Vector Media project)
- Xperi and Telenav on the interior of the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel (Elite Media projects)
- Lenovo on the interior of the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel (Elite Media project)
Equipment and Supplies Used
- BPGraphics’ proprietary premium mesh
- Contra Vision Campaign Perforated Window Film 70/30
- 3M Controltac Changeable Graphic Film 3552C
- 3M Controltac Graphic Film 40C
- 3M Controltac Graphic Film 180C
- 3M Scotchcal Graphic Film 3662
- 3M Scotchcal Luster Overlaminate 8519
- 3M Scotchcal Perforated Window Film IJ67
Hardware and Software
- Adobe Creative Suite
- Caldera RIP
- HP Latex 3600 printers
- HP Scitex XL 1500 printers
- Zünd G3 3XL-1600 textile cutter
1. Planning and Prep
Jeff Fischer, BPGraphics’ sales executive, managed the CES projects, starting three months before the conference. The four clients were all returning customers. Because BPGraphics had wrapped two of the three building exteriors before, a site survey with detailed measurements was only required for the SpringHill Suites building where the Apple ad was installed. The structure, with its varying depths, necessitated careful planning.
Fischer visited the site with the installers in October to take meticulous measurements, which required one of the installers to repel from the roof. “We had to measure every pop out and every return,” he says.
Artwork for all of the projects was provided by the clients, with guidance from the BPGraphics team on specifications and resolution. Utilizing Adobe Creative Suite and Caldera RIP, the graphics were readied for printing.
“Once the files are received from the client, our prepress department manages the files with a variety of important steps before ink ever hits material,” says Nicholas Spade, director of marketing. “They ensure the files are the correct output size, make sure [they] fit the installation templates correctly, and produce the output files needed for the printing press. These output files break the artwork up according to the printable size of the material selected, the press printable area, and the final installation size. Overlaps are created between panels, so the finished graphic appears as a single, continuous image on the side of a building or train.”
Proofs were sent to clients for approval and then the real fun began: printing thousands upon thousands of square feet of graphics.
BPGraphics’ meticulous production process is down to a science after years of experience. Materials were chosen based on the surface to which they were being applied. For the concrete buildings – the Renaissance and SpringHill Suites – BPGraphics printed a dark color onto 3M Scotchcal 3662 film that sticks to rough surfaces. That material serves as a base layer for graphics printed on window perf because perf doesn’t stick to concrete. It also intensifies colors and helps images to appear as one continuous display, Fischer explains. “This is something we have tested and done for years,” he says.
The BMW ads on the walls, parking garage, and glass entry on the Renaissance used various printers and materials – 3M 3662 film, BPGraphics’ proprietary premium mesh, and Contra Vision Campaign 70/30 perforated window film – for a single campaign, so BPGraphics carefully color matched to ensure a unified look. “They’re produced on different presses, with different materials, with different finishing, but when you look at the final product, the colors all look like they came off the same machine,” says Ian Scott, VP of operations.
The Veoneer wallscape on the exterior of the Marriott was printed on premium mesh. The graphics on the monorail trains were imaged onto 3M Scotchcal IJ67 perforated window film (for the train windows) and 3M Controltac 3552C (for nonwindow exteriors). Lamination on the trains utilized 3M Scotchcal Luster Overlaminate 8519. HP Latex 3600 presses were used to print all building and train vinyl, while HP Scitex XL 1500 printers imaged onto the mesh materials.
After cutting on a Zünd G3 3XL-1600, graphics were laid out panel by panel and matched up to double-check that everything was in order before packaging and shipping the pieces to Las Vegas. For simplified installation, each panel is numbered to correspond with a guide map to dictate where each section belongs. If there’s an issue with a specific panel, installers can refer to that piece by specific number.
Given the sheer volume of the printed material, the graphics were shipped out on pallets that filled a 48-foot semitruck.
The end of 2018 was busy at BPGraphics’ 76,000-square-foot facility. The PSP was producing a large graphics rollout for a national retail chain while also running the CES projects over the course of about three weeks. “That added another dimension to getting things done, because we had two significant projects going at the same time,” Scott says.
Despite the bustling time of year, the production process ran efficiently. To keep projects on track, Scott holds daily production meetings. “We’ve been doing this for so long, especially working on CES and these particular buildings, that the team – all the way from prepress to the press operators – knows how it’s supposed to work, so there was very little in the way of surprises during production,” he says.
And so the final countdown began. BPGraphics coordinated with four contracted installation companies in Las Vegas to mount the graphics during the two weeks prior to the start of CES on January 8. Fischer was onsite during that time to answer questions and make sure everything ran smoothly. Materials were shipped out from BPGraphics’ Phoenix facility according to the order in which installers would need certain components.
The Apple install proved to be the most challenging due to the complicated nature of the install site: a windowed wall with lots of ledges and varying depths.
To expedite the process, installers set up swing stages on both sides of the building and put up the graphics from the left and right sides, working toward the center. Typically, an installation starts from the left and works across to the right. “It’s very unusual to work from different points on a wrap and work toward the center,” Scott says. This technique worked because the graphics were text-heavy rather than image-heavy, so there wasn’t a lot of imagery to line up. It took the team about two weeks to place the wrap.
Another team of installers put up the BMW ads during that same two weeks. While certainly not “easy,” that project was a little more straightforward given the mostly flat surface and the fact that BPGraphics had wrapped that structure previously, Fischer says.
The Veoneer mesh wallscape on the side of the Marriott hotel went up in a day. That site features graphics so frequently that there are pre-installed anchor points for simplified installation.
For the seven train wraps on the Las Vegas monorail, six installers spent 7-9 hours outfitting exterior graphics on each train over the course of two weeks, working around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays with as little disruption to the transit schedule as possible, Fischer says. Because the monorail runs on high voltage, the trains had to be taken out of service and de-energized before installers could safely begin, Scott adds.
The 132,825 square feet of graphics remained in place during the week of CES and were then removed following its conclusion. By all accounts, CES was a big print job, but for BPGraphics, it was fairly standard. “We’re engineered and designed for this type of project,” Scott says.