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SOUTHERN AFRICA

January / February 2014 R35.00

AV System Integration | Installations | Live Events | Studio PRO Audio

Cover Johannesburg Story International Motor Show Springbok Museum Installation Architectural Video Mapping in SA Club And Void Installation Corporate AV Systems Guide Martin MLA Mini Richard Smith


Studio Monitors

Gibbon5 Turbo4

(Red only) R3876 inc. each 4” Bass, 1” Silk HF, 30W LF/20W HF

Turbo6

(Black only) R5808 inc. each 6 1/2” Bass, 1” Silk HF, 60 W LF/30W HF

Turbo8

(Black only) R6967 inc. each 8” Bass, 1” Silk HF, 80W LF,30W HF (Black only) R11617 inc. each 10” Subwoofer, 300W LF Turbo 8

Turbo 6

Turbo 5

Turbo10s

Turbo 4

(Red & Black) R2267 inc. each 5 1/4” Bass, 1” Silk HF, 45W LF/35W HF

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Active speaker systems


3-Way Active 3-Way Active Line Array Model

Line Array Mod Full of Technology

DVA T8

DVA T12

3 Way Active Line Array Module with DSP processing

3 Way Active Line Array Module with DSP processing

Frequency Response (+/- 3dB): 66 – 18 000Hz

Frequency Response (+/- 3dB): 60 – 19 000Hz

Max SPL: 132dB

Max SPL: 136dB

HF Driver: 2 x 1” Neodymium Compression Driver

HF Driver: 3 x 1” Neodymium Compression Driver

MF Driver: 1 x 6.5” Neodymium Compression Driver

MF Driver: 2 x 6.5” Neodymium Compression Driver

LF Driver: 8” Neodymium Compression Driver

LF Driver: 12” Neodymium Compression Driver

Power Rating (RMS): LF 350 + MF 175 + HF 175W

Power Rating (RMS): LF 710 + MF 350 + HF 350W

Weight: 14.2Kg

Weight: 29.9Kg

Dimensions mm: 580(W) x 240(H) x 327(D)

Dimensions mm: 580(W) x 386(H) x 430(D)

Active speakers Pro-active investment viva afrika

Viva Afrika Sound and Light (Pty) Ltd Unit 2, 2 Drakensburg Road Longmeadow Business Estate West, Westfield PO Box 4709, Rivonia, 2128, South Africa Tel: 011 250-3280, Fax: 011 608-4109 orders@hybrid.co.za, www.hybrid.co.za


In This Issue Managing Editor Welcome to our first issue for 2014, one of our biggest issues to date, jam packed with advertising and content which I hope you will enjoy. In the first part of this year we will be visiting ISE and Prolight+Sound and look forward to reporting back to you in due course. We’re also very excited about covering a bank AV installation in the next issue. This type of article usually comes with a fair amount of red tape when it comes to publishing it so this will be a first for Pro-Systems. All the best for a happy and healthy year ahead! Claire Badenhorst

Deputy Editor In the 20th year of our country’s democracy I present to you the January/Febuary issue of Pro Systems. It’s always a challenge condensing the four market verticals into one magazine but this issue was especially a challenge since, firstly, November/December are generally the busiest months for the industry and, secondly, because January is the deadest of them all. Sadly, December 2013 saw the passing of our dear Tata Madiba which sent the entire industry into a flurry of activity. On behalf of us all here at Pro Systems News, this issue is dedicated to him because without his sacrifices none of us would be operating the way we are today. We owe a lot to this revolutionary which brought South Africans together to work in unity and build the thriving industries we are all so passionate about. In this issue we bring you coverage of the enormous Johannesburg International Motor show from an AV point of view. In AV integration we bring you coverage of the AV installation at the Springbok Museum, an interesting look at architectural video mapping in South Africa. Joburg Day, one of the biggest outdoor musicals in South Africa to date, is also covered in its entirety so don’t miss reading about the massive L-Acoustics system employed there. In the installations side we have two club stories: the AND Club Void Acoustics installation – a first of its kind in South Africa – and the up-market Blue Room in Pretoria. Also of interest to the rental and installation market is a review of the Martin MLA Mini system, a huge leap forward in line source systems. I hope the festive season was happy and safe for you all so here’s to 2014! Greg Bester

CONTENTS NEWS

Installations

Pretoria church installs new auditorium....3

Martin Audio’s MLA Mini hits SA shores...25

Reviving the Ernest

Richard Smith..............................................28

Oppenheimer Theatre................................3

In the Blue Room........................................30

Smart Building Conference

No ‘void’ in the market here....................32

draws sellout crowd.....................................3

What’s on at ISE.........................................34

Robe appoints Bob Schacherl as CEO of Robe Lighting US.......................4

Live Events

LDI 2013 award winners announced.........4

Powering up Joburg Day

Ayrton MagicPanel™602 has it nailed......4

to global standards...................................36

Putting their faith in digiLED MC

Pushing the innovation envelope............40

range for SA events.....................................6

Arcadia – a sensory explosion..................44

AFDA film school choose

A ‘Massive Attack’ on the senses............48

Philips Selecon..............................................6

Tracking Technology .........................52 – 55

HARMAN International acquires Duran

Return of the native...................................56

Audio.............................................................8

Johannesburg International

Christie dominates Stage Audio Works’

Motor Show.................................................58

worship sector in SA.....................................8

Studio PRO AUDIO

Studio Expo rocks 135th audio convention..............................8

Breaking the horizon on DSP.....................64

MovieTex now distributing RoscoTex in

Recording and mixing drums

South Africa..................................................9

in the modern DAW

PSY shines with Fly Dragon..........................9

Part 4 – Bussing & panorama...................66 Wavelab 8 review......................................68 A master to the max..................................70

System Integration

The history of film sound............................72

The Springbok experience........................10 Evolving videowalls....................................14 Corporate AV systems – central design

Social Audiosure MLA Micro................................76

and procurement......................................18

DWR Avolites Training................................76

HDBaseT: Everything you

Stage Audio Works d&b training..............76

need to know.............................................22

Audio Technica Training............................76 Techrig Projector Launch..........................76

Contributors Chanelle Ellaya | A Journalism graduate from the University of Johannesburg. Chanelle has experience in both the magazine and television industry. She has a keen interest in the Media in various capacities, as well as in music and technology.

Louise Stickland | Professional journalist and photographer with huge passion and enthusiasm for technology and the production industry. Louise initially worked and toured as a lighting designer after graduating from university. She has many years experience in the music and live event sector, and works closely with leading international designers, production companies and technology manufacturers.

Sarah Rushton-Read | A co-founder of Women in Stage Entertainment; Chairman of the Knight of Illumination Rock Award and editor of the Association of Sound Designers magazine The Echo. She has previously lit a medal winning garden at the Chelsea Flower show, been employed as deputy editor on Lighting and Sound International, deputy lighting manager of Glyndebourne Festival Opera among others.

Publisher| Simon Robinson | simon@sun-circle.co.za Managing Editor | Claire Badenhorst | editor@pro-systems.co.za Deputy Editor | Greg Bester | greg@pro-systems.co.za In-house Journalist | Chanelle Ellaya | news@pro-systems.co.za Sub-Editor | Tina Heron Advertising Sales | Simone de Beer | sales@pro-systems.co.za Design | Trevor Ou Tim | design@sun-circle.co.za Subscriptions | Albertina Tserere | data@sun-circle.co.za Accounts | Natasha Glavovic | accounts@sun-circle.co.za Sun Circle Publishers (Pty) Ltd | Tel: +27 11 025-3180 | Epsom Downs Office Park, 13 Sloane Street, Bryanston, Johannesburg | PO Box 559 Fourways North 2086, South Africa

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www. pro-systems.co.za

Publishers & Projects


news

Pretoria church installs new auditorium SDA Filadelfia in Pretoria, South Africa recently completed construction of their new 575-seater auditorium. Clients Andre Spammer and Dries van Schalkwyk contacted Juan Soothill of In-Harmony Productions who had supplied audio solutions for the church’s events in the past. The requirements were for a discrete but sufficiently powerful and high quality sound system that would not impact visually on the church’s future plans to broadcast and record the AV for their services. Gustav Teitge of Wild and Marr (Pty) Ltd using a combination of EASE and JBL CBT Line Array Calculator recommended a LR configuration of JBL CBT70J loudspeakers. The correct placement of these units coupled with their wide dispersion characteristics in the horizontal plane ensured complete coverage at the required SPL for the space. A single JBL Application Engineered ASB6118 subwoofer was installed to provide additional low frequency extension for music performances and other music requirements during services. BSS Soundweb London signal processing and routing provides the backbone of the system with the various inputs mixed on a Soundcraft Si Expression 24-channel mixing console. According to Juan Soothill the Si Expression range was an easy choice for the mixing console duties due its ease of use considering that the church usually has volunteers running their shows. Crown XTi4002 amplifiers were chosen for their low power draw as the entire system is designed to run off solar power with the

Audio mixing desk at SDA Filadelfia, Pretoria

country’s main power utility kept in the wings as a ‘back-up’ power option. A direct instruction from the client for no cables running across the stage was achieved using a CAT 5 Soundcraft MSB32 digital stagebox at stage right with additional routing to two other points, stage centre and stage left. Other Harman products include JBL PRX712M stage monitors, JBL Control 2Ps for the mother’s rooms with BSS Soundweb London BLU3 wall mounted controllers for independent volume control. Architect Stefan Wille’s design process included the overall building’s design and layout as well as the acoustic properties of the interior materials used to achieve an acoustically friendly environment. In addition many of the materials used are environmentally friendly in respect of the ‘green’ requirements for the building. Soothill optimised the system performance using SMAART V7 during the final commissioning stage. The project’s success is attributable to the teamwork displayed between the architect and the audio specialists from Wild and Marr and InHarmony Productions with the use of acoustic modelling during the design stage.

Reviving the Ernest Oppenheimer Theatre The Ernest Oppenheimer Theatre, located in Welkom, was opened on 15 February 1968, named after founder of Welkom, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer. This historic landmark has recently been revitalised and now accommodates people with special needs. The drive to re-furbish the theatre in this Free State mining town came from a certain Mrs Martie du Plessis, the wife of the Administrator of the Free State. She had the pleasure of presiding over the opening ceremony, which was also graced by Gê Korsten, star of the opening production, Bedelaarstudent. After fire damaged the stage in 2011, it was decided as an opportunity to refurbish the theatre; retaining the class – but adding

a modern touch. Team Electrosonic SA and head technician Omar Sharfoodeen had the massive task of reinstalling the dimming and cabling. This involved laying down 1200m of new cabling, installing new dimmers, rewiring 168 outlets, the lighting bars and DMX ties. With a time limit of a couple of weeks, in true Electrosonic SA style they met their deadline with the care and excellence associated with the company. The theatre also obtained lighting kit from Electrosonic SA, including two Robert Juliat follow-spots, 16 Martin Mac Aura wash lights, two Martin Rush MH LED profiles, Martin DMX Splitters and a Martin M2GO Controller. Renier Smit, Technical Sales and Support,

Smart Building Conference draws sellout crowd More than 140 delegates packed into London’s Dexter House to attend the Smart Building Conference 2013 – a joint venture of InfoComm International and CEDIA. Attendees were treated to insights from 20 speakers, with separate tracks dedicated to the commercial and residential building markets book-ended by plenary sessions open and relevant to all. In the morning, the residential track focused on smart energy management while the commercial track examined technology trends. These roles were reversed in the afternoon, giving delegates another level of session choice. Bob Snyder, Editor-in-Chief of Channel Media Europe and the conference’s MC for the day, began proceedings by introducing the event’s two keynote speakers: energy-industry blogger and consultant Dr Steven Fawkes, and Jeremy Towler of the Building Services Research & Information Association (BSRIA). The conference then divided into its parallel residential and commercial tracks, hosted by CEDIA’s Matt Dodd and Allen Weidman of InfoComm respectively. To conclude, all delegates attended a presentation by Rick Holland of the Technology Strategy Board on how businesses can apply for a share of £4 million in funding being made available by the UK government to collaborative R&D into the energy management of buildings. The event was sponsored by Crestron, AMX, RGB Communications, AWE, Aldous Systems, HDL and Orion Engineering, with delegates being given plenty of time during networking breaks to see sponsor exhibits and discuss projects with exhibitor personnel. “As a distributor of home-automation and lighting-control products, the Smart Building Conference 2013 was the perfect platform for us,” said Paul Mott, sales director, AWE. “Energy saving was a key topic, so being able to demonstrate the capabilities of URC Total Control and Philips Dynalite lighting to key people was invaluable.”

headed the Electrosonic SA team on the project and Jesse Dullabh, Technical and Controller Support, is responsible for on-going training. Dulcie Harris was extremely happy with Electrosonic SA’s service and commended Renier and the team for ‘going the extra mile’ in bringing state-of-the-art lighting to her theatre. Harris, who has been the theatre manager since 1996, anticipates a new golden era for the Ernest Oppenheimer Theatre. “Words cannot express my excitement in seeing this theatre operational again, and I welcome back all theatre supporters with much enthusiasm,” she adds.

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news

Robe appoints Bob Schacherl as CEO of Robe Lighting US

Bob Schacherl

Robe Lighting s.r.o. recently announced the appointment of Bob Schacherl as CEO of its US-based operation, Robe Lighting Inc. An exemplary high profile career has seen Bob work with two leading brands in the field spanning the past 28 years – and this will now continue with Robe, as the company positions itself for further expansion and the strengthening of all its global markets throughout 2014.

Robe s.r.o.’s Sales Director Harry von Den Stemmen, comments: “Bob is absolutely the best possible lighting professional we could have to lead Robe in the US. We share the same core values and his dynamic approach and progressive thinking are exactly where ‘we are at.’” Bob has been impressed with Robe right from the start when the brand launched in 2002. “I have always admired Robe for the way they conduct their business, the innovative products they bring to the market … and the brilliant people who are integral to the operation,” he states. “I am hugely excited to be working with such a fantastic company and look forward to taking Robe Lighting Inc. forward to the next level.” Bob, who serendipitously also has some roots in the Czech Republic via his father’s family line, started with Robe on 18 November. Robe has recently launched a new Middle East facility in Dubai and appointed Søren Storm as International Business Development Manager. Schacherl’s appointment is the latest move that indicates a real confidence and commitment to sustaining profitable long term growth by the independentlyowned Czech manufacturer.

LDI 2013 award winners announced The LDI 2013 Awards for Best Debuting Products of the Year were presented at an awards ceremony on 23 November on the LDI show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Centre. The winners are:

Debuting Product of the Year Awards Sound: The RPCM Mobile Power Distro from LynTec. LynTec president Mark Bishop accepted the award. Widget: The E-Clamp Non-stripping Multi-connection Wire connector from Jowootech Co, Ltd. Benjamin Yoon accepted the award. Special Effects: The AquaMax hazer from CITC Special Effects Equipment. Staging & Rigging: X-Vision Channel Truss by Theatrixx Technologies. Jacques Tessier accepted the award.

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Projection: Ayrton MagicPanel 602 distributed in North America by Morpheus Lights. Valere Huart, Yvan Péard, Mark Fetto and Paul Weller accepted the award. The judges awarded two winners in the lighting category: The innovative line of products by Fuel Lighting. Paul Therrien accepted the award. The A.LEDA B-EYE by CLAY PAKY and distributed by A.C.T Lighting. Francesco Romangnoli, Bob Gordon, Brian Dowd and George Masek accepted the award.

Ayrton MagicPanel™602 has it nailed

Following a successful summer festival tour promoting their new album Hesitation Marks across the Far East and Europe, American industrial rock project, Nine Inch Nails, are currently bringing their show to North American arenas under a dramatic lighting rig that incorporates no less than 126 Ayrton MagicPanel™602 fixtures. Legendary rock production lighting designer Leroy Bennett has installed 14 motorised pods on variable speed winches above the stage, each containing nine Ayrton MagicPanels in a 3 x 3 configuration. Ayrton MagicPanel 602 is a moving head composed of thirty-six 15W Osram RGBW LED light sources, each of which can be individually programmed. Each LED produces a powerful, tight 7.5° beam which together are born to map moving images in 3D space. MagicPanel 602 demonstrates infinite rotation in both tilt and pan axis and produces a sharp edge 15 000 lumen multidirectional beam of light, all of which are managed by ArtNet, RDM or DMX. The MagicPanels formed a major part of the NIN lighting rig where they not only run chases, graphic elements and overhead effects above the performers, and act as audience blinders, but also channel video content and pixel mapped images across a total of 4 536 LED points. Bennett employs the MagicPanel fixtures to create many effects throughout the course of the performance, using the capabilities of the individually programmable LEDs to delineate each song: “We tried to push the MagicPanels as far as time allowed us but still remain in keeping with the music,” he states. “I found the MagicPanels very interesting and diverse which is why I chose them and they have proved to be as bright, versatile and reliable as I had hoped.”


Head Office +27 11 974 0633 sound@wildandmarr.co.za

Cape Town +27 21 787 9378 sales@wmc.co.za

Durban +27 31 573 7400 admin@wildandmarrkzn.co.za


news

Putting their faith in digiLED MC range for SA events

RMB Event

South African event production company AV Systems has invested in the latest digiLED MC10 video modules from international screen provider displayLED. AV Systems has purchased 192 tiles of the digiLED MC10LSR model to supply events as diverse as a product launch for motor manufacturer Porsche, a classical concert for Rand Merchant Bank and the 25 000 capacity South African pop festival Jacaranda Day. “We have a range of projects this year which require high resolution performance in an outdoor setting,” says Alvaro Rodrigues, managing director of AV Systems. “We’ve

worked with displayLED for a number of years and have seen the company constantly develop its digiLED product range to meet the changing needs of the AV rental market. The MC and MK ranges are based on 500mm x 500mm modules, which make them easy to configure into almost any screen size. The 10mm pixel pitch of the MC10 is the perfect resolution for these projects and ideal for our clients’ applications.” The MC10 has already demonstrated its flexibility and capability in demanding conditions. Firstly, the launch of Porsche’s latest Cayman model required the screen to be shaped in order to tie in with the client’s theme for the event: ‘The code of the curve’. “We provided a curved, six metre-wide screens for four outdoor events,” says Rodrigues. “The modules can be angled at either seven or 14 degrees to each other, so we created a curve by angling the screen at seven degrees every two panels. We had to support the screen at the back on the grass surface using decks and base plates. It was a challenging build but the screens performed perfectly and the client was delighted.” Meanwhile, while the Jacaranda Day festival, which was to feature artists including Johnny Clegg, Karen Zoid, Chiano Sky and Arno Carstens, sadly had to be cancelled

AFDA film school choose Philips Selecon At the start of the year AFDA, one of the leading film, television and performance schools in Africa, opened a campus in Durban. DWR Distribution’s Nick Barnes was pleased to recently provide a lighting installation to AFDA, using Philips Strand technology for their small television studio at the institution. The Philips Strand LED Studio Panels are a sensible choice for students who can use the units both inside the studio and on location and for control a Philips Strand 200 Plus Series console has been supplied. AFDA, the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance, was established in Johannesburg in 1994 and offers internationally recognised degree programmes. With a Cape Town campus in operation since 2003, it was with great excitement that AFDA finally opened her doors in Durban on 4 February 2013. AFDA’s new home is a former municipal building in Glen Anil, Durban North. Over the next four years, on-going renovations will cater for 350 students studying film, TV, music and acting. The campus includes studios, lecture rooms,

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AFDA students

rehearsal rooms, recreational area, staff and administration area, storage and parking facilities, which has all the necessary stage, film, TV and music equipment required for each year of study. Franco Human, Campus Dean of AFDA Durban, required a flexible lighting rig for a small film studio. Human states: “At AFDA we pride ourselves in keeping up to date in the latest technology; Durban was the first to purchase LEC lighting. DWR brought in and installed the equipment in their promised timeframe and I am pleased with the quality of work.” DWR supplied two lighting bars on four circuits as well as six Philips Strand LED Studio Panels (with barn doors) that run off a Philips

due to very heavy rain, the event demonstrated the MC10’s ability to withstand the most severe weather conditions. The production was fully rigged at the time of cancellation and the MC screens had remained operational over 24 hours of near solid rainfall before the event. Likewise at a commercial vehicle launch for General Motors (GM), the screen functioned in extreme temperatures. “In South Africa, you can have heavy intermittent rain combined with direct sunlight and heat,” Rodrigues explained. “At the GM event we experienced 42 degrees of heat in the afternoon, with thunderstorms and showers in the evening. The screen held up to this extremely well!” AV Systems is a returning customer and fan of the digiLED brand, having previously purchased the digiTILE Ti6S, which the company has used on many high profile events. “We are delighted to provide AV Systems with screens of the resolution, functionality and durability that their clients require,” says Graham Burgess, CEO of displayLED. “Alvaro works to the highest international standards with some of the most prestigious global brands and events. We believe digiLED offers him the complete range of video solutions for his forthcoming projects.” Strand 200 Plus console. “The studio panels are lightweight and compact,” says Barnes. “They can be de-rigged by students and then set up outside, on location, when required.” With tuneable white colour temperature control from 3 000K to 6 000K, the units are ideal for a wide range of lighting applications. Only requiring 50 watts, they operate on AC or DC voltage and the battery power input is designed to operate, when needed, using industry standard batteries. An available range of holographic diffusers provide beam angle control with minimal light loss. Little introduction is needed for the Philips Strand 200 Plus Series console, the manual lighting desk used by students in the studio. It features Ethernet and DMX ports as well as a video display port for users needing more information than is provided by the on panel LCD display. Easy to set up and use, the 200 Plus Series console is great for any application that needs manual and memory control. Says Barnes: “We at DWR Distribution would like to thank AFDA for their support. We look forward to seeing the talent and positive impact these young entrepreneurs in entertainment will bring to South Africa and the globe. May the world sit up and notice!”


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news

HARMAN International acquires Duran Audio HARMAN International recently announced the acquisition of privately-held Duran Audio BV. The acquisition provides HARMAN with access to innovative electro-acoustic and software-based directivity control technologies including the successful AXYS® Intellivox line of ’steerable’ columns. The AXYS products and core technologies will become an integrated part of the HARMAN Professional audio product line. “The acquisition of Duran Audio BV bolsters HARMAN’s stated commitment to advance our technology leadership through both R&D and acquisitions,” says Dinesh C Paliwal, HARMAN’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Over the years, Duran

Dinesh C Paliwal, HARMAN’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

Audio has established a distinct and loyal customer base built on innovative technology. By leveraging Duran’s unique product lines with HARMAN’s global footprint and product synergies, our business is optimally positioned to serve new customers around the world with expanded audio solutions.” Echoing this viewpoint, Gerrit Duran, founder of Duran Audio notes: “Our focus has always been on innovation. Over the years we have developed a range of solutions for some of the most difficult problems facing sound system designers, architects and acoustic engineers. The acquisition by HARMAN presents many wonderful opportunities to push the R&D

boundaries even further and to deliver some truly unique technologies to a wider customer base.” The addition of Duran Audio to HARMAN’s portfolio of commercial audio and lighting technology companies underscores Harman’s strategy to complement continued growth through targeted acquisitions in adjacent technology and product areas across all geographic and vertical markets. Founded in Zaltbommel, The Netherlands by Gerrit Duran in 1981, Duran Audio has earned a strong reputation for its AXYS range of professional audio products including loudspeakers, amplifiers, signal processors and network devices. Duran Audio pioneered modern loudspeaker ’beam steering‘ and ’beam shaping‘ which are essential to addressing demanding acoustic environments. The company has also established a leading position in audio solutions for European EN-54 safety applications and software technologies for audio design.

Christie dominates Studio Expo rocks 135th audio convention Stage Audio Works’ worship sector in SA The house of worship market segment continues to boom in South Africa as Christie partner Stage Audio Works confirming that they are supplying this sector with Christie solutions. Recently Stage Audio Works completed a number of installations using Christie 3LCD devices. These installations include Acts Christian Church, Woord en Lewe Church, Urban Life Church and a major project at Grace Bible Church. Other noteworthy projects include: Mosaiek, Brackenhurst Revival, New Life, Hope Restoration, Jabulani, Mamalodi, Hillsong Pretoria and GodFirst. “Most of our installs are in the new charismatic style churches,” comments Stage Audio Works’ sales executive Hugh Overy. “Almost all are auditorium layout with stage, flat floors and controlled lighting — with big sound.” In particular, Stage Audio Works have moved increasingly towards Christie’s new generation of 3LCD projectors. “The LCD range offers high brightness, reliability, low cost of ownership and value for money,” states their marketing manager, Shaun Xavier. “Even though DLP may sometimes be a better option, depending on circumstance, price remains the primary consideration, particularly in smaller churches.”

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A highlight of the 135th Audio Engineering Society Convention, held at the Javits Center in New York City, was the second annual Project Studio Expo, presented in association with Sound on Sound. Intended to assist home recordists in approaching their tools, the Project Studio Expo (which saw attendance of over 1 000 people) included presentations by leading industry authors, journalists and educators, including Craig Anderton, Bill Gibson, Mike Metlay, Andrea Pejrolo, Gino Robair, Hugh Robjohns, Mike Senior, Paul White and more. In addition, Craig Anderton also hosted a question and answer session on Friday with five-time GRAMMY® Award winner and renowned record producer, songwriter, musician and entrepreneur Jimmy Jam. The Project Studio Expo was sponsored by Cerwin-Vega, Focusrite/Novation, Gibson Brands, KRK Systems, Onkyo, SAE Institute, Sennheiser, Stanton and TASCAM. AES has a long history serving the recording community, from the early days of monophonic vinyl to today’s modern multichannel digital audio formats. With the

Among the criteria that have helped to sell products like Christie’s LX505, LX605 and LW555, there is principally the cornerstone correction function. This, along with the easy display set-up and auto-filters, and the high value/high brightness ratio of the product, make it the most appealing option in this

Five-time Grammy® Award winner Jimmy Jam and noted author, journalist and technologist Craig Anderton

rise of project studios, many home recordists may be at a loss on how to best use the tools at hand. The Project Studio Expo brought together top people, tools and techniques, in order for attendees could learn best practices and tricks from the pros; talk to their toolmakers; and listen, learn and connect with their peers. Topics ranged from acoustics in small spaces to microphone placement, mixing and mastering. Bob Moses, AES Executive Director, said: “The Expo is our answer to a recording business that has migrated from the classic big studios of the past to the spare bedrooms and garages of the present. Audio professionals need training on a huge range of skills to run their businesses today and AES is here to provide that training.”

class. “Due to the large screen sizes, high brightness is almost always a requirement — and we can safely say all our houses of worship clients are happy with their Christie projectors,” asserts Hugh Overy.


news

MovieTex now distributing RoscoTex in South Africa

After ’Gangnam Style‘ swept the world, South Korea singer PSY held his primary personal concert in Seoul World Gymnasium on 13 April 2013 – the largest and the most luxuriant concert since PSY become a singer. The concert cost about $3 million and accommodated more than 50 000 audience members. The name of the concert was called ’HAPPENING‘ based on the white colour, and means to burn the dark into daylight. Among a tough selection of lighting brands, the organisers of the concert selected SIRIAN 330BS (BUMBLEBEE F330GT), SIRIUS II 330 Beam (BUMBLEBEE F330 BEAM)

moving beam and spot lights by ’LIGHTSKY‘ from Fly Dragon Lighting Equipment Co., Ltd in China. LIGHTSKY’S product features such as intense brightness, full and sharp beam, superior speed, accurate positioning, perfect consistency, smooth cease, powerful functionality, compactness and impeccable light and design quality, which perfectly fit his performance style.

manufactured a wide range of textiles for film, TV and also theatrical and entertainment industries. Roscotex, this division of Rosco Ibérica, is based in Madrid, and offers a knowledgeable and experienced sewing specialist team. In 2012 Rosco launched their new MIRO

CUBE range of LED wash fixtures. Designed and engineered by The Black Tank, the line of fixtures includes the MIRO CUBE 4C: a colour changing unit, the MIRO CUBE WNC: a tunable colour temperature, white light unit and the MIRO CUBE UV: a black light emitter.

Image © KWB Design & courtesy of DJ Willrich

MovieTex, a sister company of Movievision, is now distributing RoscoTex in South Africa. Ron Knell, senior account manager for Rosco, comments: “We are delighted to count Movievision as part of our trusted dealer network for South Africa. Focusing mainly on RoscoTex, our textile division, it is a great opportunity for our products to be stocked and distributed locally and serviced by such a professional company. Movievision will also be offering MIRO Cube™ our latest LED wash lights which we are confident will lead to a prosperous partnership.” Since 1982 Rosco has also offered and

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System Integration Museum Solution

The Springbok Experience – a museum with a difference

In the world of loved and recognisable brands, Springbok rugby holds its place alongside the best. In addition to its pure sporting value, the Springbok brand is associated with braaivleis, sunshine and all things South African. 10


Museum Solution System Integration

Recollections of the Rugby World Cup 1995, with Francois Pienaar and Madiba

Anyone who remembers the 1995 Rugby World Cup will also attest to the powers of unification that the green and gold made possible. What many people may not understand is the extent to which rugby has been woven through the very fabric of South African history. Dating back to the 1860s, rugby has played witness to every aspect of our past, the good and the bad. With this in mind, the South African Rugby Union set out to create a world-class shrine to Springbok rugby at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. This would replace the smaller museum at Newlands that had closed a while back and promised to deliver an interactive and entertaining experience to local and foreign visitors. It opened its doors to the Noon Gun on Heritage day, 24 September, aptly named the Springbok Experience. “The Springbok Experience is a museum which is arguably unlike anything seen in South Africa before,” Jurie Roux, the CEO of the South African Rugby Union, said at the opening. “We have worked with one of the world’s leading sports museum designers to create a unique and compelling experience for the general visitor as well as rugby fans.

World-class attraction “It will be a bricks-and-mortar, 364-day-a-year opportunity for rugby supporters from home and overseas to interact with rugby and the Springboks. It’s a world-class visitor attraction in the middle of one of Africa’s most visited destinations promoting our great game and team.” The two-storey Springbok Experience design was produced by Mather & Co of Wilmslow in the UK. Their credits include the awardwinning Wimbledon lawn tennis museum, the five-storey National Football Museum in the UK and they recently completed their work on the IOC museum in Lausanne. Project Director, and GM of Corporate Affairs at SARU, Andy Colquhoun recalls:” Mather & Co got hold of our project and within a month had turned it around and got it firmly on track to produce an outstanding museum experience that continues to ‘wow’ visitors. They

grasped a complex history, converted it into a compelling, beautifully illustrated narrative and all to an extremely tight deadline.” In conjunction with South African attraction specialists, Digital Fabric, which works on visitor attraction projects around the world, the project was completed in just 10 months. Digital Fabric had worked previously with Mather & Co on the SA Breweries World of Beer attraction, so Chris Mather had no hesitation in recommending them for the job. Mather and SARU entrusted Digital Fabric with the entire build, including all exhibition set works, graphics, AV, lighting and interactives, both digital and mechanical. Digital Fabric’s Gavin Olivier recalls: ”This was the broadest range of responsibilities that we have had to handle under one museum contract. There was nothing that we had not done before, just not all at once. The tight time frame made it all the more interesting.”

Display case dressing Also in the mix was the integration and dressing of display cases, which were hybrids of locally built rear carcasses and specialised secure door and glass systems procured by Mather & Co in the UK. The display cases contain more than 230 artifacts ranging from Francois Pienaar’s Rugby World Cup jersey to the original Currie Cup trophy and each item required a bespoke mount to ensure its optimal display. The entire display case mounting system was designed to suit Mather & Co’s object layout, after which each and every item was re-measured and checked prior to final decisions on mounting methods. The objects used were taken from SARU’s extensive collection as well as loans from collectors and institutions across the globe and really bring the exhibition to life. SARU’s Andy Colquhoun sums up the significance of this aspect of the exhibition: “Some of the objects on display are akin to the Holy Grail for rugby supporters and have a place of reverence among fans. So showing them off to their best effect was critical in the design. They are the glue that holds the story together and bring it to life in a tangible way and they have been beautifully presented and lit.” The experience is spread across two floors. On the ground floor,

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System Integration Museum Solution aside from ticketing and retail, visitors are able to engage in a range of interactive experiences in the Springbok Trials area. These consist of kicking, passing and fitness games and a Batak reaction unit, the first of its kind in South Africa. The games are based on projection with Kinetic tracking cameras. In the central circulation hub a large curved screen is flanked by two camera booths in which headshots are captured to be composited into the main visuals of game action shots. At the centre of the hub, a virtual interactive book displays the Springbok Opus book, filled with glorious high-resolution images. Unlike most virtual books that are projected onto a flat surface, the Opus is projected onto a shaped book structure that Digital Fabric machined from a solid block, giving it a dimension and feel that enhances the touch experience. The first floor houses the museum component and while the ticketing structures allow visitors to limit their visit to the ground floor, it’s

The Heroes Gallery, with the interactive cluster of 30 monitors and touchscreens

hard to imagine why anybody would want to miss out on the extraordinary story that awaits, and this is where the real magic comes into play. Visitors are taken back to the 1860s, to the very origins of the game, and then on a complex journey through South Africa’s history, marking major moments along the way and pausing to note even the tiniest details, anecdotes and personal glimpses into the personal stories of those involved along the way. One of SARU’s key objectives in setting out this narrative was the telling of the whole story, warts and all. Colquhoun explains: “Rugby has been a great uniting force in South Africa’s history in recent times, but it was also seen as a divisive force and took a central place in South Africa’s wider politics on many occasions. It was the centre of many protests and controversies and we couldn’t shy away from that.” So how does one set out to tell a story of this breadth in a way that will engage an audience made up of local and foreign visitors, young and old, sports fans or not? Gavin Olivier is quick off the mark here: “This is where good design really counts, and the mix of visual elements, display cases, lighting and audio-visual with such a complex storyline requires an experienced eye. Mather & Co excels at this and lead designer Steve Deaney was superb in this regard. Given that we had such a lot to deliver in a matter of months, every detail had to be right the first time around.”

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Technically ahead Technically, the experience is streets ahead of most other attractions in South Africa and makes clever use of monitors, projection and audio in some innovative ways. On entry, visitors pass through a curved projection tunnel, mimicking the entry into a stadium, flanked by players on either side. The four-projector system has to deal with the curved surface as well as the soft-edge blending in the centre. Curved projection screens are used throughout the experience, in single and blended configurations. The video playback is largely handled by servers from Brain Salt Media, both for linear video and interactive. “The BSM servers handle the warping and blending effortlessly, allowing us to employ simpler projectors at the end of the line,” comments Alex Sanfilippo, technical director at Digital Fabric, “in addition, we have full control over every aspect of these servers, including status of the apps they are running, which makes remote maintenance a lot simpler.” Projection is handled almost entirely by Optoma LED short throws with a minimum of UHP lamp driven units for the higher brightness requirements. In the interest of long term running costs, the LED units are a no-brainer for an experience that opens for 364 days a year and even at 2 500 ANSI Lumens, they deliver more than enough punch for the image size. Audio throughout the experience is managed by a BSS Soundweb platform, with Crown CTS875 multi-channel amplifiers. “Once again, with the control options that we can achieve with Soundweb, we are able to offer a fully flexible system, with ambient noise sensing in several places and presence detection cameras to automatically reduce levels in key areas during low attendance moments,” reports Sanfilippo. Loudspeakers were chosen for each exhibit, to suit levels, localisation and physical size and were selected from K-Array and JBL Control Contractor series. The entire system is housed in two rackrooms, one per floor, with an Ethernet backbone throughout the exhibition floor that manages all displays and projectors. This all resides on a Crestron platform with X-Panel control in the racks and on a WiFi tablet. With the aforementioned server controls, the venue operations manager is able to monitor and control all software and hardware elements from a tablet, requiring very little intervention in the racks. Digital Fabric’s Gavin Olivier sums it up: ”It’s not every day that we get to deliver such a comprehensive product, designed properly and with good content. We feel privileged to have played such a key role in the Springbok Experience and look forward to an ongoing relationship for many years to come.”

A few fun facts on what it took to complete the exhibition space: 24 000 man hours 14 kilometres of cabling 542 sheets of MDF board 91 channels of media 19 display cases 230 display case objects 480 metres of LED strip-lighting 550 metres of printed vinyl 1 500 engineered metal parts


Setting standards

Larger than life

Image is everything

Inspiration is everywhere

LED systems LEDdisplay display systems Product catalog

Telephone: +27 11 706 0405 Email: George@questek.co.za Website: www.questekadvanced.co.za


System Integration Video Displays

Evolving videowalls

By Bruce Genricks

Camel Pyramid of Light in 1994

Up until the early 80s multi-image displays consisted of banks of slide projectors synchronised to a sound track. While this was a very effective and artistic way of displaying multiple images on a single screen, it was very cumbersome and required lots of maintenance. ’Virtual’ movement or animation could be achieved using lots of slides and clever programming, but it was not quite the same as video. However, this was the only practical and affordable way of achieving a big, dynamic image. Video projection was in its infancy in the 1980s and was based on cathode ray tube (CRT) technology. The biggest problem with video projection at the time was brightness with a typical CRT projector only achieving about 600 to 800 lumens. This meant that projected images were limited to about 4 metres in width and required a darkened room. Monitors or television sets also made use of CRT technology and were limited in size to about 70cm diagonally. In order to overcome these challenges, innovators in the industry started lacing projectors or monitors together to achieve bigger images.

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The first multi-image video displays In 1985 the first multi-image video displays consisted of two or more projectors (or monitors) projecting side-by-side onto the same screen. A typical setup would consist of two video tape recorders, synchronised via time code: one for the left hand projector and one for the right. In order to shoot the material for this setup, two cameras mounted side-by-side would be used. Although other methods of splitting the image were also used, this was the favoured method as it retained the full resolution of each image. Later on, the video tape recorders were replaced by video disc players, and later still by DVD players.

The introduction of the video wall processor In the mid 1980s the first true video wall processors were introduced to the audio visual world. They were large, consisting of racks of equipment all connected by multicore cables. They had very limited functionality, could only handle standard PAL or NTSC resolutions. They could typically only handle up to four simultaneous video inputs. However they usually included some basic video effects and were able to freeze an image per display.

Video wall monitors In 1985 video wall monitors did not exist. Instead, the first video wall used modified CRT television sets as the displays. The TVs were modified to accept RGB video and fitted in custom designed sheet metal cabinets. The steel cabinets served three main purposes: they


allowed the TVs to be stacked, they reduced the image to image gap; and, the third was to provide electro-magnetic shielding. Some of the early challenges faced by the technicians were matching the colours across the displays and aligning the images. Colour purity across individual screens was a problem, due to the magnetic effect of adjacent monitors. Needless to say, the whole system was bulky, difficult to set-up and very sensitive.

Video projectors By 1985, after the introduction of the video wall processor in South Africa, events companies started making use of arrays of video projectors as displays. These usually consisted of CRT projectors mounted in custom frames projecting onto rear projection material. This was followed by purpose-built projection cubes, which utilised mirrors and rigid rear projection Fresnel screens. They were also designed to stack and had special mechanics to help with image alignment.

Hybrid walls In the early years of video walls between 1985 to 1990, video projection and multi-image slide projection were sometimes mixed. This was especially useful when large quantities of video projectors were not freely available.

The resolution revolution Early video walls had two main problems: resolution and wide area flicker. The resolution of the early video wall was based on PAL or NTSC standards. It therefore had a maximum resolution of 625 TV lines across the entire image. This made it almost impossible to see any detail when magnified across multiple displays. Wide area flicker was as a result of the slow refresh rate of the image (25 frames per second). While this was slightly annoying on standard television sets, it became a real problem when displayed across a large screen. This was especially true in a darkened room.

The graphics processor In the early 1990s Video Graphics Array (VGA) was introduced as a computer graphic standard, and soon graphic videowall processors followed. This new ’high resolution‘ standard (which at that stage was only 640 x 480 pixels) opened up a whole new market for video or graphic walls, as they became known. New applications included control rooms and monitoring facilities, which typically displayed graphical representations of processing plants, computer or telephone networks. One of the advantages of the graphic processor was the ability to display different resolutions and video standards, simultaneously, on the same wall. VGA quickly developed into SVGA, XGA and so on. Today video wall processors can display images of up to 4k (4 x HD resolution).

Video wall cubes Video projectors adopted new technologies including liquid crystal display (LCD) and later digital light processing (DLP) technology. These new techniques allowed for brighter and eventually higher resolution images. This technology was soon incorporated into video

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System Integration Video Displays

CRT monitors installed at MultiChoice

wall cubes. Videowall cubes are specially designed boxes which house the projector, a mirror and a rear projection screen. The mirror is used to fold the light path, thereby reducing the required depth of the cube. Another important function of the cube is to exclude any extraneous light from reaching the rear of the screen. This improves the contrast of the image. A problem with these new technologies was cost of ownership; in particular the expense of lamp replacement. In order to retain uniform brightness across all displays, it was necessary to replace all the lamps at the same time. DLP projectors also required color wheel replacements. When static, high contrast images that were displayed on LCD projectors for extended periods they suffered from ’image burn‘ or image retention. Due to this DLP was the preferred projection technology for video wall cubes. Projection cubes are still being used today although the preferred illumination source is now LED. Due to the long lamp life of LED, this has brought the overall cost of ownership down significantly.

Flat panel displays In 1995 flat panel television sets based on plasma technology is launched. The AV industry is soon using them as video wall displays. The main problem with using them in video walls is the wide frame or bezel surrounding them. Later on ’bezel-less‘ plasmas specifically designed for video wall were introduced. These did not produce a seamless image and were fragile. They were more suited to fixed installations rather than the rental industry. In 2003 large LCD displays with 46” screens were launched. Although they still had large bezels, the size made them viable for videowall applications. This changed in 2006 with the introduction of thin bezel LCD displays. The next few years saw ever thinner bezels with the slimiest at about 5mm image to image. The introduction of LED edge-lit and direct-lit LCD displays have made this the most popular display technology today.

Today’s video wall processor In the second decade of the 21st century the most sophisticated video walls are card-based and driven by powerful computers. They are custom configured for the number of displays and the number and type of source. Usually the inputs are hard wired but can also be decoded from an IP stream, using built in decoders in the processor. Most dedicated videowall displays include scalers and daisy chain inputs. This allows a video input to be daisy chained through the monitors, and on board software will display a portion of the image. In this way a large image can be displayed across multiple monitors. This technology however is limited to a single input, with little or no effects. A software based distributed system is also available, but requires a computer per display, which is often fitted in an optional slot in the display. This setup allows for multiple images to be displayed across the display.

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Videowall remains an important medium for digital signage and control room applications. They are most commonly found in military, communication, surveillance and advertising applications.

The first video wall in South Africa I was privileged enough to be involved with, what I believe, was the first true video wall in South Africa and, indeed, one of the first in the world. In the mid 1980s Electrosonic UK started developing a video wall processing system which was to become known the Picbloc system. PIC was an abbreviation for programmable image controller. This new product line incorporated a “new generation of large scale integrated circuits”. Johann Kruger (owner of Multivisio) was the first to invest in video wall technology in South Africa. Upon hearing of this new technology, he travelled to Electrosonic in the UK to see what all the hype was about. After the demonstration of the prototype he was so impressed, that even though the product was still in the development phase, he immediately ‘ordered’ a system for an upcoming product launch. Lourie Coetzee, who was the owner of Twin Imports and the exclusive distributor of Electrosonic products, arranged the importation and logistics of this equipment. I was employed by Twin Imports as a technician, and was responsible for the technical aspects of the project. The equipment arrived and consisted of flight cases populated with 2U rack mount boxes. Each video input required a digitiser which was housed in a 19” 3U cabinet. Likewise each video output required a similar box which was called a PicBloc. Each video input required a data bus consisting of a multicore cable linking the digitiser to the first and subsequent PicBloc. It was a nightmare to setup, with frequent firmware updates. New EPROMS were shipped via courier and had to be physically replaced in each picbloc. The modified, locally sourced TV sets were prone to magnetic interference from adjacent sets. Gaffer tape was used to insulate each TV from the next to avoid eddie currents. A lot of tweaking was required to get the monitors displaying a uniform colour, but, after many late nights the wall was finally ready for the product launch. It was a great success and Multivisio went on to do some of the most memorable product launches in South Africa to date, often using videowall technology. Bruce Genricks, Managing Member of Electrosonic SA


System Integration CORPORATE AV

Corporate AV systems –

central design and procurement

By Wynand Langenhoven

Many large corporate companies have substantial meeting room, boardroom, videoconferencing and public display requirements. Some large corporate companies take a pretty random approach to this and purchase disparate technologies from disparate suppliers. Technology has advanced to the point where huge advantages can be derived from a centralised purchasing approach with a technology selection process that follows specific business requirements. This sometimes results in a higher capital price in purchasing the equipment. However, these systems have a huge impact on the business when they do not work adequately or do not provide the intended functionality. This is because the personnel that engage in meetings are typically higher paid individuals and the cost of having a room full of expensive personnel, waiting for technology to work can be enormous. Then there is the price of the opportunity costs associated with having an effective meeting or not. Example criteria which could govern the selection and architecture of audio visual technologies should be driven by business priorities instead of purchasing systems because of their features. These business priorities include aspects such as sustainable development (which includes “green� designs), a uniform experience for all users, a maintenance friendly design, high availability, aesthetics and lastly, enterprise grade technologies which are based on open standards.

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Sustainable Development Sustainable development is defined broadly as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. A large part of sustainable development is about minimising power consumption. From a business point of view, this becomes almost mandatory for all technology aspects of any building. This article will focus on audio visual systems, which is probably quite small in comparison to other electrical loads that can be reduced. However, when equipment is being purchased, this should be brought into account – the equipment is being purchased anyway, so select power efficient equipment! There are huge benefits for any company that embraces the priority to reduce power consumption (this forms a separate discussion). Immediately it becomes obvious that power usage measurement should constantly take place, so that power optimisation techniques can be planned and implemented. Measurement of power consumption for all AV equipment in a building can be an automated process by means of central health state monitoring systems. These systems monitor the health state of the audio visual systems in a building, but also either measure, or calculate the power consumption associated with each piece of equipment in an audio visual system. Display devices can provide a substantial reduction in power consumption over older technologies such as plasma screens, or CCFL backlit LCD screens. Low power consumption during standby state can also contribute significantly to a reduction in power consumption. Consumer products typically have a ‘low power consumption’ capability, but many professional components do not (for example AV switching equipment and power amplifiers). Digital AV switching equipment has the advantage that it can be put into a standby power state unlike many traditional analogue switching equipment types, and this can add a lot of power saving.

Open architecture, integrated approach The business needs to be in control of all aspects of the technology within the company, and the best way to achieve that is by minimising proprietary protocols and proprietary radio frequency (RF) signals. TCP/IP has (and is) making possible convergence of business technologies. Unified communications is an outstanding example of this. But adoption of TCP/IP in building and conference venue control systems takes unified communications one step further, achieving secure, managed and available venues. This cannot be achieved through proprietary protocols. Secondly, business network security can only be achieved by conformance to standards, the same standards that govern selection of IT equipment in any large corporate company. Secure, enterprise grade, open architecture control, switching and server technologies are a good example of how this can be achieved. This includes any radio frequency (RF) based equipment. Standards based WiFi is preferred over any proprietary RF signals, to once again create a secure environment. Control systems have reached the point where all connectivity can be designed to interface either via wired or wireless TCP/IP. Many third party products are also now manufactured with TCP/IP connectivity and should be preferred over those that are not. But if a product is not TCP/IP enabled, then it should be possible for the control system to interface to that equipment by enabling TCP/IP connectivity for RS232, IR and I/O ports. Following the same IT approval policies for adequate connectivity, security and central management that they would follow for normal IT equipment, IT departments can easily open up their networks to AV

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System Integration CORPORATE AV equipment, providing the business with huge benefits. There is a system architecture which is a first in most parts of the world, which is already happening. For the first time, the various parts that make up the typical control and AV switching system are placed in the building where it makes most sense, instead of all being situated in the presentation venue. So, for example, the user interface is inside the presentation venue (where it belongs), but the control system that is controlling that room, is not. It is situated in a central AV control room or in the company server room. The two connect to each other across the customer’s local area network (LAN). The same applies for other elements in the venues such as the display devices, the videoconferencing systems, and so on, which are all connected to each other and controlled over the customer’s TCP/IP network. As previously mentioned, equipment not equipped with TCP/IP connectivity can be IP enabled with control system elements. This kind of architecture will place demands on the stability of the customer’s network, but modern local area and wide area networks are becoming very stable and managed, with the capability of segmenting parts of the network which need to see each other from others that do not. One of the benefits of this distributed architecture of the control systems for presentation venues is that the venues themselves do not have unsightly racks within. Still, for those venues where racks are required, for the modern control and digital switching systems, the space required is now significantly reduced. So, it is possible to use an equipment rack which can pull out on rails and swivel sideways for rear access to the cables. With adequate cooling, these equipment racks can then be installed neatly inside furniture units in the presentation venues, achieving a clean, uncluttered environment. Public displays require only power and a network point, and that display can easily be fed with digital signage content and controlled according to a schedule. Adoption of open architecture also enables integration between normally unrelated sub-systems. Integration between the control systems that are running the presentation venues and the building management systems (BMS) that may exist in a building are now possible. For example, bi-directional lighting and air-conditioning controls can be achieved over the customer’s LAN through the BMS and has been done in South Africa very successfully with standardsbased connection methods such as Modbus over IP. This is now possible only because of the open architecture of the sub-systems specified into the building.

Uniform user experience Users should be able to go to any presentation venue within the corporate company and have the same user experience. This is made possible by the control system software that runs on the control systems. The program on all controllers should be identical (for each level of venue). When a change is made in the functionality of the programme on the controllers or the touch panel interface software, that change is deployed in all venues in the company by uploading that new program over the customer’s LAN / WAN to all venues. All the Touch Panels should be implemented with exactly the same user pages; therefore that the time spent on making the user interface design perfect is time well-spent. This single program approach supports the concept of ’maintenance friendly‘. If a control system hardware element should be replaced, it is a simple task to load the same programme on the new controller, plug it in and switch on to get the room up and running in a very short time. Connectivity for analogue (VGA) and digital (HDMI) signals in all venues with full support for copy protected material has become essential. There are few organisations that have taken this step

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properly, but it starting to happen. This also supports that uniform user experience. With the right digital equipment, it is now possible to connect any laptop in any venue, and the image appears perfectly on the display devices. Doing this is no simple task and digital switching equipment with digital scalers on all outputs creates an infrastructure that achieves this.

Central health state monitoring, maintenance friendly Central health state monitoring would be almost mandatory in systems implemented through central design and procurement within a large corporate company. The idea is to have the health state monitoring system detecting problems within venues when they occur, and not when you next try to use the venue. Along with health state reporting (through emails or SMSs to support staff), there should also be dash board views of the audio visual systems in the building(s), allowing each user that has access to see exactly what they would like to see. Help requests from the venues should be possible and controls into the venue from the server end should be possible when assisting users in the venue. Automated, schedule-based or action based venue wide, floor wide, building wide, country wide or world-wide controls should be possible from the central server. This is all possible today. The server application would obviously need to be enterprise grade and it should be scalable and provide a centralised, user customisable rich web interface for users that need access. If a user experiences an issue in the venue, the support personnel should be able to bring up a live view of the venue’s Touch Panel via the monitoring server, so as to see exactly what the user is doing (or to be able to do things on the touch panel on behalf of the user). If the touch panel is unavailable (in the case of a wireless panel it could have been dropped or has a flat battery), there should be an alternative, simple interface into the venue from the monitoring server side giving the support person controls into the venue to get the meeting started. Another important aspect that can and is included in the health state monitoring server is the ability to schedule meeting rooms from the same server. This is typical of these server applications and it becomes very useful if the health state of the meeting room is included in the scheduling algorithms. If the venue is not functional, it should not be included in the scheduling interface. The monitoring server is therefore the best place to do the scheduling of the venues. Scheduling panels can be placed outside of each venue or in an entrance area to a meeting centre with a large panel showing the schedule of all meetings in that area. The ability to easily see whether a meeting room is available or not, can be achieved by LED indicators on the scheduling panels.

Summary This article argues that the time has arrived for corporate companies to follow a central decision making approach to the specifying and deployment of presentation venues, audio visual systems and control systems. As a large user, it becomes essential to create an infrastructure that is functional enough, highly available, secure, easy to support and maintain, supports all signal types, supports sustainable development and supports venue scheduling for meetings. Our next issue will feature a case study, which is an example of how this approach has worked well for a large South African corporate organisation. Wynand Langenhoven is an AV integration expert and the CEO of Peripheral Vision.


System Integration WHite Paper

HDBaseT: Everything you need to know By HDBaseT Alliance

Commercial installations are made with more home-centric technologies and cable. Until now. HDBaseT, the first technology to enable 5Play convergence, sending audio, video, internet, controls and power over a single, long reach cable, is gaining momentum as installers’ connectivity of choice. This Connection Series White Paper overviews HDBaseT, including its features, ideal applications and how it helps overcome common installation problems.

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Cable length remains the biggest A/V challenge for integrators. HDBaseT addresses this key problem and more by sending audio, video, Internet, controls and power over a single, long reach cable. In today’s commercial market, simply providing video and audio connectivity is not enough. Beyond supporting internet and all A/V formats, installers can now rely on HDBaseT’s support for various controls and power. This Connection Series White Paper will help you understand the benefits of HDBaseT, which provides enhanced features, extended reach, simplified installation and overall flexibility to be used throughout the entire commercial market.

HDBaseT: A Single-Cable Solution for commercial integrators The criteria for connectivity in the commercial market aren’t the same as that of the consumer home installation market. Until now, commercial installations have made due with more homecentric technologies and cables, as only a few cable standards can accommodate the feature set required for audio/video connectivity. However, these standards, designed specifically for the


Ideal vertical markets for HDBaseT Simply put, HDBaseT has a feature set that is so comprehensive that it can be used for the entire commercial integrator market. Let’s consider a few examples: Corporate: Using HDBaseT, installers can connect a wall mounted projector to a distribution matrix with a single 328-foot Ca t5 cable. Any type of projector can be used – including the most advanced 3D projectors – together with any software management. This type of networking is useful for applications such as video conferencing. HDBaseT transfers data in an uncompressed format providing unmatched video quality with minimum latency. No video decoders/ encoders are required and all formats are supported. Moreover, HDBaseT’s ability to drive power over the LAN cable means that the devices require no connection to a wall power outlet. It’s truly a single cable solution. A centralised video hub can be connected to several displays and cameras with no intermediate convertors. This same projector connection is useful for markets including education, arena and church installations. Beyond video conferencing, HDBaseT can support all applications requiring an

automate > success

consumer electronics (CE) marketplace have limitations on commercial integrators in terms of cable reach, feature capabilities, ease of installation and overall flexibility. Whether installing a video wall in an airport, a projector in a classroom or placing digital signage in a mall, cable length remains the biggest A/V challenge for integrators. Addressing this key challenge and many more, a new technology called HDBaseT is gaining momentum as the installer’s connectivity of choice. Supported by the HDBaseT Alliance – a cross-industry alliance incorporated by LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Valens Semiconductor – HDBaseT is the first technology to enable 5Play™ convergence, sending video, audio, internet, controls and power over a single, long reach cable. Sending the 5Play feature set over a single 100m/328ft Cat 5e/6 LAN cable with standard RJ-45 connectors, HDBaseT allows installers to cut the cables down to one, all-inclusive cable already widely used for Ethernet connections. Video and audio: HDBaseT supports TV and PC video formats including standard, enhanced, high-definition and 3D video, as well as all standard audio formats. HDBaseT delivers Full HD/3D and 2K/4K uncompressed video to a network of devices or as a point-to-point connection. Uncompressed content supports all video sources, including legacy products, and accurately renders gaming graphics and features such as electronic program guides (EPGs), all without degrading video quality or adding latency. 100BaseT Ethernet: HDBaseT supports 100Mb Ethernet capabilities, enabling televisions, hifi equipment, computers and other CE devices to communicate with each other and access stored multimedia content, including video, pictures and music. Power over cable: Sending power over the same Cat 5e/6 cable gives installers the option to forego plugging devices into the wall outlet for power, allowing greater mobility. HDBaseT can power remote TVs and other devices up to 100 watts. Various control signals: HDBaseT delivers different types of control signals for different purposes, from Consumer Electronic Controls (CEC) to Recommended Standard (RS)-232, USB and infrared (IR), which operate remote equipment allowing a system to be easily controlled and monitored.

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www.peripheralvision.co.za sales@peripheralvision.co.za +27.11.840.0860

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System Integration White Paper enhanced A/V connection. Hospitality: HDBaseT allows installers to network displays throughout hotel suites, lobbies and conference rooms to create a unified viewing experience for guests. Whether connecting devices within a large suite or accommodating a large conference within the hotel, the existing Ethernet infrastructure allows an HDBaseT network to be easily implemented. For example, CE devices can be located in a separate area at distances less or more than 100 metres away. This networking system allows flat-screen displays to be cleanly mounted on any wall, while still connected to the remote devices, providing additional traffic space and eliminating cable clutter. Using a low-price cable already installed in many commercial businesses, HDBaseT is eco-friendly, has low installation and maintenance costs and supports future upgradability. Airports & shopping malls: Digital signage is a growing market for commercial installers but can also pose many challenges in regards to distance, power proximity and controls. HDBaseT allows screens to be networked easily through daisy-chain or star topologies and up to eight, 100m LAN cables can be chained together to create a long reach network not offered by any other technology on the market. The same 5Play features apply, overcoming distance, power and control barriers. Beyond these examples, surveillance, healthcare and any other commercial integrator market segment can appreciate and utilise the HDBaseT 5Play feature set.

Benefits of an HDBaseT installation HDBaseT offers benefits to installers by providing enhanced feature capabilities, extended cable reach, simplified installation and overall flexibility. In today’s commercial market, simply providing video and audio connectivity is not enough. Beyond supporting Internet and all A/V formats, installers can now rely on HDBaseT’s support for various controls and power. Projector and video display installations in commercial, hospitality and educational facilities rely on dedicated controls that are carried over RS-232, CEC or Internet Protocol (IP) links, regardless of which management software is being used. HDBaseT supports all of these control signals, giving equipment manufactures and integrators the flexibility to choose the solution that best meets their needs. For power, installers are no longer limited by power cord and wall outlet proximity. HDBaseT powers devices consuming 100W or less with the same LAN cable simultaneously transporting the

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other four features. Using a single 100m/328ft LAN cable with common RJ-45 connectors, installers are able to either use existing RJ-45 infrastructure or install the single-cable infrastructure with less expense to the installer and client. Throughout the installation process, the LAN cable supports both field termination and multi-hop networking of up to eight, 100m cables. This high-reliability, low-maintenance and scalable technology provides installers with the flexibility to quickly, cost-effectively and confidently complete even the largest scale jobs.

Overcoming common installation pitfalls When choosing to work with equipment based on the HDBaseT technology, integrators will be happy to find that many of the hurdles that were part of their daily working experience no longer exist. This seamless solution increases distance of data transfer, expands distribution, simplifies installation and lowers overall system costs. With HDBaseT, distance is not a worry. Installers no longer need to count metres or worry about the cost of a repeater or extender when the distance is several meters long. For even short distances, there is no need to measure. Using a standard LAN cable, installers can field terminate after the cable is run. HDBaseT extends installers’ networking reach at least four-fold to what has been previously offered through existing technologies, increasing cable distance while also expanding the range of distribution capable throughout a space. Other common installation pitfalls resolved with HDBaseT include: •

• •

Support for HD and 3D: HDBaseT utilises a quality cable proven for transferring HD and new 3D formats. Extender/repeater is capable of supporting new video formats requiring higher pixel clocks. Quality controls: HDBaseT sends various controls while ensuring reliability and low latency. Power outlet proximity: Remove the electrician from the process; HDBaseT sends 100W of power simultaneously through the 5Play feature set eliminating the need for a power outlet to be installed near the display. Cable clutter: HDBaseT means fewer cables and less mess, a truly single-cable solution.

The unmatched 5Play offering enables the industry to deploy HD systems that are cheaper, more installation-friendly, reliable and are capable of dealing with the new HD video format as well as future 3D content. The HDBaseT 1.0 specification was finalised in June 2010. Since that time, embedded HDBaseT products have already hit the market. The HDBaseT Alliance invites interested parties to join and to play a pivotal role in defining the future of multimedia transmission and data communication in the consumer electronics, digital signage and content provider industries. For additional information on HDBaseT Alliance and membership benefits visit: www.HDBaseT.org.


Product Review Installations

Photos by Sebastian Matthes

Martin Audio’s MLA Mini hits SA shores

Above and beyond Alexandra Palace

“Line arrays are old news,” reports Greg Bester. There, I said it. While the line array has pretty much been the standard loudspeaker configuration found at large arena shows and outdoor festivals for almost the past 20 years, the core idea and technology has somewhat become long in the tooth. Not to say that it wasn’t a new and breakthrough technology that changed the professional live sound arena forever; it was, but as time marches on fresh ideas build upon old ones and new strides are taken. What did our beloved line array give us? Well, the original concept helped alleviate issues that plagued system designers for decades, particularly the problem of giving listeners at the back of venue a quality experience compared to the audience in the optimal listening zones. Its throw could just not be matched by point source systems. Suddenly you could achieve more level and a smoother frequency response from fewer boxes and it also allowed streamlined rigging and scalability that was previously unprecedented. As time went on, the intelligence of DSP and system design software got to the point that even the inverse square law seemed to be more of a suggestion. Fast forward to today and it seems that the line source landscape is changing once again. No matter how advanced a system is audio researchers, acousticians and engineers invariably seem to think that they can be better. Go figure, but it’s their job, and as a result nothing new stays new for very long. Indeed, the line array has had a good run but isn’t perfect and it has its own set of challenges that some believe needed refinement. Martin Audio is one of them. The award-winning British

loudspeaker systems manufacturer, along with local distributors Audiosure, presented their MLA Mini to the South African pro audio fraternity for the first time on 20 and 21 November 2013 at the Zinto Marketing offices in Linbro Park. The event was held in three sessions over two days and was presented by Martin Audio’s touring technical support specialist, Andy Davies. Davies is a highly trained veteran of the pro audio arena and has a widespread knowledge of Martin Audio systems. He joined Martin Audio in March of 2012 after working for the premier British rental company Concert Sound Clair as General Manager for 13 years prior. MLA stands for Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array which is Martin Audio’s new line source array technology. Although other Martin Audio products were on demo as the Zinto Elephant hall, the MLA Mini and the technology that surrounds it was the focus of the event. After a few welcome drinks and finger foods, we sat down to take it all in.

Tradition The traditional line array model involves a vertically orientated array of customarily identical loudspeaker elements (enclosures), fed in phase to create a cylindrical wavefront. The distance between contiguous drivers should be close enough so that the resulting constructive interference produces a longer ’throw‘ and a more even dispersion pattern. Or, at least, that’s the idea. There are limitations, however: “Typically a line array is deployed as a one-zone loudspeaker,” says Davies. “So you have a single overall

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Installations Product Review channel of global EQ and you have a crossover driving the lows, the mids and highs. More advanced line array designs take into account what happens when you start curving the array. The curvature naturally interferes with the physics of what we’re trying to achieve so we (Martin Audio) introduced band zoning; splitting off different areas of the line array and applying discrete processing to them. This was to cope with the acoustical inconsistencies that result from curving the array.” He continues: “What the (line array) designer is trying to create is perfect cylindrical wavefronts, perfectly in-phase at the speaker grille. The problem is, when you deploy them, when you aim them, or, most importantly, when curve them you start to play with the physics of what’s going on there. You don’t really know what’s happening (at the audience). You’re designing at the speaker grille but the audience isn’t there.” What Davies is talking about is the difference between the theoretical model of a line source system and what we can actually build in the real world. In other words, line source theory is a

The Kooks performing with the Martin MLA Mini speaker system

mathematical fabrication of something we cannot actually build – a two dimensional construct infinitely narrow and long – and when attempted in the real world, results in erroneous physical artefacts in the acoustic wavefront. Then again, the same is true of point source. Both do not exist in reality and this is the fundamental challenge for loudspeaker system designers. According to a study done by Mark Ureda of Altec (Analysis of Loud Speaker Line Arrays JAES VOI52, No. 5 May 2004), one of the co-creators of the ’Mantaray‘ horn, in the region where an ideal four-metre line array in ideal conditions acts like a line source, its frequency response ’undulates‘ (isn’t flat) until the point at which is starts acting like a point source (at about 100m). At this point the wavefront starts to exhibit a drop off rate of 6dB per doubling of distance as well but, surprisingly, also starts exhibiting a flatter frequency response. This phenomenon, Ureda notes, is frequency dependent and is a result of line arrays being self-interfering devices, meaning the actual enclosures interfere with each other’s performance, producing comb filtering. A listener moving around the listening zone will therefore

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hear sound from different parts of the array and an inconsistent frequency response from position to position. This is not a desirable trait of a loudspeaker system and something that line array designers have been dealing with since its inception by playing with the dimensional construction of the enclosures, internal speaker configuration, high-frequency waveguide design, phase-shaping devices and, as time went on, more advanced DSP.

The Martin Audio MLA model The Martin Audio Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array system is not a line array, although it may look like one, Andy Davies explains: “A multi-cellular system is different. It looks like a line array, as we can see with the MLA Mini; we array them vertically, but we don’t treat it like a line array. Instead, what we do is we break down every individual acoustic element of the array. Now, we’re going to take individual control over each acoustic element and we’re going to set the system up to meet the goals that we want in the room.” The MLA system was created to address the previously mentioned issues afflicting line arrays, particularly the issue of inconsistent acoustic delivery. At the core of the technology is the ability to control up to 144 individual cells in an array with discrete amplifier and DSP feeds. While it shares many physical aspects of the line array, such as vertical arrangement, flying properties and ease-ofhandling, it is radically different in its acoustic concept. It is now possible to specify exactly what SPL and frequency response is required in the coverage and Martin Audio’s intelligent MLA DISPLAY 2.1 software, using FIR (Finite Impulse Response) and IIR (Infinite Impluse Response) computer modelling which automatically and discretely adjusts the array configuration to meet the specified requirements. It’s as ’simple‘ as that, really, without getting too deep into the science behind it. In the case of the MLA Mini, the concept is merely scaled down and presented in a very compact form. Each enclosure houses two 6.5-inch, two-inch voice coil low frequency drivers and a vertical arrangement of three 1.4”-inch aluminium dome high frequency drivers coupled to a 100 degree horizontal dispersion horn via a short, thermally coupled waveguide. The two low frequency drivers are, untypically, mounted in the sidewalls of the horn, which would otherwise negatively impact the horizontal dispersion. The way Martin Audio sidestepped this was to give the drivers a solid, moulded diaphragm and low-diffraction surround, causing the resulting high frequency wavefronts to closely track the shape of the horn. This basically makes the entire front baffle of the enclosure a continuous, uninterrupted horn. All amplification, networking and DSP for a four enclosure array are housed within the MSX Mini-Sub Power Plant single-15” subwoofer. Nine channels of Class D amplification are available to power every single element in the array; which can be flown or setup on poles; comprising one channel for the sub and eight channels for the four bi-amped MLA Mini enclosures. The resulting system can be remotely controlled over the U-NET network from a laptop or WiFi tablet running VU-NET control software but in the case of smaller setups, on-board presets can be recalled from a selector switch on the rear panel. In the case of the demonstration at Zinto, the MLA Mini was set up using one of the default presets loaded into the MSX module.


Product Review Installations The wrap Meeting at the Elephant room of the Zinto Marketing offices in Linbro Park, I was very interested to hear the MLA Mini in action after only viewing it previously. The system is very compact. A complete four-a-side system on poles with subs could probably fit into an SUV or small bakkie. This was the system revealed to us at Zinto. As the listening session started, I was met with the familiar sparkly, quick high-end that I had heard on their W8LM line array at Mediatech Africa 2013. Being that it was indoors; a building roughly 30m x 20m, I wanted to hear if its coverage was as consistent as was claimed. I started in the centre of the room and made my way forward. To my ears the stereo image was well balanced and tonally correct. I have always been astonished at the clarity of Martin Audio systems’ top end and unobtrusive midrange and the MLA Mini seemed to be delivering similar performance. As I got to the front I made my way to the left and kept going to see at what point my ears would hear a drop off in the tops. Sure enough, as I got a few feet from the left wall of the building, the top end dropped and I would roughly say that it was at about 100 degrees from axis or more, as claimed. I then made my way along the perimeter of the left wall towards the back of the venue. What I wanted to hear was a consistent tonal balance from position to position and as I swung in to the right at around three quarters of the way towards the back of the venue, I found myself unable to hear an appreciable change in level or tonal balance besides the usual increase in bass at the boundaries. However, the low end was still in-tact and felt similar to how it was in

MLA system being used at the Tokyo Dome

the front. When I reached the centre again I walked to the rear of the venue and it was only then that I picked up a tonal change, albeit ever so slightly. Granted, in a small to medium sized venue it is very difficult to remain objective because of the acoustic inconsistencies that these sort of rooms exhibit. But, for what it’s worth, I was quite pleased overall with the coverage and quality of what this small system could produce. Now, if I could just hear the full-sized MLA in action at a real event, I would be a happy fellow.

Yeongnam University, Cheonma Art Hall, South Korea

+27 (0)11 791 5761 www.matrixsound.co.za For more information, visit www.alconsaudio.com or www.wymiwyg.info

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Installations Industry Expert

Richard Smith

From music, to studio, theatre performing, to mix engineering, and his original love – sound – Richard Smith is a jack of all trades. He took some time out to sit down with Pro-Systems journalist Chanelle Ellaya and give some insight into who he is and what drives him.

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Industry Expert Installations Richard, please give us a little background on how you got into audio? Was it always the plan?

What has been your favourite and most challenging installation that you’ve done so far and why?

Well I’ve always done audio, my partner and myself are both musicians and I did a lot of performing in bands and a lot of performing in musical theatre. We found ourselves in a place where the passion for sound was really kicking in and we saw a lot of people that were doing it weren’t doing it the way we thought it should be done, so we sort of fell into it. We’d always bought equipment and been very interested in it throughout our careers as musicians so the passion was always there, it’s just that we took it to a very serious level once we started the company in the late 90s.

Mmm, that’s a very difficult one. I would say from an overall challenge point of view, an interesting one was the Soweto Theatre project, not necessarily from a sound point of view but purely from a project point of view. I’m currently working on a project in Nigeria for a very big church there, which from a pure sound point of view is a very big challenge because it’s about a seven and a half thousand seat venue and the auditorium is almost 360 degrees, so it makes for quite an interesting project.

Were you always interested in live sound or did you also dabble in the studio?

You’re the mix engineer for Danny K for over five years now…that must be interesting. Tell us how you came to find yourself on his team?

We actually started a recording studio in 1995 while we were still doing many other things. We basically had three careers running simultaneously, we performed, recorded and also did live sound. It became obvious that the recording side was a very time consuming thing and it tied you down as an individual to being in the studio working with different artists and we wanted more freedom than that. More importantly I personally found the live side a bit more challenging after a while.

Tell us a bit about your L-Acoustics qualifications? What drew you to L-Acoustics as a brand? Well basically we’d been looking at the way people were working, we’d done a lot of sound design already in theatre and I’d read some articles in overseas magazines about V-DOSC at the time; it was such a revolutionary product that not too many people knew about. We were fortunate enough to work on an international show here where one of the first people that bought L-Acoustics outside of France was working on the show, we’d already been planning to look at the product but he told us not to waste our time as it really is the best thing out there. Next thing we were on a plane to Europe and we bought into the whole concept immediately, it made ultimate sense to us and it was so different to everything that was out there, it was quite a revolution in the industry.

How did you find yourself starting up Sound Harmonics? My partner Joseph Mandy and I started the company in the early days because we had an absolute passion for what we did and that’s what basically drove us to start the company and is still the driving force. That’s what drove us to look for L-Acoustics as well, it was something new, something different, something revolutionary…and we’ve maintained that throughout our careers, we’re always pushing the boundaries. That’s also what I try and do when I design and it’s also in the products that we look for to sell to our clients; we are ultimately looking for solutions that are new and meet certain unanswered questions.

I believe you are also a live mix engineer, how does being a mix engineer make you a better system designer? Absolutely, the two things overseas are generally exclusive to a large degree, our industry is a little small so there are some people who manage to specialize in system design but a lot of guys will mix and not know anything about systems. I believe that having the knowledge of how to set up systems and pretty complex ones, allows me to mix better and allows me to get what I need out of the system. In other words if I understand how a system is configured and where crossover points are and so on, I can then get a little extra out of the system where someone who doesn’t have that knowledge may not be able to do that.

I’d worked with Danny a lot on corporates when he was doing the one-off performance, in other words he would come along just as a singer and there’d either be a band there or backing tracks, so I knew him quite well. I happened to mix a charity show at Gold Reef City with his band, his musical director and management team were all there. We had an afternoon to do the sound check and basically we did the show and they said they hadn’t heard sound like that before and that was it. They called me a while later and asked me to do a show, and off I went to do the first show. It’s a good combination because he is quite particular about his sound and what he wants to achieve, and it’s quite nice to work with someone like that. His musical director by the same token is highly professional and highly talented so we all kind of speak the same language and we’re after the same goal.

You are also a theatre performer, an award winning one at that. What is your favourite role you’ve played to date? I played Elwood Blues in The Blues Brothers and it was a massive challenge; I’d played in the band in the first run of the show and when the show was going to go on tour one of the artists was either injured or fell ill and I had three days to learn the show. If you’ve ever seen the show it’s literally two guys on stage for two and a half hours dancing around in black suits. So I had three days to learn the show and we then went on tour to Durban with it. It was probably one of the most challenging performances I’ve ever had to do but it was fun.

What has been the highlight of your audio engineering career? I would say there are two; one was getting to work with Seal, I had the fortune of mixing one show with him at Sun City and I did a corporate with him overseas. And then I was lucky enough to get to mix Randy Crawford and Joe Sample here in South Africa which I just loved, I mean some of my heroes were playing in the band, Steve Gadd was a drummer that I idolised as a young musician so for me that was an awesome experience. I love what I do, so it’s very hard to single out any particular thing but those stand out as highlights.

What do you consider to be the greatest audio innovation of the past 10 years? Undoubtedly V-DOSC with the first line array. It has totally and utterly changed the course of the audio industry and I have been fortunate enough to work with and talk to the guy that created it.

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Installations CLUB Solution

In the Blue Room Photos by ????

Judging from the recent increase of up-market clubs popping up all over the place it seems the demand for such places is rising. That says a lot, firstly, about our growing middle class and, secondly, about their taste for nice things which, by the way, don’t seem to be short in supply.

By Greg Bester

Caption

Nice things aren’t only material as club goers also seem to be increasingly picky about good entertainment and good sound which, in the past, have been pivot points for failure or success. It seems the common approach was to leave sound as an afterthought due to, I assume, club owners opting to spend the money on better décor or a bigger bar rather than spring for a system that not only sounds great, but affords reliability and good support. The afterthought system would then be driven into the ground and owners were left wondering why their bar revenue was on the decline. The Blue Room in Hatfield is a club that breaks the mould in this regard. Club owner Mike Van Reenen, a successful owner of multiple clubs, has come to the firm understanding that going straight for a quality sound system from the onset installed by a reputable installer is a solid business approach, particularly for a club where patrons are supposed to enjoy the luxuries such an up-market venue offers. Van Reenen approached Johannesburg-based audio experts Wild and Marr to fulfil his need for a rock solid, great sounding system with a robust support structure; something Wild and Marr pride themselves on. “I needed a PA system that could equally transform every section of Blue Room into a well-balanced sound experience,” explains Van Reenen. “Usually the primary focus is only on the dance floor but I have with experience noticed that all patrons inside my businesses have a need to be part of the action even if they are not situated near the DJ box. Well done to Wild and Marr for achieving the set goal. Their good name and installation pedigree, backed up by the level of knowledge from Neville Rumble, their sales representative, was key in selecting them over their competitors.”  The installation at Blue Room was performed by Pieter de Vrye and project managed by Anton van Wyk. System design was by Neville Rumble.

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allows for control via iPad and iPhone. The dance floor received four PRX635s configured in 2 x 1 arrays either side of the DJ booth. The PRX635 is a 1 500W three-way self-powered enclosure with a max peak SPL of 135dB. Four PRX618SXLF subwoofers were installed to handle low end duties; installed into their own sealed concrete boxes on either side of the DJ booth. This approach protects the subwoofers in the long term, no doubt, and I’m sure includes the effect of increasing their output. The PRX618-XLF is a 1 000W single 18” subwoofer and the ’XLF‘ in its model name refers to the fact that it has an ’extended low frequency‘ response as they extend right down to 30Hz (-10dB). Finally, the dance floor received two further PRX615Ms for fills on the far ends. The PRX615Ms are 1 000W single 15” two-way self-powered enclosures with a max peak SPL of 135dB. The two VIP alcoves, situated on either side of the DJ booth, both received the same treatment. A single PRX615M along with a PRX618-XLF were installed in each. The bar and mezzanine areas probably received the bulk of the speaker feeds. Once again, the same combination of PRX615M and PRX618-XLF enclosures were the go-to choice. For the bar, three PRX615Ms and three PRX618-XLFs were installed and strategically placed to cover the entire area. Accordingly, the mezzanine area received five 1 000W two-way PRX612Ms, placed at regular intervals along the top of the front wall, and two PRX618-XLFs, also installed into its own pre-fabricated concrete box built into the structure of the club. The PRX612Ms have a maximum peak SPL of 134dB. Lastly, the DJ booth received two Pioneer CDJ350 CD players, a Pioneer DJM350 and a PRX615M DJ monitor.

The system

The wrap

The Blue Room has multiple zones requiring high quality audio so a distributed system was the method of approach. In total there were six main areas of concern in regards to audio: the dance floor, the DJ booth, two VIP areas, the bar and a mezzanine area at the front of the club. The system centres around a BSS BLU-100 audio distribution system. The BLU-100 management processor was employed, which is a 12 input, eight output unit, along with two further BLU-BOB2 eight output expansion units in order to feed the prodigious amount of active speakers installed throughout the club. Three BSS BLU-10BLU touch control wall panels were installed in key areas to control BSS Soundweb parameters, such as volume, mute and other controls for the various zones. Additionally, the system has integrated WIFI which

Given the ease to use networkable distributed audio systems and the widespread availability of self-powered loudspeakers, getting sound to any zone in a nightclub is without a doubt easier than ever. However, what counts at the end of the day is sound quality and service and it seems, from the installation at Blue Room, that Wild and Marr have succeeded on all fronts. When asked about what his favourite part of the system was, owner Mike Van Reenen replies: “Over the years I have worked with many installers and it has always been a ’stop-start‘ process, riddled with problems. The installation and system supplied by Wild & Marr was absolutely stress free.  Much attention was paid to detail enabling all aspects of the project to be on par the day I opened my doors to the public.”


K-LA Series Core Technology The K-LA series is primarily used for fixed installation and touring systems. The result of in-depth research, the Audiocenter R&D team has developed the unique PTVTM technology which combines phase and waveguide engineering together seamlessly.

K-LA28 Dual 8” 2 Way

Passive Line Array

Frequency Response (+/- 6dB): 60 – 20 000Hz Average Sensitivity: 96dB/1W/1m Driver: Customised Beyma and Faital driver Connectors: 2 x NEUTRIK Speakon NI4MP Power Rating (AES): LF 200 + MF 200 + HF 50W Passive X-over Frequency: 450Hz / 2.2kHz Passive

VA Series Amplifiers

Weight: 19Kg Dimensions mm: 590(W) x 236(H) x 436(D)

VA series is the result of excellent circuit design, robust mechanical structure, with the best components selected for this category.

VA401 • VA601 • VA801 • VA1201 Specifications: • Range offers 800W-1950W/Channel/2 Ohms • LCD Display • Stereo, parallel and bridge modes • Balanced line inputs • ACL (Automatic Clip Limiter) • DC protection • Soft start • Two speed fans, thermal protection • Inrush current protection

viva afrika

Viva Afrika Sound and Light (Pty) Ltd Unit 2, 2 Drakensburg Road Longmeadow Business Estate West, Westfield PO Box 4709, Rivonia, 2128, South Africa Tel: 011 250-3280, Fax: 011 608-4109 orders@hybrid.co.za, www.hybrid.co.za


Installations CLUB Solution

No ‘void’ in the market here...

The first time I encountered Void Acoustics was during Prolight + Sound at the Frankfurt Messe in April of year. As I walked down one of the lengthy isles in Hall 8.0, the Air Array, which forms part of their Incubus system, stood solitarily as the centrepiece of their stand and my eyes were drawn to its distinctive design. With its four horizontally orientated low-end drivers feeding two hyperbolic horns, Void Acoustics speakers looked like a strange propulsion engine on the back of the time-travelling DeLorean or on some sort of high-tech space craft. They were definitely unusual and that, as I was to learn, is what defines the Void Acoustics ethos. As I got speaking to company director Roger Sturmey, I was introduced to their premiere and surprisingly high-tech world of loudspeaker systems aimed at the dance/DJ market. Departing from traditional designs, their systems are completely unique and push the boundaries in aesthetics, fidelity and DSP. In fact, I found out, that Void is one of – if not the – premiere brand in the world for this genre with installations ranging from Ibiza to California to Dubai, rocking club goers worldwide. Additionally, their products are also prevalent in the touring market with a large number of companies opting for Void as their preferred system. Personally, having only heard their Incubus system in a brief experience at Prolight + Sound, I was excited to get wind of the fact that a system had been installed in a club in Braamfontein called AND which opened its doors on 25 October. Void seemed to be branching out. However, they had help. Club owners Fabio di Cosmo and Ryan Vermaak of The Tone Definitive (aka Tonedef) wanted something different from the usual that would deliver the best club experience Johannesburg had to offer. Teaming up with local audio installation veterans Prosound, a partnership was struck and an Air Motion/Stasys x V2 system was ordered and installed, opening up a whole new market for Void and bringing next level sound to AND. Hopefully this, in turn, will aid in bringing the brand more exposure here at home. Prosound is set to be the official Void Acoustics installer for southern Africa while The

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By Greg Bester

Tone Definitive will act as the distributor. Di Cosmo explains: “There was another angle to Void because we sat down with Prosound and they were kind enough to come on board to handle the back end while we supply the showroom (AND club). The goal here was to get the product out there in order to get some installs throughout the country.  It was a joint venture.”

AND, so…? AND is located in the basement of the Alexander Theatre in Braamfontein and grew out of Tonedef’s weekly TOYTOY party that was previously held in the basement of the Capitol Café in Rosebank on Friday nights. The goal was to create a space that presented itself as an electronic music ’Mecca’; modelled after some of the best clubs the world had to offer such as Trouw in Amsterdam, Berghain in Berlin and Fabric in London. These are places where music and top class sound are expected and provided. “On the other end, besides putting on our own shows, we also DJ and produce so we’ve always been really pedantic about sound,” says di Cosmo. “So we went on this three month long process of researching, auditioning and costing sound systems. What we found was that, at a certain point, pricing and quality reaches a very small margin. So I went on a fact-finding mission overseas and demoed the Void system in Amsterdam and Berlin.”

Dance, you’re on fire Starting with the loudspeakers, the system installed at AND revolves around four Void Air Motion V2 “sculpted loudspeaker arrays”; each positioned on each quadrant of the dance floor. These are not your usual speaker enclosures and in fact vaguely remind me of those old loudhailer speakers attached to the top of wooden poles used for rudimentary outdoor public address. However, these loudspeakers are anything but rudimentary. The Air Motion consists of three transducers arranged in a triangular configuration, each loaded by an isometric conical horn. This essentially makes them a three-way speaker, albeit each separated by their own, dedicated waveguide. The driver configuration comprises a 12-inch low frequency driver, an eight-inch mid driver and a 1.5-inch high frequency compression driver. The crossover for


CLUB Solution Installations the 12” driver is active (140Hz HPF and 600Hz LPF) while the crossover between the remaining two drivers is passive (1.7kHz HPF). The frequency response is 140Hz to 20kHz (-3dB) which may seem quite trifling but in reality is perfectly matched to the accompanying subwoofers. The Air Motion V2s have a total power handling of 750W RMS (500W LF, 250W MHF). Low end duties are handled by four Void Stasys X V2s. These are dual-18” horn-loaded subwoofer enclosures that, since their introduction five years ago, have received a total redesign of their internal chamber network for increased efficiency and cooling. The Stasys X V2s boast a frequency response of 30Hz to 180Hz (-3dB) and the crossover features a 24dB/Oct high pass filter at 30Hz and a low pass filter from 100Hz to 145Hz, also at 24dB/Oct. It has a power handling of a mammoth 3 200W and can output a max SPL of 138dB continuous and 148dB peak. Just above the DJ booth, two Impulse 4T monitors were installed for monitoring purposes. The Impulse 4T features a single 12” driver coupled to a 1.5” compression driver outputting a max SPL of 127dB continuous and 130dB peak. It has a frequency response of 52Hz to 20kHz (-3db). For the peripheral areas, such as the bar, four Indigo 6s were installed. These are unique looking polygonal half egg-shaped enclosures that contain a 200W 6.5-inch coaxial speaker with a one-inch HF driver. They deliver a max SPL of 120dB with a frequency response of 60Hz to 21kHz (-3db). Powering the system, a rack full of Powersoft amplifiers was the go-to choice. Two Powersoft K6s were selected for the Air Motions tops. The K6s are 1U two-channel units that deliver 1 300W per channel at 8Ohms. The Stasys X V2s are powered by two Powersoft K10s which deliver 4 000W per channel at 4Ohms. Finally, two Powersoft LD3004s power the Impulse 4Ts and the Indigo 6s. The

LD3004 is a 1U two-channel unit that delivers 900W per channel at 8Ohms. System processing is handled by Void’s proprietary DigiDrive loudspeaker management system.

The wrap When I asked Fabio to play me some music through the system at AND I was a little concerned because the club has a very industrial look when it’s exposed by the house lights meaning that it has a lot of hard, concrete surfaces. My bet was that a system with an erratic dispersion could cause acoustical havoc and given that the club was empty at that point, I was ready for the worst case scenario. Surprisingly, when the music started playing, I was astonished at how the energy was completely focused on the dance floor and exhibited very little erroneous acoustical artefacts. And believe me, it wasn’t loud. I could still hear myself speak. The music seemed to be chest pounding and loud but was in fact not. It was merely clear and precise and I was hearing no muddiness caused by bad acoustic reverberation. Every nuance of the music was as linear as one could expect: the bass was full and tight with a very warm midrange and the Air Motions’ transient response was lighting quick which enhanced the stereo width of the recording. Not only that, but the overall tonal balance was completely on point. I can honestly say without a doubt that the Void system at AND is the best club system I have ever heard; not because it is loud and looks impressive, but simply because it is high fidelity and tonally correct. It just delivers what it claims.

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INSTALLATIONS SHOW PREVIEW

What’s on at ISE 2014 ISE 2014 will be the Integrated Systems Europe’s eleventh edition and is expected to be the biggest and brightest yet. From 4–6 February, ISE 2014 will stage the largest AV tradeshow ever held in Europe and, occupying every hall of the world-leading Amsterdam RAI meeting and convention venue. The show will attract professionals from every link in the systems integration value-chain, including manufacturers, distributors, dealers, contractors and consultants. ISE also draws ever-growing numbers of end customers, from fields as diverse as education, sports, corporate facilities, hospitality and live events. More than 44,000 people attended the previous year’s show, ISE 2013, and this record-breaking figure is likely to be exceeded once again for ISE 2014, continuing the show’s unbroken record of delivering visitor growth every year since its inception. Professionals from over 130 countries will attend to network, pursue new business opportunities and see the latest state-of-the-art technology. The show floor will feature over 900 exhibitors occupying more than 30,000 net square metres of floor space as well as four dedicated show areas: Digital Signage; Residential Solutions; Unified Communications and the Smart Building area, which will showcase the latest solutions in building automation and energy management.

Pre-Show Events The pre-show events for this year’s show promise a motivating line-up including the return of the Smart Building Conference and the show’s Opening Keynote and Reception. After huge success at both ISE 2013 and in London in October this year, the Smart Building Conference, a joint venture of ISE’s co-owners InfoComm International and CEDIA, will take place at the RAI on Monday 3 February. With an inspiring group of speakers and some of the industry’s most notable experts on smart building design, similar themes from London will be explored and given a European dimension, with the objective of further developing the AV industry’s role in making buildings smarter. A new addition to the pre-show programme will be ISE’s Investor Showcase. Organised in partnership with investment specialists Go4Venture, the Showcase will give participating companies the opportunity to present their technology and business propositions to a wide range of investors including private equity firms, venture capitalists and companies from both inside and outside the ISE exhibitor base. Also taking place on Monday 3 February is an Audio Forum presented by media partner Connessioni. The Forum will consist of a full day’s programme, including two technology seminars as well as case studies presented by sponsor companies. The Audio Forum is designed to increase the dialogue between audio manufacturers and professionals operating in the AV marketplace.

New on the Show Floor ISE is also proud to announce some exciting new features for this year’s show including the addition of two theatre spaces on the show

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floor. The Residential Solutions Theatre, located in Hall 7, is aimed at broadening the market for whole-house automation and intelligent building design, with non-technical presentations showcasing real-world case studies. In Hall 8, the Commercial Solutions Theatre will concentrate on the end-customer benefits of systems integration in a range of market verticals such as hospitality, healthcare, education, corporate and government facilities. Access to the theatres will be aided by the opening of a new entrance to ISE – Entrance F. This will improve the show’s visitor experience by further reducing congestion and providing direct access to key areas such as the Digital Signage area, the new Business Lounge and the bridge between Halls 7 and 8, which will house a free dedicated WiFi area. Another new feature to the show is the ISE Business Lounge, which will give visitors a chance to rest, recharge their smart devices and catch up with business away from the busy pace of the show floor. With modern seating, international newspapers and TV screens broadcasting international channels throughout the show days, the lounge will be an informal yet professional environment in which visitors can work, relax and network.

Professional Development In addition to the Show Floor theatres mentioned above, ISE’s co-owners CEDIA and InfoComm International will again be presenting a wide range of courses. Furthermore, InfoComm will be promoting a special free voucher scheme for its on-site education programme, under which anyone who preregisters for ISE 2014 using an invitation code will receive complimentary access to two InfoComm seminars of their choice on a first come, first served basis. Continuing the theme, CEDIA will be offering more of its popular technical and business education, with offers in place for earlybird discounts. Both associations also offer on-site certification, allowing attendees to gain globally recognised qualifications without leaving the show venue. To register for the show free of charge, saving the €60 on the on-site registration fee, please visit www.iseurope.org and use registration code 919959


Wash: ligh

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LIVE EVENTs CONCERT REPORT

Powering up Joburg Day to global standards

It seems the quality of South African music festivals is on a steady rise. We’ve come a long way from even 10 years back and the march of technology and its availability in the country, not to mention the improvement in skills and professionalism in the field, has put us pretty much on par with international events like Coachella, Redding and Glastonbury. In no small part the rise of compact, efficient and networkable event technology such as line source arrays, digital audio and lighting consoles, intelligent lighting fixtures, media servers, LED walls, projection and a thriving entertainment industry has pushed us into a new realm where festival-goers can be treated to an ‘international’ experience right here at our doorstep. It is indeed something to be proud of to know that we can do it like the best of them.

Joburg Day, the annual Highveld 94.7/MTN day-long familyorientated music festival/media event, is a notable mention that occurred on 14 Septembe, 2013 at the Crocodile Creek Polo Club in Kyalami. With a crowd of over 28 000 strong, it was one of the largest SA outdoor concerts to date, showcasing top South African artists the likes of Jack Parow, Goldfish, The Parlotones, Lloyd Cele, Elvis Blue,

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By Greg Bester

Gangs of Ballet and many more. Of course, the bigger the crowd and the higher the profile of the artists, the more critical it is to call out the big guns of the South African technical supply fraternity. Gearhouse South Africa was the logical choice, supplying the technical requirements of the event in its entirety including audio, lighting, AV, trussing and staging. Mushroom Productions supplied stage management for the show and SA Backline supplied backline.

Power Before you can have a show you must have power, particularly in remote areas such as the Crocodile Creek Polo Club. Gearhouse supplied three 200kVA blimped generators and all peripheral distribution units and cabling. Two generators were placed behind the stage and the third midfield at the base of one of the delay towers. For those that don’t know, a ‘blimped’ generator is one that is quiet enough for use in events where sound levels are critical. This could involve moving it very far away, putting it in a soundproofed container, or both.

Audio The audio system at Joburg Day had to be one of the largest I have ever seen at an outdoor music event in South Africa. Gearhouse’s Llewellyn Reinecke was the audio system designer at the event and took on the responsibility of configuring and aligning the arrays; all L-Acoustics with a few Turbosound boxes conservatively sprinkled in. “For any of the bigger type of productions we (Gearhouse) get,” says Reinecke “I am responsible for going out to the site, taking measurements and then according to that I use a programme supplied by L-Acoustics called SoundVision to design the impact zones for the specific venue. This was the first time that I was able to


Beam: light can be touched


LIVE EVENTs CONCERT REPORT Lighting

Monitor world at Joburg Day

have almost all the L-Acoustics boxes at my disposal and it was also the first outdoor show in an open field with the K1.” Originally a combination of L Acoustics V-Dosc, DV-Dosc and KUDO loudspeaker systems were spec’d but on the day of setup it was decided to hang Gearhouse’s newly acquired K1 system along with KARA down-hangs for the main system. The final main system comprised of 12 K1 boxes and four K1-SB low frequency extension elements in the throw configuration for the main-hangs and a combination of six K1 and six KARA elements (down-fills) for the out-hangs. Two KARA elements were used as front-fills. In terms of subwoofers, a total of 48 L-Acoustics SB28s were used in a left, centre, right configuration. Originally, only two delay towers were planned on the main field but as setup progressed it was decided to add a further delay tower in order to adequately cover the 230 metre long audience area. When asked about how he handled low frequency dispersion Reinecke says : “Generally we don’t run delayed sub arrays with the towers because low frequencies are omni-directional. However, as of February this year L-Acoustics has improved SoundVision with the ability to simulate subs. From the simulation I did, we achieved roughly 75% coverage of the field from the subs at the stage.” In total there were four main delay systems that were needed to cover the entire venue, including the beer garden. The first set of delay towers, placed roughly behind FOH, comprised of 12 V-Dosc elements per side. The next set of delay towers, approximately half-way down the field, comprised of 12 V-Dosc per side with an additional cluster of four Turbosound TMS3s. The delay towers at the rear of the field comprised of three clusters of four TMS3s at the left, centre and right positions. Finally, the beer garden received two towers of four TMS3s at left and right positions. The entire system was inter-connected via Neutrik OpticalCon Quad fibre cables. FOH duties were handled by FOH engineer JJ Douglass. Consoles provided were an Avid Profile with AES-EBU outputs to the PA, a Soundcraft Vi6 with AES-EBU output to the PA (supplied by Wild and Marr) and a Yamaha LS9. The Profile and Vi6 worked independently in order to facilitate faster change overs. This helped speed things up considerably. For monitors, a PM5D-RH was spec’d, along with a Soundcraft Vi1 (supplied by Wild and Marr). The same concept at FOH was applied in monitor world where the two consoles worked off of independent mult feeds in order to streamline change overs. A total of 18 L-Acoustics 115 HiQ monitors were spec’d, which supplied floor monitoring for the bands, while the drums received a further SB18 subwoofer. Further side-fills included two ARCS2s tops and two SB118s subwoofers per side. Finally, no less than 66 L-Acoustics LA8 amplified controllers were supplied for system amplification.

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Lighting for Joburg Day was headed by Gearhouse lighting designer Lucky Nkosi. He sums up the lighting rig: “We had a symmetrical rig consisting of an A-type truss central box measuring 9.6m wide and 7.2m deep with 4 x 4.8m L-shaped trussing. The flown rig consisted of 24 Martin 2kw Profiles, 24 Martin 2kW Wash, 24 Robe Robin 600 LED, 12 Martin 3000 Strobes and 24 Tri-Tour LEDs. On the floor we had 12 Robe 700 Spots and 24 four-cell cyclites and for control we used a Grand MA full size console.” Additionally, an MDG Atmosphere APS hazer and an Avolite ART2000 48-way dimmer rack were employed. Despite two Strong SuperTrouper 2kW followspots being spec’d, they were never used. Nkosi comments: “For the first time in a long time I went through a show without followspots. We used the 24 Cyclites as foot lights so the performers faces could be seen, which worked!” In terms of challenges, Nkosi reports it was smooth sailing: “There were no specific challenges but we had to be sure of the angles of the L-trusses so that it completed the whole look of the rig.” In fact, the relatively event-free execution of the lighting rig allowed Nkosi to experiment a little. “It was about the second time I used LEDs as wash lights instead of the Mac washes,” says Nkosi. “The discharge fixtures actually work wonders together with the LEDs.”

Video Since most of the show occurred during the day, therefore pulling the focus away from the lighting, video was a large part of the show and made up the majority of the visual impact for the day. Flanking each side of the stage, a total of 70 Lighthouse R16s were configured as two 7 x 5 panels (7.112m x 3.81m), which made up the main image screens for the show. A further 40 Lighthouse R16 panels were placed out in the field and configured as two 5 x 4 screens (5.08m x 3.048m). On-stage screens comprised of 180 panels of Lighthouse DuoLED 18, configured as three vertically orientated screens of 6 x 10 panels (3.456m x 5.76m). A variety of content was mixed onto the screens throughout the day. A Panasonic HS400 video switcher and a Folsom/Barco Encore presentation system were employed along with a Wings Platinum media server to get content to the screens. In this instance, content comprised of a combination of pre-made media content and live camera feeds. A total of five Panasonic AG-HPX372 cameras were supplied and placed throughout the venue: two roaming cameras were positioned on the stage; two cameras were placed at FOH – one for a mid-shot and one for a long shot; and one camera at 45 degrees for a profile shot.

The wrap Attending Joburg Day in the summer sun was a spectacle worth noting and, after attending outdoor music festivals all over the world, this had to be the largest audio system I had seen to date. Combine that with a 30 metre-wide, 12 metre-high stage and large LED screens strategically placed throughout the venue, it was clear that this was not your average Johannesburg music event. The level of professionalism and technical sensibility, not to mention the sheer quantity of kit exhibited by Gearhouse at the event clearly puts them at the top of the rental market heap and is a great testament to what can be accomplished in our professional community.


FX: light can take your breath away


LIVE EVENTs VIDEO MAPPING By Chanelle Ellaya

Photo by Rebecca Hearfield of r.m. Photography

Pushing the innovation envelope

TechRig Technical Solutions Agency has broken innovation boundaries this year by bringing in and showcasing projection technology that will change SA’s branding, eventing and technical landscape for good. The View Boutique Hotel, Auckland Park

The arrival of the biggest, boldest and brightest projectors available in sub-Saharan Africa is something to be celebrated, and celebrate we did! The launch event was held at the View Boutique Hotel, in Auckland Park, Johannesburg on 8 October. The ‘who’s who’ of the industry came out in their best to witness history unfold first hand. Imagine seeing a hotel come to life, changing its dimensions, bursting with imagery, transporting you into a magical realm. I heard the word ’mind-blowing’ used most frequently by guests in the moments that followed the experience, all this thanks to the ever evolving capabilities of projection technology.

Break-through innovation Most of us don’t spend our days imagining that a projector could not only change the face of our brand, company or product, little less propel it to the next level. But thanks to developments in size, power and mobility, projection has been given a new lease of life. Projection is moving out of the norm and into a realm of creative genius. It’s all due to a new era for projection technology, a long way from its humble beginnings of flickering images that stunned the first Parisian audience in the late 19th Century. We are fortunate to have very lively newcomers to the industry the first of their kind in the country, these are the world’s brightest projectors developed for the rental and staging industry; the Barco HDQ-2K40 showcases a jaw-dropping 40 000 lumens ensuring unmatched brightness and extremely vivid colours and the HDF-W26 with a 26 000 lumen output displays superior images even in venues with lots of ambient light. TechRig is proud to be at the forefront of the projector revolution: “Part of the industry demand is coming up with alternative solutions to

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standard visual communication and marketing tools. We constantly try to find innovative solutions for our blue chip clients,” notes TechRig CEO Michael Collyer. “In today’s communication space, online and television are highly informative and interactive, they are also very much the done thing, the norm, and are tremendously overpopulated. So the question top of mind for us, what technology and solutions are available to set a brand apart?” “The South African technical industry is amazing, thanks to the innovative, creative, hardworking people that have a ‘can-do’ attitude. The reality is that we don’t have the same range of equipment in SA as in Europe for instance, yet local technicians continue to amaze, despite being challenged to create miracles with gear that often isn’t quite the right fit. Buying in the HDF-W26 and HDQ-2K40 projectors have filled a gap for us and more importantly, in the market, as a result we’ve had phenomenal feedback from the industry and are looking forward to seeing what will be produced using optimal equipment in the right applications,” says Collyer.

Technical support Prosound’s capacity to provide permanent, qualified and local support allowed TechRig to purchase the projectors with peace of mind. These projectors are not only set to reshape the visual display solution industry but will transform brand visibility as we know it. “The emphasis on visual displays is becoming bigger and bigger all the time so this expansion by TechRig clearly sets them apart from the rest,” says Donovan Calvert, Prosound. “We’re proud to be the chosen support agents for TechRig, our experience with AV and the Barco product is definitely a plus.” “We are thrilled to launch this technology into Africa. It’s the most


Well, now think it’s the same fixture WASH-MODE: AN ESSENTIAL, SOPHISTICATED TOOL Total master of colors and white light. Impressive 6°-70° zoom. Light evenly diffused on front lens, with no gaps between LEDs. Digital framing shutter.

BEAM-MODE: THE MUST HAVE IN ALL DESIGNS Impressive array of independent, parallel microbeams, packed into a 4° solid beam. Digital LED pattern design (virtual gobos) and beam-morphing for high-speed aerial effects.

EFFECTS-MODE: AMAZING AND REVOLUTIONARY Countless fantastic atmospheric effects and unique kaleidoscopic projections, digitally controlled in shape, color and speed. Active eye-candy chromatic patterns for sophisticated scenic design (B-EYE K20 only).

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Before B-EYE there were only drones


Photos by Rebecca Hearfield of r.m. Photography

LIVE EVENTs VIDEO MAPPING

exciting thing to come into the technical arena in decades,” notes Collyer. “It’s not often we get the opportunity to spearhead a product that has so many creative applications and we’re delighted to partner with the Prosound team.” Fast forward two months from the introduction of these projection beasts to South Africa by TechRig Technical Solutions Agency, where the Barco HDQ-2K40 and HDF-W26 projectors made their debut at the Siemens 5C’s Gala Awards evening. Brand landscapes were projected directly onto the unconventional yet beautiful, cylindrical Siemens building in Midrand, Johannesburg, and once again it was a sight to behold! Siemens building, Midrand

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Creative process To the onlooker, it is difficult to imagine exactly how such a magical realm is created from start to finish, Hayden Bodill, Creative Director at TechRig explains: “In order to pixel map effectively the process begins with a site visit. We first have to look at the structure to see what elements you can fit onto it. For example a cylindrical structure would be different from something geometric, the shape of the building steers the design in a certain direction. The objective is to find design elements that complement the structure. “The next step is to sit with client to try and encapsulate their messaging in the imagery and then the creative team including the 3D artist meet to brainstorm possible ideas and come up with the visual experience. Building mapping is a nice thing to do from a creative perspective; it’s something different that a lot of people haven’t seen before. It’s taking something static and bringing it to life, the possibilities are endless.” The power of the Barco projectors lies in their ability to project onto any surface including but not limited to water, sand dunes, cars and smoke using pixel mapping. This versatility has revolutionised branding and visual displays across the world. Creatives are no longer limited to a static billboard or banner to market their brand but instead can transport their digital projection across cities in the space of a day projecting onto any object they wish. The boundaries for digital display in Africa are already being stretched with new ideas born daily. “Until now we have very much, been part of the equipment shortage limitations, now we can (and have) opened all doors to creating what we’ve envisioned with our clients for a very long time. TechRig team has developed into a true technical solutions agency that is proud and actively living our mantra to be SA’s foremost technical solutions agency that delivers the highest level of expertise with professional technical equipment in a global arena,” concludes Collyer.


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LIVE EVENTs FESTIVAL REPORT By Sarah Rushton-Read

Photos by Charlie Raven

Arcadia – a sensory explosion

The Arcadia Spider

UK – A sensory explosion, The Arcadia Stage at Glastonbury 2013 fused cutting edge sculpture, music, circus and special effects to deliver one of the most exciting large-scale immersive environments yet. As three long animatronic limbs reached gracefully into the darkened skies, aerialists tumbled down towards the crowd from each. Two bright bulbous eyes blinked and flickered into life, flames exploded from deep within the structure and sharp search-light beams cut into the crowd like a knife. Packed full of spectacle, ingenuity, celebration and unity, Arcadia was one of the biggest hits the world famous music festival has ever seen.

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Built from recycled military hardware, the Arcadia Spider blurs the lines between sculpture and architecture. It’s the centrepiece of the Arcadia landscape generating crowd interaction and immersion from every conceivable angle. A night to remember, the Arcadia ‘Spider’ spun a hypnotic web of pumping music, dynamic video and pulsing light resulting in high octane partying from thousands of festival goers. Kicking off with a 20-minute pre-programmed performance, closely followed up by an immersive two-hour freeform dance event, Arcadia hosted some of the UK’s most respected DJs including Fat Boy Slim and Chase and Status among others. In consultation with the creative team from Arcadia, Video Illusions, Immersive and Avolites Media collaborated over many months to deliver the complex technical infrastructure for the visual elements. At the same time Blinkin Lab designed and supplied the bespoke video content and a VJ. Panasonic and CPL supplied the projectors and Sir Henry Hot installed the flames. The concept to add the new element of video to the already successful Arcadia structure has been a long term dream of Dave Whiteoak, managing director of Video Illusions as he explains: “We


FESTIVAL REPORT LIVE EVENTs first visited Arcadia at the Glade festival in 2009 and we were blown away. It was a stunning concept. Being video geeks we really felt the structure could benefit from some equally creative video content and I made it my mission to try and persuade Arcadia’s founder’s Pip Rush and Bert Cole that they should take a leap of faith and let us do it.” At the time they were reluctant but fast forward one year and Arcadia was looking for a production company to look after the technical aspects of their shows. “By some turn of fate they came to us through a company called London Warehouse Events! We explained our lighting and video ideas to Pip and Bert and they seemed to love them.” Video was initially to be used at Boomtown Festival in 2012 but, for various reasons, the idea was put on ice until Glastonbury 2013. This promised to be one of the biggest shows Arcadia had ever done and the extra time gave Dave Whiteoak and his team at Video Illusions some time to pull in some additional support.” Dave Whiteoak has a longstanding relationship with Mark Calvert and his design company Immersive. “I’d brainstormed a lot of ideas about Arcadia with Mark so he knew the project well. I asked him if he would be interested in working with Video Illusions on this show and thankfully he accepted.” Next Video Illusions had to source content creation and delivery. “This came about when we were working for Immersive at the Outlook festival in Croatia. I met Tom Wall from Blinkin Lab – one of the most talented animators I’ve ever come across. He was VJ’ing on the main stage and his style of video was exactly what I’d imagined for Arcadia.” Tom Wall agreed to create the custom content and from that day on most of Video Illusions and Blinkin Labs time was dedicated to the project. “We were given an audio file to create the content to, with all the digital sounds and robotic noises in the track. We developed all sorts of ideas / different styles and created samples of skin and reptile textures along with different looks for the LED mouth and brain.” As the project took shape Video Illusions met with Dave Green – the original designer for the Avolites Media Ai media server. “We explained that we needed a server that could take full control of the video, LED lighting, projection and the flame effects concurrently. Dave Green explained our ideas to Steve Warren, managing director of Avolites Media – manufacturer of the Ai Media server and Steve offered 100% full support with kit and technical backup, which was amazing.” Jaz Bhullar from Avolites then got involved in the lighting design and Warren generously offered the use of an Avolites Sapphire lighting console. This meant that a massively important part of the kit and the tech support the team required was in the bag.

Dave Green also pulled in Panasonic and the company gave full technical support plus the loan of a number of Panasonic DZ21 projectors. These were used to project the skin texture onto the structure. CPL supplied the remaining half of the Panasonic DZ21’s required along with the long throw lenses and plenty of useful advice and support.   “Our next mission was to find a product that would enable us to send FULL HD 1920 x 1080 down a single cat 5 cable,” explains Dave Whiteoak. “Eventually after allot of searching we met James from a company called Mauve, which recommend the Mauve MauD-1 units. They could hold the FULL HD signal we needed to make this work from up to 100 meters distant from the FOH control area to the projectors. We ended up buying eight of these and they turned out to be life savers. In total Video Illusions supplied and installed over 1 000m of CAT6 Shielded cable run underground.” Sourcing the custom LED was a story in itself: “I wanted a 10mm pitch LED panel in which modules could be removed from their rigging frames for us to use and install in a creative way and we needed custom data cables made to allow each module to be rigged to the structure up to 5m away from the receiving card,” explains Dave Whiteoak. “Once we found the LED we had all elements we needed to create the audio visual spectacular we’d envisioned.”    Video Illusions worked very closely with Immersive and took on the challenge of programming the tightly controlled time-coded display of video projection, LED, pyro, laser, firework and lighting. They spent several weeks of intense preparation programming and virtually rehearsing the show using the Avolites Media Infinity Ai Infinity Media

TechRig - the highest level of expertise TechRig - technical solutions with world-class execution TechRig - the latest technology and equipment for the professional AV market

SA’s foremost Technical Solutions Agency LET US BRING YOUR VISION TO LIFE Tel: 011 399 5600

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Photo by Charlie Raven

LIVE EVENTs FESTIVAL REPORT

Server, Sapphire Media and Sapphire Touch platforms. An Alesis HD24 hard disk recorder provided audio-playback and the time-code information that ultimately brought together the various departments involved in the making of the project. Calvert of Immersive points out: “So many departments had to work together for the first time. In addition, the Arcadia team are incredibly passionate about their show which, in parallel, made them nervous about the time-code element – they hadn’t done that before either.” Once on site Arcadia’s founder’s Pip Rush and Bert Cole provided creative direction and on-site management for the team. Video Illusions used the Avolites Media Ai Media server to power the show’s visual, live and time-coded aspects. No stranger to the to Ai Media Server Dave Green from Immersive had been responsible for the development of its predecessor, the Addict Media Server, before partnering with Avolites Media for the development of the Ai series. Dave Green, technical director at Immersive elaborates: “Once the choreographed show finished, it was rave time and the visual element was delivered live by VJs and the LDs. That’s one of the nice things about the Ai system – it’s brilliant at doing pre-programmed content but it’s also agile and flexible enough to mix content in real time, live.” Green who is technical director at Immersive but also as head of development at Avolites Media continues: “The Ai Media Server a very powerful tool and extremely flexible. It allows the programmer to create whole new ways of working in a matter of moments. This means we’re not rigidly stuck with the interface we’ve been given; and we can quickly create our own.” At Glastonbury the Arcadia show used two Infinity Ai 8 Media Servers together with two Avolites Sapphire Media consoles controlling all of the video elements while two Sapphire Touch consoles controlled the lighting and other DMX cues. “Each Ai offers eight HD outputs and delivers smooth playback of multilayer 8K media, using the AiM Codec and 32 media layers,” adds Green. “Features include soft-edge blending of multiple projectors, timeline and time-code sequencing, support for 3D displays and remote vertex adjustment. Users can map and warp onto any 3D surface and on moving scenery. Intuitive modular LED support widens the capability further.” Mapping Arcadia presented a new challenge to Video Illusions and Immersive. “Being in the round with only one side visible from any viewpoint made the Arcadia stage a video mapping challenge,” explains Green. “We tackled this using the auto map feature of Ai over VNC from a variety of points around the structure. We actually video mapped the entire structure in around four hours total.” The Ai is designed from the ground up with both pre-sequenced and live control in mind, enabling the operator to mix between a time-coded show and an improvised live performance – as was essential on Arcadia. “The Sapphire Media control surface provides an extremely flexible interface that can be tailored to the show’s requirements,” explains Steve Warren of Avolites Media. “At the same time it can also show previews of all of the eight outputs from the system. These outputs can be monitored while operating the show or installing/mapping the structure.” “The AiM codec is the industry’s best quality codec,” continues Green. “With 24bit true colour there is no loss of quality while maintaining very high performance from the GPU decompression. This is how we can drive eight 1080p outputs with beautiful true

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colour video.” “The Arcadia project demonstrated collaboration at its very best,” says Steve Warren, managing director for Avolites Media. “I felt honoured to be able to work with such a creative team. The artistry produced by Jaz Bhullar on lighting and the video content from Blinkin Lab’s Tom Wall, was magical. It’s great to know that the successful realisation of their work was made possible with the efforts of Video Illusions the Avolites Media team and Immersive. Arcadia’s Pip and Bertie have both been extremely appreciative, supportive and 100% focused on the highest show values. Together we delivered the ‘spectacular’ in the Arcadia spectacular.” “The whole project was out of this world,” concludes Dave Whiteoak. “Standing there under that huge structure looking at what we had imagined for the last three years and seeing it in reality has to be one of the proudest moments of my life. we learned so much working on this project and I’ve developed some amazing relationships with some of the most talented technicians and artists around – watch this space for 2014.” If Sonic was unusual, Arcadia was unconventional, to say the least. It was formed by a giant 30 ft high spider structure, which came alive at night with video, lighting, lasers and flames animating the darkened landscape and high fidelity audio filling the air. The audience formed beneath its three legs and body, and all around the metallic arthropod. Rental partners, Audio Funktion, deployed 30 Funktion-One Resolution 5T loudspeakers and 18 Funktion-One F221 bass enclosures in a six-point hexagon layout of outer stacks. These were powered by MC2 E100 racks, with XTA 448 control. For inner fill, six Funktion-One Resolution 4T speakers were flown from the spider structure in three different positions, along with a total of six ground stacked Funktion-One F218s. Six outer-fill positions at the rear of the main stack used Resolution 2SH loudspeakers – the skeletal mid-high section of the Res 2. And the ARC Bar, situated on the outer edges of Arcadia, was reinforced with two Funktion-One Resolution 4E speakers and four F218s. Power came from MC2 E45 and E25 amps, with XTA 448 control. “They’ve got this really interesting set-up at Arcadia, where they’ve got this three-legged spider, as people call it,” explains Tony. “What they do is set up six blocks of Res 5s on F221s around it, all pointing in from a fair distance out. And it all shoots into the middle. In the middle, underneath the legs, they’ve got a pair of Res 4s, just spraying the middle area, where you’d expect a bit more intensity because it’s right underneath the DJ pod.” Reflecting on Funktion-One’s involvement at Glastonbury 2013, Tony Andrews said: “We find ourselves involved and associated with the people who are pushing the creative side of the festival – they’re focused on performance and audience satisfaction. The people on the fringes tend to be the ones who are willing to experiment with new ways of doing things, which makes it interesting for us. Inevitably, there were challenges, but we’re really happy with the way things worked out.”


LIVE EVENTs CONCERT REPORT By Louise Stickland

Photos by Louise Stickland

A ‘Massive Attack’ on the senses...

A live highlight of the year, activist filmmaker Adam Curtis’s intense collaboration with British hip hop group Massive Attack was a visceral, emotional work, challengingly cerebral and structurally liberated. It invited audiences to open their minds and explore notions of how our world is shaped through managed scenarios.

The work was commissioned by the Manchester International Festival (MIF) together with the Ruhrtriennale International Festival of the Arts and The Park Avenue Armouries in New York. It premiered in Manchester with the production squeezed into the charismatic Mayfield Depot beneath the derelict old Mayfield train station. Fabulous though that was, in the Kraftzentrale at Duisburg’s Landschaftspark, the show had a chance to fill the proper sized production space for which it was designed.

Technical production The collaboration between Curtis and Massive Attack demonstrated the power of data and information, its manipulation, life’s chaos factors and coincidences and the inextricable links between them. How the balance of power can so easily shift from one set of beliefs to another, a composition of omnipresent and uncomfortable reminders of the parallels existing at polarised extremes of democracy… and their abilities to present mediated societies and belief systems. Massive Attack are well known for their politics, their innovative application of technology and unique performance concepts, but it took some serious creative balls – a rare thing at the moment – to present this work and keep 2 000 people enraptured for 90 plus solid minutes of gripping sonic and visual immersion. – Still leaving room for individual thought! Massive Attack v Adam Curtis was the brainchild of Adam Curtis and Massive Attack’s Robert ’3D‘ Del Naja, which produced an ambitious sound and visual art installation, made all the more intriguing by Curtis threading through snapshots from the lives of some extraordinarily talented and enigmatic individuals – Pauline Boty, Jess Marcum, Yegor Letov, Yanka Dyagileva and more. It added an almost tabloid style touch of human fascination. A huge atmospheric layer was rolled into the equation by Massive Attack’s gritty, bass-tastic underlining grooves and Liz Fraser’s haunting, uneasy vocals.

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The production team was led by project manager David Lawrence and technical production manager James Baseley both of whom have worked for Massive Attack (as TM and PM respectively) for some time. Lawrence is also involved with MIF as a producer and he and Baseley were employed directly by the Festival to produce the event at the Mayfield Depot. Next stop was Duisburg and then New York – where it certainly turned a few heads! The production design concept of 270 degree video projection with the band behind screens at one end and audience in the middle was originated by London-based United Visual Artists (UVA) in another master-mix of cutting-edge, cool technology and style. Once the spooky raw environment was established, the evolutionary process of developing the show and the necessary technical production to achieve the end result began. It was “Collaborative in every sense of the word,” explains Lawrence. Integral to the whole process were the equipment contractors. HSL supplied the lighting, XL Video the video and visuals, Wigwam the audio and UK Rigging undertook all the rigging. Lawrence comments: “Everyone embraced the art meets rock ‘n’ roll vibe and the suppliers were all completely instrumental in making


it happen so successfully.” The individuals heading up each department – lighting designer Tim Oliver, visuals director Icarus Wilson-Wright and FOH sound engineer Shan Hira and their crews also had an extraordinary passion for the show. It was something different – and something that made a difference. Everyone was immensely proud of that, and their aggregate skills, knowledge and experience all combined to produce some serious production magic.

Video Icarus Wilson-Wright has worked with Massive Attack for the past decade and was asked to oversee the video elements and programme the d3 media server. UVA modelled all three venues and calculated the projector positions in the d3’s on-board visualisation programme, avoiding any big surprises on that front when they reached the sites. The full size set up consisted of eleven 10 x 9 metre gauze screens in 4:3 format, stretched floor to ceiling, four down each side of the space and three across the ‘top’, covering the stage, with the band positioned behind. These were fed by 12 x Barco HDF-W26 projectors fitted (in Duisburg) with .67 lenses, including one doubled up pair at the stage end, all rigged at angles onto a 80ft long by 20ft wide box truss in the roof above the audience. The Barcos were networked using Barco’s Projector Toolset, with all the necessary keystone and perspective correction completed internally. Two d3 media servers utilising the latest hardware were used to store and deliver Curtis’s film. Each projector was individually fed with signal by Kramer fibre transmitters via a Lightwave Dual Link 8x8 DVI matrix, networked into the d3 servers. Three Datapath X4 devices split the 2048 x 1536 image into four 1024 x 768 segments, which were output to each projector. It was triggered by SMPTE timecode generated by the band and output via their QLab control system running onstage, overseen by Gizmo (Oliver Twiby) along with all the clicks and playback tracks coming from the ProTools system run by Massive Attack’s studio engineer, Euan Dickinson. Upstage of the band were 96 tiles of Barco I-12 LED screen configured as a 16 tile wide and 12 high 4:3 format screen to mirror the projection surfaces. This screen was also fed by selected content from the d3 servers, and mimicked the almost hallucinogenic appearance of the band behind the screens from time to time as they were revealed by clever and precise lighting and grainy surveillance camera images. Four Sony mini-cams were positioned to pick up band members and singer Liz Fraser, cued via the timeline of the appropriate songs. The video system was designed for all three venues, but due to the reduced width, lower trim height and rows of pillars traversing the middle of the Mayfield Depot, several compromises were needed to make it work there. Wilson-Wright worked closely with projectionist Richie Jewell and XL Video’s project manager Gareth Jeanne.

Lighting Tim Oliver has designed lighting for several previous Massive Attack art projects. His background is in theatre and he really enjoys working on off-beat and challenging productions like this. Much of the lighting was about reinforcing the drama and

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LIVE EVENTs CONCERT REPORT atmosphere and revealing the band strategically but always to complement the onscreen images – reminding viewers it was a live performance – they weren’t listening to a backing track! “It’s about creating light and dark getting inside people’s heads – just like the film,” he explains. In Duisburg the main FOH lighting positions were on the same central box truss as the projectors, with 12 x Martin MAC3 profiles, eight Atomic strobes and 34 x 1.2K fresnels, utilised purely for house lights. Behind the gauzes around the auditorium were 44 x MAC 2K XBs, 32 behind the side screens and 12 upstage of the band gauzes onstage. Lighting the band behind their screens were 12 x MAC performances for band keys and additional rear light on the screens, complemented with six Robe MMX WashBeams for back lighting the band and the gauzes. Twenty-two ETC Source Four Profiles with 14 degree lenses were focused around the band for supplementary highlighting, while 15 x 650W fresnels on the floor created some very effective silhouettes and shadows. The floor fixture count was completed with five Atomics and five Lowell Omni floods for beaming wide backlight onto the band, plus two 650W fresnels at front of stage to pick up the vocalists. It was a reasonably sized lighting rig for a masked band! The lighting treatment matched the often stark and contrasty movie images which included some fascinating, disturbing, priceless and classic TV clips and news archives – Curtis has worked closely with the BBC throughout his career. There was also the odd comic element just to disarm people! The band appeared and disappeared from view seamlessly like they were spliced into the movie. Audience lighting was used judiciously and had real impact, together with strategic hazing which helped ramp up the atmosphere and bring a cinema feel to the space. Oliver ran the show from a grandMA2 light console utilising two NPUs. HSL’s project manager Mike Oates and the crew in Duisburg included were crew chief John Slevin, Stuart ‘Wales’ Picton on dimmers, Rob Gardner and John Trincas.

Sound The FOH engineer declared that it was: “The hardest show I have ever had to mix,” adding quickly that he thoroughly enjoyed pushing himself and working with Adam Curtis, who had some very clear ideas about how audio should be applied. It was also his first gig for Massive Attack, although he’s worked with David Lawrence before on The Streets. He chose a d&b J-Series system for its quality and unobtrusiveness, which in Duisburg was configured as main left and right hangs of 8 x J8 elements and two J12 downs, with four Q7s for infills behind the front screens. Six J-SUBs were positioned under the front of the stage with three extra subs a side at the front of stage firing down both sides of the room. The delays were eight V8 per side plus a centre hang of three more J-SUBs. On the floor were four stacks of three subs a side behind the side screens, which were 3D’s idea, blasting directly into the audience adding more low end energy and drama for special effects during the Chernobyl, 9-11 and other apocalyptic parts of the movie The system was fine tuned to perfection by systems engineer Nick Mooney! Hira spec’d an Avid Profile console because it was exactly right

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for the job which involved plenty of automation and 32 x ProTools channels. Eight of these were used for the band’s clicks, and the 24 audio channels comprised ‘archive’ channels running audio and dialogue from the vintage footage and clips contained in the film, plus a stereo channel for the narration. There were a load of FX channels for rumbles, crashes, bleeps, noise and other extraneous chaos and eight channels of underscored strings and moody background music. The band channels were drums, E drums, bass, guitar and 3D’s Prophet keyboard and vocoder and the five different vocals. He used eight on-board effects on the Profile plus a selection of outboards including a Lexicon 480 reverb across all the vocals, one of his favourites, using two engines one for male and one for female vocals. Avalon 737 compressors were applied to all vocals and a Rupert Neve 5045 Primary Source enhancer on Fraser’s and 3D’s vocals boosted the levels. Inserted across the main outputs were XTA graphics and a Summit DCL 200 stereo compressor. The 60 snapshots in the show were fired by a Rosendale timecode reader, and in addition to the automated elements, plenty of intricate live work took place on the faders to achieve the optimum mix! Of the 27 live tracks played out by the band in Duisburg, two were Massive Attack songs – Safe From Harm and Karmacoma – and the rest were covers. This was a surprise to some audience members, particularly in Manchester, who turned up expecting a Massive Attack gig rather than an art installation and thinking Adam Curtis was a DJ! Monitor Engineer Paul Hatt also enjoyed the challenges of his first gig with Massive Attack. He used a Soundcraft Vi6 console which he likes for its analogue feel and layout … and warm preamps. All the band techs onstage were running Soundcraft’s ViSi Remote App on their iPads to fine tune their own monitor mixes allowing Hatt could concentrate on the band, who were all on a Sennheiser IEM system together with the four tech mixes. They mainly used Ultimate Ears UE11 moulds with the quad drivers. Fraser’s vocal mic was a DPA Defacto 2, which Hatt reckons is “Brilliant” sounding and ideal for delicate voices. Making the whole Massive Attack v Adam Curtis experience special was that although hugely successful, it clearly wasn’t a commercial venture. It was down to the dedication, imagination and technical ingenuity of David Lawrence, James Baseley, their creatives and crew – as well as the vision of Adam Curtis and 3D to deliver a hugely provocative mind stimulating experience in three dynamic venues. You can take away so much from MAVAC, but the scariest thing is the ultimate clarity of the relationship between information, fear and power.


Imported by

www.audiosure.co.za


LIVE EVENTs TRACKING TECHNOLOGY

Ayrton MagicPanel™602 moving head, the first-born

in a family based on the principle of continuous double rotation in PAN and TILT mode. Ayrton MagicPanel™602 is a moving head LED beam projector equipped with thirty-six 15W Osram RGBW emitters in a 6 x 6 array. Each emitter projects a tight, powerful 7.5° beam and can be controlled individually or used collectively to produce a coherent 15 000 lumen shaft of light, using only 600W of power. The emitters can be pixel mapped or driven by video to display media and to map moving images in 3D space. MagicPanel™602 is controllable via DMX-512 (with RDM capability), Art-Net and Kling-Net. This is made possible due to the new 4G Ayrton technology which allows individual control of each LED source in expanded full colour mode (RGBW) and gives MagicPanel 602 the option to display numbers, letters, graphic effects or images. To supplement to the graphic possibilities this control provides, MagicPanel™602 can be continuously rotated on both pan and tilt axes, which adds a dynamic dimensional effect to beams individually projected by mapped emitters. MagicPanel 602 runs on a sophisticated cooling system and can be used in groups to create rotating screens on the two axes to produce completely novel effects. Distributed by Sound Harmonics: www.soundharmonics.co.za

dBTechnologies Sigma Series Active loudspeakers, incorporating

new custom components designed exclusively for the series by RCF, as well as the latest generation of DSP and the company’s Digipro power amplifiers. The series includes three cabinets which can be used by themselves, or stacked or pole mounted to create the size system necessary for the venue. Models include the S115 single 15-inch, 2-way active model, S215 dual 15-inch, quasi 3-way, and the S118 single 18-inch subwoofer. The 24-bit/48kHz DSP offers system presets (flat, boost) and limiter (dual active peak, RMS, thermal), while the Digipro G2 power amp module is rated at more than 90 percent efficient and designed to ensure that the output of the cabinets remain even and transparent. S115 – The 15-inch woofer with 3-inch voice coil couples with a 1.4-inch high-frequency titanium compression driver with 2.8-inch voice coil on a 60- x 40 degree CD horn waveguide. The G2 amplifier delivers 1 00 watts (RMS). Frequency response is 46Hz to 20kHz (+/- 10 dB) and max SPL is rated as 133dB. S215 – The dual 15-inch phase-plugged woofers have 3-inch voice coils, coupled with a 1.4-inch titanium compression driver with 2.8-inch voice coil on a 60- x 40 degree CD horn waveguide. The G2 amplifier provides 1 400 watts. Frequency response is 42Hz—20kHz (+/- 10dB) and max SPL is rated as 139dB. S118 – The 18-inch woofer has a 4-inch voice coil. The G2 amplifier delivers 1 400 watts. Frequency response is 32Hz—110Hz, with switchable crossover at 80Hz and 100Hz, and max SPL is rated as 134dB. Distributed by Viva Afrika: www.vivaafrika.co.za

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The Robe ROBIN Pointe®

is a dynamic beam, spot and wash fixture from Robe. The Pointe is a small, bright and extremely fast ‘signature’ unit with a sharp parallel beam and a host of special features making it a unique and versatile light source. It is a 280W Osram discharge lamp making the Pointe an active fixture to use to create WOW factors on a large and small scale whilst also embracing Robe’s ‘smaller, lighter, brighter’ and more ecofriendly philosophy. Special features include a 5 to 20 degree zoom with full focus control, variable frost, two separate prism effects, a rotating and a static gobo wheel and inbuilt colour wheel. A custom developed homogeniser works with the rotating gobos to spread the light evenly and achieve optimum projection quality. A variable frost effect instantly transforms the output into that of an efficient wash light. Robe gets to ‘The Pointe’ by delivering a robustly built, reliable fixture weighing just 15. 2kgs! Distributed by DWR Distribution: www.dwrdistribution.co.za

The EAW JFL Series

is a compact, easy-to-use line array module intended for mobile production or permanent installation. JFL Series arrays can be flown, ground stacked or pole mounted (two modules maximum). This series also includes a dedicated subwoofer system. The all-new JFL Series demonstrates EAW’s complete system approach to line array design. JFL213 modules form easily configured arrays that are powerful, predictable and compact. Couple that with the companion JFL118 subwoofer for a complete system that’s perfect for small-to mid-sized applications which demand professional results. Distributed by Surge Sound: www.surgesound.co.za

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LIVE EVENTs TRACKING TECHNOLOGY

The coolux Tracking ID Tags

will make real-time tracking scenarios not only easier to set up, but also more reliable, more versatile and more cost-effective. Interactive projections, camera automation, stage tracking and lighting control are just some of the many different areas in which this new product will offer great benefits and flexibility. Each of the tags can be addressed with a unique ID, which opens up the possibility of up to 256 different unique IDs tracked in real-time within a single setup. 

 One individual tag has two LEDs onboard and can have between one to two additional infrared LEDs attached to it. Tracking people or objects this way is achieved using a purely optical transmission system, which means you can avoid many potential problems that are sometimes linked to radio control based setups. The coin sized ID Tags can be easily attached to set pieces, costumes or any other part of a tracking setup. You can fit a tag with a button cell battery with enough power to last over 10 hours. Alternatively, a micro USB port can be used for connecting additional power sources. 2D Tracking setups can be realised with as little as one camera, 3D XYZ tracking will require a minimum of three or more cameras. Using the coolux Widget Designer Software for creating the actual control setup, users can choose between different modes, depending on each individual setting and lighting situation. 
 Two types of cameras can be used for ID Tag tracking setups: USB cameras with 100fps and network-power-via-Ethernet cameras with up to 250fps.
 Almost needless to say, coolux Pandoras Box software and hardware products are of course fully compatible with the new ID Tags. Distributed by Questek: www.questekadvanced.co.za

The Martin M6™ is a state-of-the-art lighting console that

functions as a highly advanced visual control surface. Designed to control everything from conventional and moving lights to the most advanced media server, the M6 has been designed for today’s demanding multimedia shows. Based on the well-proven M-Series software platform, the M6 provides users the ultimate control surface for fast programming and extensive playback control all from one console. Incorporating the latest technologies with an industrial multi-core processor, solid-state drives and custom-designed high-brightness touch screens, the M6 is capable of delivering up to 64 DMX universes directly from the console’s network ports without using external processors. With advanced features like a LiveBlender™ T-Bar, FastDial™ rotary encoders, Paired Playback buttons and BriteTouch™ display, the M6 is Martin’s most advanced console design ever. It offers a total of 44 playbacks, including dual Main Go sections, 10 motorized faders and 12 additional faders, as well as a total of 17 encoders for parameter access. Based on the mature and well-proven M-Series software platform, the M6 provides users the ultimate control surface for fast programming and extensive playback control all from one console. Distributed by Electrosonic SA: www.electrosonic.co.za

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TRACKING TECHNOLOGY LIVE EVENTs

dbx DriveRack PA2 loudspeaker management system dbx Professional has

introduced the DriveRack PA2 loudspeaker management system, incorporating a new Wizard that allows for faster and easier set-up, new AutoEQ and a highly accurate Advanced Feedback Suppression (AFS). The new DriveRack PA2 can be controlled on the fly with mobile devices or laptop using Ethernet control via an Android, iOS, Mac or Windows device. The Wizard utility provides users with access to a host of configuration menus and on their mobile device, with full-colour graphical displays that give ready visual indications of the parameters being adjusted. The DriveRack PA2 can also be operated via its front-panel controls and display. The upgraded AutoEQ enables automatic and precise equalization of the loudspeakers to the venue in which they’re installed to achieve smoother, more accurate in-room frequency response. The AFS function automatically finds and dials out any problematic feedback-producing frequencies. The PA2 offers numerous additional system-tuning and sonic optimization capabilities, including dbx compression, graphic and 8-band parametric EQ, dbx Subharmonic Synthesis for enhanced low-frequency response, a built-in loudspeaker crossover (for full-range, 2-way and 3-way systems), limiting, loudspeaker time alignment and time delay. Distributed by Wild and Marr: www.wildandmarr.co.za

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Live Events INDUSTRY EXPERT

Return of the native Lighting designer Declan Randall returned to his native Johannesburg last summer to light the Andrew Lloyd Webber epic roller-skating musical Starlight Express at the Johannesburg Theatre.

This was the first non-replica production of Startlight Express and Randall worked alongside an excellent production team from the theatre that included Director Janice Honeyman, Producer Bernard Jay, Designer James MacNamara, Choreographer Karen Bruce and Musical Director Clinton Zerf. They were given creative license to produce a new and exhilarating version of this classic high energy piece. One of the starting points for the lighting design – which he started thinking about a year earlier – was to make it big, bold, spectacular and rock – tactically true to this specific genre of rock musicals. Randall made the most of the theatre’s extensive house lighting rig which includes Robe MMX Spot and ColorWash 700 moving lights as well as a large selection of PARs, profiles and PCs. They hired in additional moving lights from Gearhouse Splitbeam which included another 30 Robes and some Vari*Lite 3500s. In total over 600 lights were utilised – including LED elements – and eight universes of DMX were fed into the ETC EOS console that was programmed by Glenn Duncan. The essence of lighting Starlight, explains Randall, was to create a constant notion of movement running throughout the whole performance – kinesys, fluidity, motion – as it’s all about trains. He also needed to recreate that classic flickering effect that you catch out of a train window or when you glance at a train snaking by in the dark, together with the strong shadows, angles and rasping sounds of flying sparks with the metal-to-metal contact between wheels and rails. He used plenty of gobo effects – one of his lighting trademarks and in the ceiling above the stage was a grid matrix of 148 PARs, which were mapped in the console allowing them to be easily animated into some cool effects. Declan was in Johannesburg for six weeks to get the show started. The short amount of actual on-stage time and tech rehearsals time was one of the challenges. Another was the performers on wheels having to learn new techniques for hitting their marks accurately and with continuity – considerably more difficult than with their feet on the ground! Randall has been lighting shows – primarily in the theatre and the arts – for 18 years and in 2009 decided to move to the UK for a while to expand his career horizons and the variety of his work. Although he desperately misses the people and sometimes the

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weather (when he’s not in a darkened venue) and in spite of a tough start which was expected in moving to any new territory, the rewards are now starting to flow on the work front. He’s worked at the renowned Stratford East Theatre in east London, is the LD-of-choice for the Wales Opera Company and also a regular at the Guildford Shakespeare Company. Additionally he’s a trainer for ETC on their EOS range of consoles and lectures at Rose Bruford College in Kent – renowned for its theatre and arts courses – and West Herts College in Watford. While back in SA in 2012 – he visits once a year, work permitting – he organised two two-day Stage Lighting Master Classes in Johannesburg and Cape Town which attracted about 160 people. The master classes are intended to inspire those already involved in the industry as well as those hoping to make a career out of it. They offer a chance for people from different backgrounds and levels of experience to network, communicate, swap ideas and look at the latest technologies and how these are changing the industry. He hopes to stage another Master Class in 2014. For more details visit: www.slmc.co.za and www.declanrandall.com. 


Tel: (011) 708-1194 / Fax: (011) 708-7503 / joseph@soundharmonics.net / www.soundharmonics.net

Ayrton MagicPanel 602 wins Best Debuting Product of the Year at LDI for the Projector category... 2013


LIVE EVENTs EXPO REPORT

Johannesburg International Motor Show Photo by Greg Bester

By Greg Bester

Cars. They’re big business and it’s completely evident if you’ve ever attended the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) that was held from 16 October to 24 October 2013 at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Nasrec.

There’s more to JIMS besides the flashy cars and high motoring technology because behind the scenes there is a virtual legion of AV rental, set design and technical services companies whose job it is to provide structural support for the sets; in some cases building them from scratch; and provide lighting, trussing and AV. Held every two years, the Johannesburg International Motor Show is an eleven-day exhibition showcasing the latest and greatest in the automotive industry and lifestyle. What most people don’t know is that it actually runs in conjunction with two other expos; the Johannesburg Truck and Bus Show and Auto Shop – an aftermarket manufacturers’ section – which combine with JIMS to offer a complete picture of the South African motor industry. This cohesion provides a hub of bustling activity for sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa nationally. JIMS is an OICA (the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles, the Paris-based alliance of automotive manufacturers and trade associations from around the world) certified trade show, which makes it the only motor

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show in southern Africa to carry this distinction. Of course, the main aim of the show was to display and launch new vehicles which, in the case of our market, included over 20 new passenger models. For those interested in design trends, there were also a fair share of concept cars such as the Honda NSX and the Ford Evos. But like all trade shows, the operative word is ‘trade’. Business to business aspects of the show are also important, which involves the aftermarket, passenger and commercial vehicle sectors, possibly resulting in the building of new relationships between companies that are responsible for ploughing the industry straight into the future. In 2011, JIMS one of SA’s largest expos, featured 220 exhibitors and 225 000 visitors which are extraordinary numbers of international calibre. Considering Prolight + Sound in Frankfurt attracts a substantial but comparatively paltry 115 000 it just goes to show the level of business that we’re dealing with here. These fries are most definitely not small. The figures for this year were on an incremental increase. A total of 232 exhibitors displayed their wares and over 228 000 visitors walked through the doors and into the 62 000 square metres of exhibition space. So what interest, you may ask, does Pro Systems have in JIMS? Well, given its size and global positioning, it requires an immense amount of support from our technical community. Almost every major (and some minor) technical services company in Johannesburg was involved in one way or another in what amounts to the largest collective technical production in the country. Simply put, this show by far incorporates more AV than any other. By our estimates from talking to the majority of the technical


suppliers involved in the show, over 15km of trussing was deployed along with approximately 3 000 lighting fixtures and 1 250 rigging points. These are all conservative estimates. It’s interesting to note that because of the nature of motor shows, audio plays a small role due to the requirement for a relatively low noise level. The organisers were concerned about stands competing against each other sound-wise and salesmen being able to communicate with expo attendees. Let’s take a look at some of the notable stands and the AV stories behind them.

info@ephproductions.co.za www.ephproductions.co.za 012-345 5303 082 924 9046

Photo by Duncan Riley – DWR

Land Rover / Jaguar

How would you like us to go?

One of the biggest and flashiest stands at JIMS was that of Land Rover/Jaguar. The technical requirements for the stand were handled by Blond Productions, headed by Christiaan Ballot. Pre-production started on the stand in July. This was the only stand handled by Blond with a total of 165m of Prolyte trussing rigged over 22 points. A total of 294 lighting fixtures were used that included 36 Filmgear 2K fresnels, 60 par cans, six ETC Source 4 profiles, 12 Robe MMXs, 12 Clay Paky Sharpys, 48 Robe 100s and 24 Bright Q panels. Audio supplied included six self-powered JBL PRX612s fed from a Soundcraft Si Compact and two Shure ULX-D wireless microphone systems. Also supplied was a total of 21.8 square metres of P6 LED screens which were installed into the rear wall to show promotional material. “It is was a privilege to be part of JIMS,” says Ballot, “especially working with such a premier brand and being able to have a lot of free way on the stand. Also, working very closely with Dream Sets who built the stand was great. We were not involved with the building of the set but we starting working together (with Dream Sets) three months prior to show which sorted out a lot of issues and problems before we got to the actual build.”

Ford Another noteworthy stand was Ford, centred around their stunning Evos concept car.  Gearhouse SA handled all five Ford stands along with twelve others, making them them a significant technical contributor to JIMS 2013.  A number of Project Managers handled the buildups for the company, working from a Gearhouse onsite office

For all your LED Screen requirements to the Rental & Live Event Market. We also supply Sound - Lighting Audio-Visual - LED Screens - Stage Structure - Generators - Crew - Creativity…

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LIVE EVENTs EXPO REPORT Photo by Greg Bester

the stand. As mentioned before, audio was not a big feature at JIMS so no audio was supplied to the GWM stand, nor were any LED screens. The sets were supplied by the client and were built on-site. Griffioen describes them as “basic but functional”.

Photo courtesy of Pixel Display

Citroen

throughout the period. The main Ford stand was 1430 m2 with a large bulkhead and an hourly reveal of three vehicles.  There were 15 vehicles in total with the Ford Ranger area showcased the Ranger which was displayed on its side to show the underneath of the chassis.  Gearhouse supplied LED screens, plasmas, PA, lighting, rigging, set, trussing and power distribution for the main stand as well as the Motor Sport stand.  The Ford Motor Sport stand was 340 m2 featuring the rally vehicles.  The Ford Commercial stand was a 451 m2 outdoor stand and the Ford 4x4 stand was 324 m2 and also outdoors.  Gearhouse supplied the set and freight containers with vehicles on top for both of these stands.  Finally, the Ford Activation stand was 300 m2 and featured self-parking and hill start area.  Freight containers were once again supplied for this area.   For all the Ford stands a total of 618m of trussing was supplied and deployed over 98 rigging points.  128 575W Power Pars, 48 ETC Source 4 par cans, 48 Phillips 400W Metal Halide flood lights and six Vari Lites 2500 spots were supplied, totalling 230 fixtures. For audio, four Turbosound Milan 15” self-powered speakers, a Yamaha 01V96 and two Shure UR2/Beta 58 wireless microphone systems were supplied.

GWM, or Great Wall Motors, is a Chinese brand that made its debut in South Africa in March 2007 and has garnered much support due to their fair cost and parts availability. The GWM stand was handled by Pure Event Management, headed by Pierre Griffioen and was the only stand handled by his company. In terms of trussing, over 105m was supplied, deployed over 38 rigging points and suspended from 20 ½ ton CM Loadstar and ten ¼ ton CM Loadstar motors. 60 Selecon SPX profile and 12 ADB 2KW fresnel lighting fixtures were supplied to light

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Photo by Greg Bester

GWM

The centrepiece of the Citroen stand at JIMS was the candy-apple red Citroen GQ, created by British designer Mark Lloyd. The Citroen brand is a long-standing one and goes back to 1919, founded by Parisian Andre Gustave Citroen, and has been part of the PSA Peugeot Citroen conglomerate since 1976. The AV of the Citroen stand at JIMS was handled by Kyalami-based rental company Sound Stylists, led by Kevin Glover, apart from the LED screens, which were supplied directly to the client by Joburg-based LED screen specialists, PLED. Starting with trussing, 300m of Milos 390 Quicktruss Quatro truss was supplied and deployed over 19 rigging points using CM Lodestar motors. The lighting was all Robe with 60 Robin 600s fixtures in total supplied to illuminate the stand and controlled by Avolites Tiger Touch lighting desk. As mentioned, 25 panels of 460P40 LEDWALL screens were supplied by PLED, totalling 15 square metres and placed on the main wall of the stand for promotional material. These 4mm LEDs are 16:9 format and come as 46” 1024x576mm panels. They are supplied exclusively by PLED in South Africa.


LIVE EVENTs EXPO REPORT

Photo courtesy Shattered Glass

Nissan

Photos by Duncan Riley – DWR

The Nissan stand at JIMS was distinguished by a large halo rigged above the stand floor. Johannesburg-based AV rental company Shattered Glass, led by Mick Landi, supplied the lighting and trussing requirements for the stand. Shattered Glass handled ten stands throughout the show and supplied approximately 10 000 metres of truss in total over 200 rigging points, which is quite astounding. Shattered glass supplied over 300m of truss to the Nissan stand, deployed over 50 rigging points and lighting for the stand was handled by 72 Opti Par 575 Pro Daylight and 18 generic fixtures. The halo above the stand was built from scratch and rigged by Shattered Glass. Mick Landi comments: “Rigging the halo took a lot of engineering as it was built in sections, so it was not one rigid structure; it also had a top and bottom. We had to uses 22 rigging points for the ’halo‘ so that the structure would not flex when we lifted it.”

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The LED wall was supplied by Pixel Display which was a 6mm SMD 3-in-1 configured as a curve using straight panels. Co-owner Mike Theunissen remarks: “We locked two towers next to each other, locked another two and created a gradual curve. The wall was made up of 66 cabinets in total and locked into the curve two by two resulting in the red halo of the stand following the curve of the screen.”

The wrap The Johannesburg International Motor Show is of an international calibre. It’s easy to get swept away by the cars, particularly if you’re an auto enthusiast, but those who work within the technical services industry know that it takes many man-hours and much co-operation to get the show to a point that it is presentable to the public. When almost every technical services company in the Johannesburg area has to get involved, you know it has to be big and JIMS 2013 was no exception.


Studio PRO AUDIO DSP

Breaking the horizon on DSP

By David Davies

Digital signal processing has already brought untold flexibility to a wealth of install applications. But with full-scale networking likely to become the default, could it be that an even more exciting era is just around the corner? David Davies reports.

Alongside the advent of more powerful networking solutions, the emergence of digital signal processing (DSP) that is capable of being implemented quickly and (relatively) easily for all manner of fixed install applications has arguably been the defining pro-audio story of the decade. From Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) for videoconferencing to site-wide routing and distribution, high-capability DSPs have heralded a minor revolution in the built environment. In an industry that has always paid close attention to the bottom line, it’s unsurprising to discover that lower-cost solutions have done much to initiate the new DSP dawn. Not only are DSP chips “running at considerably higher MIPS (millions of instructions per second) rates than they were 10 years ago, today’s faster chips enable designs that use fewer components – meaning lower costs and increased reliability,” observes Dane Butcher, chairman and founder of Seattle, US-based DSP pioneer Symetrix. Software developments have also helped to slash DSP costs, with advanced memory management features and higher clock speeds paving the way for designs that, notes Butcher: “Use only a single DSP chip to exceed the processing power of designs that used to require four chips.” Highly effective automixing, loudspeaker management and zone mixing/paging are among the other common applications of these new-generation DSPs. But although their superiority to conventional processing solutions is now unquestioned, the sheer quantity of current DSPs can easily leave the integrator – let alone the end-user – in a quandary. So what are the factors that need to be borne in mind when selecting a DSP that is truly capable of delivering the processing power you need?

Processor practicalities At the most basic, pro-audio customers are faced with one fundamental decision when it comes to DSP –a fixed or an open architecture solution? As their name should imply, open architecture solutions afford the greatest possible scope for custom configurations to complement a specific application. Doug Windle is audio visual manager of Texas, US-based systems integrator ACE Audio Communications. He explains: “Some hardware has limits with both fixed input/output configurations and processing power; however, these units will still work in 90% of all projects. If you utilise the open architecture with modular input/output configurations, the options are almost endless, especially when they are coupled with networked audio.” Powerful they may be, but they can also be more costly to implement than their fixed brethren due to the fact that they

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essentially offer a blank canvas. “The integrator has to provide all the infrastructure inside the processors to fit the intent of the system,” confirms Windle. Accordingly, cheaper fixed architecture solutions still tend to be more popular for less demanding applications. “With these DSPs the price is certainly more attractive, and they are really quick and easy to set-up and operate,” says Windle. Input/output configuration and the layout of the software configuration are more limited than with open architecture DSPs, but some manufacturers are able to deliver significant customisation. Symetrix is among them: not only does its Jupiter solution possess a large library of preconfigured layouts to choose from; it can also be deployed with layouts created especially to match user requirements. Although the size and budget of a given project will hold great sway when it comes to the choice of a fixed or open architecture solution, there are plenty of other, more specific requirements that need to be borne in mind. Symetrix vice-president of global sales Craig Richardson says: “The importance of a particular factor will vary depending on the application and scope of the decision. For example, you might want to consider whether it’s for one project or is it to become a new standard for the organisation.” Integrators therefore need to think very carefully about whether their DSP has the necessary algorithms and processing power to get the job done. Ensuring overall efficiency of implementation, if anything, is even more challenging since it forces the system designer


DSP Studio Pro Audio video streaming. AVB has racked up some successful, high-profile demonstrations, but a shortfall in end-user understanding arguably inhibits the technology’s adoption. It’s perhaps no wonder, then, that proven low latency Audio over Ethernet media networking technology Dante (developed by Sydney-based Audinate) is proving an increasingly popular solution during this uncertain period. Dante ensures a high level of interoperability with third-party devices by an OEM partner list that now totals 105 companies. “There are about 175 products from OEMs available and at least 200 more in the development pipeline. Audinate shipped over 3.5 million Dante channels last year, so it is a proven technology that works on a converged IT network,” says Ervin Grinberg, director of marketing, Audinate. Symetrix is among the companies to be supporting this rising star of the networking world. “Symetrix DSP devices have the advantage of using Ethernet networks for control and Audinate’s Dante technology, and are typically audio front-end for video conferencing systems or other audio transport networking devices,” explains Richardson, who adds that giving customers a range of options is very much the order of the day. “Because of where our products sit in the network, we support standard IPv4 networking along with Auto-MDIX for 10/100 Mbps Ethernet for data and control, and 1Gbps network interface for Dante that is also compatible with IEEE 802.3. When the Symetrix devices are controlled over Ethernet, we use UDP for command and control; of course RS232 serial control is also an option.”

Manufacturing model

to grapple with the ever-thorny issue of futureproofing. Richardson puts his finger on the central issue: “If your installation requires 90%-plus utilisation to implement your system, you may want to consider the next ‘beefier’ device, or another manufacturer’s device, to ensure you have some processing headroom.” Other concerns are more universal, but no less important for that. Among other factors, Richardson highlights audio fidelity and form factor. Then, what we might label the post-installation life of the DSP is to be borne in mind. Getting end-users to feel comfortable with the system in the first place is one thing, but when you have queries or concerns, how easy is to get a knowledgeable person on the end of the phone?

Delivering Dante In the old point-to-point days, that list alone would have been more than enough with which to contend. But now, as full audio networking brings its flexibility to bear in every sphere of the live and fixed install world, the ability to connect quickly and easily to other digital devices is assuming ever-greater significance. This is easier said than done because a variety of solutions continue to compete for integrators’ attention. Audio-over-standard-Ethernet technology CobraNet retains its advocates, but latency and hardware costs can be problematic. Looking ahead, the Audio Video Bridging (AVB) project championed by the AVnu Alliance is set to provide a comprehensive, standards-backed approach to audio/

The fact that customer demand for sophisticated DSP will continue to grow is beyond question; but so too is an increasing pressure on margins. Manufacturers will therefore need to ensure that they deliver products to market at a reasonable price-point if they are to remain competitive – and that calls for a production cycle that is streamlined and efficient. In the case of Symetrix, that has translated to in-house product assembly at its US facilities and a ‘lean manufacturing’ model for the foundation of its production operations. “The Lean Model focuses our efforts on responding to actual customer demand in real-time while reducing product lead times and costs,” says Eric Dies, vice president of manufacturing, Symetrix. “The direct benefit to our customers is a very high quality product that is readily available at a reasonable cost.” With the scope and power of DSP solutions only likely to increase, manufacturers also need to ensure their training offering keeps pace with the times. It’s an issue of which Symetrix is acutely aware, having created bi-weekly courses on product and general application knowledge for the South African market, along with a two-day product certification programme that complements the manufacturer’s online training. The benefits of a multi-pronged approach are legion, maintains Craig Potter, technical manager at Symetrix’ South African distributor, iLED: “This course certifies that the candidates are competent to install and maintain a Symetrix system. In addition, supplier certification entitles candidates access to additional product discounts as well as the ability to earn any leads that are generated through our marketing and promotional activities.” While the benefits of high-spec DSP in the networked world are firmly established, the best methods for helping customers to implement their solutions successfully remain a matter of debate. It is this territory, then, that is likely to be the real battleground for manufacturers as DSP enters its next phase of evolution.

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Studio PRO AUDIO STudio Tips

Recording and mixing drums in the modern DAW By Greg Bester Part 4 – Bussing & panorama Greg Bester continues his series on recording and mixing drums by discussing bussing and panning of recorded in the DAW.

Bussing and panorama So, you’ve recorded the drums successfully and they’re ready for the first steps toward getting a good drum mix. You’ll most likely have several tracks and depending on your initial setup it will vary but suffice it to say this is a typical track list for a drum kit as alluded to in the section on microphones:

1. Kick inside 3. Snare top 5. Hi hat 7. Tom 2 9. Overhead L

2. Kick outside 4. Snare bottom 6. Tom 1 8. Tom 3 10. Overhead R

I’ve left the ambience tracks out intentionally as that will be explained in detail in a later part of this series. I figured that since the recording industry has changed dramatically to being centred around smaller and smaller setups, most recordists will not have access to a big, great sounding room á la Ocean Way or Sound City. Now, there are many ways that you could possibly buss and pan these tracks and it is my opinion that, while taste has a lot to do with it, the bussing and panorama that you choose should first serve the song, and second serve the processing that you decide is required to serve the song. You with me? Since we’re discussing modern, straight-forward pop/rock production, the following are a few of my basic bussing and panorama techniques for that particular genre. The first thing I would do is buss the two kick channels to a mono group, unifying them into one channel and panning it dead centre. I would do the same for the two snare tracks. Doing this gives you control in balancing the kick and snare as whole instruments while also allowing you to control the balance of the two kick and snare tracks (in and out, top and bottom, respectively) in relation to one another. Bussing them this way also leaves you the option of inserting processors such as compressors and EQs to affect the kick or snare as a whole instead of noodling around with each individual track. The same applies in that you can send the unified snare signal down one FX send instead of having to send from two separate channels. Personally I feel bussing them both to the centre serves to even out the low end in the centre of the stereo field in what is called “the mono phantom image” between the two speakers, maintaining punch and clarity. Some guys pan the snare off to the left or right a bit, as it appears in the overheads. This is a matter of taste and is ultimately the decision of you, the engineer, or the producer.

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Photo by Greg Curtis of thebridgerecording.com

various elements of the drum kit once it has been

Overheads vs. snare Here it is important to discuss the relationship between the overheads and the snare. The simplest way I’ve found to get a coherent stereo image in your overheads while keeping the snare focused at the centre is to use an X/Y configuration (a small diaphragm condenser pair works best because you can really get the capsules close to one another) whereby the two capsules, almost touching, are aligned at 90 degrees to one another and aimed above the drum kit. Because every scenario is different, where it’s placed is up to you but generally 3 to 6 feet above the drum kit is sufficient. Your ears will tell you when it’s right. This allows for the acoustics wavefronts coming from the snare (and everything else, for that matter) to reach the mics at relatively the same time. This can really help with clarity and focus in the mixing process, especially for something as important as the snare. As far as the spaced pair goes, the operative word here is ‘equidistant’ and the rule of thumb is that both overheads should be roughly equal distance away from the snare drum and, if possible, the kick drum. If you tape a piece of string to the centre of the snare drum you can mark the required distance, eg, the distance to the left overhead, and apply the radius to the right overhead. This will give you phase coherence in the overheads in relation to the snare. However, this will not take care of any phase issues in relation to each other so it’s a good idea to try follow the ‘3:1 rule’ wherever possible. This is a rule that states that in order to avoid phasing issues between two microphones, they should be placed three times the distance apart than they are from the source. The next course of action would be to create another group, this time stereo, and buss the all tom tracks to it. The general consensus is that panning toms hard left or right is to be avoided due to the fact that it can make them sound unnaturally wide but despite that, this topic has still been debated endlessly. The truth is that it’s a matter of


STudio Tips Studio PRO AUDIO taste and what fits subjectively into the material. The LCR (Left, Center, Right) technique, for one, embraces placing the toms at either the extremes or all dead center, and many engineers employ this philosophy. Inversely, it has also been supposed that the toms can also be placed on the stereo field by their position in the overheads. In other words, you would first listen to the stereo overheads and pin point the position of the toms within the stereo field, and then attempt to match that by panning the tom tracks to those positions. At this point it is helpful to note two mixing concepts related directly to drums whereby a ‘perspective’ is chosen in the approach to panorama. These concepts are called ‘drummer perspective’, or ‘audience perspective’. All this basically means is that, in the case of drummer perspective, the elements of the drum kit are placed in the stereo field as you would hear them sitting behind the drum set. For example, hi hat to the left, overheads stereo flipped, and toms panned from left to right. Obviously, in audience perspective the opposite would be achieved by placing the hi hat to the right, toms panned right to left, and so on. For a right handed drummer, that is. Throw a left hander in the mix and everything flips once again! Of course, these are two inter-related concepts that might not work for every scenario as you may only require mono overheads or mono drums altogether but for a general scenario, it’s safe to say you would be alright by choosing any one of the two techniques described above. As is often the case, it ultimately boils down to a matter of taste. Of course, the overheads get their own stereo group as well. I tend to keep my overheads hard left, hard right these days otherwise it’s just not stereo miking, is it? I’ve heard a lot about panning the overheads in; say 80L – 80R to make them ‘narrower’, but I personally

see no advantage in this technique. Sure, the correlation meter may tell you that they’re more phase coherent but what you’re actually doing is merely minimizing the effects, or should I say the minimizing the perceived difference in phase cancellation when you switch to mono. This is for the obvious reason that you’re bringing both the L and R signals closer to the centre, giving the illusion of better mono compatibility. A good stereo recording should be phase coherent to begin with so it is my inclination to always leave stereo signals where they should be: hard left and right. Now that you have all your main components of a drum mix bussed the final step is to create a master group to handle overall drum processing. I generally bus the hi-hat to this group. It is not uncommon for me to hard-pan the hi hat.

So, this is how we’ve bussed everything so far: 1. Kick inside, kick outside 2. Snare top, snare bottom 3. Hi hat 4. Tom 1, tom 2, tom 3 5. Overhead L, overhead R 6. ßAll drums

Kick group (mono) Snare group (mono) Master drums group (stereo) Toms group (stereo) Overheads group (stereo) Master drum group

Now you have control over the individual track blend, ie. snare top vs. snare bottom; control over the sub groups, ie. stereo toms, overheads, etc; and control over the entire drum kit. Your drum tracks are now bussed, panned and ready for processing.

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Studio Pro Audio Product Review

Wavelab 8 review

By Greg Bester

And then, on the other side – the slightly darker side – we have Steinberg. Masters of the native DAW environment and the German thought process, Steinberg have made a long and prestigious name for themselves among those who choose not to go avidly along to the beat of the rest of the world and choose to stay unhindered by the march of constant and costly upgrades. To many of them Steinberg represents freedom.

Indeed, despite the stiff competition Steinberg has been with us for the better part of 30 years and its seminal digital audio workstation, Cubase (originally Steinberg Pro 16), has been around since the virtual dawn of personal computing, first appearing on the Commodore 64 in 1984 (the same year as another piece of software that is now the de facto studio standard) and then later on the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga platforms. In 2003 Steinberg was bought by US firm Pinnacle Systems but was subsequently sold to the Yamaha Corporation the following year, which has seen it through its constant growth in the past 10 years. Wavelab was first introduced in 1995 and marked Steinberg’s initial foray into the digital audio editing market and subsequently mastering, which is by and large its main use today. Its core features – while primarily aimed at audio editing and mastering – include audio restoration, DVD-audio authoring and CD/DDP mastering, which makes it the perfect piece of companion software for your multi-track DAW. Quite simply, combined with your DAW there’s very little you can’t accomplish audio-wise. Steinberg recently released their latest addition to the Wavelab line – Wavelab 8 – and it includes over 150 new features which boggles the mind considering how feature-packed version seven was. Thanks to an old friend at Tuerk Music Technologies, Steinberg’s local distributor, I was given a pre-order copy to evaluate for this review. Shall we?

New features As mentioned, there are 150 new features. To list them all here would require more pages than I am afforded so I will just focus on the noteworthy ones.

Speaker Management System Monitoring multiple speaker configurations is often an absolute necessity during the mastering process. The new Speaker Management System allows up to eight speaker configurations record mode monitoring and playback. There is no hidden processing to keep the signal path clean and there is individual gain for each speaker setup. Each configuration can be set up in the new VST Connections dialogue, which most users of Cubase will be familiar with. Using the Speaker Management System you can do up to a four-way comparison of audio files with zero latency.

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EBU-compliant loudness metering and processing Given the fact that loudness in broadcasting is a hot issue worldwide, it was no wonder that Steinberg decided to include a comprehensive set of EBU-compliant metering facilities within Wavelab 8. R128-compliant loudness measurement comes as standard along with a variety of measurement options such as momentary, short term or integrated. In addition to these valuable tools, it also features a zoomable loudness view that displays all values in a graph format and the newly updated Global Analysis now allows EBU-compliant measurement. Finally, true peak support is available as always and updated plugin versions of the loudness normaliser, batch meta normaliser, batch audio analysis include EBU R128 and true peak facilities.


Product Review Studio Pro Audio

New plugins Three new plugins have been added to Wavelab 8: the Voxengo CurveEQ, Tube Compressor and Brickwall Limiter. The Voxengo CurveEQ is a 64-band spline EQ with linear and minimum-phase modes that also includes a spectrum analyser found in their SPAN analysis plugin. The Tube Compressor is exactly what it sounds like: a plugin modelled after a tube compressor. It is designed not only to compress, but to colour the sound to mastering specifications. Finally, the Brickwall Limiter is also self-explanatory. Parameters such as Drive, Attack and Mix gives you full control over your peak levelling and its activity is all reflected in a clear and concise GUI.

Single window plugin management Streamlining the manipulation of parameters across multiple plugins, Wavelab 8 includes what amounts to a plugin chain window for each clip, track, or master channel enabling the user to switch between multiple plugins with one click. Additionally, a completely redesigned plugin organisation facility has been implemented which makes it possible to sort your plugins by vendor, category or favourites. This is a welcomed feature, I’m sure, which was not supported in previous versions.

Professional editing As if Wavelab’s audio editing facilities weren’t ‘professional’ enough in previous versions, a few enhancements have been added to the editing toolbox of Wavelab 8. The Raise Selection function allows level adjustment of individual clip regions instantly. Several new trim and split options have been implemented into the new Auto-Split function. Processing selected regions using a plugin chain with a single command is now a reality, aiding in the otherwise cumbersome task of making comparisons between processing decisions. AutoReplay automatically re-engages playback post-edit. There are an additional 25 new editing enhancements including Track Lock, extended key command support and improved name editing in list views.

Master transport control The new master transport control panel offers a variety of new project navigation functions. Record, play, stop, loop, jog, shuttle, selections, markers and many other features are readily available. The master transport panel also features as displays for time position, timecode, samples, bars and beats.

iZotope MBIT+ master dither Abandoning the Apogee UV22HR dither plugin that was included in past versions of Wavelab 8, the IZOTOPE MBIT+ dither plugin is now

found in its place. Probably one of the more nebulous processing tools in the digital audio world, dither is used to eliminate truncation distortion when down-converting word lengths (bit-depth) which allows resolution below the least significant bit, effectively increasing dynamic range in the digital domain. iZotope’s MBIT+ dither offers 24, 20, 16, 12 or 8 bit dither varieties, three types of algorithms, four noise shaping options, DC offset filtering and auto-blanking.

Extended audio montage environment Added to the already powerful Audio Montage feature set, the new SuperClip concept enables the user to handle complex projects with numerous clips by combining several into one SuperClip, similar to an Audio Part in its sister programme, Cubase. These clips are then editable individually. The new Master Plugin Section enables the plugin chain to be saved within each montage for total recall. Probably one of the most interesting features is the ability to use audio files of different sample rates simultaneously.

Metadata support Wide-ranging metadata support for file formats such as ID3 v2, BWF, CART and iXML is now supported in Wavelab 8. Metadata categories include artist information, pictures, copyright, engineer name, date and many more. Automatic creation of metadata is also offered.

More and more and more There are over 150+ further additions to the Wavelab 8 feature list which would be almost impossible to list comprehensively here. Although, we can sure mention some. 16 floating point waveform zoom resolution is now offered for precise editing as well as improvements in the marker system. You can transfer the master section plugins to a clip, track, or the master plugin section of the montage, which is a time saving feature. Import of dual-mono files is also now a reality as well as improvements in the batch processing tool. Not bad, eh?

The wrap I started this article with the intention of being as specific and comprehensive I could about each and every new feature of Wavelab 8. Quite simply, I failed. Miserably. This piece of software is so feature packed it would feasibly take several magazines to cover it in its entirety. Steinberg has once again hit it out of the park with Wavelab 8 and I couldn’t be happier to be able to use it for my mastering projects. Well done, Steinberg.

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Studio Pro Audio STUDIO PROFILE

A master to the max

By Greg Bester

Johan van der Colff

Nestled in an inconspicuous cul-de-sac in the suburbs of Midrand is a veritable hub of South African production arts: Mastermax Productions. I say ’production arts‘ because, while the facility houses one of South Africas most illustrious purpose-built recording studios, Mastermax is so much more.

Mastermax is headed by CEO Johan van der Colff, the story of the man and subsequently the studio goes way back – well over a decade ago, in fact – and ranges from humble beginnings in Cape Town to a heinous murder attempt on his life, to struggle and opportunity and finally to what we know as Mastermax today. Forks in the road are presented to us all in life and Van der Colff is no different. Considering where he and the studio are today, he seems to have a knack for the right choices. The story starts more than 13 years ago. “I come from a family where music played a big part in my childhood,” says Van der Colff. “In grade 8 my grandfather helped us buy a small PA system and when my brother was doing shows, I would mix for him. Because I was not a sporty type I found that a place to distinguish myself was music. In matric I heard of Cape Audio College and I really wanted to learn the more techincal side behind music production. So I studied there.”

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Van der Colff soon flourished and found his place at CAC. In 2000, before he knew it he, along with one of the students from the previous year, built a new studio for the college called Tin Pan Alley. It was during this time that he got a good handle on studio acoustics. He produced two full albums for his year end project and after finishing he booked the studio to record the album for the band he was invoved with. The album did well and they endid up launching it in the UK. Touring ensued. Upon his return, the next phase of Van der Colff’s career started with his association with Pat Foster who ended up becoming his first mentor. “Pat is a legend from the eighties, really, and even earlier than that,” Van der Colff explains. “He had the only audio OB van in the country and I started working for him as a cable runner. I learned an extreme amount from him as he is a fantastic engineer with a lot of knowledge. One of the most important things I learned at that time was that you have to know your instruments and their fundamental ranges. This is essential to being a good tracking and mixing engineer. I think that’s something a lot of engineers miss today. You have to have an ear for music.” Thereafter Van der Colff started his own production studio in McGregor, Western Cape, and after about a year he joined a touring production company then called C-Kruis and later renamed to 13Floor, where he mixed FOH for about a year. Van der Colff considers this a very important part of his learning experience. He explains: “With C-Kruis I got to mix different venues every day of the week so it was a fantastic learning experience. Most engineers gets


STUDIO PROFILE Studio Pro Audio to do two or three gigs a week while I was doing seven or eight.” One of the bands that he was involved with visited the studio in Midrand and told him about it and the fact that it had interchangeable acoustics in the live room. This was something that Van der Colff had been designing for his own studio so he got in contact with one of the owners, Johan Heystek, to get more information. As these things often lead to happenstance opportunities, Van der Colff met the other owner of the studios (Zelmia Reis) on a completely unrelated event while doing live sound in the UK. Then two years later, while touring with C-Kruis, he booked the facility for a rock project called ’Therapy Sessions‘ as the studio was running a very similar setup to what he had trained on at Cape Audio College and he wanted a studio in the Johannesburg area. After tracking the album here and thereafter returning to Cape Town, he got a call to record a choir project starting the following January. “So I caught a flight back to Joburg and I had only had R500 in my pocket when I returned. After arriving back at the studio I asked the owner if I could look after the facilities and in exchange stay in the flat upstairs.“ Unfortunately the choir project got postponed so Van der Colff was stuck there some time. As fate would have it, a new project was booked and Evert de Munnik was appointed to mix the project. However, this was at the onset of the Pro Tools revolution and since Van der Colff was familiar with the studio setup and fluent as a Pro Tools operator he got the chance to assist de Munnik with the mix. “Evert was really cool to me and I learned a lot from him. He then also recommended me to The Sound Corporation which gave me the opportunity to do sound for a lot of Afrikaans artists like Ddisselblom, Klopjag which led to bringing Afrikaans artists into the studio. I was also fortunate to to work with the ’then‘ studio owner, musical genius/producer/arranger Johan Heystek for many years. I learnt so much from him there is not enough time to go through it all. The road to becoming a good recording and mixing engineer cannot be walked alone. You need to spend time with industry legends as you only learn from experience.” Lebo M and Themba Mkhize working on the 2010 Fifa World Cup Openings Ceremony

Around 2004 someone appeared at the studio gate one day and asked whether they did TV commercials. Being the businessman that Van der Colff is, he said: “Absolutely!” This eventually snowballed into a lucrative opportunity and he got his first taste of success. From the money made from that project, he bought his first gear which kicked off Mastermax as a close corporation company. In 2005 Johan got married to Elsabe and together they built the MMX Brand which then comprised a record label, distribution company, ad agency, location recording and live sound divisions. In 2006 they moved to McGregor where they established a dedicated mixing facility called The Mix Room, while the MMX Joburg team were running the facilities in Mirand. Due to Mastermax Productions then growing strongly Van der Colff decided to approach the owners of the Midrand facilities to purchase the buildings and gear as it made more sense for MMX to own the facilities in order to expand, upgrade and move forward. He subsequently bought the studio and commenced with the upgrade and the studio ran successfully for a year or two. At the end of 2007 the music industry changed with the emergence of the home studio which caused most large format studio facilities to go through a period of struggle and Van der Colff was forced to run the studio on his own. In 2008 he moved back to Midrand and after meeting Cedric Samson, while recording and mixing the TV broadcast of Madiba’s 90th birthday concert, Cedric then booked MMX for the recording and mixing of a film score. While finishing the recording Van der Colff got a call for an international band that needed a studio with international spec equipment and an African percussion rig. MMX Studios met the spec and One Republic wrote and recorded their song Everybody Loves Me at MMX. Both the movie project and the international attention helped kick start a revitalisation the studio. The Idols Africa project then followed. Around this time, Van der Colff was involved in an attempt on his life in an armed robbery. The attacker shot at his head but instead struck his hand. Luckily he survived the ordeal but it drastically changed his mind on whether sticking around was a good idea. After much internalisation of the matter and not allowing a criminal to shape his destiny, he and his wife finally decided that it was a sign to stay. Thereafter the studio seemed to receive a breath of new life. In 2010 Lebo M brought the FIFA World Cup football opening ceremony to the studio and word of mouth led other local and international projects like Westlife, Jenifer Hudson and many more to the studio. Johan also got the idea to build a dedicated audio OB van. After getting input from his colleagues he built the OB van, which brought the studio a completely new business angle and source of revenue. MMX|OB1 then provided the recording/broadcast facility for many events including the SAMAs, MTV AAS, Skouspel, Afrikaans is Groot, Jacaranda Pops, ANC 100 year celebrations, among others. Today Mastermax boasts a broad range of audio services along with TV, film and IPTV services, which is soon to kick off into the mainstream market. He has worked with Harvey Mason, Brooks Arthur, Ryan Tedder, Jennifer Hudson, Westlife and in 2011 he won best engineer for the album Lolilwe by Zahara. Mastermax is heavily involved in location and broadcast audio, DVD production, music videos and even has an acoustics division called SoundproofingSA. In this day and age in South Africa, diversification seems to be the name of game. Mastermax and the Johan van der Colff story is definitely one that inspires as it all goes to show that with passion, a good ear for music, humility and perseverance, even when your life is threatened, will hold victory over any obstacle.

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Studio Pro Audio AUDIO HISTORY

The history of film sound

By Greg Bester

FANTASOUND – Bill Garity recording sound for the film Fantasia

The world started out in mono thanks to Thomas Edison, who first synced audio to an 1895 film of his assistant, Fred Ott, sneezing after taking a pinch of snuff. Mono audio prevailed for a good half a century later but of course, stereo sound finally emerged when Bell Labs started experimenting with the format as early as 1933.

The Jazz Singer Naturally, the first feature film hailed as the progenitor of film sound was Alan Crosland’s The Jazz Singer, written by Alfred A. Cohn and released in 1927. All in all, the film had a total of two minutes of synchronised speech and offered the first ever combination of a synchronised score, sound effects, and several synchronised singing scenes. All, of course, were monaural but nonetheless it marked the starting point of a legacy which would see us through to the state of film sound as we know it today. A few years later in 1938 the ‘Academy Curve’ was developed by the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which was an equalisation curve which standardised the frequency response of theatre systems with an aim of reduced noise and distortion. This stayed the norm for the better part of 40 years. Western Electric demonstrated the first multichannel stereo playback system that incorporated Left-Center-Right (LCR) control as early as 1940, but this was aimed primarily at the recording industry. Interestingly, stereo was adopted in the film industry in the early 1950s,

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which was several years before stereo music was produced commercially.

Fantasound In 1940 came the biggest step forward in film sound with Walt Disney’s Fantasia. This animated film was aimed to be the revival blockbuster for Mickey Mouse, who had seen a decline in popularity in previous years, and was conceptualised as a magical animated spectacular set to the music of L’apprenti Sorcier (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) by Paul Dukas and conducted by Leopold Stokowski. There were many firsts that this production achieved, many of which we are familiar with and some which we still use on a daily basis. These firsts included: multi-track recording using synchronised optical recorders; overdubbing of additional orchestra parts; the click track; multi-channel surround sound; the pan pot; noise reduction; and the use of an oscilloscope to monitor recording levels. Remarkably, all of these innovations occurred before the invention of the VU meter, one of the longest standing audio innovations still in use, and they spawned a whole new term for its achievements, dubbed Fantasound.

The rise of Dolby Following Fantasia, multi-channel audio in cinema was the norm from as early as 1952. Throughout the 1950s in particular, many other multi-channel formats were experimented with, namely, Cinerama, the first wide screen format, which incorporated five channels behind the screen and three in the auditorium, fed by a 7-track head stack. Cinemascope came next in 1953 and the biblical epic The Robe debuted as the first film in this format. It used a 4-track, discrete


AUDIO HISTORY Studio Pro Audio

A Voice of the Theatre (VOT) horn speaker system as used in cinemas Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in a scene from Walt Disney’s Fantasia

magnetic format with an LCRS speaker configuration. In 1955 came the TODD-AO format which showcased Oklahoma as its debut film. It, like Cinemascope, used five speakers behind the screen and a mono surround. The next giant leap forward was Dolby’s X-Curve (eXtended Curve), which specified a 3dB/oct roll-off above 2 kHz, replacing the Academy Curve. It also utilised Dolby type-A noise reduction and the first film to utilise this was, fittingly, A Quiet Revolution in 1972. Four years later Dolby premiered its Dolby Stereo technology and A Star Is Born was the first film presented in this format. Dolby Stereo was essentially a multi-channel stereo format that, at first glance, is similar to a five-channel surround setup but was matrixed from a stereo source. Harking back to TODD-AO, the Dolby Baby Boom 70mm format was released in 1979 and incorporated three speakers behind the screen (LCR), a mono surround and two LFE channels that were crossed over at 200Hz. The first film released in Dolby Baby Boom was, of course, Lucasfilm’s Star Wars, a film which revolutionised film sound and effects and kicked off the Star Wars legacy. Dolby’s Split Surround 70mm format then followed in 1979, which was backwards compatible with the Baby Boom and is the precursor to what we know as 5.1 surround sound today. The first film to debut this format was Apocolypse Now and it was during this film that Walter Murch coined the term ‘sound designer’. 1983 brought the next innovation forward with the premiere of the THX (Thom Holm eXperiment) standard with Return of the Jedi. THX is defined as a ‘standard’ rather than a ‘format’ because it deals more with the frequency response and crossover of the system than the actual speaker configuration. Firstly, the low frequency response of the system is extended down to 40Hz. This was an octave lower than previous standards. The treble response of the system was also

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Studio Pro Audio AUDIO HISTORY

extended above 8 kHz. A THX certified system includes specified crossover points, approved components, specs for reverb time versus. volume, picture sharpness, noise limits and screen properties. Also, film houses were required to install a Kintek KT-9 subwoofer. The following years throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s saw new formats emerge such as Dolby SR, a LCRS format with better noise reduction and extended dynamic range similar to Dolby Stereo but with SR-type noise reduction instead of type-A. Robocop was the first film to be released with Dolby SR. Dolby Digital (SR-D) then debuted in 1992 with Batman Returns in a 5.1 format with Dolby AC-3 data reduction. In 1993 came DTS (Digital Theater Systems), which premiered with Jurassic Park. This format syncs a CD-ROM with the film via timecode between the analogue soundtrack and the picture. 1993 also saw the introduction of Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS), which debuted with the film Last Action Hero. SDDS supports 7.1 surround sound in that it has left, mid-left, centre, mid-right, right, left surround, right surround, and low frequency effects channels. SDDS uses the ATRAC data reduction codec originally engineered for the Sony Minidisc. Lastly, Dolby EX and DTS ES were introduced which are essentially 6.1 formats that incorporate a rear centre channel.

The wrap

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Today’s state-of-the-art cinema sound technology is Dolby Atmos: a 128-channel system supporting up to 64 discrete speaker feeds that debuted in Pixar’s Brave in June 2012. Like many of Dolby’s advancements in film sound, this was a giant leap forward, enabling film makers to immerse the viewer even further into the scene and bring sounds into a very accurate three-dimensional space. This means there are no longer ambiguous zones that audio radiates from but highly accurate point sources that further heighten the film-goer’s experience. However, let us not forget; sound is but a part of what makes a great film. It is together with the other vital elements; the story, the cinematography, the dialogue, the visual effects, and a slew of other factors that bring the viewer closer to the vision of the makers. It’s easy to get wound up in the technology but in the end it’s simple: can you move me and keep me interested? The answer is: “who’s in it?” Research for this article was sourced from Pro-Tools – For Video, Film & Multimedia by Ashley Shepherd; Wikipedia; and Jay Frigoletto of gearslutz.com.


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