Project News Headlines
Solid State Logic System T Consoles Installed at NBCUniversal Six-Studio Complex in Boston
USA – Executives from NBCUniversal together with state, city and local officials attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new $125 million NBCUniversal Boston Media Center, located at the Needham Crossing Business Park, on 26 February, 2020. Five Solid State Logic System T AoIP-networked audio mixing consoles handle all facets of broadcast audio production at the six-studio complex, which was designed and built on a SMPTE ST 2110 IP backbone.
“It was truly a pleasure working in partnership with SSL to build NBCU Boston’s new media facility,” comments Jason Kornweiss, VP and general manager of Emerging Technology & Solutions, Diversified. “Their product ownership, comprehensive engineering training and support for the customer is impressive and we look forward to opportunities to work together again in the future.”
The new NBCU Boston Media Center was built to support news gathering collaboration between NBC10 Boston, NBC Sports Boston, Telemundo Boston and NECN (New England Cable News), which were previously housed in separate locations around the city. Chris Wayland, general manager of NBC Sports Boston and SVP and station manager of NBC10 Boston, Telemundo Boston and NECN, described the complex in a local news report as “the most spectacular news facility in the world.”
The NBCU Boston Media Center houses six 2,400-sq.-ft. studios. Three dedicated studios serve NBC10 Boston, Telemundo Boston and NECN. NBC Sports Boston’s Studios 4 and 5 are combined into a single 4,800-sq.-ft. space. Studio 6 is a flexible space accommodating town hall meetings and other special presentations. There are six corresponding control rooms, plus a dedicated podcast studio. More than 60 broadcast service panels and over 90 channels of wireless microphones enable productions to broadcast from locations throughout the 160,000-sq.-ft. facility.
SSL’s System T, which is ST 2110-30 ready, comprises Tempest-based processors and a routing and I/O system incorporating Dante AoIP technology offering complete AES67 compliance. The system may be flexibly networked with a variety of hardware control interfaces, from touch screen terminals and remote hardware panels to large-format modular consoles.
The co-location of the local news, regional sports network and regional news network is designed to better serve audiences across all platforms with English- and Spanish-language content. Working with NBCU’s team, systems integrator Diversified built the technical infrastructure to be as compliant with the SMPTE ST 2110 Professional Media Over Managed IP Networks suite of standards as is currently possible, enabling facility-wide collaboration. The ST 2110 IP infrastructure will also allow the facility to adapt and scale its capabilities and operations in the future with minimal additional investment.
27th March 2020
Clair Brothers Kitcurve Loudspeakers Improve Sound Coverage at Latvia’s Adazi Cultural Centre
Latvia – The Adazi Cultural Centre is a modern and popular institution that serves numerous community functions with events such as concerts, exhibitions, conferences and many other educational experiences. Not only do residents of the region love the Adazi Cultural Centre, it’s also highly valued by Latvian pro audio industry professionals, popular musicians and concert producers. The building was commissioned in 2010, unfortunately, the sound system originally installed in the 400-seat hall was outdated and could not provide the necessary sound coverage across the hall or up in the balcony area. Enter Clair Brothers.
Maris Vitols, head of the Adazi Cultural Centre technical department, knew an upgrade was needed and began gathering vital information about high-quality, modern sound system solutions that would meet modern expectations and deliver the kind of sound the cultural centre could be proud of. Vitols emphasised the need to replace the current 12-speaker acoustic system with a more compact system that, when necessary, could be relocated to another room or utilised in an open-air stage setting. His search led him directly to SGS Sistemas, the Clair Brothers distributor in the region. SGS Sistemas was tasked with solving the uneven sound coverage of the existing sound system while making certain to provide high-resolution sound. Guntars Bluss, technical support at SGS Sistemas, wasted no time suggesting the kiTCurve12+ as the perfect sound system for this specific room.
The Clair Brothers kiTCurve12+ is a full-range, curved-array, high-output loudspeaker system that is ideal for conference speeches and music reproduction. The kiTCurve12+, with its patented Clair Brothers curved array technology, is one of Clair Brothers most versatile, full-range speakers. It combines the curved array ability with the portability and versatility of the entire kiTCurve Series. Exceptional intelligibility, high-output performance and durability make the kiTCurve12+ an excellent choice for virtually any application, indoors or out.
Before the final decision was made, Vitols requested a demo version of the kiTCurve acoustic system, developed by SGS Sistemas, be installed in the hall of Adazi Cultural Centre, where it was tested during several live events and passed with flying colors. The new system is much more compact than the original, consisting of just four Clair Brothers kiTCurve12+s and two kiT-Subs. Each speaker has a built-in power amplifier which allows them to be easily moved and used separately.
Vitols expresses their satisfaction: “We’re very happy with the results. Now we can finally work efficiently, with the highest level of sound quality, using this compact Clair Brothers sound system tailored just for our premises and our needs.”
27th March 2020
Brillant light for the Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonie
Germany – Ever since 1963 the Philharmonie, Berlin has been the capital's musical heart; at the opening when it was still located at the periphery of West Berlin and even more so when it became part of the new urban centre after the reunification of Germany. Today the Philharmonie designed by Hans Scharoun belongs to the Kulturforum Berlin along with the Chamber Music Hall, the museum of musical instruments and a series of other buildings, and is just steps away from the Potsdamer Platz. Its exceptional design reminiscent of the shape of a tent and the conspicuous yellow colour visible from afar have made it one of the city's landmarks. While initially the unusual and innovative character of its architecture and concert hall design provoked controversy, the Berliner Philharmonie has since inspired architects of concert houses everywhere in the world.
The Chamber Music Hall completed in 1987 seating an audience of 1,180 is the 'little brother' of the Berliner Philharmonie, in terms of both the architecture and the range of musical events. With its tent-like design and the concert platform positioned at the centre the conceptual idea which defines the 'big' Philharmonie is repeated.
As is frequent practice in cultural buildings, conventional 120V / 250W light bulbs with E27 thread were used in the Chamber Music Hall as well. However due to new EU energy directives this type of bulb is no longer produced, and as the Philharmonie's supplies were becoming scarce an alternative had to be found that would come up to the highest demands the philharmonic orchestra or any other orchestra playing in the Chamber Music Hall might have with regard to lighting. Upon winning the contract ASC involved Anke Schierenbeck from VisionTwo, the Berlin IBM planning office and the manufacturer GSD in the job of developing various light simulations for the 50 lights which were awaiting replacement. A series of lighting tests was performed under real conditions as well in order to convince the user of the level of enhancement that could be achieved if the new lighting equipment was used.
After sampling had been successfully completed, the ArcSystem Pro One-Cell High Output type with 108W, 8,000lm, a constant colour temperature of 3,000K and D1HO DMX RDM driver was identified as the equipment of choice. The particular challenge consisted in mechanically fitting the LED heat sink to the existing cylindrical housing and in providing a secure structural connection of steel ropes and existing cables to ensure mechanically reliable pendant mounting above the orchestra. "These problems could be solved in the ASC workshop where we had the chance of availing ourselves of Christian Schroeder's long-standing construction and development experience," Anke Schierenbeck points out. Thus structural details were generated in the 3D printer, lasered metal parts ordered, powder-coated at ASC's and assembled as small-batch series during the summer break in a very short time.
Kai Mielisch, technical director of the Berliner Philharmonie, is happy that the house now benefits from a first-rate solution. "Considering the narrow time frame I'm especially glad that despite this constraint VisionTwo was able to provide an adequate light equipment solution which even resulted in a major enhancement of the lighting situation in our house. The sampling procedures and the light simulations helped us to make the right decision."
With the DMX network being extended additional cables and their support systems had to be installed as well along with the switch boxes for the electronic control equipment. The ArcSystem Pro One-Cell High Output LEDs are operated with one D1HO DMX RDM driver each which means that the LEDs can be dimmed down to 0% in an absolutely smooth process and that it was not necessary to replace the winches used in the hall for pendant mounting of the lights. ArcSystem has long been established as the industry standard auditorium lighting system for theatre and opera houses having initially been designed by UK company GDS, and becoming an ETC product range in August 2019.
"To find LED lights able to accentuate the uniqueness of our house – in this case of the Chamber Music Hall – was not easy in itself", says Robert Eberle, lighting director. "From a technical point of view it took top priority however that the new solution would allow for perfect dimming and come up to the technical standard I and the orchestra expected the lighting to meet. As a matter of fact the brightness of the orchestra lighting has been multiplied, and I hear no complaints any longer that someone is unable to read their sheet of notes. Indeed with the lights from the ArcSystem series VisionTwo and ASC have done an excellent job!"
We are pleased to announce that this project has been nominated for the mondo*dr Awards 2020 in the Concert Hall category.
Photos: Christoph Eisenmenger
26th March 2020
Elation lighting, high-tech scoreboard enrich fan experience at Wells Fargo Center
USA – Last October, Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia debuted a high-tech scoreboard and arena lighting system that has enriched the fan experience and set a new standard for arena scoreboard displays. Full-service production company Light Action Productions of Delaware played a leading role in specifying, designing and supplying the lighting and included a range of Elation lighting products in the system.
Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers fans know all about the massive configurable display that is described as the most technologically advanced arena scoreboard in the world. The world’s first 4K kinetic centre-hung entertainment system, the new scoreboard has become a huge part of the fan experience.
The new scoreboard is the latest step in Wells Fargo Center's extensive renovation plan, a $250 million multi-year transformation of the arena that began in 2017. Completed in collaboration with Comcast Spectacor, TAIT Kinetix and ANC Sports, the scoreboard features the ability to expand and compress into a variety of formats during the course of a game, splashing the action across more than 6,600 square feet of 4mm LED video. Complementing the display are two large crown trusses designed to create a captivating experience with multi-directional movement and lighting effects.
Besides Flyers (NHL) and 76ers (NBA) games, Wells Fargo Center is home to the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League, as well as college basketball’s Villanova Wildcats. The venue also hosts concerts and a number of other special events like motocross and monster truck rallies. “A scoreboard and complementary lighting package was needed to service all these different groups,” said Light Action’s Joshua Schulman, who was responsible for design of the new lighting system. “The Flyers and 76ers used to have their own individual lighting systems but with this new package there is now one system that works for all teams. The lighting system needed to be flexible but beyond that, with so much LED in the arena in the form of billboards and ribbons, brightness was key. The scoreboard itself is an enormous LED display so we needed fixtures that could fight through all that and still have power behind them.”
Another point Schulman stressed from the very beginning as far as the design concept was the idea of layers of light. In the arena’s previous lighting system, which he also designed, all the lighting came from up top in the catwalk. “One of the things we wanted to do in this new design was create light from all different angles, sort of a modern dance concept with layers of light.” To realise the vision, he chose a package that includes Elation Artiste Monet, Smarty Hybrid, Protron Eclypse and Platinum Beam 5R Extreme luminaires.
Two 160-foot long trusses house 1000W discharge source moving heads along with 36 Elation Smarty Hybrid moving heads. “We wanted the Smarty to give us a hybrid that can operate in different functions,” Schulman explains. “We like them because they give us the ability to wash the ice and audience or narrow down to a tight, punchy beam that can cut through all the other layers of light that we have in the arena. Those layers of light and the fact that the light comes at you from all these different angles and all these heights was one of the main concepts driving the design decisions.”
Also on the 160-foot trusses are pairs of Protron Eclypse multi-effect lights, eight fixtures back to back on each truss. “In addition to strobing, we use them for colour wash in the arena,” Schulman says. “On the overhead catwalk are an additional 16 Eclypses pointing straight down and lighting the goal ends of the house. Between all the Eclypses, we can use them to colour paint the entire house seating and have written a couple of effects that move the colour around the arena. We use them as colour wash because they have so much power behind them. They’re able to make that really long throw and have enough punch that they can really add something, even when the rest of the room is lit up.”
Atop and underneath the two crown trusses – arching ribbons of LED tile that fly up, down and under the scoreboard itself – are mounted 12 of Elation’s award-winning Artiste Monet LED profile moving heads, six fixtures per ribbon. Schulman comments: “We really love them. They have a ton of punch and because they are an LED fixture, lamp hours is no longer an issue, which is fantastic. The Monet punches through all the other light, and that includes glare from flame cannons.” Graphics from the Monet’s two gobo wheels are used to ornament the floor below while the fixture’s 360-degree framing system allow for projections of dynamic shapes.
“Each team is particular to their branding and the Flyers are very sensitive to their colour of orange – Flyers Orange,” says Schulman, noting that he has worked with the Flyers for a number of years. “With the Monet’s colour mixing system, we were able to hone in on that particular shade. The 76ers are red, white and blue and obviously the Monets can do that well.”
Wells Fargo Center has two tiers of seating and over every level suite, under LED panels, are installed a Platinum Beam 5R Extreme moving head. “We like that fixture because it’s small and really punchy. We were able to tuck it up so it doesn’t create a visual obstruction to those sitting in the suite. When we turn all 41 of them on, because they are coming from an angle you don’t usually see, they can tip up and hit the catwalk or project all the way down to the ice. It creates a nice, multifaceted layer of light.”
Running 34 universes of control through Art-Net, Schulman says that 90% of the lighting system works on Elation eNode Art-Net to DMX routers. “Everything runs through a complicated infrastructure system but it’s been nice how quickly and easily it is to work with the eNodes and integrate the Art-Net system into the building system.”
Light Action often works with Elation rep firm The Healy Group to realize its projects and such was the case with the Wells Fargo Center install. “Working with Chris Healy is great,” says Schulman. “He’s always on point and always willing to take a phone call at some god-awful hour!”
The new Wells Fargo Center scoreboard and lighting system have been a hit since the Flyers inaugurated it at their home opener on 9th October. Used to add an extra level of excitement to the pre-game hype, it serves as an important way to pump up both player and fan prior to a game. During the game, a series of effects are triggered during goals and timeouts and the system is an integral part of half-time entertainment and post-game activities.
26th March 2020
Shanghai’s Club Beehive is all the buzz
China – Shanghai, a metropolis with a population of more than 24 million people, now has a new masterpiece, Club Beehive. Two Eindhoven-based design companies were the geniuses behind its unique design: multidisciplinary design studio, 250K, created the Beehive concept and commissioned The Art of Light to come up with an equally stunning lighting design for this new club venue. The partnership follows a very successful first collaboration for Club Myst in Suzhou, west of Shanghai.
In keeping with the Beehive theme, Mees Bouman, 250K’s set designer, developed a concept based around a tornado of hexagon shapes arrayed in a honeycomb design. An organic, tree-shaped centrepiece is sited behind the DJ booth which, in turn, is flanked by curved LED screens.
The honeycomb theme is repeated throughout the entire club interior as well as across the set design and décor. The honeycombs spread up and out above the dance floor, with moving, tilting chandeliers extending the depth and variety in the shape of the room.
As a company, The Art of Light designs, programs and performs next-level light shows for artists, festivals and corporate events all over the world, and its work for this club is no exception. In between the distinctive hexagons, Marco, The Art of Light’s lighting designer, decided to place a large number of Ayrton Khamsin-S, Bora-S and Mistral-S LED fixtures to add richness and variety to an already iconic design. “We chose the Ayrton fixtures because they all have an impressive LED-engine, great colours and a very complete gobo package,” he says.
Marco interspersed a total of 61 Ayrton Mistral-S spot luminaires between the hexagons to use as an effects spot, taking advantage of Mistral’s full package of colours and features. “We chose the Mistral because it is small and intense,” says Marco. “It has a very high output, is fast and has enough features to create variations and looks for a whole night.”
Three Ayrton Bora-S wash fixtures were chosen as key lights for the DJ booth, lighting the headline acts from three positions. “Bora’s high output was needed to overcome and enhance the rest of the lighting effects and combat the output from the LED screens,” confirms Marco.
Finally, 23 Ayrton Khamsin-S profile spots were picked for décor and special effects lighting across the dance floor. “We used Khamsin as backlight from the floor and also placed some underneath the curved LED screen,” says Marco. “The high output, and wide/big zoom range of the fixtures gave us the capability of creating rich colours and beautiful gobo looks.”
Marco is an advocate of Ayrton fixtures in the nightclub market because of the comprehensive range of features each brings to his designs. “I really like the full range of Ayrton fixtures as they are all equipped with a good quality LED engine, which provide very neat, fresh, rich visual images and looks, and work specifically well for the look and feel within the dance scene.
“The whole range works both aesthetically and performance-wise. I like the consistency of the look and feel of the fixtures, which also keeps the rig looking really clean.”
Club Beehive opened in November 2019 and plays host to top DJs from around the world.
photos: Beehive, courtesy of The Art of Light
24th March 2020
L-ISA technology delivers multidimensional listening experience at Wasa Teater
Finland – Wasa Teater is one of Finland’s oldest performing arts centres. Located in Vaasa on the west coast of Finland, it marked its recent centenary with an extensive makeover, updating everything from floors, walls and ceilings to the auditorium and air conditioning. The overhaul included brand new sound and lighting systems, with the technical refit including loudspeakers, amplifiers, mixing desks and microphones. The theatre team chose L-Acoustics Finnish certified provider distributor Audico as the contractor, which was responsible for design, installation, commissioning, programming and training.
The starting point for the project, as specified by technical director for the theatre, Mats Antell, was to get the best possible sound system for the house and to ensure that its needs were met for the coming years.
"Immersive sound is the hottest topic in the industry right now and L-ISA is the best immersive technology on the market,” says Audico sales manager, Pauli Molnár. “It delivers speech, song and music in a way that stands out much more clearly than the average theatre audio system ever could. We knew it would give the theatre the stunning results it wanted. We suggested it to them, and Mats Antell together with Dennis Lindén, sound designer at the theatre, were convinced and pushed really hard to make this happen.”
Installation began in the spring of 2019 and the renovation was scheduled to be completed before midsummer, in time for the premiere of the musical Spelman på taket (Fiddler on the Roof).
When the Audico team arrived on site for the first time, the demolition phase of the project had just finished and the stage was virtually a black hole. To use the limited time available at the theatre efficiently, Audico’s system specialist Pekka Patrikainen designed the L-ISA configuration off site at the company’s office in Espoo. The equipment was then moved to the theatre, with the final set up comprising a frontal system of five hangs of four Kiva II evenly spaced across the front of the proscenium, plus front fill of six X4i, positioned across the stage lip. Two SB18i subs, one behind the other, are hung centrally and forward of the main hangs, with an extension system of two Syva, one left and one right. Out fills are X8, one each hung stage left and right, with eight overhead X8, four each hung from overhead service bridges in the ceiling of the auditorium. Four X8 are positioned at the rear of the auditorium for delay, with a further eight X8 for side surrounds.
“L-ISA means that the conflict that sometimes arises with a conventional theatrical sound system, where you hear the sound from one area, but the action is taking place in a different area, is no longer there,” says Molnár. “With L-ISA, the theatre is able to create a credible spatial impression and influence the features of the space, by moving the sound in front, behind and even above the audience, for example.”
Lindén is excited about L-ISA. With all its versatility, he finds it very easy to use and says that the intuitive nature of the L-ISA controller has even speeded up his workflow.
“It’s a completely different tool to previous sound systems we’ve had,” he says. “It’s given me new drive, because it makes my long-running ideas possible and, simply by its existence, creates new ones! It's great that we were able to invest in such a sound system now and not after ten or 20 years when the next renovation takes place.”
“We had been living in the middle of a renovation for a long time, so it’s fantastic to finally be able to enjoy the fruits of our labour,” concludes Antell. “The dialogue with Audico was excellent throughout. All in all, Pauli and his team have been a great partner in this unique and challenging installation. We are delighted that Wasa Teater is the first theatre in Northern Europe to benefit from L-ISA, and that this multidimensional listening experience hugely exceeds our expectations.”
20th March 2020
Digitally Steerable Renkus-Heinz Solutions Excel in Audio and Design at Norway’s DOGA
Norway – Design and Architecture Norway, known as DOGA, describes itself as a driving force for sustainable value creation through design and architecture. The organisation looks to facilitate collaboration between creative talents and businesses and work to strengthen the role of design and architecture in shaping the Norway of tomorrow. DOGA’s Machine Hall building, which dates back to 1898, hosts events to advance this mission. In any given week the schedule might include conferences and seminars or live music sets and video screenings.
Because of the values core to DOGA, designing an audio system for the space meant not only creating a versatile system capable of quality in spoken word and live performance, but also careful consideration to the tenets of good design. To achieve both, Norwegian distributor Benum utilised Renkus-Heinz digitally steerable loudspeaker solutions.
“The basic requirements were high speech intelligibility throughout the hall and sound reinforcement of live music,” said Daniel Glaister, Pro Audio sales manager for Benum Norway. “But in addition to that diverse use, the hall itself is a challenge from an acoustics standpoint. That means a powerful solution like Renkus-Heinz’ digitally steerable loudspeakers are required.”
Renkus-Heinz’ digitally steerable loudspeakers allow for perfectly positioned audio in all types of locations, regardless of size, shape or type of location. With digitally steerable technology, audio can be positioned exactly where it belongs: on the audience. And the quality of sound provided by properly positioned audio enhances any type of performance, be it spoken word, music, or other type of live event.
Further, a digitally steerable solution keeps audio away from the reverberant surfaces and other architectural flourishes that come as part of uncompromised artistic design.
“The Machine Hall is acoustically challenging both from a geometric and material point of view,” Glaister said. “The shape of the main hall is long and narrow at ten by 34 metres, and the ceiling is more than eight meters high. Further, the construction is true to the original materials used in the location and mainly consists of brick and concrete. This makes it highly reverberant.”
The solution, Glaister said, was to integrate two Dante-enabled Renkus-Heinz IC24-RD and five Renkus-Heinz IC8-RD loudspeakers. Not only do the ICONYX Series loudspeakers provide the precision control to keep sound away from reverberant surfaces, but they also provide an architecturally seamless solution for a space such as the Machine Hall.
“The speakers are unobtrusive when wall mounted,” Glaister said. “That allows them to blend into the overall design. A surprise benefit of the IC24-RDs, which are nearly three meters tall, was that we could make them more prominent and create a natural frame for large scale projections on the rear wall. It allowed for flexibility in the visual design, which was excellent for the space.”
The integration also utilises Audinate’s Dante protocol for audio-over-IP delivery across the system, and includes components from Allen & Heath and Shure in the workflow.
“The whole system is used several times a week by non-technical personnel without issue,” Glaister said. “It has greatly increased the popularity of the venue with a noticeably higher number of bookings than before the installation. In all, it is performing incredibly well and has greatly impressed the client.”
20th March 2020
POLAR Supplies Ultimate Audio for Silverstone Experience
UK – The Silverstone Experience is an immersive visitor attraction at the famous motor sport circuit in Northamptonshire. Developed over a seven year period at a cost of £20 million, the Experience opened its doors to the public in 2019 and features a host of artefacts that help to tell the exciting tale of motor sport at Silverstone. Located inside a former World War II aircraft hangar, the attraction welcomes a wide range of visitors, from school parties to lifelong motor sport enthusiasts, taking them on an experiential, educational journey.
The Ultimate Lap is one of the ten impressive elements that comprise the Experience tour and delivers an exhilarating end to a visitor’s day. Key to the success of this special-effects cinema is the audio provision, which complements startling visuals to immerse the occupants of its 45 seats in the recreation of some of the circuit’s most dramatic moments. Project leaders Figment Productions originated the concept and integrators Fusion LX of Ripon, specialists in museum and heritage AV, were appointed to carry out the installation. This was to comprise a 5.1 surround reinforcement in a partial-dome space, as well as stereo reproduction in a pre-event auditorium space.
Fusion LX consulted with Mark Bromfield from POLAR’s integrated solutions division over the design and choice of systems to cover the two distinct settings. Visitors to the Ultimate Lap enter an ante-room to stand for an initial flat-screen video presentation, before moving into the striking dome structure, in which they are seated for an immersive video wall experience. Having taken account of the brief, Bromfield visited a demo site where the Figment and Fusion LX teams were present, and demonstrated a system based on AD-Systems DS-1 loudspeakers. Ideal for near field applications, the DS-1 is an ultra-compact, wide-range loudspeaker with 60W power-handling, that delivers outstanding reproduction of speech and music. The stakeholders were happy that the proposed system would cater for this acoustically challenging space, and went ahead with POLAR’s recommendations.
A total of 20 AD-Systems DS-1 speakers in black were discreetly placed in left, right and centre positions behind acoustic fabric in the ceiling of the dome. Two slimline WORK PRO NEO S8A self-powered subs integrated into the base of the dome, provided similarly unobtrusive low-end reinforcement. In the pre-event ante-room, Fusion LX installed four Cornered Audio Ci5 compact two-way full range speakers. The triangular cornered design of these high quality units, again ensured minimal visual impact, whilst delivering optimal coverage. The systems were driven by four MC2 T4-250 high performance amplifiers, with DSP via a Biamp TesiraFORTE AVB AI server, programmed with assistance from POLAR.
Mark Bromfield, business development manager at POLAR Integrated Solutions, was happy with the outcome: “It was a pleasure helping Figment Productions and Fusion LX achieve a high quality result. The Silverstone Experience is an impressive attraction and we are delighted to have played a role in seeing the Ultimate Lap concept through to fruition. At POLAR Integrated Solutions, we’re very much about ‘concept to completion’: making sure that our customers and their clients receive the best support and advice at every stage. This was a good example of meeting a tricky technical challenge with the right design advice and product selection to achieve excellent intelligibility throughout.”
Ian Carling, director at Fusion LX adds: “The acoustics in the Ultimate Lap dome were challenging, with the selection of speaker positions and sizes requiring careful planning. POLAR assisted in all aspects of the job, from design and product selection to a site visit and demonstration. They were a great help and Fusion wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again. Figment’s creative team had devised a fantastic concept, which we believe has been brought to life exceptionally well; we’ve had nothing but positive feedback from everyone involved.”
18th March 2020
Yamaha Nuage Marks a Sea Change for Nanouck Brassers
The Netherlands – After 34 years as the trumpet and flugelhorn soloist for the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy, many people might want to take life a little more slowly. But Nanouck Brassers is busier than ever, working as a composer, arranger, producer, recording engineer and much more. Much of his work takes place in recently-completed home studio in Den Haag, where a Yamaha Nuage system and Steinberg Cubase make working on big recording projects fast and intuitive.
Nanouck and his wife Wendy Rijken are both professional musicians. Wendy is a freelance harpist who works with several high profile Dutch orchestras, while Nanouck has remained incredibly busy since retiring from the Marine Band. He is in great demand as a musician and arranger, as well as co-managing the ESP record label with Frits Landesbergen, which aims to promote and support jazz music.
Always interested in sound recording, Nanouck started the production part of his career on Steinberg Cubase running on an Atari computer. He still uses Cubase, the latest version nowadays running on Apple Macintosh, and has recently invested in a Yamaha Nuage control solution.
“I was looking for new ideas to update my home studio and, when I discovered Nuage, Yamaha Music Europe’s Jan Prins put me in contact with Jasper van Eif of Maartens Sound & Vision in Heerenveen,” says Nanouck. “Jasper arranged a demo and I immediately liked the analogue feel of Nuage. It was quick, smart and very intuitive to use.”
Nanouck is renowned in the Netherlands for his high quality live recordings. But much of the work is done in his studio, including regular visits from musicians to record overdubs. Alongside his work of composing and arranging for film and orchestra, producing ‘rehearsal tapes’ for live productions and managing the music and audio production for live productions, it’s clear that the fast, intuitive Nuage user interface makes a big difference to his working life.
“Although our studio isn’t large, the small footprint of Nuage means I can easily work and mix large projects with hundreds of tracks,” he says. “I hardly use a mouse, because I have created many key commands in Cubase. It is very simple to allocate these to the Nuage control surface, which makes the workflow very personal and extremely fast.
“The ability to write music notation in Cubase, just using key commands, is also fantastic for me as a composer and arranger, as well as its many fantastic plug-ins.”
18th March 2020
Rick & Morty TV Composer Adds Quality with Audient Nero
USA – TV composer, Ryan Elder has added the Audient desktop monitor controller, Nero, to his studio set-up in California. He has scored The Boss Baby: Back in Business on Netflix, HarmonQuest on VRV and Adult Swim’s cult cartoon classic, Rick & Morty since its inception back in 2011, and cites one of the main advantages of Nero as its “superior sound quality.”
He explains: “I primarily use the Nero as a monitoring solution. It sounds really, really good. Very clean, very reliable. I know I can trust the sound that's coming out of it to be representative of what my clients and collaborators will hear when they audition my music.”
With the second half of the fourth series of American adult animated science fiction sitcom, Rick & Morty due to air in the US/UK any time now, Audient grabbed the opportunity to visit Ryan in his California studio to see where and how the magic happens.
Deftly composing to a set of basic drawings, or ‘animatics’ which he receives around three to six months ahead of the final animation being ready, Ryan talks through how long it takes him to score an episode, some of the libraries he uses and how he achieves different moods in a scene, all of which is a fascinating insight into his process.
Ryan usually works in his headphones in order to hear the details better, using the Nero to switch to his Mackie HR824 monitors if he needs to hear how it sounds in the room. “Aside from the sound, I'd say my other favourite feature is the build quality. Every part of it is so meticulously designed and implemented. For example, just pressing the buttons is really satisfying!”
Based in his home studio, Ryan is surrounded by a carefully curated selection of audio gear. “I worked remotely for the first 11 years of my career and now that I’ve moved everything in-house, I honestly don’t think I could do it any other way. The flexibility of being able to work at any time is both a blessing and a curse,” he concedes.
He’s been immersed in music from a very young age, from being let loose in his dad’s home studio and writing boy band tracks growing up, through to studying composition at college. This doesn’t look set to change any time soon. “Nothing makes me more excited in my career than successfully crafting the ups, downs, ins and outs of a well-told story through music.”
17th March 2020
DiGiCo Quantum 7T delivers power and flexibility to Trøndelag Teater
Norway – Originally built in 1816 and located in the Norwegian city of Trondheim, Trøndelag Teater is the oldest theatre in Scandinavia in continuous use. In September 1997, it underwent refurbishment and re-opened as part of a modern complex incorporating the old auditorium, supplemented by four new stages of various shapes and sizes. More recently, the decision was made to update the theatre’s incumbent console and invest in a desk that would provide it with a more flexible, powerful system, choosing a DiGiCo SD7T with dual Quantum engines to deliver those all-important attributes, as well as the manufacturer’s renown sound quality.
Siril Gaare, Trøndelag’s head of sound, has worked at the theatre since 1998, first on a freelance basis, then making it her full-time home in 2008, before taking up her current role in 2011.
“In 2018 we knew it was time to change our main stage console,” she says. “We were looking for a more mobile and flexible system. We wanted to be able to sit in the auditorium, but still be part of the team during rehearsals. We also missed having an app that would allow us to go on stage to do certain settings from there.”
Gaare and her team arrange for demos of several consoles, all of which, she says, had more or less what they were looking for, but chose the SD7, purchased through DiGiCo’s Norwegian distributor, Scandec Systemer AS, for its theatre software and all the opportunities that presented them.
“The redundancy with the two engines was important, as was the feeling of solid hardware in the console,” she continues. “The power of Q7 was very important and running a show in 96kHz was also a good accolade to the decision. The premium preamps have a brilliant sound quality, and being able to go offline to program a show is very helpful. Service and support also seemed very good and safe.”
Gaare notes that the T software makes programming and running a show much easier. “It took me a bit of time to get used to it and I am still exploring the best way to program a show,” she admits. “On other consoles, I would press store whenever I made a change. The auto update system on the SD7 is very useful. We are still working on finding the best way to program a show quickly, but this is a powerful tool, and the player/alias function is very useful!”
Gaare is also appreciative of the output capacity on the console. “On the last console we ran out of outputs. We had 48, but a console installed in a theatre doesn’t necessarily only use LR as main outputs and we use auxes for monitoring everywhere on stage, around the stage, and we have surround speakers, etc. We also need a lot of inputs, but that was not such an issue.”
At the same time as purchasing the SD7, Trøndelag invested in an EX007 expander, which it has installed in the auditorium.
“I just did sound design on Jesus Christ Superstar,” she recalls. “During rehearsals I sat in the auditorium with the EX007, an iPad, and a laptop. The other guys were at the top of the auditorium on the main console running the show. This way, we were three people able to work at the same time.”
Gaare knows that investing in DiGiCo brings the added advantage of having a familiar surface for visiting engineers, making their workflow easier. She is also happy with the support from Scandec.
“They can easily be reached to answer any questions,” she says. “We also have direct communication with DiGiCo’s support team. We did have a tech question during a show once, but this was quickly solved with phone support, and we were able to go on with the show.
“I am very happy with our decision. This is a solid investment, a lot of opportunities come with the software and I am looking forward to using all new features as well.”
16th March 2020
Iconic Manchester Theatre Upgrades with High End Systems
UK – Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre, the largest theatre-in-the-round in the country, has recently upgraded its lighting rig to incorporate SolaFrame fixtures from High End Systems.
The spectacular glass-walled space seats up to 750 people on three levels and is a seven-sided theatre suspended from four large columns. Although most of the theatre’s work is self-produced and bespoke for the space, its current programme requires a luminaire that can meet very different challenges; from straight plays, to musicals and even live music events.
“We were looking to replace our existing moving lights with a high quality LED unit and had waited a number of years for the right fixture to become available,” says Mark Distin Webster, head of lighting. “Following much consideration, we felt the SolaFrame 1000 was the moving light that gave us the best spectrum of choice whilst still maintaining a high quality core.”
The theatre’s unique design means all seats are less than 30 feet (9 metres) from the circular stage. To give lighting designers immediate access to useful angles and looks, seven SolaFrame 1000 fixtures are interspersed with pre-existing wash units.
“Additionally, we put a SolaFrame 3000 high-CRI unit on centre as it’s always a popular lighting position and the 3000 has plenty of punch and huge amount of options,” explains Distin Webster. “Crucially, its 55 degree beam angle means it can fill a revolving stage in a single shot. Also, using the same product range allows for easy and precise colour matching to the other units around it.”
A recent production of Gypsy at the Royal Exchange saw lighting designer Colin Grenfell at the helm. “The SolaFrame units have an unexpectedly bright output with the advantage of very low fan noise,” he remarks. “They have an open-white feeling just like a discharge lamp, great colour mixing with lovely pastel shades, and a good CTO wheel – I wouldn’t hesitate to spec them again.”
“No moving light is ever going to be the perfect tool for every situation,” concludes Distin Webber. “But the SolaFrame is a really talented backbone for a moving light rig which gives the quality and versatility that a demanding producing theatre requires. It is a welcome addition to the Royal Exchange’s rig.”
photos: Helen Murray
16th March 2020
Chroma-Q Inspires P&J Live Aberdeen
UK – Over 140 Chroma-Q Inspire LED house lights and Color Force II LED cyc battens have been selected as part of the technical infrastructure for P&J Live at TECA, the new largest events venue in the North of Scotland.
Part of a £333 million development which is the biggest UK investment of its kind, P&J Live offers state-of-the-art, world-class conference and exhibition facilities. Located next to Aberdeen International Airport with excellent transport connections, and operated by ASM Global, the venue is expected to become a major events hub for the region.
Designed to provide clients with premier lighting and AV production services in-house, when it came to delivering a state-of-the-art technical infrastructure for the venue’s flexible, multi-purpose Baker Hughes Exhibition and Conference Hub, it was essential to invest in the most up-to-date technologies available.
In addition, to be in keeping with the venue’s eco-friendly sustainable energy centre on site, the infrastructure’s technical specification favoured more efficient LED-based light sources.
120 Chroma-Q Inspire RGBW 65° LED house lights were specified to provide high quality coloured theatrical and tuneable white house lighting, to enhance the ambience of events, including cabaret shows, banquets with up to 1,250 seated guests, and smaller events with seating and a dance floor.
With the flexible hall and conference suite spaces being re-configurable into multiple room layouts and sizes to accommodate different types and scales of event, the venue wanted the ability to change and move the Inspire lighting system accordingly.
To meet this requirement, Chroma-Q supplied the first 'moveable' Inspire house lights system, featuring a DMX and PowerCON version of the fixture which mounts to truss via clamps – to enable the units to be moved to any part of the building to cater for events’ requirements.
Steve Morrison, P&J Live’s Deputy Operations Manager Technical, commented: “The Inspires are just gorgeous. The colours are intense – for a themed evening we can create a wonderful warm ambience – not always an easy task in a utilitarian hall setting. Their quiet, fanless cooling is also great for meetings. They were an ‘inspired’ choice, much better than I imagined.”
In addition, the venue has invested in over 20 Chroma-Q Color Force II 48 1.2m and Color Force II 12 0.3m, LED cyc and wash battens, to provide powerful colour-changing cyclorama and effects lighting during conference and live entertainment events.
Steve Morrison, P&J Live’s deputy operations manager technical summarised: “We are very impressed with the Chroma-Q lighting’s quality and versatility. It is equally suited to all types of events, whether large dinner occasions with live entertainment on-stage, or conferences utilising coloured lighting to help achieve strong branding.”
The Chroma-Q fixtures were supplied by UK dealer, A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ltd.
photo: DC Thompson Copy
12th March 2020
Huddersfield Town Hall Green-Lights Upgrade to Energy-Efficient PROLIGHTS LED Rig
UK – The PROLIGHTS LED lighting range is helping Huddersfield Town Hall to meet its improved energy efficiency and production value goals for events.
The multi-purpose venue’s spectacular concert hall is at the very heart of the Huddersfield community’s cultural activities, hosting concerts, comedy shows, awards ceremonies, conferences and other events.
Andrew Wrixon, technical manager for Huddersfield Town Hall and other venues managed by the Kirklees Council, chose PROLIGHTS fixtures when the concert hall’s traditional rig was due to be upgraded to an energy-efficient LED system.
He commented: “We invested in PROLIGHTS fixtures as we have been very pleased with them at our other venues. Their price is very good and they achieve excellent results for us.”
The venue invested in over 40 PROLIGHTS fixtures, including ECLIPSEFC full colour LED profiles, STARK400 LED wash/beam lights with pixel mapping effects, JETSPOT4Z compact LED spotlights, and ECLIPSE PAR TU tungsten-colour LED PARs.
Andrew added: “We are very happy with the PROLIGHTS fixtures, which are performing as well as expected. We look forward to getting the most out of the additional effects we can now create for shows, to give visitors an even better experience, as well as helping with our running costs and the environment.”
The PROLIGHTS fixtures will be used on the full breadth of performances and live events hosted by the venue including rock and pop concerts, brass bands, classical and choirs, comedy and conversation and the local area’s Kirklees Concert Season of orchestral, chamber and organ concerts.
The fixtures were supplied by Ben Taylor at A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ltd., PROLIGHTS’ UK and Ireland distributor, who also supplied an Avolites console as part of the lighting system upgrade.
Andrew summarised: “We’re really pleased with the service we receive from AC-ET. Ben Taylor is like a friend, not a salesman. He understands our technical requirements and is always friendly and responsive to what we need for our venues.”
11th March 2020
Jands delivers Australia’s first L-ISA installation at Sydney Coliseum Theatre
Australia – Spectacularly designed and architecturally breathtaking, the new Sydney Coliseum Theatre is the first of its kind in the rapidly developing region of Greater Western Sydney. Located in Sydney’s Rooty Hill suburb, this purpose-built 2,000-seat theatre is already vying for its place on the world-class live entertainment map alongside Broadway and London’s West End thanks to its extraordinary state-of-art theatre space, which is perfectly matched with L-ISA Hyperreal Sound technology.
“Rooty Hill draws on a very large catchment area that stretches from the Blue Mountains to Canberra, Hornsby and the city. Visitors are coming to a world class theatre without having to pay toll fees or parking charges. With a new international airport being planned close by, the road and rail infrastructure are excellent,” says The Coliseum technical operations manager Bicci Henderson.
Henderson had served 12 years at the Lyric Theatre and had no intention of moving, until he saw Sydney Coliseum. A visit to the venue became the turning point for Henderson; as he was so impressed with what the team was working to achieve that he wanted to be part of it.
Soon after joining the theatre, Henderson made a trip to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre to hear The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra perform John Williams’Oscar-nominated film score live for a screening of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, presented in L-ISA Hyperreal sound. “I was greatly impressed, with the incredible multi-dimensional definition. Soon after, I went to see a performance using an L-C-R point source system and felt there was no connection with the audience. It stopped at the stage and the show suffered as a result.”
Henderson was determined to use the technology in The Coliseum. “The L-ISA experience was the reference and I knew we had to get it,” furthers Henderson. “Whilst the original plan for the Coliseum was to install an L-C-R system, I convinced our MD Ross Cunningham and executive director Craig McMaster that the investment would be repaid very quickly in terms of ticket sales and future proofing the venue with the gold standard sound technology. Ultimately, we all realised that this was a much better product. It would have been cruel to have opened the Coliseum without it. With this set-up, 96 per cent of the audience seats are experiencing hyperreal audio.”
Using its market-leading 3D Soundvision simulation software, L-Acoustics calibration engineer Julian Laval designed the venue’s speaker system. After the in-depth analysis of the venue, five arrays consisting of ten Kara cabinets each have been installed, with additional X8 enclosures serving as front and under balcony fills. Low frequency extension is delivered through a flown, centre-hung array of six KS28 subwoofers. The entire system is powered and processed by a combination of LA4X and LA12X amplified controllers.
“It was crucial to have loudspeaker systems integrator Jands Venue Engineering offering local support and servicing,” explains Henderson. “Additionally, working with world-renowned acoustic consultancy Marshall Day Acoustics and leading integrator company Fredon meant that the whole project could be delivered on time and with the highest level of technical expertise.”
Now that the entire project has come to fruition and the public can enjoy what is already set to be an iconic venue, the ambitious concept of turning The Coliseum into a top-notch stage is rapidly becoming a reality, as it now stands proudly among the great theatres and entertainment venues of the world.
“We still don’t know what entertainment will work best of course, as we are hosting ballets, operas, classical symphonies and musicals,” says Henderson but the first run of sold out performances by performers such as Dame Edna, Keith Urban, Tina Arena and John Butler have heralded its success. “One thing we are sure of though, is that the expectations of operators and audiences alike will soar to a new level following an introduction to L-ISA.”
“This well-researched system makes L-Acoustics number one in the market today,” concludes Henderson. “We’re pioneering L-ISA in Australia, so it’s our duty to educate engineers who aren’t yet familiar with the technology and its more natural, more localised and therefore more intimate experience. L-ISA sound draws the listener right inside the music.
photo: Robert Catto
11th March 2020
SIXTY82 Truss Sets the Bar High for P&J Live Aberdeen Events
UK – P&J Live at TECA, the North of Scotland’s new largest events venue, has invested in over 300 pieces of SIXTY82 trussing to deliver premier production values for banquet dinner and& dance, live entertainment, conference and other events in its main hall.
The largest UK investment of its kind, P&J Live offers world-class facilities. Located next to Aberdeen International Airport and operated by ASM Global, it is tipped to become a major events hub.
P&J Live’s goal was to offer the highest quality lighting and AV production services in-house for the venue’s flexible, multi-purpose Baker Hughes Exhibition and Conference Hub.
Deputy operations manager technical, Steve Morrison needed to permanently rig dozens of lighting fixtures – as well as video projectors and screens – in the venue’s largest hall.
He invested in 320 pieces of 200cm, 300cm and 400cm SIXTY82 M29S square, general purpose truss and corners. Due to its strong yet lightweight aluminium composition, the truss is ideal for all types of installations as well as rental applications.
The venue also invested in a quantity of SIXTY82 L52S truss for rolling house stock used during events held in the venue’s other multi-purpose, reconfigurable spaces.
The main hall’s SIXTY82 truss installation was recently used to good effect during the venue main sponsor’s own Press and Journal Energy Ball 2019, a gala dinner and dance event for over 500 hundred guests which was hosted by television presenter and radio DJ, Vernon Kay.
Steve commented: “We’re really pleased with the SIXTY82 truss. It was a very cost-effective and simple solution to rig our extensive lighting and video systems in the main hall. The highly polished aluminium finish is aesthetically pleasing and looks great with the light bouncing off it, which was also important as the rig is visible within eyeline.”
SIXTY82 is an alliance featuring innovators from three countries with over 100 years of entertainment industry leadership between them. They came together to bring a fresh view into the market, providing innovative, next generation trussing and staging systems.
SIXTY82 is available from AC-ET in the UK and AC-ET Ireland in Eire.photos: Jessica Newell
10th March 2020
Audient AP8024-HE Console Makes Teaching Signal Flow “A Dream”
USA – At West Valley College, Director of Commercial Music, Jeff Forehan is discovering how easy it is to teach signal flow to his music/recording students with the new ASP8024 Heritage Edition mixing console, which he refers to as “a serious upgrade.” Since the arrival of the desk, things are falling into place much more quickly for the students. “They love it. Although they are intimidated at first, with proper instruction they get it easily.” According to Jeff, that’s down to the console itself. “Teaching signal flow is a dream; it’s very logically laid out.”
Comprising 48 channels as well as Dual Layer Control (DLC) for easy integration with DAW, the British desk measures close to three metres (just under 10ft) so it’s no wonder it might be imposing at first glance.
Yet despite its size, it was actually the cost that was one of the driving factors in choosing Audient. “We were able to get so much more bang for our buck, not only in terms of extra features on the desk, but also to purchase the outboard gear, monitors etc. It is also way less complicated than the other high-end professional desk we were considering.”
The Audient is at the heart of the school’s surprisingly large studio space, which is blessed with high ceilings and adjustable acoustics. “It’s large enough to record a full rhythm section, small choir or jazz band, which we have done. That room is shared with the video/film program so we have a green screen, great lighting as well as a collection of state of the art cameras.” Jeff adds, “The control room needs a facelift, but it is large enough for 25-30 students to hang out in comfortably as I instruct.”
Once the ASP8024-HE was installed, Jeff’s decision to choose Audient was substantiated: it was indeed a serious upgrade. “The sound, for one, is an incredible improvement over what we had,” he confirms. “The creative master section and built-in bus compressor are nice touches as well.”
All of this aligns with West Valley College’s ongoing commitment to providing the highest quality educational experience. “We continually refine our course offerings in terms of content/projects as well as our comprehensive 24-unit Commercial Music Production certificate of achievement programme, which includes my commercial music/recording programmes,” he explains. Classes incorporating use of the Audient console are Recording Arts I, II, III, Sound Design (for Foley and VO) and Music Production from which some 60-75 students will get their hands on it over the course of the year.
All in all, the future of West Valley College is bright. A new music building which will include a state-of-the-art recording studio is on the horizon, with construction due to start in a couple of years.
In the meantime, Audient wishes Jeff and his students every success with their new desk.
10th March 2020
Forward with Chauvet Professional
Belgium – The historic medieval architecture, idyllic green open spaces of the quaint Belgian city of Deinze, along with its rich schedule of engaging events, have consistently attracted a steady stream of visitors from nearby Ghent. But for its 40,000 culture-savvy residents, something was missing from their picture-perfect home town: a city cultural centre with theatre.
After decades of civic campaigning, the residents of Deinze recently achieved a long-awaited dream when the €10 million Leietheater opened. Perched in the town centre, the theatre creates an immediate impression from the outside with its unique minimalist architecture. Inside, its multi-faceted, modern productions are supported by a collection of Chauvet Professional Ovation fixtures specified by the theatre itself, and supplied by Sotesa.
The task of fitting a modern lighting rig for the beautiful yet minimal construction of the 500-capacity theatre fell to the theatre's head of technology, Jef Donné. Having previously used Chauvet Professional fixtures in the live event sector, Donné was well aware of the advantages that the Ovation fixtures, with their exceptional dimming curve, colour rendering and low energy consumption, could bring to the theatre.
"Being able to create our rig from scratch allowed us to harness the advantages associated with the Ovation's LED technology, which essentially gave us the ability to future proof the theatre right from the get go,” commented Donné. "The collection of 36 Ovation E-930 VW, 20 Ovation F-915VW, 20 Ovation F-915FC, 20 Ovation P56 VW and 20 Ovation P56 FC units gave us a mix of profiles, Fresnels and pars with which to secure a full spectrum of looks for a wide range of performances.”
With 12 Ovation E-930VW fixtures positioned on centrally mounted trussing for general front and keylight, Donné was able to create the conditions for punchy and intensely bright stage illumination. The remainder of the Ovation fixtures were positioned to induce a number of scenarios for side and fill illumination, with the smooth dimming curve of the fixtures allowing seamless and unified scenes for classic theatrical looks.
"Both the warmth of the output and the dimming curve of the Ovations are akin to that of a conventional lamp, which was hugely important for the theatre,” continued Donné. “What’s more, the Ovations will help reduce the use of additional equipment such as dimmers and excessive wiring, which translates into additional savings in electricity consumption.”
The Leietheater’s lighting system also features eight Maverick MK1 Spot fixtures. These 350W LED fixtures, which offer CMY colour mixing and a 5:1 zoom are used for live performances. Another key component within the entire installation is the ChamSys MQ80 console, which brings huge advantages with regards to flexibility of programming and control.
“It’s interesting to observe the stigma which some visiting productions have regarding LED,” concluded Donné. “But as soon as they see the results, the quality of the output of the rig is immediately evident. We’re more than happy with the end result, a fitting installation for the impressive theatre itself!”
10th March 2020
Producer Max Gilkes Allows his PMC Monitoring to Naturally Evolve
UK – Producer Max Gilkes has taken a Darwinian approach to his latest equipment upgrade by allowing natural evolution to influence the changes he has made to his studio monitoring.
With his diary filling up with more and more post production work, particularly mastering and stem mixing to master, he decided to invest in new monitors that would give him more confidence in sub frequency realisation. To this end he has installed a stereo pair of PMC IB1SA monitors that are better suited to the size of his room and his current workflow.
“My studio is a stereo set-up and I have been using PMC twotwo8 monitors for some time,” he explains. “I really loved my twotwo8s but the IB1SA monitors give me more confidence in sub frequency realisation. They also give me incredible stereo imaging, which is important for what I am doing, day in, day out. With IB1SA’s, my work in the studio is more assured and efficient. There’s less double checking and doubting my instincts, which is where you want to be, working so you can follow your musical gut and allowing the technology to effectively disappear out of the way.”
Gilkes adds that his long relationship with PMC – one spanning more than 12 years – was another reason for choosing to upgrade within the same company’s product ranges.
“What’s been great is that PMC has always had time to listen to my requests and needs, regardless of how small I started off,” he says. “They have always made me feel part of the family. It’s not just about having good kit, you need to know about it and be able to feed back - and feel like you are listened to. It’s all about listening!”
Based in Brighton where he runs 1Sonic, a facility he set up in 2007 to primarily handle mixing and mastering work, Gilkes is house engineer for Ninja Tune and has worked with a large number of the label’s artists. Mot recently he mastered the forthcoming Little Dragon album and stem mixed radio edits for the singles Hold On and Are You Feeling Sad. He was also involved with Cinematic Orchestra’s album To Believe and has mixed tracks for Jayda G, Mild Minds, Frenship, Jordan Rakei, TSHA, Laurel, Chris James and Roots Manuva. His latest mastering credits include Marie Davidson, Bonobo, Odesza, Cold Cut, Maribou State, Big Wild, Fink, Giraffage and Kate Tempest.
In terms of equipment, 1Sonic is always evolving and currently has at its core an SSL Matrix 2, assorted outboard gear and Prism Sound and Focusrite RED conversion. The facility has been in its current location since 2010 and has a small live room that is large enough to record drums.
I predominantly work in the music industry where I have a mixture of roles,” Gilkes says. “My specialisation is stem mixing but occasionally I do full production and I also get involved with some film work as well as original music that I write and perform as an artist.”
Most recently this has included film score work with Emmy Winner Andrew Phillips and On Phillips’ project Grasscut, whose forthcoming album has just been mastered at the studio. Gilkes has also mixed and mastered an The Rewilding EP for the Turin Brakes spin off project OKPM and mastered Mama Ode, the new Reggie Omas Mamode album.
“I am also involved with fantastic project called InHouse Records, which is the first record label set up in prison with a mission to reduce re-offending,” Gilkes adds. “Working with artists who have little opportunities or resources to access music production in the normal way has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my career.”
10th March 2020
White Mark Ltd Revamps Middlesex University’s Studio A
UK – The imminent launch of a new BA Degree course in Music Production has inspired Middlesex University London to revamp one of its music recording studios so that it can offer students the very best facilities for their course.
The University, which is based in Hendon, already has two stereo production suites that are DANTE linked to a recording booth, a 5.1 Avid mixing suite and a 24 track recording studio (Studio B), which has its own live room. The University’s existing Studio A, however, had many sound spill issues that needed resolving and it was decided that the best approach was to build a new acoustic space from the ground up.
David Clements, technical tutor for sound and module leader for recording and production, is responsible for development and upgrades in the University’s sound spaces, as well as teaching in them. He enlisted the help of studio design consultancy White Mark Ltd to transform Studio A into an acoustically accurate control room, live room and booth. The facility can now handle stereo and surround sound projects, thanks to the inclusion of a monitoring system that gives students the opportunity to mix in 5.1 and 7.1 formats.
“Prior to this upgrade, Studio A was effectively a converted classroom that looked and sounded like one,” David Clements says. “Having a custom built, properly diffused and acoustically considered environment now means we’re getting a lot more out of the equipment we already had, which was actually very good, but let down by the space it was housed in.”
Studio A is equipped with new furniture and Dynaudio stereo and Adam 7.1 monitoring. The desk, mics and hardware from the old Studio A have been relocated into the space along with a Steinway C 6ft piano and various guitar amps for the live areas.
“We spent a lot of time getting the planning right, and even before that presenting the concept to the university executive and getting the project approved,” Clements explains. “Once we actually had workers on site it took approximately 16 weeks to complete the studio.”
White Mark Ltd was chosen for the project on the basis of its previous track record. “I liked the rooms they’d done at Modern World studio in Tetbury, and once we discussed the project with David Bell [White Mark’s managing director] and his team, they drew up a design that we really liked,” Clients says. “We were looking at a few configurations of the space and White Mark’s plan to make the live areas one large room divided by a folding door into two booths just seemed to make the best use of the space.”
Air conditioning for the new studio proved the biggest challenge as the University has initially hoped its existing system could be utilised. However, that wasn’t possible so a lot of new mechanical and electrical equipment had to be fitted into small spaces in the roof and walls, which complicated the original design.
“White Mark worked with people from the university estates to overcome that, but for a few weeks it did feel as though we were having almost daily meetings about air conditioning,” laughs Clements.
Middlesex University’s new degree course in Music Production will get underway in September 2020. For now, students on the BA Popular Music, BA Music and BA Jazz courses are making the most of the new facilities.
"The rooms sound great; the live room has a really nice, small ambience considering the size of the space and doesn’t have that unpleasant ‘roominess’ on the mics that some smaller rooms can have,” Clements adds. “It’s very diffused, controlled, but not over-controlled. The finish is great, too, with no 90° angles, sloping windows or ceiling cut outs and the diffusers all sit flush with the walls rather than jutting into the room.”
The investment in Studio A marks Middlesex University’s commitment to music production as a core part of its delivery. It is also a very practical institution, Clients adds, and one that values hands-on learning.
6th March 2020
SIXTY82 Tower System Raises Expectations for Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
UK – The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), one of the busiest performing arts venues in Scotland, purchased a SIXTY82 Model M Tower System as part of its ongoing drive to give students and schools access to state-of-the-art backstage technologies used in major productions worldwide.
Founded in 1847, RCS in Glasgow is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top performing arts education institutions. Each year it welcomes students from more than 60 countries to receive the very best education in music, drama, dance, production and film.
A major performance venue with world-class facilities, and an industry-endorsed provider of courses covering backstage equipment training, RCS invests in the very latest technologies to deliver a learning environment geared towards careers in production backstage as well as on the stage.
When RCS received outreach funding from the William Grant Foundation to run performing arts-based schools engagement activities, it decided to invest a tower lift system to showcase RCS’ production programmes in a more varied and interesting way.
Malcolm Stephen, stage supervisor and tutor of stage technology at RCS, commented: “Taking the system out to schools allows us to bring theatre technology to students who may otherwise not be aware of the industry, giving them an insight in to the backstage world of the performing arts.
“It also allows us to take shows to a wider range of venues, as well as creating pop-up venues within the RCS. And of course, having the system means that we can train technical students on its installation and use.”
Easy to use and assemble, the SIXTY82 Model M Tower System can be raised and lowered as appropriate, depending on the requirements of the specific performance or event. This provides users with an elegant solution for raising and supporting a temporary or permanent truss lighting rig.
Malcolm added: “We chose SIXTY82 as the tower system is compatible with truss that we already own. In my opinion, it has many benefits over other systems I’ve used, not least of all, how light the bases are. This certainly makes it easier to lift and transport it from site to site.”
The Model M Tower System was supplied to RCS by SIXTY82 exclusive UK distributor, A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ltd (AC-ET). The project was handled by Johnny Marshall in the company’s dedicated rigging sales division.
Malcolm commented: “I’ve been delighted with all my interactions with AC-ET. Its rigging team stepped
in to provide the tower system at the last minute and managed to get the system to us in time for its planned debut at RCS. The team were extremely helpful and professional throughout.”
SIXTY82 is an alliance featuring innovators from three countries with over 100 years of entertainment industry leadership between them. They came together to bring a fresh view into the market, providing innovative, next generation trussing and staging systems.
6th March 2020
New Tirana twin scene given the BlacklineX treatment
Albania – Albania’s capital city of Tirana recently welcomed a vibrant new two-tier leisure venue, with the restaurant/nightclub, LOST hosting live bands and DJs and Tema Lounge (occupying a separate space in the same building) providing background music by day, notching up to foreground music after dark.
The sound in both venues (along with control and production lighting) is reinforced by a Martin Audio BlacklineX system, specified and installed by Prosound, the manufacturer’s Albanian distributor.
The company’s audio system installer, Armand Dosti, was entirely comfortable specifying Blackline, having earlier introduced other high profile venues to the same solution. Furthermore, Prosound already had a relationship with LOST/Tema owner Filip Fermanis from earlier projects.
Surveying the two spaces, the former holding 200 people and the latter with a slightly reduced capacity, they recommended a system based around four Blackline X15, with a pair of X8 for infills and four X210 subwoofers for LOST, and four Blackline X10 and two X8 for Tema Lounge.
“From our point of view Blackline always represents the best choice in the Martin Audio speaker range regarding value for money,” stated Kliton Gjika, Prosound CEO, adding that the venue was measured and optimised using Smaart room analysis.
In terms of layout, clients enter the building via Tema Lounge, which is open every day from morning until late evening. This leads into LOST, which is generally a late night venue, open Thursdays and weekends, with live music. “LOST has become a very popular night club in Tirana and has also started featuring international DJ’s,” points out Prosound’s Endrit Veleshnja.
Stated Filip Fermanis: “We were very happy to collaborate with Prosound again, since we have worked with them in the past with other projects. The Blackline series was the best option for us in this new venue as our budget was quite tight. Their compact design made it very easy to integrate with our furniture and the sound quality has exceeded our expectations.”
5th March 2020
Claypaky Fixtures Installed in Russian Arctic Concert Hall
Russia – An assortment of Claypaky lighting fixtures are, quite literally, found in one of the coolest places on earth. Systems Engineer Vladimir Spravtsev of DNK Corporation installed Claypaky Axcor Profile 600 HC, A.leda B-EYE K20, Axcor Spot 400 HC, Axcor Beam 300 and Stormy CC fixtures in the Cultural and Business Center at Salekhard, Russia, the only city in the world located directly on the Arctic Circle. Artem Bogatyrev was the project manager.
Spravtsev was tasked with refurbishing the lighting in the concert hall portion of the building, known for its stunning architecture. “We needed to install fixtures that were multifunctional, that could be used for performances ranging from folk artists to classical music,” he explains. “We chose Claypaky lighting because we know Claypaky’s reputation as a reliable manufacturer. The company’s products are in great demand for Russian show production.”
The Axcor Profiles 600 HC will act as front lights for shows in the concert hall while the A.leda B-EYE K20 and Axcor Spot 400 HC fixtures are mounted in the grid. Axcor Beam 300s and Stormy CCs will be used for lighting effects.
“The lights are working fine, and the customer is very satisfied,” Spravtsev reports. “We are planning several theatre halls and plan to use Claypaky equipment in them as well.”
3rd March 2020
ACC Liverpool Future Proofs its RF System with Shure Axient Digital
UK – Shure, a leading manufacturer of microphones and audio electronics, collaborated with Adlib, one of the UK’s longest established event technical service companies, to upgrade ACC Liverpool’s RF system. The result is a future-proof system ready for today’s challenging RF environment.
The ACC Liverpool is the UK’s leading conference centre situated on Liverpool’s iconic waterfront. The event campus is an interconnected arena, convention and exhibition centre, which plays a leading role in shining a spotlight on the city. The venue has successfully staged a wide array of national and international events, from shows to conventions and business gatherings to showcase exhibitions.
Welcoming more than 7.9 million people through its doors since they first opened, the venue is home to a flexible layout configuration, making ACC Liverpool a unique experience in Europe. A tiered auditorium, break-out rooms, the exhibition centre and an event arena can be split, joined, and arranged in countless ways.
Due to the unique and ever-changing configuration of the building, ACC Liverpool had an increasing need for RF on their site that would work across large venues. The solution had to be fit for the future, given the venues ever growing client base. The kit provided also replaced all previous ACC wireless systems operating in the 700MHz band, which was an essential change given that all PMSE (programme making and special events) wireless users need to vacate this part of UHF spectrum by the 1st May 2020.
Adlib supplied the ACC Liverpool with 64 channels of Shure Axient Digital including 16 four-way receivers, AD1 bodypacks, AD2 transmitters, and an AD610 Showlink access port.
Harry Brown, sales manager at Adlib, comments: “The ACC Liverpool had no previous digital transmission and given the design and size of the building as well as the increasing number of events the venue is hosting, the sound system was considered no long future proof. The venue has a large channel count requirement and there was no better product to fit the job than Shure’s Axient Digital.”
“In today's congested RF environment, large venues like ACC Liverpool need a robust system they can rely on to perform day-after-day", adds Shure senior sales manager, Dave Phillips. "Shure developed Axient Digital to withstand the RF challenges of today and tomorrow. High channel counts and constrained spectrum are everyday hurdles for today's engineers and it's our job to develop products that make their lives easier on a day-to-day basis. The team at Adlib are no strangers to modern wireless and were clear on what the system needed to achieve. We were able to work closely with Harry and the team to develop a bespoke set-up fit for a world-class conference venue. Features such as high-density mode come into their own here, making it easier to zone off multiple spaces and maximise channel-counts. Combine this with highly robust RF performance thanks to true digital diversity, interference detection and avoidance, and remote transmitter control using ShowLink, and we're pleased to say, ACC looks set for some time to come.”
3rd March 2020
Elation shares in magic of Dollywood Wildwood Grove Tree
USA – When visiting the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee a visit to Dollywood should be high on anyone’s agenda. The popular theme park debuted a new land in June 2019 – Wildwood Grove – at whose heart is a magical Wildwood Tree illuminated using Elation Professional luminaires with lighting design by Susan Rose.
The Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening during a unique light and sound experience created by The Imagination House for Dollywood and narrated by Dolly Parton herself. Designed and built by LifeFormations, the 50-foot tree’s gnarled trunk emerges from a rock base before spreading into a beautiful green-leaf canopy covered with 650 custom RGB LED butterflies, controlled and programmed by Weigl Controls.
Lighting designer and lighting programmer for four separate seasonal experiences is local resident Susan Rose. She has previously designed lighting for Dollywood shows and spent nearly a year on the Wildwood Tree project. “When I started on the project the tree didn’t even exist yet so we really started from the ground up,” Rose comments, adding that she was given a sample piece of the tree trunk to see how light would react on it. Bandit Lites also got involved in the project early on, she says, and were critical in setting up demos and helping her look at the various lighting possibilities. “I knew we needed outdoor-rated lights to fight with Mother Nature and we needed something with good intensity to shine through at dusk. Bandit recommended we go with Elation and as I was already an Elation fan and it was also in our budget range, I took a closer look.”
Each season of the year features a captivating new Wildwood Tree experience for guests with narration accompanied by music and light projection onto the tree in concert with the colour-changing butterflies. As the Wildwood Tree is a 360-degree experience, Rose positioned lighting fixtures on four poles to illuminate the tree from all four sides. Mounted on each pole (each pole is at a different throw distance) are four Proteus Maximus LED profile moving heads, four SixPar 300 LED Par lights and four LED Lekos. The SixPars splash an array of colour onto the rock base, tree trunk and canopy while the 50,000-lumen Maximus units project custom gobos onto the tree to enhance story telling through custom patterns and animations.
Each Proteus Maximus fixture houses custom gobos with a few stock gobos also in use. Rose says that specific gobos play a key role in the storytelling: butterflies, lightning, dragonflies, Christmas ornaments, snow or leaves that fall down from the top of the tree and needed to be indexed properly. A complex programming challenge, Rose says that she really had to put a lot of thought into the gobo load in the four Maximus lights. “The gobos really tell a story on this and are quite important. I really had to put some thought into which gobos go into which wheel and what slot, which ones needed to index and which ones could go on the static wheel, keeping in mind how I could create transitions.” Multiply that by four shows and you can understand the complexity. “It was probably the trickiest programming I’ve done in a long time,” she said, “but it came out nice. The crispness I could get out of the focus and zoom with the gobos was fantastic.”
Rose was one of the first in the US to use the Proteus Maximus and although the fixtures were new to the market, she says they have performed well. “I’ve been really impressed with the optics. Also, I wasn’t sure at that throw distance what it would look like because in the summertime we’re fighting with dusk issues but I’ve been impressed that an LED source is that intense.” With CMY colour mixing and comprehensive FX package that includes framing, Proteus Maximus can be used as a profile, beam or wash light. Housing a 5.5 to 55-degree zoom and 950W White LED engine, its 50,000 lumens of brightness can cut through at great distances.
With three different zones of the tree to light – rock, trunk and canopy – Rose worked in layers of light to create visual depth, working with intensity, colour and pattern. Elation Rayzor 760 RGBW washlights with zoom are located in planters along the bottom of the rock face and used to uplight the tree and underpart of the canopy in layers of colour. Colour-changing SixPar 200 IP Pars mounted within the rock base uplight the canopy in greens or blues while the pole-mounted SixPar 300 LEDs add more shades. Additional layers of colour emanate from Acclaim Lighting Dyna Accent Mini architectural fixtures hidden along the base of the tree while colour-mixing Lekos project onto rocks and the trunk for added texture. The layered lighting looks work in tandem with the 650 butterflies in the canopy, whose every wing can receive pixel-mapped colour and effects.
The beginning of all four experiences is the same with tree roots growing up along the rock and vines moving up the trunk but each experience boasts its own visual delights: autumn ambers and yellows with falling leaves, a powerful summer storm with lightning, or the falling snowflakes of winter. Rose says she used every feature of the Proteus when creating the scenes. “I used the framing shutter all the way, and then opened them up straight horizontally so it looks like the roots are climbing up the rock. I put the animation wheel behind a gobo and got the focus right so it would look like it was raining down the trunk. Even the movement of the light was very smooth.” Rose created her lighting design in a visualization suite, did all the programming and time coding herself, and then recorded it into a show control system for playback.
Each experience is a few minutes long with ample time between shows to enjoy the majesty of the area and the beauty of the tree itself. “During the shows there is a lot of colour but for our static look in-between shows I wanted it to look like a real tree,” Rose explains. “I keep the gobos out of focus to give it some depth and contour and on the rocks I added a bit of steel blue to make it look like a real rock. On the trunk, I added a bit of amber and for the canopy, I added a bit of green. I was basically painting the tree with light and accenting the natural colours that were in it to make it look real.” Only the LED Pars and Lekos are used for the static looks, she says. “Then when the show starts and all the vibrant colours appear and the movement starts, it’s a real 'wow' moment!”
Rose commends Imagination House, who she says: “did an amazing job creating and producing the experiences. The music by Mike Avila is fantastic as well.” The Wildwood Grove Tree experiences at Dollywood opened last June and have proven extremely popular not to mention a perfect spot for photo opportunities.