Project News Headlines
Optocore at the hub of Canada’s major National Arts Centre development $110m overhaul incorporates new AutoRouters
Vari-Lite and Strand deliver state-of-the-art performance for Houston’s new $88m Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
One Third Hangzhou Gets Sweet with Robe
China – Hangzhou is the capital of the Zhejiang province on China’s eastern seaboard, and considered one of the country’s most prosperous areas. Its diverse nightlife scene has just been further enriched with the opening of a brand new One Third club destination, another of the NOA’s Arc Group’s premium entertainment ventures.
At the heart of designing the stunning lighting and visuals associated with the One Third identity is creative director Daan Oomen and his team from Netherlands-based Live Legends. They specified nearly 250 Robe moving lights to ensure One Third Hangzhou stands out in a competitive marketplace!
One Third Hangzhou is the third family member to be rolled out after OT-Kunming earlier in the year, a process that started with the launch of ‘mother brand’ One Third in Beijing.
The One Third vibe is all about the story of an old locomotive factory that comes to life. Live Legends delivered all creative elements from concept to execution, including show production, interior and technical design which included co-ordinating all the visual disciplines and optimising the guest experience with their usual flair and imagination.
With the One Third identity built on quality and reflecting a ‘gold standard’ in clubbing, Live Legends was asked on board, to bring their extensive skills, knowledge and visions from the world of live events. Having a ‘named’ European manufacturer associated with the main lighting fixtures is essential to the One Third brand architecture.
The Robe count is 246 in total, made up of 210 Spikies, 130 VIVA CMYs and six T1 Profiles.
The 2,500 capacity club’s multi-layered main room design features a large balcony with industrial style first-floor runways on the long sides. There is a mezzanine and 12 sizeable VIP rooms. The main hall can host 2,000 people for a standard club night, and the full capacity should they decide on a concert set-up.
The inspirations for the lighting design were maintaining a continuity with the One Third narrative – lively, fun, energetic – and it needed to integrate with all the other visual aspects as well as being powerful, innovative and unique.
Daan and senior LD Serge Patist chose to work with so many Robe fixtures because they were bang-on for getting the desired effects and because of their power, durability and impact.
The T1s are used for specials on the DJs and live acts appearing onstage, selected for their adaptability, good shuttering and excellent zoom.
As the Spikie wall is a signature design element of the One Third brand, they wanted to integrate this iconic piece into the Hangzhou set, but differently and in an upgraded version. To make it more dynamic and eye-catching, the wall became a triangle.
The 210 Spikies make up one side of a high-impact triangular-shaped rotating wall, which has LED panels mirrored on the reverse and can be flipped back and forth as the evening gets going.
The VIVAs are dotted around in the whole room, most on tracking beams. A U-shaped structural automation system in the main room transforms it into a train wagon-like space as the atmosphere ramps and the evening unfolds, carrying people into a great adventure.
The club is on the site of a former train station serving the Xiacheng area, which was demolished in summer 1997 as the capacity could barely cope with predicted future demands, so a new one was constructed instead.
A few years later, the local government instructed an architect to produce plans to reconstruct the whole area, retaining some elements of the old train station. The actual One Third building was an ancient foundry, which Live Legends turned into an old train factory for their narrative.
VIVAs are used for gobos and beam effects; those big all-embracing looks that can air-lift a room of people into another stratosphere. “We actually wanted to step away from the beamier club looks and the VIVAs give plenty of options on that,” explained Daan.
These fixtures were also all selected for their strong LED light sources.
Around 3km of RGBW LED strip is integrated into the lighting design mainly accentuating the shape of the room, with 300 small LED lights to illuminate the décor, plus around 400 1-cell blinders.
LED screens extend the physical décor pieces, and these ‘windows’ enable the audience to be transported into a succession of other worlds.
Lighting is controlled by grandMA2, video via a disguise server and there is also a laser system with Pangolin control. All these plus the motion controller are integrated into a series of timecoded visual showcases that play out throughout the whole environment.
As with almost every Chinese club, the main room is filled with VIP tables as opposed to being an open dance floor, however here the mid-section can be removed to create a full dance floor or standing area.
There were several aspects of continuity with the original One Third Beijing installation, but One Third Hangzhou is much larger and more ambitious in scale, with enhanced technical features to 'wow' the crowds.
The Live Legends team’s delivery schedule included providing comprehensive training for all the house technical crew who look after everything day to day.
It’s intended that One Third Hangzhou will be another landmark for the city which has been awarded the 2022 Asian Games, is an emerging technology hub, home to e-commerce giant Alibaba and that hosted the 11th G20 Summit in 2016!
Live Legends is also expanding its horizons into music production and has just released its second single, the club anthem “Gone” produced for the One Third Hangzhou show set under the banner Live Legends Records.
photos: Nico Alsemgeest
19th July 2019
Power, control and backup – DiGiCo and Autograph a perfect partnership for the Royal Albert Hall
UK – Much has already been written and published about the extraordinary new house sound system recently unveiled by the Royal Albert Hall. No wonder: it is the world’s busiest venue and one of the most highly specified venue refurbishments in the history of entertainment technology. It is only fitting that this most iconic of venues should be suitably equipped for the demands of 21st century performance and as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2021, this much-loved London landmark now boasts an installed audio infrastructure to rival any.
Equipped throughout with d&b audiotechnik loudspeakers in a bespoke configuration, the new design provides seamless coverage of every single seat for the first time in its 148-year history. Installed by SFL Group during the Hall’s busiest ever year, yet without any interference at all to the programme, the new audio system is comfortably capable of handling every aspect of the Hall’s remarkably diverse portfolio of events. When it came to choosing a contemporary digital audio mixing system, in common with so many venues, theatres and touring productions globally, their choice was simple. It had to be DiGiCo.
Tim Shaxson, DiGiCo’s technical sales manager, comments: “We were approached by Ollie Jeffery (head of production and technical at RAH) when they decided the time was right to bring sound in-house, rather than to continue to hire in the equipment and expertise.
“They were looking at a wide variety of options as far as PA was concerned but when it came to consoles, there was only one brand under consideration and that was DiGiCo. They knew they needed a console that visiting engineers would be comfortable with, that had the flexibility to cover the wider variety of shows that the RAH gets involved in and, of course, it needed to be a console with the best possible audio quality to complement the new PA install.
“We were pleased that the Royal Albert Hall chose Autograph as their partner in this project. The technical knowledge and support that they offer is first class.”
Autograph supplied three DiGiCo consoles: an SD7 Quantum, an SD10 (both of which are Waves-enabled and equipped with DiGiCo’s very latest 32-bit analogue cards) and an SD9, all of which are intended to fulfil a variety of roles determined by individual productions. The consoles sit at the heart of an audio network which runs over a DiGiCo Optocore fibre loop with a redundant Dante network over Ethernet. To facilitate all possible connectivity options the DiGiCos are fitted with a selection of multi-format I/O cards including analogue, AES, ANA, DMI Optocore and DMI Dante. A pair of BroaMan Route66 Optocore AutoRouters, manage the Optocore links from the DiGiCo consoles and also act as central routers in the redundant ‘starred’ network.
In addition to the DiGiCo equipment, Autograph also supplied a large inventory of new microphones and accessories from Shure, AKG, Beyerdynamic, Audix, Sennheiser, Neumann, K&M and DPA.
Autograph’s involvement started many months before delivery, as Rob Tory, their head of technical support explains: “We were approached originally by the RAH as they knew of our long experience with DiGiCo products and the systems we install and support throughout the West End. Consequently, we spent a lot of time with them well before the installation began, helping to determine what control surfaces and supporting infrastructure would work best. Once the design was complete and the equipment was all in hand it was prepped, tested and fully commissioned at Autograph before being delivered to the Hall.”
“These are the first consoles the RAH has owned and, on a project of such scale, it was obvious for us to purchase DiGiCo,” says Ollie Jeffery. ‘DiGiCo’s reputation throughout the world as a reliable console that is used globally by touring acts, ensured that our vision to have the best was realised. Borneo Brown (audio manager) and Ben Evans (audio project manager) have a long history with Autograph and to have the support of such a reputable company on the project was invaluable to its success.
“We are very proud of the new relationship with DiGiCo and Autograph and look forward to continuing this for many years to come.”
19th July 2019
Zero Control Solution for Little Field Theatre at St Andrew’s School
UK – A Zero 88 lighting control solution including FLX S48 lighting console and Bypass dimmers and switch packs has been supplied to St Andrew’s School in Woking, Surrey, by rental, sales and installations specialist Henley Theatre Services (HTS).
The school, founded in 1937, is an established, respected and thriving coeducational prep school for around 300 children aged three to 13. As part of a commitment to deliver a stimulating and vibrant educational and developmental environment for its pupils, last year St Andrew’s invested in a brand new, 230 capacity purpose-built state-of-the-art theatre, the Little Field Theatre, and a rehearsal space in its 11-acre grounds.
The venue’s technical specification including the Zero 88 elements was delivered by consultants Theatre Tech who designed the production lighting, sound and comms systems. A tender issued for the equipment supply was won by HTS who liaised closely with both the consultants and the client. HTS completed the installation and commissioning of the equipment on site.
HTS’s Reg Berry explained that the FLX S48 provided an ideal lighting control option due to its “clever but simple” approach to controlling a combination of different light sources including LED and tungsten units.
In this case, the client also had several tungsten ‘legacy’ fixtures from their previous drama studio (Jnr School Hall) that needed to be integrated into the new theatre system, together with some new LED PARs, Selecon Acclaim Fresnels and profiles.
The two Zero 88 Bypass dimmers and switch packs provide dimmed and hot power for the lighting rig, making it straightforward to power both old and new fixtures, and a Zero 88 rack Split2:8 RDM device is used for DMX distribution. This set up also means hassle-free integration of more LED fixtures, moving lights, etc, in the future.
HTS has itself specified and supplied several Zero 88 FLX consoles to a variety of projects in the last two years. Reg comments: “FLX is a highly practical, well-thought-out cost-efficient console that’s easy to understand, programme and operate and ideal for this type of scenario.”
The School’s head of drama is charged with the day-to-day running of the theatre’s technical elements and Reg and the HTS team have also trained up key teaching staff on the lighting system and FLX. “They don’t have much time, so something uncomplicated but powerful enough to operate modern stage lighting effects has really ticked all the boxes!”
The Little Field Theatre is a much-coveted addition to the school’s many facilities and is now in use daily for theatrical productions, events, visiting speakers and announcements.
HTS also has a few FLX consoles in its own rental inventory; the company is known for its attention to detail and dedication to providing the highest standards of service and HTS can provide full production and event hire packages, including technical design, coupled with an extensive sales and installation business.
St Andrew’s school is a flagship installation for HTS, demonstrating its ability to complete full production and technical schemes to very high standards. “We have many years of experience and knowledge in our team and really enjoy working on projects like this,” he concluded.
Reg himself has been specifying and supplying Zero 88 products for over 20 years and comments that the brand has maintained an “excellent reputation” throughout that time, and that the FLX range of consoles launched four years ago, has “added substantially to that”.
He likes Zero 88’s people-and-products focussed approach and friendly attitude coupled with their own passion for their products, and still has fond memories of winning the Zero 88 Go-Karting Challenge Cup back in 1999!
Darwins Ltd were St Andrew’s School main contractor, and David Rogers were the electrical contractors.
photos: Henley Theatre Services
18th July 2019
L-Acoustics Helps Restore the Legacy of the Roxian Theatre
USA – Once a rough-and-tumble cog in Pittsburgh’s steel and coal industries, McKees Rocks has become a pleasant suburb with an interesting past and a bright future thanks to several major projects sparking the renewals of its downtown. The jewel of these is the renaissance of the long-shuttered Roxian Theatre, which reopened in May with a terrific slate of upcoming headliners for the 1,400-seat venue, including Snarky Puppy, Bruce Hornsby, Bad Religion, The Psychedelic Furs, Common, Avril Lavigne, and !!!. One of the things helping to attract acts of this caliber is the Roxian’s new L-Acoustics Kara(i) loudspeaker system, which was designed and installed by Hollowood Music & Sound.
The 90-year-old theatre, once a former vaudeville house, had closed in 2003 and remained vacant until local entrepreneur John Pergal, who also owns nearby Lawrenceville’s Thunderbird Café & Music Hall, worked with several partners to buy the property from the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation in December of 2017 as part of the neighbourhood’s reawakening.
But Pergal isn’t just an owner; he and his blues band, the Pawnbrokers, will often play the club, such as the acoustic-duo sets he does with the band’s guitarist on Friday nights before the opening act. “Acoustics and sound systems are afterthoughts at a lot of venues,” he says. “But not at this one. We had to have the best, and now we do.”
Hollowood Music & Sound, whose Brad Hollowood represents the 54-year-old company’s third generation and also supervises its installation department, may have found the theatre's location convenient – his store is literally several doors down from the venue – but the venue itself presented some sonic challenges.
“The theatre has a pretty large balcony, and the intent was to host a wide range of music genres, so the sound system had to be able to cover all those bases,” says Hollowood, adding that his installation department has also done projects at Heinz Hall and for the Pittsburgh Symphony. “We used L-Acoustics Soundvision software to get a very precise acoustical model of what the sound would do in this space, and when we plugged Kara into those specifications, it came back a perfect match.”
The Kara(i) enclosures also offered the compact form factor needed to maintain clear sightlines from the balcony, and the kind of weight-to-performance ratio that made it a good candidate for the near century-old venue’s ceiling. “Kara’s size and weight were ideal for this project,” he says. “Plus it’s a clean looking system, which is certainly important for an historic venue like this.”
Hollowood Music & Sound installation technicians Nathan Shapert and Dylan Engles received training on Soundvision, as part of the company becoming an L-Acoustics certified provider for installs (CPi), and worked closely with L-Acoustics product manager Scott Sugden and application engineer Jesse Stevens to refine the system design before installation and system tuning after it was in place. Hollowood cites that kind of close support and collaboration for why Hollowood Music & Sound is an all-L-Acoustics house. “They have the products we need for a wide variety of jobs and the experience to support us for all of them,” he says. “And, of course, they all sound awesome.”
Roxian Theatre’s new sound system consists of two dozen Kara(i) enclosures, hung 12 per side and each backed by three SB18i subs, all powered by seven LA8 amplified controllers. In addition, four KS28 subs are positioned underneath the stage, powered by one LA12X amplifier. Six short throw X8 loudspeakers, driven by a single LA4X, are used as frontfills, while eight more X8 fill in under the balcony, powered by another LA4X. On stage, 11 larger X12 serve as monitor wedges powered by yet another LA4X, and three SB18m are used as stage sidefill subs and for the drumfill, collectively powered by two LA12X.
Venue owner and managing partner John Pergal is superbly pleased with the performance of Kara(i), both as a club impresario and as a musician. “The vocal clarity is amazing and the bass is really tight,” he enthuses. “I’ve personally played through many line arrays, and I go out to lots of different venues all the time to hear music, and this system sounds as good or better than any I’ve listened to, including the monitors which most club owners will never hear! For me, the whole idea of restoring the Roxian was about the live music; that’s what I’m in it for. I want it to be a great experience for everyone who comes here, and with our L-Acoustics system, it absolutely is.”
photo: David Heath
18th July 2019
DiGiCo Helps Intimate Vilar Performing Arts Center Achieve Grand Ambitions
USA – The area around Vail, Colorado has long been a combination of natural beauty and modern taste, and the Vilar Performing Arts Center at Beaver Creek Resort has plenty of both. Opened in 1998, the performing arts centre is focused around its small but brilliantly executed 530-seat venue, which hosts approximately 150 events year-round, including a wide variety of jazz, comedy, dance, film, Broadway musicals, theatre, rock concerts, family shows, and more.
Earlier this year, the venue took a huge step forward, one that solved technical problems, brought it fully up to date in a fast-changing theatre technology landscape, and positioned it for the future when it installed a suite of DiGiCo products. The venue’s new FOH console is the compact but powerful SD12, backed by an SD-Rack loaded with 32-bit “Ultimate Stadius” Mic Pre-Amp cards.
The new and unique 4REA4 system was also installed, acting as a matrix hub, system processor, and more. All of this, along with a new A164Wall LCD I/O expander for the stage, joins a DiGiCo SD9 console already in place for monitor mixing there. Clearwing Systems Integration’s Denver team supplied the technology package.
Designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates of Los Angeles, the compact yet muscular Vilar Performing Arts Center’s wood panelled columns, walls and ceilings, combined with its European-style curved-horseshoe seating layout, give the venue a timeless air. Less pleasant, however, were the noise and other artefacts of its original analog console and audio systems.
“Ground loops and noise were constant, and it was clearly time to upgrade,” says VPAC technical director Matt Phillips. Working with local DiGiCo dealer Navatech + Warman Marketing and Ryan Shelton of DiGiCo US distributor Group One, they conceived, and VPAC integrated, a system comprising the SD12, 4REA4, and the ancillary products that would leapfrog the Vilar Performing Arts Center from the 20th century into the networked digital present and prepare it for the decades to come.
“We’re a small venue, but one with a passionate donor base,” Phillips says of the non-profit theatre. “We want to be the best of our size in the region, and be able to attract artists and performers that would go to larger venues such as Red Rocks. The DiGiCo technology lets us do that; the SD12 is a rider-friendly console that gives us a huge amount of functionality and flexibility for our rotating production staff and for guest FOH engineers. Most are familiar with the SD workflow, and if they’re not, it’s incredibly intuitive and we can bring them up to speed on it quickly.
“The 4REA4 is a very new technology, and we understand it’s still evolving, but it gives us a system at front of house that will soon ride on the Optocore loop and currently provides us additional processing for the PA system, such as limiting before the crossover, because we have a strict dB limit in the house, and for additional EQ. Also, it acts as a matrix and can let guest consoles connect via MADI, Dante, AES or analogue, as well as lets us send feeds to different areas, such as a separate feed we can now send to the patron lounge, backstage area, and my lighting position. There are so many things that we can do now that we simply couldn’t do before.”
Phillips enumerates a slew of other ways that the DiGiCo products have made the Vilar Performing Arts Center’s goal of being the best in the Rockies achievable, including putting its audio on a 32-bit level and setting the stage for future enhancements, including potentially offering artists a multitrack recording of their shows. And a SoundGrid server for the Waves plug-in bundle that was part of this package lets more visiting artists and their engineers simply walk in and perform.
“Both DiGiCo and Clearwing have been fantastic when it comes to support, which was also a big factor for why we chose them,” he adds. “We’re competitive with any venue of our size now, and just as importantly, we’re relevant for a decade or more to come. Plus, it all sounds great and it came in within budget, so everyone is happy.”
18th July 2019
MC2Solutions Installs Community IV6 for Golden Gate Cathedral
USA – Unbalanced sound in a highly reverberant space motivated Golden Gate Cathedral to seek specialist advice to solve the problem. The church turned to integration specialist MC2Solutions, whose experience in designing and installing high quality systems in similar venues has become well known.
Golden Gate Cathedral is a church, located in Memphis, Tennessee. With a membership of over 2,000, the church’s main sanctuary has a seating capacity of 1,350. The church’s pastor, Bishop Edward H. Stephens, is a passionate and expressive preacher, so a sound system with a natural balanced sound and outstanding intelligibility is an essential element in delivering his sermons.
Carl Woodard II, owner and designer of MC2Solutions, explained: “Used for a wide range of services and productions, the sound system is required to provide very high quality speech and full-range music, with the crucial focus being on frequency balance and intelligibility. To avoid reflections, we designed the system using wide dispersion line arrays to ensure even coverage of the congregation.”
Mr. Woodard continued: “Community provides the ideal solution for this application in the form of its new IV6 modular vertical array system. IV6 is a passive system that delivers a cost-effective combination of acoustic purity and long-term reliability. Its multiple configuration and splay options gave me the tools to design a system with excellent SPL and frequency response consistency and seamless coverage.”
The system consists of left and right arrays, each comprising six IV6-1122 wide-dispersion 12-inch two-way array elements, with a pair of IV6-118S 18-inch subwoofers extending the low frequency and adding impressive bass impact. A further combination of Community I SERIES IP6-1122 12-inch two-way point-source, IC6-2082 dual 8-inch compact loudspeakers, and IS6-218 dual 18-inch subwoofers provide additional fill and rear stage seating coverage.
Controlled by an Allen & Heath D-Live digital mixer, the system uses Lab Gruppen amplification and Lake processing. AKG and Sennheiser wired microphones and Shure wireless were chosen to ensure vocal quality with the flexibility required by the church.
Woodard concluded: “The consistency and intelligibility of the new IV6 system is a dramatic improvement for the congregation. Members can now focus on the content of sermons and productions and the church is very satisfied with the sound quality we have achieved.”
17th July 2019
Concept Group Transforms Le Theatre Cravey with Help from Chauvet Professional
France – Over one million visitors a year journey to Dune du Pilat. Anyone who has stood atop this 110-metre high sand dune (Europe’s tallest) and gazed out onto the Atlantic or the majestic Arcachon Basin below will find it easy to understand their motivation.
Not long ago, Jean-Jacques Eroles, mayor of La Teste-de-Buch, the small community that borders the famous site, had an inspired idea. His dream was to give his city a cultural centre that would be in keeping with its position as home to one of France’s most popular tourist destinations.
Earlier this year, Mayor Eroles’ vision was turned into reality when his city’s old and fading Pierre Cravey Ballroom was reborn as the modern and elegant Le Theatre Cravey. Contributing to this magnificent transformation was a carefully planned and technologically advanced new lighting system designed by the Bordeaux-based Concept Group that features Chauvet Professional Ovation and COLORado LED fixtures.
“We had to rethink the entire technological core of the building,” said Stéphane Pouydesseau of the Concept Group, which also was responsible for installing an all-new audio system at Le Theatre Cravey. “Our team worked very closely with the facility’s stage manager Frédéric Nadeau to define the audio and lighting products that were most appropriate for the building’s needs.
Considered from the lighting perspective, the list of essential products included ten Ovation E-930VW ellipsoidal fixtures and 10 COLORado 2-Quad Zoom wash units. “The ellipsoidals and washes are an important part of our lighting package,” said Pouydesseau. “They are used from different positions depending on the show being performed.”
Indeed, a wide variety of shows are now being performed at Le Theatre Cravey, which is not only more technologically advanced than its predecessor, but is also more flexible, thanks to its expanded stage and seating arrangements. The stage in the old ballroom measured 12 x 8 metres, compared to the new theatre’s 21 x 10 metre stage. While the former ballroom had a capacity of 700, the new theatre can be configured to accommodate audiences ranging from 480 to 1,000 people.
Given the flexibility of the new theatre, the versatility of the Chauvet Professional fixtures is very much appreciated. For example, the Ovation E-930VW fixture projects light in nearly any temperature of white with high CRI and CQS, and for times when a splash of colour is called for, it can also provide full control of each colour LED. The COLORado fixture’s 14° to 44° zoom range allows it to cover a wide variety of different sized spaces. For added flexibility, the Concept Group included 20 different sized lenses for the Ovation ellipsoidals in the specification for Le Theatre Cravey.
“Flexibility was a key reason why we chose the Chauvet fixtures,” said Pouydesseau. “As far as the Ovation ellipsoidal fixtures were concerned, the range of white temperature and the fluidity of the setting was critically important. For the COLORado pars, the aperture of the zoom and the quality of the colours made the big difference.”
For the Concept Group, helping Le Theatre Cravey move to the new era of LED technology was extremely gratifying. “We were happy to bring the building to a new age and make it ready for regulations coming that will ban incandescent fixtures,” said Pouydesseau.
As for audiences’ response to the new lighting, the theatre has housed 15 shows since the LED system was put in place, and the “reviews have been universally positive.” So now after a day of sightseeing or parasailing off Dune du Pilat, visitors are discovering another delightful attraction in La Teste-de-Buch.
17th July 2019
Optocore at the hub of Canada’s major National Arts Centre development $110m overhaul incorporates new AutoRouters
Canada – Based in Ottawa, and designed in the brutalist architectural style, Canada’s National Arts Centre (NAC) has been serving the performing arts since 1969.
A bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for Canada’s most creative artists, the NAC strives to be artistically adventurous in each of its programming streams: the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre and NAC Presents. Offering a variety of free programming and events, The Centre collaborates with artists and arts organisations across the country, invests in ambitious new works and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists from across Canada.
As part of a recent $110 million overhaul, globally-renowned integrators, Engineering Harmonics, was hired to design a comprehensive audio/visual system that would service their needs for the next 15 years and beyond. The project required upgrades to three of the performance spaces, replacing outdated equipment and infrastructure including some items from the original fit-out. These included Southam Hall, the Babs Asper Theatre and the Azrieli Studio and the upgrade included mixing consoles, speakers, amplifiers, DSP, intercom and a state-of-the-art digital fibre optic network provided by Optocore.
The NAC purchased a total of 54 Optocore units deployed across the three networks. Each venue was designed to have its own dedicated network, with a mix of permanently installed Optocore devices and mobile racks that could be moved freely between connection points in a venue or from one venue to another to accommodate larger shows where additional I/O was required. The Optocore networks are set to run at a 2Gb speed, with 96kHz sampling rate for optimum audio quality and channel count. In the studio/backstage network there are nine network IDs of a maximum 24, utilising 176 of 384 audio inputs with an unlimited number of outputs. The Theatre system uses ten network IDs and 208 inputs and Southam Hall has 13 IDs and 376 audio inputs.
At the heart of each network is one of Optocore’s new AutoRouters. This can operate regardless of the network speed and sample rate and can be configured with a mix of Multimode or Singlemode transceivers to support any infrastructure with fibre ports for up to 20 different network access points. The AutoRouter functions like a smart, fibre patch bay; when the equipment at remote connection points is turned on and starts streaming data into the fiber, the device detects this data and automatically repatches its fibre ports to accommodate this new location. When remote racks are powered down or disconnected the AutoRouter adjusts its patching to maintain a redundant network and bypasses the now unused fibres. The AutoRouter saves operators having to manually repatch the network with jumpers or loopback connectors whenever a location is not in use, ensuring a redundant network, 100% of the time.
The AutoRouter is format agnostic so it not only creates redundant star topologies for Optocore or Digico SD equipment (using Optocore as its onboard network transport protocol) but can also be used with Yamaha TwinLANe and AVID AVB networks in stand-alone applications. This is due to the AutoRouter’s ability to detect any incoming format of data and output it accordingly.
The Optocore system in each venue is a mix of DD32R-FX, X6R-FX and X6R-TP interfaces, configured for AES and analogue audio, with additional DD4MR-FX units for MADI distribution. All three venues have fairly similar systems with the largest being in Southam Hall. Network connections at two FOH positions and a monitor position allow for either the house or guest consoles to tie into the Optocore network via analogue or AES and distribute audio to any other network device.
With a number of pre-programmed macros in the Optocore control software users can quickly change the network’s routing to feed AES or analogue from any location to the main PA, monitor amplifiers for wedges on stage, or to installed monitor speakers. This set up allows the main PA and monitor speakers to be quickly set up, no matter whether there is a monitor console or not, with any analogue or digital console and with whichever format they might want to use.
The X6R-FX-16AEs that populate the console interface racks can offer 16 AES I/O (8 pairs) per device. They are also equipped with sample rate conversion cards so that an incoming AES signal is reclocked automatically to the Optocore network’s sampling rate. Even though there is a master Nanosync wordclock generator in each venue that distributes clock to all the new equipment via Optocore, this allows for users operating their consoles at 48k not to have to change their sample rate, limiting their channels to tie into the PA network. It also ensures that there are no wordclock errors that could occur from different pieces of digital gear operating on different clock sources. X6R-TP-8LI/8LOs give each location eight analogue inputs that can serve as patches to other locations or as feeds for the processors and amplifiers. The eight analog outputs in each TP device allow for splits for the local inputs or for cross-patching any channel on the network from other locations. DD32R-FXs act as the master interface for each network, both distributing wordclock from the Nanosyncs to all devices and as a 64 channel AES I/O interface connecting outputs from the FOH and monitor consoles to Meyer Sound Galileos for processing. The post Galileo signal is then fed back into Optocore and sent to DD32Rs in the central equipment rooms where they output the desired signals to amplifiers for the main PA, surround speakers, stage fill speakers and monitor systems.
The high AES channel count of the DD32R-FX (32 AES pairs per device) gives each venue lots of additional ports for future needs and distribution. The X6R-TP-8LI/8LOs that are attached via SANE, Optocore’s synchronous Cat5 protocol, to the DD32Rs give additional 16/16 analogue I/O for local inputs and outputs which tie into other systems, like QSC’s Q-SYS.
MADI distribution is also available within each system through multiple DD4MR-FXs located in control rooms, at FOH locations and in the mobile monitor rack. DD4MRs have two MADI BNC input ports and two MADI BNC output ports, each capable of 64 channels at 48kHz for a total count of 128 I/O. Optocore’s 2GB network, with up to 768 audio inputs at 48kHz, is well suited to transport multiple MADI streams as the high channel count can quickly fill up space on other lower bandwidth networks. DD4MRs give the operators at the NAC numerous options and flexibility including the ability to feed the PA system via MADI, output the shows for multi-track recording, transport MADI between the stage and FOH for guest consoles that would otherwise need a separate MADI snake, or tie into any production mobiles that might be hired for the performance.
The Optocore systems were assembled in such a way that the system is capable of interfacing with any console that may come into the facility, giving ultimate usage and flexibility over time as different manufacturers and formats change. Furthermore, as the Optocore platform was built on open standards, they will continue to provide new products and solutions that will keep the NAC as a premiere facility with the latest technological developments moving forward.
Said Optocore North America’s Brandon Coons: “The NAC’s venues receive so many different acts of varying sizes and technical requirements. The new Optocore systems will give them the ability to support current acts and shows moving forward with the world class features you’d expect from a new, state of the art performance venue.
“It’s now no longer a question of what the building’s systems are capable of, but of what they are asked for and how to deploy it.”
17th July 2019
Vari-Lite and Strand deliver state-of-the-art performance for Houston’s new $88m Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
USA – Advanced performance lighting systems Vari-Lite and Strand, Signify entertainment lighting brands, are meeting the demand for state-of-the-art technology at the new $88m Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) in Houston, Texas. The flagship education and arts facility features more than 600 lighting fixtures, plus control and networking technology from the renowned lighting equipment brands.
Designed by Gensler Architects, the HSPVA features an 800-seat main theatre, plus a black box theatre, a mini theatre, recital hall, dance studios and recording studio. In addition to its educational programme, it will also play a lead role in the cultural life of Houston’s thriving downtown arts district.
“This is not your typical high school space,” said Chris Purpura, who led the project on behalf of theatre consultancy WJHW Inc. “This is a state-of-the-art performing arts facility with many different rooms and spaces. From the get-go, they wanted systems that were in the forefront of technology.”
He added: “The client wanted to treat the spaces as a blank canvas. Maybe, in the main theatre they use the whole space, or half the space, or maybe a performance takes place across two or more spaces simultaneously. We designed the network so that the spaces can be connected, or divided, as required.”
Working in close collaboration with the architects, building contractor McCarthy Construction and entertainment systems integration specialists from Wenger Corporation, WJHW specified an integrated stage lighting and control solution from Vari-Lite and Strand.
At the system’s core, a Strand Ethernet network infrastructure integrates Strand’s Vision.net architectural lighting management system, NEO stage lighting control systems and C21 dimming systems throughout the facility. Vision.Net, with its programmable touchscreen interfaces, allows endless configuration possibilities for the multiple spaces, and enables configurations to evolve with use and experience.
Strand NEO control consoles provide advanced stage lighting control. “The NEO is a nice console,” said Purpura. “It’s very simple and accessible, which is important for a learning environment, but it also has a lot of power and flexibility.”
The investment extended to over 600 Vari-Lite SL Series and Strand fixtures. These include a broad array of the latest LED technology, from fixed PLPROFILE4 MKII white light ellipsoidals to colour-changing moving head fixtures, as well as conventional incandescent models.
The end result is a beautifully designed, fully equipped and future-proofed creative facility, which is set to inspire future generations of performers and technicians.
17th July 2019
Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross Relies on Symetrix
USA – The Cathedral of the Holy Cross has dominated Boston's South End neighbourhood since its construction just after the Civil War. With a seating capacity of 1,700 and a ceiling reaching to 80 feet, the cathedral is the largest Roman Catholic church in New England and the mother church for the Archdiocese of Boston. In the spring of 2017, the cathedral embarked on its first major renovation, including new LED lighting and a large and complex sound system with Symetrix signal processors at its heart. Two years and $26 million later, the cathedral reopened for Palm Sunday services.
The new sound system offers a substantial number of inputs and outputs,which are transported over a Dante network to facilitate moving signals around the sizeable building. Two Symetrix Radius NX DSPs handle all of these signals, with one unit dedicated to input processing and the other handling delays to the speakers placed throughout the cathedral.
System designer Evan Landry, president and CTO of Landry Audio, a division of CommLink Integration Corp, found the versatility of the Radius NX important in meeting the substantial needs of the cathedral system. "The Radius NX provides a great deal of flexibility in terms of processing, especially with the Super Matrix, which is processed on its own SHARC chip," Landry asserts. "We also have the ability to do logic inputs and outputs, which is handy for switching things on and off in the processing rack and essential for muting the audio system in the event of a fire alarm closure signal."
The system currently furnishes 32 channels of input, with the Radius NX offering British EQ and highpass filter modules on each input channel. Eight channels of wireless microphones are fielded by two Shure ULXD4Q quad-channel digital receivers. Another eight channels of wired microphones for the choir are routed to two PoE-compliant Attero Tech unDX4I Dante-enabled wall plates, each of which has four mic/line inputs with preamps and phantom power.
An Attero Tech unD4I-L Dante-networked interface receives the signal from the gooseneck mic that resides on the ambo (pulpit). The unD4I-L has four channels of mic/line inputs and four channels of logic I/O. The logic is put to use to sense a pressure mat at the ambo. The ambo mic gain is increased by 5 dB in the Radius NX when the mat is stepped on and is removed when the speaker steps off the mat. This boosts the signal for speakers with soft voices, while avoiding feedback when no one is at the ambo.
Provision was made for four inputs from altar microphones but these have not yet been needed. Similarly, a Symetrix xIO 4x4 Dante-enabled analog I/O expander is installed in the choir loft but is not yet in use as of this writing because the organ has yet to be reinstalled. Anticipating future expansion, Landry had 24-core multi-mode optical fibre run to the loft.
On the output side, the system feeds a custom-made Innovox MicroBeam 64 line array, plus 18 more Innovox line arrays along the support columns through the cathedral: 16 in the main nave area and one in each of the transepts. PowerSoft amplification drives all of the loudspeakers. Each of these units requires its own delay time in order to synchronize the whole system. Accommodating all of these delay times became the task of the second Radius NX, and the number of discrete outputs required was dealt with by installing four-channel analogue output cards in the option slots of both Radius NX processors, as well as adding a Symetrix xOut 12 analog output expander.
Two controllers are used for mixing and control: a Microsoft Surface tablet running a user interface screen programmed by Landry in Symetrix SymView software, and a Symetrix T-5 touch screen controller. "Having a touch screen is really handy," Landry relates. "It's programmable, so when someone changes their mind, as often happens with new projects, we can add a volume control, for instance, with just a program change. We don't have to put in another piece of hardware." Landry can even do changes or troubleshoot system problems remotely by logging in through a Nook PC in the processing rack.
The PA system is far from the only sophisticated technology at work. The cathedral's RF mic system is configured as three separate zones and employs two RF Venue Diversity Fin antennas and two Shure UA864 antennas, all of which are sent to an RF Venue 4 Zone antenna combiner. A fully equipped broadcast studio in the basement generates content for TV and webcasting and feeds the Catholic TV Network, based in Watertown, ten miles away. One of the Radius NX processors feeds signals through the Dante network, over a Luminex switch, to the studio's Yamaha QL1 console. From there, program audio is mixed and transmitted with video from the cathedral's broadcast facility, up an optical fibre placed on the building's spire, to a microwave transmitter that sends them to the John Hancock building near the city's Copley Square, from which the signals are then rebroadcast to Watertown.
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross project took nearly three years from the time Landry first asked to bid on the project until the work was finally finished. Success in such a large project depends on good relationships, something Landry had built with the archdiocese over time. "I had worked for the archdiocese a couple of times before we installed the system for them at Our Lady of Good Voyage in South Boston in 2017. That system also included a Symetrix Radius DSP and Attero Tech wall plates. The cathedral project started shortly after the Good Voyage project completed, so we were in a good working rhythm with them, and that made all the difference."
16th July 2019
Nantong Middle School Installs Martin Audio MLA Mini
China – With over 100 years of history behind it, Nantong Middle School in China’s Jiangsu Province is now looking to the future, with a new auditorium installed with high performance Martin Audio loudspeaker systems.
Founded in 1909 by famous Qing era industrialist and educator Zhang Jian, Jiangsu Nantong Middle School is well known across the province and the country. It is one of the first middle schools in the province set up in the modern fashion and its alumni include many politicians, nationally renowned artists, award-winning scientists and even five Olympic gold medallists.
The new multi-purpose hall in the Chongya Building on the main campus was dedicated to celebrate the school’s 110th anniversary, and the school required a high-quality sound system to suit the building. Their choice was the Martin Audio MLA Mini, for its consistent sound field coverage and high resolution, as well as the level of control offered by the Display optimisation software.
The system itself comprises two sets of MLA Mini, supported by two CDD Live15s, two CSX218 subs, and three CDD5s. For fill, a pair of portable Blackline F12+ was specified (which can be relocated subject to requirement) along with two installed XD12s. The system is entirely driven by Martin Audio amplification, in the form of an MA5.2K, and a pair each of MA2.8Q, and MA3.0, optimised by four of Martin Audio’s DX0.5 dedicated processors.
All Martin Audio components were supplied by Beijing Pacific Budee, whose sales manager JT Liu stated: “We are very proud to have provided this unique Martin Audio sound system that students and teachers at this school can enjoy for many years.”
Over 5,000 leaders, successful alumni, retired teachers, and other dignitaries attended the school’s anniversary celebration and theatre dedication ceremony, and were able to hear the new sound system at first hand.
In summing up, Martin Audio’s managing director, Dom Harter said: “We are grateful to this prestigious School for their faith in Martin Audio and to Budee’s ongoing passion to deliver our signature sound, coverage, consistency and control in China.”
16th July 2019
T1s A Top Choice for Wilminktheater & Muziekcentrum
The Netherlands – Live music, dance and performance are popular entertainment and pastimes in the Netherlands and the Wilminktheater & Muziekcentrum concert hall in Enschede are two fully specified and busy venues located just across the road from one another, hosting a diversity of live shows. They are run by an organisation combining private individuals and those working for the city.
There has been a recent investment in Robe T1 Profile LED moving lights. Lighting specialist Paul de Vries has been involved since the facility opened 11 years ago, and so has most of the lighting kit including some legacy Robe fixtures from the ColorSpot and Wash 575 series. Whilst still fully functional, the time came to freshen up and reinvest in new lighting to ensure the venues kept up with the latest technologies. This has come with the 12 Robe T1 Profiles which are replacing the older moving lights for use in both the theatre and the concert hall.
Paul was the one making the final decision on which fixtures to choose, and before this, to be absolutely sure he’d explored at all possibilities, he organised a shoot-out between six major brands including Robe. Jeroen van Aalst from Robe’s Benelux distributor Controllux supplied the T1 and impressed Paul and his colleagues enough for them to choose it. He liked the fact it was quiet – essential for many shows in the Concert Hall – and also that the units are small and lightweight, and the quality of the white colour mixing which is from the LED source.
Since the purchase, all 12 have been in action on several different shows: rock, orchestral, acoustic and there has been virtually no ambient noise. The T1s are also used extensively as front lighting and can effectively replace the previous static 2kW front profiles, where they are a smaller, lighter and hugely more flexible option. In a typical set-up, they will rig four T1s as front light and use the rest over-stage for a variety of different tasks and effects.
Around 400 shows are produced or hosted across the two venues across the ten month season, from classical music to pop gigs in the 1800 standing / 900 seated capacity Muziekcentrum concert hall, and from drama to dance in the Wilminktheater which can accommodate 1,000. The T1s are proving an invaluable asset, and Paul and the crew are delighted with their choice. “Robe has proved incredibly low maintenance over the years,” commented Paul, who doesn’t recall ever having a problem with the 575s in 11 years, adding that their own rigorous maintenance standards probably also play a part in this fact.
These are applied across all performance spaces, which also include two music venues, both called Metropool, one conjoined and in the same building as the Wilminktheater in Enschede, and the other in Hengelo, around 20km away. The T1s live in a set of specially designed flightcases when not up in the rig, which allow quick and easy transportation between the venues.
They use grandMA for control.
In picture: Wilminktheater lighting specialist Paul de Vries on the left with Controllux’s Jeroen van Aalst and some of the T1s.
15th July 2019
Powersoft Provides High-Density Amplification Solution at McMenamin's Elks Temple Spanish Ballroom
USA – Since it opened last April, McMenamin's Elks Temple Spanish Ballroom has become a go-to stop for artists touring the Pacific Northwest. Now a destination venue with Powersoft’s Quattrocanali platform, the Spanish Ballroom once served a different purpose but now hosts a wide variety of events.
Housed in a century-old Tacoma landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the city’s Elks Temple was designed in the second Renaissance Revival style by Édouard Frère Champney and built in 1916 to house the local Elks fraternal organisation. But, in the years since the organisation moved into a new location in 1965, the abandoned temple fell into disrepair, until McMenamin's, an Ashland, Oregon-based craft brewery that has built a chain of bars, restaurants and hotels with a series of successful real-estate revival projects, completely renovated the structure and turned its Spanish Ballroom into a fully up-to-date live music venue, powered by Powersoft Quattrocanali 4804 amplifier platforms.
With the Spanish Ballroom installation, Portland-based integrator Tone Proper AV further established its relationship with McMenamin’s, serving as the craft brewery and hospitality group’s equipment provider, designer and installer for the company's large venue touring systems.
Tone Proper AV owner Nick Moon, who also installed the sound system at McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom in Portland, based the Spanish Ballroom’s rig on an update to his earlier design. “The Crystal Ballroom is a staple in Portland, where pretty much everybody who’s anybody plays,” Moon said. “The Spanish Ballroom is basically an extension of that idea, but in Tacoma. Now, when bands are touring across the country, they can hit Portland and Tacoma and keep going. So, the bands’ engineer can walk in, play the Crystal on a Friday night, then drive up to the Elks Temple Spanish Ballroom the next night. They can just drop in their USB drive and load in on the console, and they’re basically going to get the same experience, consistency-wise.”
McMenamin's Spanish Ballroom employs 12 Fulcrum FW-15 monitors powered by four Powersoft Quattrocanali 4804 amplifiers. Using three channels per amp to power all 12 monitors, with the additional channel on each amp powering the sound system’s ancillary equipment, Moon made the best of what would have otherwise been a much more difficult load-in and installation process had it not been for Powersoft’s high-density amplification platforms.
“With Powersoft’s Quattrocanali platform, you can get a lot of amp channels in a small space,” Moon said. “The big thing for me is amp density – and, of course, sound quality. What Powersoft is doing with their amplifier platforms is pretty revolutionary. A lot of companies will sacrifice something in order to go for a smaller form factor; but what I like about Powersoft is that we don’t have to give up something to get it.”
After deciding to use the new monitors on the Spanish Ballroom, Moon needed to be able to get 12 individual 1,250 Watt processed channels of monitor mixes in four rack spaces. “For a lot of other manufacturers, that would be a two-channel amp with two rack spaces, so you’d need three times the amount of rack space to do what just four Powersoft Quattrocanali 4804s are doing. The processing is super powerful. You can put a ton of juice into one rack space and run the Quattrocanali 4804s full-out, and they’ll barely have their fans running. And, of course, they’re super efficient. When they’re in idle mode they run on extremely low power, so you don’t have to worry about heating up the room if you’re using the system all day.”
Moon completed the installation by inputting the tuning file provided by the monitor manufacturer into Powersoft's ArmoníaPlus system manager software and making his adjustments to the EQ within ArmoníaPlus. “If you make adjustments directly on the console, then a front of house engineer can mess with it,” Moon said. “But if you do it in Armonía and save it as a preset, somebody walking into the venue doesn't have the ability to change any of the house curve.” Using ArmoníaPlus, he increased the high pass settings on the original tuning file to mitigate any potential low-end problems in the historic ballroom. “We made our own high pass, because there are already four 18-inch speakers on the stage, and we wanted to take a little bit of low end off the stage.”
Renovating the Tacoma Elks Temple required a significant effort on the McMenamin’s part, and turning the Spanish Ballroom into a destination venue was no exception for Tone Proper AV. “Any time I walk into a building that’s really unique, I instantly get heartburn, because I know it’s probably going to be an engineering nightmare,” Moon said. Without ramps available to wheel equipment into the venue, Moon needed a lot more manpower than usual to muscle the pre-built rig up the venue’s steps.
“There was no loading dock, and we had to carry everything up and down stairs; and, since we pre-build a lot of the cable looms and do all the soldering our shop, we basically bring a working rig that we deploy and plug in, so it’s a lot heavier than just taking individual pieces up and then racking them. It required a lot to get everything in.
“McMenamin’s takes these old buildings and turns them into awesome venue's, hotels and bars. It’s what they do. But, because they’re old buildings, and they’re not really designed with monitor engineers in mind, everything has to fit into a small footprint. And since monitor desk consists of the main 52-channel split, and right next to that are all the monitor amplifiers, to be able to have all the monitor amplifiers take up only four rack spaces for 12 mixes is amazing. The Quattrocanali 4804 is a juggernaut.”
15th July 2019
Clair Solutions Delivers Custom-Designed, full AVL support at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center
USA – The Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center began as an inspired vision to create a civic and cultural polestar in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The vision gained traction with the purchase of an old armoury in West Chester that held the promise of conversion to a 300+ seat theatre. Although the founders had the artistic and civic experience to realise their vision, they didn’t have the requisite audio-visual technical know-how. They brought in national AVL design and installation firm Clair Solutions from nearby Manheim, Pennsylvania, whose team of experts worked with the founders from early conception to finalised design and from installation through commissioning and beyond, including help with the first several events. Because the roof structure of the old armoury could not support additional weight, Clair Solutions also designed, fabricated and installed a customized ground-support truss from which to hang all audio, video, lighting, soft goods and scenery support equipment at Uptown! Knauer PAC.
“When we first got started, the armoury was still a functioning national guard building complete with relics of 1960s cold war America, including an ammunition vault in the basement and fallout shelter signs,” recalled Bill Simmons, senior lighting designer with Clair Solutions. “The founders wanted to convert it into a bustling theatre that could stage plays, opera, comedy, dance, TED-style talks, meetings, and musical performances, including classical, jazz, Latin, and rock. However, they relied entirely on us to help conceptualise, design and install the technical audio, video, lighting, and rigging systems that would make all of those different kinds of events possible in this boutique venue. Moreover, we had to make it happen on a budget, so everything was carefully coordinated and demoed to make sure the venue would be getting the best possible performance and flexibility for the cost.”
The building’s roof is barrel-shaped and was designed to support its own weight and the weight of a heavy Pennsylvania snow, but not much more than that. To turn it into a performance space, Clair Solutions engineered a ground-support truss system. The truss starts with new concrete piers poured in the basement with columns rising up to connect with the theatre floor above. From there, the truss rises up on either side of the stage and forms a proscenium arch. It’s bolted to both side walls and the upstage wall. “We used a spigot Eurotruss design with custom pieces and had it fabricated overseas,” Simmons said. “Then we assembled it in place. That truss is really the key to making Uptown! Knauer PAC a performance space.”
The truss can support up to 8,000 pounds, of which 5,000 pounds is already spoken for with lighting and scenery, a video screen, custom curtains, lighting fixtures, loudspeakers and subwoofers. Lights include distributed Elation SixPar 200, SixPar 300, and TVL GYC RGBW LED fixtures. All ellipsoidals are either ETC Source Four WRD or ETC Series 2 Lustr, and lighting control is handled by an ETC Element. The venue’s high-fidelity PA system comes from Clair Brothers. It includes their CAT115 line array elements with low-end support from two CS218 subwoofers. QSC CXD-Series amplifiers power the system, with DSP from a QSC Core 100f. A Yamaha TF5 digital console commands the audio system, with instant recall for easy transitions between the various groups who use the space.
The video system had to be similarly flexible and ready for everything from digital signage to PowerPoint presentations to high-definition video. A Barco RLM-W8 projector paired with a motorised retractable Da-Lite screen allows for optimal video screenings and ably serves all of those needs. The fact that the screen can go away when it isn’t needed opens up the full range of aesthetic possibilities for events that don’t use video. Danny Olah, video system designer with Clair Solutions, gave Uptown! Knauer PAC video-over-IP solutions from Just Add Power to build a system with a modular number of transmitters and receivers.
Gary Green, past president of the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, enthused: “We were a group of engaged community members with a big dream. Clair Solutions made that dream a reality at the highest calibre.”
12th July 2019
ETC Prodigy Stage Machinery upgrades Musikhuset Aarhus in Denmark
Denmark – The Rytmisk Sal of Musikhuset Aarhus, the largest music house in the Nordic region, has upgraded its stage machinery system with ETC’s Prodigy P2 hoist and QuickTouch+ 12 controller.
The popular culture and events house in Denmark draws over a million visitors each year for concerts, musicals, theatre shows, opera and much more. The building’s lighting and technical teams had been looking to renovate the rigging system in the Rytmisk Sal (or rhythmic hall), also known as the ‘Rock & Roll hall’ in the music house.
Head of lighting at Musikhuset Aarhus, Ole Nielsen, came across ETC’s range of upper stage machinery products during a visit to the renowned ETC factory in Middleton, USA and was keen to find out more. He recommended the equipment to Head of production, Jonas Knive which lead to Atendi, the Danish distributor of ETC, being contacted to supply the equipment.
Eight Prodigy P2 hoist systems were selected to upgrade the current system. “With the quantity of shows and productions held at the Musikhuset Aarhus, the challenge was fitting the installation into the busy schedule of the event house,” comments Jonas. There was just one time slot available, and the project was installed just three weeks after the quote request. The short turnaround was so fast it required delivering and converting the Prodigy P2 hoists held in European stock from their compression tube mounting arrangement into the variant that can be mounted vertically and suspended on the main beams.
“This is a perfect example of how Prodigy hoists adapt to suit any venue,” says ETC European rigging sales manager, Enrico Nobile, “the P2 motorised winch unit can be used with compression tube to remove lateral loads on a building structure, to provide easy and free drop pulleys placement or without compression tube installed vertically or horizontally (above or below the grid) however the installation requires it.” The load feedback and the position control are supplied as a standard, together with all the safety features including: slack line detection, overload and underload, overcurrent protection, hard limits (2+2), load profiling and error log file to have a constant and complete hoist report.
QuickTouch+ 12 control station offers users complete system control in an affordable and user-friendly package; the LCD screen offers a simple and quick view of all main parameters coming from the hoist system.
Jonas Knive comments: ‘Here at Musikhuset Aarhus we host over 1,500 events a year across our ten stages and six halls, which means time is always short. The simplicity of the ETC Prodigy system makes it much easier for us to accommodate the wishes of the visiting productions and dedicate more time to their needs.”
12th July 2019
Teletica Channel 7 in Costa Rica Upgrades with Elation Lighting
Costa Rica – Televisora de Costa Rica operates Teletica Canal 7, a private Costa Rican television channel that was the first television station in Costa Rica back in 1958. Although the station produces a variety of popular programming for the Costa Rican market, they have been operating for years using a subpar mix of budget lighting fixtures and rented gear. Seeking to upgrade, Elation Professional automated luminaires were chosen as part of an ongoing lighting refurbishment.
With four or five different productions a year to tend to, most of which last for a period of three months, Canal 7 lighting manager Alejandro Alvarez has many roles to play. During the recent lighting install, Alvarez and his team handled rigging of the stage, including design and rigging of the TV lighting and intelligent moving heads, as well as configuring and mapping video, LED screens, and projectors. He is also behind the lighting console when many of the station’s most popular shows air.
With budgets to contend with, the lighting makeover is occurring in stages. “The idea is to change all the equipment little by little,” Alvarez says of the lighting system update. “First, we were looking for a company that could support us during this upgrade, a company that could stand by us to help with technical information and support like spare parts for example. I'm an electronic technician so for me support is the most important. Second, I needed a light with great colour mixing and a big aperture that could be used at a short distance because the sets are 6.3 meters high. I found this in the Platinum SEVEN and Platinum FLX.”
New additions to the rig include ten Platinum SEVEN LED-based moving heads used for backlight wash with its 19 x 25W LED face also making for an excellent upstage effect light. According to Alvarez, the powerful wash lights with their seven-colour multi-chip LED engine have eliminated the need for Fresnel backlighting.
Six multi-functional Platinum FLX moving heads provide upstage looks and on-floor graphics effects. Its wide aperture is especially useful because of the set’s low trim height, says Alvarez, who uses the hybrid lights in both spot and beam mode. Elation Flex Pixel Tape is incorporated into the set for scenographic effect and is even used to simulate an LED screen at times. For an easier way to create visuals, Alvarez uses Elation EZ Kling interfaces for pixel mapping control.
“I chose Elation because they have all the features that I was looking for and the price is very good for such a quality brand. Some features were especially important for a television broadcast environment,” Alvarez says, “like colour mixing, the five to 50-degree zoom in the Platinum SEVEN, and the high intensity.”
Currently in their third production of the year, the new Elation lighting equipment was installed over a two-week period this past spring and is used on popular programs like “Tu Cara Me Suena” and “Dancing with the Stars Costa Rica.”
Alvarez thanks Carlos Vargas Segura from Grupo Iliaco, Elation’s partner in Costa Rica, who he says has given the station all the support they need, as well as John Lopez at Elation. He also acknowledges his team made up of John Gutierrez (first lighting technician), Hugo Calderon (second lighting technician), Benito Mendez (third lighting technician), Rafael Guzman (video technician) and Julio Cerdas (lighting assistant).
11th July 2019
Adamson and Kraftwerk Collaborate on Grodno Regional Philharmonic Hall
Belarus – Kraftwerk Trade LLC, the exclusive distributor for Adamson Systems Engineering in the Republic of Belarus, has installed the country’s first permanent Adamson S-Series solution in the Grodno Regional Philharmonic’s brand-new concert hall.
In addition to being the professional home for the philharmonic – known locally as Kapella Grodno – the hall will serve as a creative and cultural hub for both the city and wider region of Grodno in Western Belarus, presenting various artistic disciplines for residents and visitors alike.
“As the new, state-of-the-art home for arts and culture in Grodno, this venue will showcase world-class artists and performers, so we were tasked with installing a world-class audio system that would properly cater to their needs,” shares Ulyana Barkova, deputy commercial director, sales and field services division with Kraftwerk Trade LLC. “Adamson’s S-Series offers top-tier audio performance with perfectly even coverage throughout the hall, is easy to wire, and offers a high degree of flexibility and customization with its rigging.”
The LCR system in the main auditorium boasts left and right arrays of 12 x S10 two-way, full-range enclosures each and a centre cluster of six additional S10s. A complement of S119 subwoofers delivers the low end, with four flown on each end of the stage and an additional four loaded beneath it. Six Adamson PC5s from the Point Concentric Series handle front fill duties.
Additionally, the venue sourced a portable S-Series system comprised of 16 x S10s and eight S119s that can be deployed in various configurations, from basic playback in smaller rooms for a myriad of applications to a full PA solution for outdoor concerts or festivals. It can also tie into the main auditorium system to share audio in adjacent spaces.
Barkova notes that her team made extensive use of Adamson’s Blueprint AV design and simulation software throughout the integration process. “Blueprint enabled us to fine-tune our configuration for the best possible system performance,” she says, “and helped with calculating the loads at our suspension points, which really simplified the physical installation.”
Jasper Ravesteijn, Adamson’s sales director for the EMEA region, travelled to Grodno to assist the Kraftwerk team with the tuning and alignment process.
“It was a pleasure collaborating with our distributor’s skilled staff to deliver this special project for the Region of Grodno, the first of its kind in Belarus,” says Ravesteijn. “It amazes me how quickly we’ve expanded in the former USSR region. There are multiple S-Series installs and users in countries like Latvia, Georgia, and even Armenia. We look forward to supporting Kraftwerk as they continue to build the Adamson brand throughout the country.”
Based in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, Kraftwerk Trade LLC was founded in 2009 and has since become one of the leading system integrators and pro AVL distributors in the nation.
“Adamson’s staff has been excellent throughout this process, offering timely and quality support for any questions or concerns we had,” concludes Barkova. “It was a great opportunity for us to work with Jasper at the venue, and we’re excited for the people of Grodno to get to experience the S-Series system’s performance with the philharmonic and other arts presentations going forward.”
11th July 2019
L-Acoustics Delivers Solutions for All of Action Church’s Audio Needs
USA – First established in 2014, Action Church is one of Florida’s most rapidly expanding faith communities. The non-denominational Orlando area church is now at four locations and experienced an astonishing 150-plus per cent growth between 2017 and 2018, less than four years after it was founded, catapulting it to the number two position in Outreach magazine’s top 100 fastest-growing churches last year.
Lead pastor Justin Dailey’s vision for the church includes having a consistent sonic experience between the church’s satellite locations, and thanks to the recent installation of L-Acoustics sound systems in two of them, they are well on their way to achieving that goal. Parrish, Florida-based Crown Design Group, an L-Acoustics certified provider for installs (CPi), designed and integrated a Kara(i) long throw system in the church’s main Winter Park location as well as an ARCS WiFo medium throw system for its smallest, in Sanford.
“L-Acoustics offered the best selection of solutions for different locations with different sound reinforcement requirements at a price that met the church budgets, without compromising quality,” says Crown Design Group Co-owner Garrett Walker, who noted that both locations are existing buildings that were renovated and thus had very different and challenging acoustical characteristics. The Winter Park property was previously a Masonic Lodge, among other things, with highly reflective concrete walls, a challenge easily resolved by Kara’s deft ability to keep the sound tightly focused on the seats.
“The quality of the sound during the worship service is very important to them, but so is the idea of having a consistent experience no matter which location you worship in,” Walker describes. “With L-Acoustics, we had the ability to pick systems that would be scaled to each location’s size and shape, but also knew that we’d have a consistent sound from room to room. That’s important when you’re trying to build a church brand across multiple locations, as Action Church is doing. Whether you’re in the Winter Park location, where the lead pastor is preaching, or in the Sanford location watching on video in real time, you know you’re getting the same sound, the same worship style and the same experience.”
Action Church worship director John Williams agrees, adding that the sound in the two church locations is now so good that: “I get calls telling me that we have the best-sounding room in all of central Florida,” he says proudly.
The desire for consistent sonic quality across all of the locations means that, when the time comes, Action Church’s two remaining locations, in nearby Winter Springs and Oviedo, will also have new L-Acoustics systems installed. “When we’re ready, we’d like to take those locations to the next level, too, with L-Acoustics sound,” he says.
Williams further points out that Kara’s compact form factor and resistance to feedback has solved another problem, keeping the sightlines to the two video screens flanking the centre stage meant that the arrays have to be hung as much as three feet upstage. “We had been concerned about possible feedback from having the PA in that position,” says Walker. “But L-Acoustics guaranteed us that there would be absolutely no feedback and they were right. We’ve had people holding microphones over the lip of the stage without any problem at all.”
The Winter Park location’s L-Acoustics system comprises eight Kara(i) loudspeakers per side in the stereo system for the church’s nearly 1,000 seat sanctuary. Each Kara hang is backed by three flown SB18i subwoofers in a cardioid configuration, keeping the entire bandwidth of the system focused on the seating area to assure intelligible speech and full-impact music. In addition, four ground-stacked KS28 subs reinforce the system’s low end, with four short throw X8 speakers used as frontfills and two more used as monitor wedges on stage. Seven LA4X and one LA12X amplified controllers power the full system.
The lower-capacity Sanford location, which accommodates nearly 200 worshippers, now has an ARCS WiFo system consisting of two ARCS Focus loudspeakers over an ARCS Wide flown on each side of the stage, plus four SB18i subs positioned on the floor. These are all powered using a single four-channel LA12X amplified controller.
As good as the systems sound, the economics were just as important for the houses of worship. “We showed the church as many as four PA systems from various manufacturers, but only L-Acoustics gave them what they wanted in terms of sound quality, and at a price that met their budget,” says Walker.
The outcomes were predictably good, with pastor Dailey telling Walker that the Winter Park location sound was the best he’d ever heard in any church. “And we achieved that during the demonstration without any processing; we just set up the speakers and connected the amplifiers with some basic delays and EQ, and right out of the box they sounded fantastic. Once the rig was up and the church heard it for the first time, even before the system tuning, they were convinced they made the right decision.”
11th July 2019
Musée Art & Histoire Sparkles After Hours with Auvicom and Chauvet DJ
Belgium – In the Shawn Levy Night at the Museum films, Ben Stiller's night guard character is exposed to an altogether different side of the museum after closing time when, to his surprise, the exhibits miraculously come to life. While this Hollywood fantasy may be a little too far-fetched for reality, a growing number of museums including the MoMA in New York and the Natural History Museum in London are taking on a new life after hours when they play host to corporate events and private parties.
At Brussels’ prestigious Musée Art & Histoire, which sports one of Europe's largest ensembles of Roman and Egyptian-era historical artifacts, one such late-night gala was enlivened by an immersive lighting design by Auvicom that featured an extensive collection Chauvet DJ fixtures.
Drawing on the colour-rendering power of 120 wireless Chauvet DJ Freedom Par Quad-4 IP units for uplighting and four EVE E-100Z spots, which were used to highlight the room’s architectural features, Auvicom was able to create a festive event environment, while still honouring the museum’s compelling aesthetics.
Adhering to the client's brief stressing the importance of creating an inviting ambiance, the team at Auvicom went about designing a vivid visual concept that subtly blended into the museum's surroundings. Thanks to the combination of saturated colours, small footprint and wireless DMX control capabilities, the selection of Freedom Par and EVE fixtures allowed the Auvicom team to create a number of unobtrusive, yet highly effective, lighting effects in key networking locations within the museum.
Crucially, the wireless DMX and power capabilities of the Freedom Par gave the team at Auvicom the advantage of flexibility. In addition to being free to position the fixtures throughout the museum, the wireless aspect of the fixtures ensured that the museum floor remained free from unsightly cables.
The team at Auvicom also had to factor in a number of logistical requirements for the venue itself, such as the limited power supply and limitations on overall power consumption. Thanks to their rechargeable power source providing hours of reliable illumination, the Freedom Par fixtures were able to provide a practical solution to the venue’s restrictions.
A further logistical hurdle was the museum's rather stringent set-up times, which forced the team to load, position, focus and calibrate all fixtures in a two-hour window between the facility’s closing at 4pm and the beginning of the event at 6pm.
The 15 lighting technicians working on the project met this challenge with flying colours, creating an engaging atmosphere that transformed the museum with a magical touch that even the most accomplished Hollywood director would have admired.
10th July 2019
Well-Spring Fills Their Mini-PAC with Sound from Renkus-Heinz
USA – The Well-Spring Group is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 1993 by a coalition of nine churches in the Greensboro area to establish a community for seniors with high-quality services and amenities suitable for a full range of residents, from those who are still independent through those requiring assisted living. The community recently built a state-of-the-art 340-seat theatre that, in its initial season, is scheduled to host everything from chamber concerts and opera to a reader's theatre event and a Black History Month concert, with more events likely to be added.
Wanting a theatre with uncompromised quality and the flexibility to grow, Well-Spring called on the expertise of architects Calloway Johnson Moore & West, in conjunction with Theatre Consultants Collaborative (TCC) of Chapel Hill, which served as design consultants for the project. A multi-disciplinary collaborative of industry veterans providing a wide array of design services, TCC ensured every audience member would hear the theatre's events by installing digitally steerable line array loudspeakers and subwoofers from Renkus-Heinz.
"This is the first time we've taken a performance space for one of these facilities to this level," states TCC performance systems designer Jason Prichard. "We truly made a venue that's like a small version of a performing arts centre." The sound system needed to serve a variety of programs with clarity and sufficient power for the space. "We wanted a speaker that would provide full-range support for light music, jazz, and speech; we were not trying to do rock and roll in here," Prichard points out. "A lot of the need was to couple high-quality sound with minimal visual impact on the space."
TCC specified a pair of Renkus-Heinz IC Live Gen5 ICL-F-Dual-RD digitally steerable line array loudspeakers to cover the room, supplemented by two DR18-1R single 18-inch subwoofers to provide very low frequencies. The Dante-enabled ICL-F-Dual-RD consists of two IC Live array modules, each containing five 6.5-inch neodymium low-frequency transducers and three one-inch throat, titanium nitride-coated high-frequency drivers. Since every array element has its own DSP and amplifier channel, the ICL-F-Dual-RD offers individual control over each element to form up to eight beams.
With no balconies or other architectural complexities to accommodate, covering Well-Spring's theatre was relatively straightforward. "We used two beams from each ICL-F-Dual-RD, one covering the front section and a second beam covering the rear seating," notes Prichard.
Audio was distributed via a redundant Dante network controlled by a Symetrix Radius NX 12x8 DSP, as suggested by Greensboro-based Audio & Light, the installers and system programmers on the project. The Renkus-Heinz speakers are hardwired directly to the Dante switches. The Dante network also feeds audio to a 70-volt speaker system that covers several support spaces, and to a separate building-wide audio system, so that programs can be routed to the rest of the building in which the theatre is housed. Similarly, video from the theater can be sent to a building-wide CATV system.
Inputs are connected through custom wall panels designed by TCC, installed at key locations around the stage and house areas. The theatre's Yamaha TF series digital mixer can be connected to a panel placed in a raised seating area at the rear of the house for mixing from that position. A Crestron control panel can control the Symetrix DSP directly for quick setup for speeches or simple events.
TCC gave the speakers a low visual profile. "We worked carefully with the architect to incorporate the speakers into the structure on either side of the proscenium," relates Prichard. "We requested a custom colour and put them into faux column fascia panels; you don't even notice them. The subwoofers are in the front-of-stage at the aisles, hidden behind fabric."
The context of a senior community added considerations beyond TCC's typical jobs. "It is
a unique experience working in a theatre geared toward an older age group," Prichard acknowledges. "We needed to think about sound control in the theatre to make sure it was as quiet as possible in the room, and we needed good intelligibility throughout the space." A specialised contractor installed a hearing loop system in the floor of the theatre for assisted listening.
Logistics was another issue TCC needed to address. "We had to consider how people are moved in and out of a room like that, and be able to accommodate a lot more walkers and wheelchairs than what we deal with in a standard theatre space," explains Prichard. "Finally, we didn't want it to ever go completely dark in the room; we needed good light on all paths for those with visual impairment. All of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) considerations we usually deal with are amped up in a space like this, since a majority of patrons are dealing with those types of issues."
Well-Spring is already working its theatre hard and appreciates TCC's selections for the new audio system. "What I like about the Renkus-Heinz speakers is that they are a quality product," concludes Prichard. "They give quality sound without a super-premium price. Honestly, if I'm speaking about how compact a steerable array is relative to its sound quality, I think the IC Live Gen5 sits at the top."
8th July 2019
Princess Cruises Welcomes L-ISA Onboard
USA – Two Princess Cruises ships – Diamond Princess and Sun Princess – have undergone a major upgrade to their entertainment offerings with a new approach to live sound, bringing L-ISA Hyperreal Sound and Immersive Hyperreal Sound experiences to their guests.
Princess Cruises decided to raise the on-board sound reinforcement to a new standard and has specified L-Acoustics L-ISA configurations, supplied by L-Acoustics certified provider, Norwest Productions.
L-ISA is an object-based immersive sound technology that uses placement of sound sources to achieve spatialisation, enabling anything from a customisable, ultra-realistic live sound field to fully immersive 360° sound design. Individual audio objects or channels can be independently panned and located anywhere in the soundscape. The main components are the loudspeaker system, the L-ISA processor, and L-ISA controller: a software suite that takes care of positioning, movement and visualization of all sound objects in the 3D mixing space in real time.
In seeking to offer exceptional guest experiences, Princess Cruises Entertainment Experience department began exploring implementation of immersive live sound, noting that live performance audiences are increasingly exposed to immersive technologies in other contexts such as cinema, gaming and VR. “Bringing a new level of guest experience is our foremost consideration," observes Mark Simons, Princess Cruises director of production operation and projects.
The first demo of L-ISA took place at the company's US offices in Westlake Village, California utilising L-Acoustics purpose-built L-ISA demo facility. The company realised that the technology would contribute to making shows sound more vivid and natural, ultimately making the audience feel more connected to the performance. The final decision to proceed with L-Acoustics L-ISA integration was made during the 2018 InfoComm exhibition in Las Vegas when the opportunity to compare the systems on offer from other manufacturers was extended. The ability of L-ISA to spatialise objects by controlling proximity and distance as well as smooth panning left to right was what made the technology stand out from other options. The company felt the technology could make listeners feel like they were in the heart of the action happening on stage.
The front Scene systems for both the Sun Princess and Diamond Princess installations use five arrays of six Kiva II ultra-compact modular line source speakers across the width of the stage. These are augmented with ARCS WiFo cabinets to widen the panorama with an Extension system, along with two SB18 subwoofers.
The Diamond Princess installation takes the system even further into the immersive realm with 12 X8 enclosures to create the surround system. The Sun Princess system was installed in August 2018 and the Diamond Princess installation happened at the beginning of 2019.
The results in both theatres are remarkable, encapsulating the audience in audio that rivals and even surpasses West End and Broadway theatrical standards of production and immersion. “We are proud to be the first cruise line in the world to offer L-ISA technology on board our vessels,” concludes Simons. “Our early adoption of this transformative audio technology, currently used by world-class events, venues and artists, underscores our commitment to identify and act upon every opportunity to surprise and delight our guests.”
photos: Mark Millar
5th July 2019
Painting the Pavement with Projected Kandinsky Artwork
Chile – The Artequin Museum is an interactive and educational museum located in Santiago de Chile whose mission is to bring the world of contemporary art closer to children, young people and adults. Housed in a national historic landmark Paris Pavilion, the museum recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a newly renovated entrance plaza “La Plaza De La Luz y el Arte Enel” that aims to engage the public in a unique experience of colour, sound and form inspired by Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky. As guests enter the plaza, they’re greeted by Kandinsky-inspired projections that are created by Rosco Image Spot fixtures and custom glass gobos.
Drawing on Kandinsky’s evocative use of colour and form, Chilean lighting designer Paulina Villalobos illuminated a space of over 1000m2 with interactive games, changing colours on the museum façade and two gobo projections based on the Kandinsky painting “Sky Blue.” The original painting features organic and flexible forms that appear to be dancing in the sky. These characters were implemented into a multi-colour glass gobo design and projected, using Rosco’s Image Spot fixtures.
“The residents of the Kandinsky work ‘Sky Blue’ are taken from its pictorial context and transformed into projected light at the entrance,” said Paulina Villalobos. “These characters that paint the pavement are the ones that invite visitors to enter the plaza and then through the entrance stairs welcome visitors to the museum. It is light converted in form.”
Villalobos chose the compact and powerful Rosco Image Spot for this project because she determined that the fixtures’ bright output and crystal-clear optics – coupled with Rosco’s unsurpassed glass gobo quality – would ensure accurate projection of Kandinsky’s colours and shapes.
Two Rosco Image Spot IP-65/DMX Tungsten White 3000 LED projectors with 30° lens optics were specified and installed on the top of light poles in the plaza. Villalobos also specified white housings for the fixtures so that the two Image Spots would blend harmoniously with the other lighting elements. The IP65 rated fixtures provide brilliant performance in all weather conditions, including Santiago’s warm dry summers and its cool, humid winters.
Using a mere 45W of power, the Image Spot 3000K projectors also meet the museum’s energy conservation requirements, which made the Artequin the first sustainable museum in the country. “I used Rosco Image Spot 3000K model to bring to life the residents of Kandinsky Blue Sky,” Paulina said, “because this color temperature is more respectful towards environment and human health in nocturnal ambience.”
3rd July 2019
Claypaky Lighting Shines at Moscow’s Zaryadye Concert Hall
Russia – When Moscow’s Zaryadye concert hall opened it became one of the most technologically advanced venues in Russia. It features a large complement of Claypaky lighting fixtures in its 1,600-seat Philharmonic auditorium and in its smaller 400-seat theatre.
Zaryadye is part of a new park adjacent to Red Square and next to the Kremlin walls. Its Philharmonic auditorium is equipped with stage machinery, precisely chosen lighting gear and integrated engineering technologies that allow it to host different types of productions from classical music concerts and theatrical performances to international conferences and shows.
Claypaky fixtures selected for the hall include 54 A.leda K-EYE K20s, 12 Scenius spots, 12 Scenius profiles and 30 Show Batten LED linear lights.
The K-EYEs were chosen for their quiet operation, notes Vasily Litvin, lighting director of the DOKA Center, a Claypaky distributor in Moscow, which has been involved with the project since Zaryadye’s conception in 2015. “As the stage is intended for acoustic concerts a minimal level of technological noise was one of the main priorities when choosing the equipment,” he says. “Nothing should disturb visitors while they enjoy the tailor-made acoustic characteristics of the auditorium.”
He finds the K-EYEs to be “ideal for the orchestra pit and auditoriums: Their new six-colour system of colour synthesis provides a white which does not differ from a classic halogen lamp while at the same time enables the user to change colour temperature or work with tones.” The same fixtures are used in the hall’s smaller auditorium for main and stage lighting.
Lighting equipment is mounted on special mechanisms to lift the spots up above the ceiling and permit technical maintenance without dismantling them. All stage machinery equipment installed at Zaryadye is intended for comfort and optimal maintenance.
The new concert hall has quickly garnered fans among them Damir Ismagilov, the main lighting designer of the Bolshoi Theatre who contributed to the stage lighting design of the hall. He calls the venue “full of surprises” and says: “The complex and sophisticated combination of lighting and technical equipment is capable of transforming every single event into a one-of-a-kind performance.”
3rd July 2019
Robe Enjoys the Blue Hour at PQ19
Czech Republic – Robe embraced the vitality and essence of visual and aural collaboration in supporting “Blue Hour”, a large scale multifaceted immersive installation staged in the Small Sports Hall venue at the Prague Exhibition Grounds for the 2019 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ2019).
This complex work was developed from an idea originally conceptualised bythePQ19 event curators Marketa Fantova and Jan Rolnik. Their vision was an ambitious project to unite a series of innovative and prominent performance designers working in six separate but related disciplines: lighting, video / projection, experimental sound, tactile elements, VR and systems integration, under the direction and guidance of French visual artist,Romain Tardy.
Leading the lighting workgroup were Pavla Beranova and Fereshteh Rostampour who worked with and mentored a group of 15 students from the US, Chile, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Taiwan and Belgium, who had responded to an open call to assist in the creative and technical processes involved in lighting the work.
Robe made available 40 of its T1 Profile moving lights, 20 of the new T1 Washes plus 40 MegaPointe multi-purpose fixtures and 20 CycBar15 LED battens which were utilised as the main lighting fixtures of the piece, rigged to a variety of temporary trussing and scaffolding structures erected all around the Small Sports Hall interior. Four Spikies were used for assisting the VR part of the Blue Hour experience.
Robe’s role in realising the project was co-ordinated by JJ Valchar, sales manager for the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The result was a provocative and stimulating experiential work in four sections comprising layers of visual and sonic inputs including a full soundscape based on the rhythms of a circadian clock – a biochemical oscillator that cycles over about 24 hours in most living organisms which is synchronised with solar time.
The title “Blue Hour” was a juxtaposition of that special and unique moment of morning and evening twilight when the sun is just below the horizon, and the sky is coloured an intense, penetrating and beautifully ephemeral blue.
The Blue Hour cycle ran for 24 minutes. Participants imbibed the six expressive creative disciplines and the four segments of time each coming away with a completely individual interpretation.
None of the Blue Hour artists or collaborators had previously worked together, and the overall work demonstrated how all these different media and visual experiences and a cacophony of ideas can work together to create an environment that evoked a series of different and direct emotional responses from the viewer.
It was the PQ19’s main creative centrepiece and was enjoyed by a diverse audience.
For Pavla, a freelance lighting designer working prolifically in theatre, dance, opera and architecture in the Czech Republic and across Europe and a teacher at the Academy of Performing Arts in Brno, Czech Republic, Blue Hour was 9 months in the making.
In March she was joined by Fereshteh, a professor of lighting and set design at Auburn University, Alabama, USA, whose professionalism and experience was invaluable in shaping the artistic direction of the students.
Pavla was originally approached by the curators of the installation, and then put the team together to realise the lighting part of the work via an open call-to-artists. From there, the content of the lighting design evolved based on four six-minute sections.
Robe had already offered creative and technical support to the PQ19 event. The company has been involved in past PQs and see it as a significant international melting pot for the development and use of creative and technical disciplines in new and engaging ways.
Pavla and Romain Tardy both had initial ideas about where Blue Hour’s lighting should be positioned around the Small Sports Hall for maximum impact. They needed to get elements of light (a shaft, a swirl, a slice of luminance, a patch of texture, a series of searing and forceful beams) into all areas of the large and relatively low-ceilinged space.
It soon became clear after the first discussions with Pavla, that Robe’s refined T1 LED range with its subtle and smooth colour mixing and highly accurate shuttering system would be ideal for the abstract collage effects she was envisioning, as would the power, punch and flexibility of the MegaPointe.
Pavla loved the quality of the T1 luminaire generally and commented that “the warm white range was excellent!”
Even though the Hall offered up a voluminous space, Pavla had wanted smaller fixtures, so their physical presence was subtle enough for them to be close to the audience, and they still had sufficient light output to achieve what she wanted, adding to the anticipation of where the light source might be coming from.
“I am impressed with how Robe has been considering the size and physical low impact of its lights for some time,” she commented.
In the MegaPointes, she highlighted the advantages of: “Having everything you need in one fixture – wash, beam and spot – plus all the great features,” adding that they were also bright but subtle enough to blend nicely with the projected light aspects of the installation.
Being Czech, Pavla was aware of Robe and its products, however she had not yet used the new T1s on a project.
Fereshteh, on the other hand, had not previously worked with Robe moving lights and was “extremely impressed” with the overall scope and creativity and just how much can be achieved with a single light source! The MegaPointe is now a firm favourite of hers: “Especially for this type of environment and our creative end-goals, it was brilliant for the job.”
The Blue Hour was a great example of just how adaptable both T1s and MegaPointes can be for lighting in any environment from standard rock concerts and TV shows to experimental art installations like this.
On a large scale the Blue Hour lighting workgroup worked in very close collaboration with the sound workgroup, led by Rob Kaplowitz and the video group led by Romain Tardy, while on a smaller scale, the light designers co-operated with Tereza Stehlíková and her tactile environments group.
The lighting group’s advance work involved an lot of previsualisation, from hand-drawn sketches to Capture, all collated by Pavla and which paid off when they arrived on site well prepared and able to maximise the extremely short time they had to build the installation and in some cases physically meet the other departmental collaborators for the first time.
The previsualisation in Capture also proved to be an essential tool in collaboration with the Video and Sound groups during the first days of the creative process on site.
The Blue Hour lighting cues were triggered via timecode linked to the soundscape, a process undertaken by the project’s systems integration workgroup.
A core component of the Blue Hour project in a PQ context is the learning curve based on the intensive teamwork and potential synergy resulting from the uniting of experienced artists with emerging and aspiring designers, all selected through the democracy of an open call for creative collaboration.
Lighting Group participants selected from the open call were Kelly Rudolph and MeJah Balams both from the USA, Paula Castillo Tocornal from Chile and the USA, Ana Luisa Quintas from Brazil, Tereza Bartůňková from the Czech Republic and Zuzana Bottová from Slovakia.
They were joined by nine interns: Jack Stoffel from the USA and Yen-Min Tseng from Taiwan, together with Dorian Stevens, Sarah Feyen, Lara Van Bellingen, Sinan Poffin, Guust Sambaer, Casper Van Overschee and Thomas Maes all studying at the RITCS school of Arts in Brussels.
Jack Stoffel is one of Fereshteh’s BFA Lighting Design students who will be graduating in 2020. Through a competition, he was granted an internship by PQ which would count as a college credit at the Auburn University Theatre Program. Sean Crowley, director of the internship programme, knew Fereshteh would be co-leading the lighting workshop for 36Q – the artistic and technical side of performance design – and assigned him to Blue Hour as part of his internship. Being involved with a huge lighting project as part of his studies worked brilliantly for everyone.
From Robe’s perspective, JJ commented: “It was a great pleasure working with Pavla and her team as well as seeing two well-known industry women and LDs designing this special lighting installation and managing all the students.
“The environment was more industrial than a typical theatre space, so the LDs / artists really had to up their game, let their imagination loose and think about every detail and numerous angles to meet their goals and create a unique experience. The T1s looked brilliant framing the richly-coloured beams so precisely and dramatically. It was a demanding showcase for all the fixtures’ theatre-focused features but, and I believe, it was a really good decision to make them available for this important work.”
photos: Louise Stickland
2nd July 2019
The Acorn Theatre Upgrades with PROLIGHTS
UK – A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ltd. (AC-ET) has supplied the Acorn Theatre in Penzance with a full PROLIGHTS LED lighting upgrade.
For over 40 years the Acorn has hosted a wide range of arts practitioners and art forms, including live music, theatre, poetry readings, story-telling, dance, film, lectures and the visual arts. These acts can scale all the way from international tours right down to school plays.
Looking to upgrade its house lighting rig to LED, theatre manager at the Acorn, Richie Cawley, thoroughly researched all his options and found that the extensive PROLIGHTS range best met both their needs and their budget. Andy Mahaffey, External Sales at AC-ET, visited the Acorn to discuss their requirements and show the PROLIGHTS fixtures that would be best suited to their venue.
Impressed by the quality of the LED fixtures, and their ease of use, Acorn invested in a number of PROLIGHTS ECLIPSE Fresnel Juniors, ECLIPSE Junior Zooms and STUDIOCOBs.
When asked about the fixtures Richie commented: “They have been totally brilliant. We are receiving loads of positive comments from visiting Artists and Theatre companies alike about the vast improvement.”
“Andy came to visit to us all the way down here in Penzance, to show us what he recommended for our theatre.” He continued: “I am more than happy with the after sales, Andy has been great.”
Andy commented: “For a small theatre like the Acorn the PROLIGHTS range is ideal. Richie was looking to deliver a high end result on a limited budget, and it is great to see not just the venue but visiting acts finding them really beneficial.”