Studio 54 NYC

Studio 54

Studio 54 is a Broadway theater and a former disco nightclub at 254 West 54th Street in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City. Operated by the Roundabout Theatre Company, Studio 54 has 1,006 seats on two levels. The theater was designed by Eugene De Rosa for producer Fortune Gallo and opened in 1927 as the Gallo Opera House. The current Broadway theater is named after a nightclub on the same site, founded by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, which operated within the theater's space in the late 1970s and the 1980s.

Plans for the Gallo Opera House announced in 1926, and it opened on November 8, 1927, as a legitimate theater and opera house for the San Carlo Grand Opera Company. The theater went bankrupt within two years and was renamed the New Yorker Theatre in 1930. The Casino de Paree nightclub operated at the theater from December 1933 to April 1935, and the theater briefly hosted the Palladium Music Hall in early 1936. The Federal Music Project took over the theater in 1937 and presented shows there for three years. CBS began using the theater as a soundstage called Radio Playhouse No. 4 in 1942; when television broadcasts began in 1949, the theater was renamed Studio 52.

Schrager and Rubell took over the venue in 1976, retaining much of the former theatrical and broadcasting equipment while turning it into a nightclub. The club opened on April 26, 1977, at the peak of the disco dancing and music trend and quickly became popular. The original iteration of Studio 54 was noted for its celebrity guest lists, restrictive and subjective entry policies, extravagant events, rampant club drug use, and open sexual activity. Schrager and Rubell's club was short-lived and controversial, and it closed in early 1980 after the men were convicted of tax evasion. Mark Fleischman operated a scaled-down version of the nightclub from 1981 to 1986, after which it continued to operate under new management for three more years. Studio 54's space housed the Ritz rock club from 1989 to 1993, then the Cabaret Royale bar from 1994 to 1996.

The Roundabout Theatre Company renovated the theater in 1998, relocating its production of the musical Cabaret to Studio 54 that November following a construction accident. Cabaret closed at the beginning of 2004; since then, the theater has generally hosted two productions per season. A separate restaurant and nightclub, 54 Below, has operated in the theater's basement since 2012, while a cabaret named Upstairs at 54 is located on the second floor. Although the first iteration of the Studio 54 nightclub was short-lived, it inspired the creation of a record label, a radio station, and several similar nightclubs. The original club has been featured in several exhibitions, films, and music albums, and memorabilia from the club have been sold for thousands of dollars.

Skills

Project modelled in Blender, textured in Substance Painter, shaders in Amplify Shader and Shader Graph, brought to life in Unity, optimized for Quest 2 for social VR in a room with 50 avatars.

Started using Open Street Map plugin in Blender to download the NYC environment. Made some materials for the buildings using Materialize, which creates normal and height maps from a single albedo.

Modelled the club is Blender, based on a partial floorplan I found online and pictures of the club. Also had help from a couple friends from NYC who had been to the actual club.

Modelled lightpoles and some of the props in Blender.

Created complex animations for the lightshow using keyframes, since we cannot use any scripts in Social VR apps. There is constant variation with the different lights, with moving structures, spinning lights and so on.

Wrote shaders in Shader Graph and Amplify Shader for GOBOs and furniture.

Painted props and building details in Substance Painter.

Most texture maps are kept at 1k resolution, with only a few key ones that remain 4k. This is to reduce scene build and optimize for standalone headsets.

This project was showcased in the Annual NYC Video Games Awards 2023 event and there was an after party held in it.