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South africa

4th Quarter 2012


AV System Integration | Installations | Live Events | Studio & Broadcast Audio

Olympics Pixel Tablets



STUDIO & Broadcast Audio


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- Series For a dealer in your area contact Proaudio

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New tel from January 011-608-2099

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Publisher & Editor


As the year draws to a close and we put the final issue of the year to bed for Pro-Systems News, it gives me great pleasure to announce that we will be increasing the frequency of the magazine next year to come out every two months. I am also delighted to welcome Greg Bester who now joins us on a full time basis. It’s wonderful to have him on the team with us as he brings his wealth of knowledge and experience as an experienced audio engineer. Have a look at his article on “Transporting audio into the ether” on page 24 to 27 and his product review on the Avid Thunderbolt. The next issue will be out just after we attend ISE in January 2013 and will provide you with a comprehensive round up of the new products launched there as well as what we can expect from Prolight + Sound in March. The next issue will be out just after we attend ISE in January 2013 and will provide you with a comprehensive round up of the new products launched there. In addition, the issue will also include a sneak preview of what you can expect at Prolight + Sound, taking place in March.

Product Review

System Integration

Audio giant has the ‘midas’ touch......38 – 39

ISE Preview World class trade show returns with largest footprint – ever...................10 – 11

Seminar Synopsis

Museum Technology

Industry Expert

South African history find its voice – through technology.............................12 – 14

Denzil Smith......................................................42

Digital Signage

Ultimate 007 after-party for Skyfall................44

London finds a new digital dimension during the 2012 Games..........................16 – 18

Video Mapping

Seminar Synopis

Learning light – from the masters..........40 – 41

International Lighting Design

Mapping out the route for the Volvo V40.....................................45 – 47

The talented Dr Kramer..........................19 – 21

International Video Projection

Tracking Technology............................22 – 23

Illuminating the arts.................................48 – 49

PLASA Report PLASA pulsates with innovation............50 – 55


Ethernet Audio Transporting audio into the ether.........24 – 27

Studio & Broadcast

IBC Report

Venue Solution Gold Reef City 4D ride gets more exciting..........................................28

IBC bustled with possibilities...................56 – 59

Industry Expert Ian Osrin...........................................................61

Olympics 2012 Pixel Tablets provide the cure...............30 – 31

Product Review Allen & Heath GSR24..............................62 – 63 Listening to the future.............................64 – 66

Live Events

Concert Report Technology enhances talent................32 – 33

Social ...............................................67 – 68

Show Report That’s entertainment – Bidvest style.....34 – 36

Wishing you a successful 2013.

Contributors Claire Badenhorst | Industry expert with eight years experience in event management, PR, marketing and advertising within the professional audio, video, lighting and staging sector. Claire has played an integral role in the development of the concept and content creation of Pro Systems and works closely with our advertisers and readers.

Greg Bester | Musician and audio engineer – proficient in both the analogue and digital domains and has extensive experience mixing live music, setting up and configuring loudspeaker systems, monitoring and general stage management. He has mixed events numbering into the thousands and is comfortable on large and small-format mixing consoles.

Simba Nyamukachi | A graduate in journalism and has an honours degree in Media & Culture Studies. He grabbed the opportunity to join Sun Circle Publishers in his first position as a journalist for Pro-Systems News. He has an immense passion for the AV and live entertainment industry and is furthering his AV integration knowledge by completing an online accredited AV training program.

Eddie Hatitye | Professional journalist and former editor of Music Industry Online, Eddie has been actively involved in the South African recording and music industry for the past 5 years. He has a strong passion for music production and has leveraged this knowledge and his contacts to further his career as a journalist.

Publisher & Editor | Simon Robinson |

Sub-Editor | Tina Heron

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.

Geny Caloisi | An accomplished technology journalist, who has been travelling the world to cover events, speak to industry pundits and see the latest technology products since 2001. She started working in the broadcasting technology sector, as Editor of online publication and continued with the audiovisual industry. Geny was Assistant Editor at the UK’s leading trade publication, AV Magazine for five years.

Paul Watson | After touring professionally with several bands in the UK and then the US, Paul went on to open his own commercial recording and rehearsal facility, where he was resident producer/engineer for six years. For the last five years, he has been a regular contributor for a number of UK titles, covering live sound, studio sound, lighting, video, broadcast and post-production. He is also European Editor for one of the major US trade music publications.

In-house JournalistS | Greg Bester | and Simba Nyamukachi |

Advertising Sales | Claire Badenhorst | Design | Trevor Ou Tim | Subscriptions | Albertina Tserere | 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

www. 2



Ster-Kinekor and Christie ink deal

Ster-Kinekor Theatres, the largest cinema exhibitor in South Africa, has confirmed a major deal with Christie as it undertakes full conversion of its cinema estate to digital. Ster-Kinekor Theatres currently has Christie

Series 2 cinema projectors operating within the group but this will grow considerably — to 180 Christie Series 2 projectors along with 198 Solaria One and Solaria One+ projectors, which will be available from the end of 2012. These come complete with lens, customdesigned Xenon lamp, Christie Integrated Media Block (IMB) and easy-to-operate Screen Management Software (SMS). The new deployment will also include Christie 4K DLP Cinema® projectors for use at select cinemas across the country in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town — chosen after careful evaluation against competitive models. This will be the first time that the Christie Solaria, Solaria One and Solaria One +, as well as Christie IMB and 4K resolution, have all featured in the same deployment.

NEC sign up Edit Microsystems

Pieter Labuschagne, Craig Butterworth, Jenny Labuschagne, Michael Holgate, Sarah Fraser and Coenie Labuschagne

NEC Display Solutions Southern Africa has announced the appointment Edit Microsystems (Pty) Ltd as a new preferred partner. Edit Microsystems has been involved in the supply of education solutions to schools and corporate solutions to businesses throughout South Africa for more than 21 years. “Edit Microsystems has a proud tradition of innovation and has always been on the cutting edge of technological advances in education,” says Sarah Fraser, Channel Development Manager to NEC Display Solutions, Southern Africa. “To this regard we are very excited to navigate the South African education technology frontier with a partner who not only shares our more than a century old philosophy in innovation, but that does so while combining complimentary

products in offering customers comprehensive solutions.” “As we are extremely aware of the sustainability challenges which education institutions face, we are firmly committed to finding the best technological solutions at affordable prices for the schools which we service,“ says Pieter Labuschagne, Managing Director of Edit Microsystems. “NEC’s trusted and innovative display technology fulfils that need with their high quality, reliable and affordable range of projectors and other display products. We are very excited about this promising and key addition to our selective portfolio of education brands, and are confident that our relationship will ultimately have a positive effect on the education market.”

Proaudio nominated as RCF dealer

Joss Pack

Proaudio, a fore-runner in the supply of professional audio and DJ products, was recently nominated as the new distributor for RCF in South Africa. RCF is an Italian Professional Audio brand with more than 50 years experience producing products of exceptional quality from plastic molded single cabinets to concert touring sound systems. They have a huge range of products that cater for every aspect of the sound and installation business. “We are immensely proud that RCF chose Proaudio to distribute its product in South Africa,” says Proaudio CEO Joss Pack. “RCF has pioneered many of the innovations now recognised and used in professional audio products, and the distribution network with Proaudio will continue to offer customers complete support and technical back up in South Africa. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with RCF and its loyal dealer base in South Africa.” Notable products for the South African market include the NX Series, D-Line, TT Touring and Theatre as well as their Art Series – a multi-purpose active speaker range representing the finest example of digital audio design that offers the best audio choice for a multitude of live sound applications. Proaudio has a large showroom where its products are heard with demonstrations provided by competent sales staff.



Wild & Marr appoints new engineering head Wild and Marr, a leader in the distribution and installation of professional audio and video equipment, recently announced the appointment of Anton van Wyk as Technical Divisional Systems Engineering Head. Van Wyk, who is highly qualified and boasts almost 15 years within the audio visual industry, will not only fulfill an integral vacuum in the company but compliment and elevate the company’s engineering capacity. In his capacity Van Wyk will assist the Wild and Marr sales team with designs including high level technical support to technicians. He will also be on the lookout for new products while exploring more relevant, timeous and accurate engineering solutions on a global scale. In a statement posted on their website

Anton van Wyk

Wild and Marr state that Van Wyk’s appointment is yet another step towards the company’s long-term goal to maintain and improve its industry offer as a professional audio visual service provider in southern Africa.

New SAMRO chairman ushers in new era Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) has announced the appointment of the Reverend Abe Sibiya as the new chairman of its Board of Directors. The announcement comes after long-serving incumbent Annette Emdon stepped down from the position after 15 years. The passing of the leadership baton was declared following a recent SAMRO Board meeting. Sibiya is a well-known composer, producer, publisher, multi-instrumentalist and

Abe Sibiya Chairman of the SAMRO Board

broadcasting executive, who is the chief executive of the Urban Rhythm Factory music publishing and audio production house. He is also the pastor and founder of the Zoe Bible Church in Ivory Park and has written songs for the likes of Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Deborah Fraser, Dorothy Masuku and Chicco.

High End Systems showcases products in SA

Zane Cretten of Questek with Chris Agius Ferrante

Chris Agius Ferrante, International Sales Manager of High End Systems (a Barco company), visited Questek in August to conduct consol training and to showcase some of his company’s products to South African market. The official visit, which marked Ferrante’s third time in the country, was from 14 to 22 August. “It was very exciting to visit South Africa and to showcase High End System’s digital range comprising of the DL.3 and the new DLV,” states Ferrante. “Also on show was our newer moving lights; – Technospot, TechnoArc and Solaspot (prototype) as well as SHOWGUN all of which were controlled by a High End System’s Road Hog Full Boar, kindly provided by Sound Stylists.” Speaking about High End System’s future in the region Ferrante noted that the SA market has large growth potential for his company. “With Questek on board as our partners in SA and with more South Africa customer visits scheduled to happen on a regular basis, we expect to see healthy growth in this market from which we have been relatively absent for a number of years,” he added. “Our product strategy is certainly one which will play well in the SA market, and while continuing to offer competitive product, we will remain innovative and offer products that are unique in the market.”

Prosound adds Bosch to product offering Prosound has announced its accreditation as a distributor for the Bosch Public Address, Voice Evacuation and Congress products. Following the strategic move by Bosch Security Systems to move to a distributor model for the Congress and Public Address systems, Prosound approached Bosch SA to form a strong partnership in order to


continue supporting its dealer base. To this end Prosound appointed Elaine O’Gorman to head up the newly formed Commercial Division. O’Gorman, who has 19 years experience with Bosch products, has intimate knowledge of design and correct application of the products. With Electro-Voice and Dynacord having

been in the Bosch Stable for a few years, the company saw the potential to offer their dealer base the most comprehensive and cost efficient line up of products available with synergies of the Commercial and Congress systems with Professional Audio.


Prosound goes live on radio Through the launch of their online radio station Prosound LIVE, Prosound has gone one step further in their support of live music and the arts in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prosound shares a long history with the South African music Industry and is committed to supporting the development of local musicians. Prosound recognises SA’s dynamic arts and music legacy as one of the country’s richest resources contributing to the country’s distinct identity. In an industry where so many talented artists are at risk of being drowned by the mainstream, it is vital that they are given a space to expose and present their style to a wider audience. Prosound LIVE radio provides a much needed platform for any genre or subculture

Leviton appoints new distributor Leviton is the largest privately held manufacturing company of electrical lighting equipment in North America, has recently appointed Stage Audio Works as their primary sub-Saharan distributor. Leviton prides itself as the smart choice for creating sustainable and environmentally conscious lighting solutions. Stage Audio Works wishes to emulate this attitude through the distribution of Leviton’s top tier product range throughout the commercial market. Like Leviton, Stage Audio Works understands the importance of green thinking within today’s industrial and commercial market (as evidenced by their recent membership within The Green Building Council of South Africa).

of music that has a following in South Africa but no medium to present itself. “Prosound encourages artists to think of new ways of selling and presenting themselves in our new, cluttered digital world,” says Justin Acres of Prosound.

By providing a live space for live streaming, recording and rehearsing in a production studio, a radio studio and OB (outside broadcast) capabilities – aspiring DJs, producers and musicians have a setting in which to showcase themselves using state-of-the-art equipment. Years of experience have proved that seeing Prosound equipment in action is what wins the products their biggest fans. The Prosound LIVE demo room plays host to live gigs and DJ workshops where products are put through their paces by interested artists. “We recognise that artists are the life blood of our business,” says Acres. “By investing in and exposing the best SA has to offer, outside of the mainstream, everyone wins.”

Martin Professional CEO visits SA Bruce Genricks, Christian Engsted, Bruce Schwartz and Peter Dahlin

Martin Professional President and CEO, Christian Engsted, visited Electrosonic’s Johannesburg office in November. Engsted’s trip, which included a stop in Johannesburg and Cape Town to see a few key clients, marked his first sojourn in the country as CEO of Martin Professional which coincided with the company’s 25th anniversary. To celebrate his visit, Electrosonic hosted a function that was attended by Electrosonic’s key clients. At the gathering, Electrosonic showcased the power of the Mac Viper

Profile and the award winning Martin MAC Aura among others. Speaking about Martin’s President and CEO, Bruce Schwartz, Electrosonic’s Martin Product Manager, said: “It was very exciting to welcome Christian Engsted through our doors for the very first time. He got a great feel for the South African market and this insight will no doubt improve our reach in the market.” Engsted was accompanied by Peter Dahlin, Area Sales Manager for South Africa.

TPSA hands out accolades in Cape Town TPSA 2011 Cape Town award winners: • Best newcomer lighting designer: Moenier Allie • Best newcomer sound engineer: Hugo Biermann • Best newcomer AV engineer:

The Technical Production Services Association (TPSA) Awards Cape Town 2011 ceremony was held on 12 November 2012 at the Cape Town International Conference Centre (CTICC). The TPSA Awards celebrate industry professionals for the technical services they provide in the production of live events.


Andrew Bosman • Favourite AV rental company: AV Direct • Favourite sound rental company: Eastern Acoustics • Favourite lighting rental company: Gearhouse

• Favourite technical venue: Grand West Arena • Favourite technical staging company: Gearhouse • Best rigger of the year: Wikus Visser • Lighting designer of the year: Alan Muller • AV engineer of the year: Matthew Holmes • Sound engineer of the year: Arl Frost • Production manager of the year: Wayne Krull

thinking sound

thinking safety

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Johannesburg (Head Office) Hillfox Centre, Weltevreden Park Email: Visit: Branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban


Vivitek flaunts new projectors in SA

James Hsu

Vivitek Corporation’s James Hsu and Brian Grogan visited the country in October to showcase several of the company’s newly updated range of large venue and educational projectors at Audiosure’s Midrand offices. The new products on display included the D7180HD; the world’s first ultra-short throw full HD projector as well as the D8800 – a

high-performance projector for the Pro AV staging business. Also on show was the D5280U, which delivers impressive image resolution and in-built versatility to make it the ideal projection solution for all types of business, education and leisure applications. During his visit, Hsu also launched the Vivitek iPad and Android tablet app for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. Benefits of the app include access to current product information (also when offline), a distance calculator for easy installation calculations and a product selector tool for quick selection on specs and comparison of up to four products. Speaking about the app Hsu said: “We would like to help our Vivitek approved distributors and resellers in their daily job. The Vivitek Product Range App will help to do so, and we hope that the information will flow quicker between us and the rest of our Vivitek Approved Reseller Network.”

Mediatech Africa gains momentum Preparations are already underway for the continents biggest and most successful trade show for the live entertainment and media industries. Stand sales for Mediatech Africa officially opened earlier in October. Industry players such as Extron Electronics, Concilium Technologies, Audiosure, Inala, Technology Innovated Distribution, Sound Harmonics, AV Systems, Viva Afrika Sound and Light, DWR Distribution, Macro Video, Penmac Audio Visual and

Linkin Park’s crew hosts workshop

Jim Digby

The South African Roadies Association (SARA) welcomed Linkin Park’s Production Manager and Director of Touring – Jim Digby, to SARA House in Johannesburg on 8 November to


Matrix Sound that have already secured their stands, to name a few. Mediatech Africa will take place from 17 to 19 July 2013 at the Coca-Cola dome, Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information visit: share his production knowledge and skills. Digby was joined by Linkin Park crew colleagues Matt Mills (Lighting Director); Skip Twitchell (Video Director); Bill Boyd – Creative Director; Ken Van Druten (FOH); Sean Paden, Chris Wilson, Megumi Kusano, Missy Allgood and Lonnie Southall. The Linkin Park team spent three hours at SARA House interacting with SARA students, sharing their respective experiences, describing their work and job descriptions and providing a well-rounded representation of the inner workings of their technical and production methods and systems. The visit represented a milestone in encouraging and supporting technical and production knowledge and skills development within the South African

Kathea launches new Polycom’s portfolio of solutions

Dan Engel and Nathan Goldstein

Kathea, local distributor of Polycom video communications solutions, recently announced the availability of Polycom’s new portfolio of solutions designed for mediumsized businesses. These solutions make high-quality, enterprise-grade video collaboration more affordable and easier to access for the mid-market. The portfolio includes Polycom RealPresence Collaboration Server 800s -Virtual Edition as well as various nextgeneration RealPresence video endpoints. Polycom RealPresence Collaboration Server 800s, Virtual Edition is the industry’s first multi-protocol, integrated software Multi-point Control Unit (MCU) with open standards-based Scalable Video Coding (SVC), interoperable with Advanced Video Coding (AVC). It delivers 3X HD multipoint video capacity for superior performance and great scalability.  The solution offers dramatically lower total cost of ownership and backwards and forward scompatibility, without the need for expensive gateways or hardware required by proprietary SVC offerings; it is ideal for mid-sized enterprises. The RealPresence Collaboration Server 800s, Virtual Edition, is part of the Polycom RealPresence Platform, the most interoperable and comprehensive software infrastructure for universal video collaboration. Dan Engel, regional sales manager at Polycom EMEA and Nathan Goldstein, regional solutions architect at Polycom EMEA, exhibited the RealPresence Collaboration Server 800s and other products at an event held in October at Kathea’s Johannesburg offices.

technical and production industry, especially for young people. This opportunity was conceptualised in March 2012, at the International Production Meeting of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London, between Jim Digby and SARA president, Freddie Nyathela.

10 edition


A joint venture partnership of

Connect. Communicate. Construct.

At ISE 2013, come fact-to-face with new products from over 800 exhibitors showing dozens of AV, media and control technologies. Add new lines to your portfolio, get fresh inspiration for your projects and embrace the ideas that enable smarter working, building and living.

Find out more.

Photos courtesy ISE

System Integration ISE PREVIEW

World class trade show returns with largest footprint – ever By Eddie Hatitye

All is set for the 10th edition of Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) – the world’s biggest trade show for the professional AV and electronic systems industries.

Promoted as: ’Bigger. Brighter. Better’, ISE 2013 is expected to be even bigger than last year’s record-breaking event, which saw over 40 000 visitors and 825 exhibitors occupying 30 000 square metres of space to display their latest innovations. Show organisers promise a unique showcase of technologies and solutions at ISE 2013, complimented by a comprehensive conference and education programme. They claim that the yearly event will attract professionals from every link in the systems integration value-chain, including manufacturers, distributors, dealers, contractors and consultants. The event, which will run for three days (29 to 31 January 2013) at the Amsterdam RAI in the Netherlands, is also tipped to draw huge numbers of end customers from diverse fields such as education, sports, corporate facilities, hospitality and live events.

Sizing up Reflecting growing interest from exhibitors and visitors, ISE 2013 will occupy the largest space in its history, thanks to the addition of an extra hall to the show’s footprint. Mike Blackman, Managing Director, Integrated Systems Events, says; “The response from exhibitors to our 2012 show has been overwhelmingly positive and, in the end, we felt we had no option but


to expand our footprint for 2013. This extra space will allow us to accommodate new companies who want to bring their products and services to our audience of 40 000-plus electronic systems professionals for the first time.” A lot of companies including Samsung, Sony, Digital Projection, Sennheiser, Barco, AVC Group and Optoma are said to have taken this opportunity to enlarge their stands. While almost all of the ISE 2013 exhibitors have not yet announced what they will showcase, the word from ISE for now is that: “Attendees can expect more new exhibitors, more new technologies, more education sessions and more networking opportunities.”

Smart Building Conference ISE 2013 will host the first Smart Building Conference. The event joins ISE’s pre-show roster and is part of a bold initiative to make AV and electronic systems integration a cornerstone of Europe’s construction industry. It will be held at the Amsterdam RAI on Monday 28 January – the day before the exhibition opens. Blackman says the Smart Building Conference is a response to a survey conducted during ISE 2012, in which attendees expressed a desire to see more building automation, energy management and related technologies. “Our attendees want to see more building

automation, energy management and related technologies on our show floor and these are the areas where they see the greatest future growth potential for their businesses.” He adds: “As building automation and energy management become more important in the design and sustainability of both commercial and residential buildings, it is important to hear the voices of all those involved in their development – including architects, design consultants, developers, electrical contractors and more.”

Improved focus on full HD display solutions As a way of bolstering ISE’s focus on display solutions that have more than HD or full HD resolution, organisers are adding a new summit to the show’s education bill. The new event, dubbed The MegaPixel Summit, is said to be ideal for manufacturers, distributors, integrators, rental companies and end customers. Blackman says: “By hosting the MegaPixel Summit at ISE 2013, we hope to create a forum in which the challenges arising from creating large-scale, multiple-component displays are addressed by a mix of different stakeholders: manufacturers, distributors, integrators, rental companies and end customers.” Event producer Chris Chinnock of Insight Media adds that the MegaPixel Summit will focus on three elements of what he calls the ‘Pixel Pipeline’ ecosystem that defines a typical MegaPixel solution: pixel generation, pixel processing and pixel display. He says: “The summit will cover every link in the chain from the CPUs and GPUs that generate the images, to the software and hardware that processes, warps, blends and distributes them, and then on to the various projection and display technologies that can be used to show them.” The MegaPixel summit will be divided into three sessions. The first two on the morning and afternoon of Monday 28 January respectively, will focus on technology, products and trends. The third on the morning of Tuesday 29 January (the first day of ISE 2013) will offer case-study examples of successful MegaPixel system integration. “Over the past couple of years, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of ISE exhibitors offering display solutions that are above full HD resolution. The potential of these technologies is enormous, but these are complex systems and many industry professionals endure a steep learning-curve while implementing them,” adds Blackman. On the other hand, a huge part of ISE’s educational offering – The InfoComm Future Trends Summit, will take place on Monday 28. InfoComm’s director of international education and member services, Scott Wills, says the popular summit will focus on future technology trends, trends in the use and application of AV, or other items that will affect the industry in the coming months and years. Do not miss our next edition for a comprehensive update of products showcased at ISE 2013.

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Dataton WATCHOUT used in car mapping of Volvo V40 press launch in Johannesburg. © PENMAC, Picture Mafia and EPH.

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Photo courtesy Totem Media

System Integration MUSEUM TECHNOLOGY

South African history finds its voice – through technology

When was the last time you visited a museum? When you were at school? While on holiday? Well, it is time to rediscover the museums in South Africa and look into a growing and inspiring sector for the AV industry. Geny Caloisi talks to key players in this industry and finds out what it takes to succeed. South Africa has more than 300 museums all over the country. This might not seem an enormous amount if you think that London alone has 240. Still South Africa’s relationship with its heritage is somehow different to that of Europe. Museums here are newer and more unusual. They can be found in ex-gold mine sites, cultural villages, some elegant 18th century houses or modern buildings. There isn’t a long tradition of object collection and many times the stories told are based on past events for which there are no objects per se, but rather an interesting tale. This is where AV technology can help to bring the past into the present and make it relevant, engaging and educational for people of all ages. “South Africa doesn’t have a culture of museums visiting that Europe has,” confides Gavin Olivier, founder of Digital Fabric. “Only after the Second World War we became sophisticated enough to have museums, but in the beginning they were designed just for white audiences. Only since democracy have black people been included


in the heritage narrative, telling the wider story.” Digital Fabric is a systems integrator and AV consultancy that specialises in providing tailored solutions for the museums sector. “There are not many off the shelf products in this market in South Africa, so we make sure we partner with people that can carry out the brief and fulfill the client’s vision.” A close partner to Digital Fabric is Totem Media, an exhibitions and learning experiences designer company. Totem was born in London 1987, founded by Francis Gerard as Totem Productions Ltd, an independent documentary filmmaker company. Gerard recalls: “I came to museums via documentary film – I had over 20 years of experience with major documentary series for the BBC and ITV companies and well as at Discovery and History channels. While making a film about the Forbidden City in Beijing I helped China’s cultural relics department assemble objects and the narrative storytelling that went into a major international travelling exhibition. I was so fascinated by the project that I slowly but surely changed Totem Media into a fully fledged exhibitions, museum development entity.” Gerard, who was raised in South Africa and is married to a Chinese writer, has a particular interest in these societies and has over time expanded Totem Media in South Africa and China. For many projects Olivier and Gerard have put their heads together to find the best way of telling stories for different museums. Sometimes the use of innovative AV technology is essential, but not always. “We don’t begin with AV or any technology,” says Gerard “We start every exhibition as a voyage of discovery – we need to get under the skin of the ideas that will form the backbone of the exhibition’s narrative. So the careful understanding of what the exhibition is in all its iterations comes first. It’s only then that we look at what media will best tell the story and carry the message. This could be commissioned art instillations as well as AV and interactive technologies.”

MUSEUM TECHNOLOGY System Integration applications. “It is very important to ensure that the right product is used in the right way and context. We work with reputable AV suppliers and use robust and reliable products to ensure this is the case. Technology and software should integrate well together. It’s not just about delivering content that people watch – but rather creating memories and facilitating the transference of knowledge.” The favoured equipment brands for museums, among all interviewees are: NEC, Christie and projectiondesign on the projectors front. Crown Audio, BSS Audio, JBL when it comes to audio and also Alcorn McBride which provides audio, video, lighting and show control products for themed entertainment. One of the most important things these designers and integrators look out for is brand that has local representatives with good technical support. John Petrie director of Sonic Factory, the South African distributor of Alcorn McBride gives three top tips from a technical perspective: “When choosing which AV equipment you are going to implement in a museum you have to bare in mind: 1- that the equipment is reliable enough for long hours of continuous operation; 2- the system must be as foolproof as possible as often there is no permanent staff member on site to look after it; and 3 – technology must be used in such a way that it enhances both the visitor experience as well as the operational effectiveness of the museum.” Sonic Factory provides design, installation, programming and support services for all its projects. The company has also a recording and editing studio, which is often used for the production museum’s audio content.

Photo courtesy Digital Fabric

Adriénne van den Heever from Cultural Kaleidoscope, a specialist in Arts and Culture Management, who also works with Totem Media and Digital Fabric, agrees. “Technology is exciting and the constant developments in the audiovisual arena can be seductive. We live in a world that is driven by instant gratification and a plethora of digital interfaces that often influence the demand to incorporate the latest technological widget into the museum environment. However, for AV technology to be effective, it is critical to have a healthy balance of technologies that are traditional and contemporary. It is imperative to cater to a range of visitors. Generally speaking older visitors engage with a more traditional approach, while younger visitors revel in interactive exhibits.” An interesting project where Cultural Kaleidoscope and Digital Fabric worked together is at the Liliesleaf Museum. The Liliesleaf Farm is in Rivonia, Johannesburg and was the centre of ANC military operations. It was on this 28-acre farm in July 1963 that key leaders of the liberation struggle were arrested following a raid by the security police. Today, the farm has reopened as a museum to commemorate the liberation struggle, for current and future generations. The manor house boosts an interactive table, which is a 3D interface consisting of video, images, audio and text. The interface is browsed by visitors using two aluminum ‘navigators’ that allow them to view info about the apartheid era in South Africa. “Gone are the days of static dioramas where visitors look passively at unchanging displays,” points out Rahle Dusheiko, creative director at Pixel Project, a company that develops software for interactive


Photo courtesy Digital Fabric

System Integration MUSEUM TECHNOLOGY

Let me entertain you The trend in this market is clearly to incorporate more interaction and wow factor effects to provide museum visitors with an experience that will live long with them. Digital Fabric’s Olivier says: “Gesture based technology is key along with high quality applications. As with most things the visitors are exposed to a vast range of high quality apps that work well in their daily life and they expect it in attractions. It sounds obvious, but in practice the museums here and abroad are generally behind this curve.” Interactive displays, full HD video, good quality audio, smart phone applications and immersive ‘4D’ type cinema experiences are on the up, but the problem for museums is their budget. Olivier points put that in South Africa it’s easier to find the capital cost to build the museum than the operational money to run the museum. Van den Heever puts it beautifully: “I think that the majority of museum curators are visionary. They have the ability to conceive and imagine a space in their mind, as well as the skills and know-how to transform abstract ideas into tangible realities. The frustrating part is that the vision is often constrained by budget restrictions or lack of funding.” Pixel Project’s Dusheiko recalls one of her favourite projects, in which she worked together with Digital Fabric and Culture Kaleidoscope: “We are very proud of the installation we did at the Umgungundlovu Multimedia Centre near Ulundi, KwaZulu- Natal, South Africa. The client wanted to present the history of the area in a way that it would have a huge impact. The area is very rural, so it was important that the solution was simple for anyone to use – regardless


of their experience with digital technology. “We created a table carved into a relief map of the surrounding area with three projectors mounted above creating a 3D mapping seamless image. This is an interactive story-telling experience that educates visitors about the interesting and diverse history of the Emakhosini Valley.  “People can see a large projected aerial image of the valley. There are two touch screens mounted on the side of the table from which a story could be selected. The stories played out as narrated animations that were projected onto the table. These stories were recreated using illustrations and sometimes actual photography where they were available. The interface, content and animations are available in English and Zulu.” For this industry to grow and prosper these experts agree that there needs to be good and clear communication between all areas of the team; from the curators and museums managers, to the content designers/developers, system integrators and installers. In terms of technology, the challenges are the same for any operation with many thousands or millions of visitors – design for easy operation, clear view lines, good flow of people and clear understanding of the public. The technology needs to be capable of operation up to 24/7 and last for some years. Using brands that provide good technical support locally is also an advantage. Museums need to tell stories in a creative and engaging manner. As with all creative processes, there are various stages to go through from design to implementation. Things might change, projects will be tight on time, there will be challenges, but the delivery team needs to work together from the designer through to the AV integrator and software producer. Clear and open communication and following the advice of experts in this field will guarantee success.

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Photo courtesy Kinetic

System Integration Digital Signage

London finds a new digital dimension during the 2012 Games By Geny Caloisi

London put its ‘glad rags’ on through Digital Out Of Home (DOOH) media to welcome Olympic visitors and make them feel part of the games from the time they landed at the airport, when they got on the tube and of course when they walked around town. 16

Digital Signage System Integration


he London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were a wonderful opportunity to showcase the influence that digital signage can have on a city and its visitors. It also demonstrated the kind of impact this medium can have on businesses and events. With an influx of visitors from all over the world, the population of London almost doubled during the Olympics. The city was truly multilingual and multi cultural – even more than usual. So the out of home proposition needed to be creative; informative; inclusive and spectacular. And it certainly was. A good example of this was BP Olympic campaign. The company used DOOH in all shapes, digital and traditional. Its campaign was about brand awareness, communicating its core values, including green solutions. It highlighted the importance of people ‘off the track’, non-athletes such as street cleaners, nurses and handymen, who also played their part in making the Games a success. DOOH’s flexibility allowed it to bring up to the minute updates for visitors about town and on public transport. Social media and online played an important role too. Through BP’s Facebook page people could nominate themselves for the chance to win London 2012 tickets, which two lucky women won. The nominees were selected using Grand Visual’s OpenLoop technology and their photos were published directly to multiple DOOH formats across London. Teaming up with Channel 4 the company persuaded the nation to tweet good luck messages to the athletes. And yes, encouraging messages and news on the wins were shared almost immediately on screens across London. There were a total of 2.5m tweets. These were the first

Tweeter games! BP’s DOOH campaign was planned and booked by Mindshare and Kinetic and run across CBS Outdoor’s XTP (cross track projection) in tube stations, JCDecaux’s Transvision screens at the airport and main train stations and on ECNLive. A study from Kinetic Worldwide, a planner and buyer of OOH media, unveils that engagement with the games was very high – despite Londoners’ initial apprehension. The city was fitted with large screens were people could watch the games. Three quarters of the UK watched the games in some form out of the home, rising to 83% of 18 to 24 year olds, according to Kinetic’s report. Although some initial news reports of empty streets, footfall for retailers in the heart of the capital was actually up 16% during the Olympic Games, compared with the same period in 2011. Westfield Stratford City attracted more than 5 million visitors throughout the games and larger retailers particularly benefitted, with John Lewis reporting a 22% year on year increase in sales at their stores. London airports were a real ‘welcome gateway’ to the country, portraying Britishness and helping visitors to find their way round as soon as they landed. Steve Cox, Marketing Director at JCDecaux Airport confides: “Arrivals is a harder area to sale advertising than departures. But the games were a great opportunity to prove how well this canvas can work. The medium is part of the message and the numerous campaigns we ran at the airport were a good example of DOOH’s core objectives: generating lasting memories; capturing and engendering a mood; and driving talkability.” These games, as most people say, were the ‘public transport






















APART SOUNDS LIKE THE RIGHT CHOICE A great sound system is a must-have in your line of business but when there is so much equipment to choose from, how can you be sure you will ultimately get the result you want? We specialise in fixed installed sound systems and are here to guide you towards the solution that is right for you. A great sound system is a must-have in your line of business but when there is so much


equipment to choose from, how can you be sure you will ultimately get the result you want? We specialise in fixed installed sound systems and are here to guide you towards the solution that is right for you.

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Photo courtesy Kinetic

System Integration DIGITAL SIGNAGE

games.’ People were encouraged to commute instead of drive. Every Olympic ticket received a free travel card. 60 million passengers travelled on the Underground during the Games, an increase of 30% year on year.

Olympic social media figures from Kinetic • 15 million downloads of the official London 2012 app • 4.7million social followers across official London 2012 channels on twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Foursquare • More than 150 million Olympic related tweets made throughout the games • 80 000 tweets per minute about Usain Bolt’s 200 metre gold win, the record for tweets per minute during Olympic competition • Between 27 July and 8 August, Jessica Ennis experienced an increase of more than 500% (541 946) of the number of fans on her Facebook page


CBS Outdoor dominates London public transport advertising network. Gavin Brice, Franchise Director at CBS says that the digital legacy of the games is hugely important for the evolution of the industry. “Providing free WiFi in the tube proved a great success. We are hoping to see more interactive use of digital posters in the next year. In fact, outside the games, only 0.2% of campaigns ran interactive content. During the Olympics this rose to 25%. We hope that live streaming and tweeters feeds, become more part of the norm for DOOH.” CBS screens carried campaigns from BMW, British Airways, Nike and Visa to name a few. It also partnered with Virgin to offer WiFi in the tube and offered commuters the chance to download The Telegraph newspaper on their iPads. Kinetic’s Nick Mawditt, global director of insight and marketing at Kinetic, points out: “Mobile phone capabilities have really boosted what advertisers can do with DOOH. Back in 2008 during the Beijing Games, only 12% of people in the UK had a smartphone. This time around that number sits at over 50%. In 2008 you would have had to ask what a tablet was. In 2012 over 11% of households in Britain have one. So to say much has changed in the way we follow large scale events in the past couple of years would be an understatement.” The importance of social media, interactive technologies and mobile devices, can’t be ignored after London 2012 Games. DOOH media owner, media planners and buyers need to embrace it and use it. DOOH hardware and software manufacturers must include it in their offering.

SEMINAR SYNOPSIS System Integration

The talented Dr Kramer By Greg Bester

The name Kramer conjures up many references for many people and just as many faces. There’s Eddie Kramer, the legendary South African producer/engineer of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin fame. There’s David Kramer, the famous South African singer, songwriter and playwright that changed the face of Afrikaans music forever. In popular culture there’s Kramer guitars used by Eddie Van Halen (not South African) in his earlier years and, of course, there’s Cosmo Kramer, the parasitic neighbour who lives across the hall from Jerry Seinfeld. There is another Kramer that has made just as big an impact on the world. This impact was not felt in music or popular culture but instead in what we now know as the modern audio visual arena. I am, of course, talking about Kramer Electronics Ltd, founded in 1981. Kramer Electronics is a company that has a long and progressdriven pedigree. From their first product in 1982, a PAL video image enhancement processor, to their current line of over 1 000 products, Kramer’s’ commitment has been to “developing creative, reliable and value-oriented audio, video and computer signal processing solutions and distributing them worldwide with an uncompromising level of service and support”. These are the words of Dr. Kramer – the founder of Kramer Electronics.

Currently Kramer boasts the originators of technologies used globally in a variety of modern audio visual systems. These technologies include automatic video noise gates, colour processors, screen splitters, symmetrical video boost/cut circuitry and eventually high bandwidth CAT5 products and their ProScale digital scalers/ switchers, which he says, will endure for many years. Kramer was also the first to introduce PAL S-Video processors and DAs at the Photokina show in Germany, a testament to their relentless R&D and pursuit of quality. Quality, after all, is paramount for every step in their manufacturing process and this is most probably why they have enjoyed such longevity. On Thursday 25 October at the Pick n Pay training facility in Fourways, Dr Kramer graced us with his presence on his first ever trip to South Africa. After some delightful tea and scones, the seminar started with an introduction into who he is and what his company has accomplished - told concurrently with a short history of audio-visual technologies - and then carried forward into a more in-depth history, encompassing the last 30 years. Emerging technologies and alternatives to HDMI such as DiiVA (Digital interactive interface for Video and Audio) and Thunderbolt were then touched on before moving into what is currently considered state-of-the-art. Let’s take a look at his summation of the journey and where we are now.


Photo by Simba Nyamukachi

System Integration SEMINAR SYNOPSIS

The present 3D is here to stay. Currently there are two kinds: glasses-based, which comes in active and passive versions; and glassless, which by its namesake, does not require glasses.  By 2013, Phillips and Samsung claim we will have glasses-free 3D television. Dr Kramer says he witnessed one of the early versions of this technology but it required standing in a very specific location in order to properly view it. He also says the technology has two further drawbacks, first, that brightness drops by 80% and, second that light interference creates annoying flickering, which requires you to view in total darkness. There are currently three technologies employed in glasses-free 3D and they are Lenticular, Liquid Crystal Lens and Parallax Barrier. All three, he claims, reduce resolution by at least half. Laser Video Display, or Laser TV, for short. These displays use two or more individually modulated optical rays of differing colours to excite the pixels. He claims that the colour is richer, the screen is much faster and brighter and is vastly more power efficient.

New advancements in LED illumination. LED lights are very efficient and this technology has been selected for projection technology. In an example, he showed a recently launched projector by Projection Design called the FL-35 LED with a resolution up to 2560 x 1600, which is massive. It emits 1 200 lumens and has a contrast ratio of 8000:1. However, the biggest selling point for this projector is the fact that it has a bulb life of 100 000 hours. It can run continuously for 11 years before you have to replace it! • A lamp-less 5 000 lumen projector the size of two packs of cigarettes was revealed from the Fraunhofer institute, the originators of the mp3. The interesting thing about this projector is that it was unveiled about three years ago but suddenly vanished from the public eye. The light output of the projector is 5000 candelas in monochrome (about half in


colour) while a typical computer monitor outputs 150 to 300 candelas per square meter. Instead of having a lamp it has a tiny OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen which is so bright it is blinding to look at. He speculates that because of its low cost of $500 and immense power of the small projector, larger corporations might have bought out the technology so they could sit on it until the time is right. Streaming is the media delivery format of the future, according to Dr Kramer. IP networks using data packets that are encoded and decoded is the means to this technology. Higher and higher data rates will be seen in the future and the H265 high efficiency video codec will become the norm. H265 will double the compression rate, which will enable us to store more movies in the same space.  Revolutionizing the way we watch TV already. No longer can the networks dictate what we want to watch because now, with technologies like Netflix and Apple TV, the choice is completely ours. Further, he explains, there are small, inexpensive dongles now on offer that include an HDMI output that connect directly into your TV that transforms it into a full HD smart TV.  You can browse the Internet, watch HD video, play games and control it with the included remote. Wireless home digital interface is the next step in home entertainment and is a consumer electronic standard for wireless HDTV transmission throughout the home. It can deliver uncompressed, high definition video through a wireless channel that is compatible with any video source to compatible display devices. To deliver such high resolution video, it supports data rates of up to 3Gbit/sec on a 40 MHz channel. Range and transmission loss is improved over standard WIFI with a figure of 30M, including through walls and latency comes in at less than 1ms.

The future of technology: Dr Kramer predicts •

Cheaper, thinner, OLED and laser-based. In the near future we will see products that are thinner, cheaper and laser-based as technologies become more and more streamlined, efficient, and compact. Lasers and OLED’s will replace LED as the primary light source for displays and projectors. All analogue material will be digitised and scanned back to the cloud, where all work will be done. Kramer muses, “I don’t know what will happen when the cloud starts raining, but that’s a different story.” 16K is probably the next step. 8K video will penetrate our houses for the simple reason that we will desire to have glass-less, 3D, high resolution television. Eventually, 16K will emerge to take this experience to a new level. Considering glass-less 3D cuts resolution by half, 16K will enable us to have 8K resolution in that domain. 3D sound can, in theory, be created by three loudspeakers in your living room. No more 7.1, no more 22.2. A total of three loudspeakers is probably all that will be needed. Optical crystal lattice storage – that is the future. A major problem since the dawn of the digital age has been storage for the simple reason that magnetic data and digital storage devices are not reliable. The disadvantages are many. They glitch and if the microprocessor controlling them fails it is not uncommon to lose all your data. On an optical crystal lattice device the size of a grain of salt, you can store a Petabyte (1000TB). Once it is written there, it endures permanently.

The wrap The flip side of all this wonderful, striding progress, Dr Kramer says, is that the world is still cluttered with an unfathomable amount of analogue technology. There are, 200-300 million CRT TV’s in use in the US alone. People, for the most part, are just not bothered. Staggeringly, there are some countries that have a market for specialist boxes that transform HD video to analogue so they can watch it on their CRT TVs they do not want to part with. In the words of Dr Kramer: “Composite and VGA are still continuing to the live because they are reliable. Simple and reliable. In most cases, after we have done an installation, everyone says: “VGA is bad”. Yeah?  Are you sure? Well our [VGA] sales are not going up this year, but they are not declining. It’s like last year and it’s for a real simple reason. If you take a 1920 x 1200 image and run it on a long analogue cable and you can get a super fit end image without all the HDMI trouble, why not use it? That is why [VGA] will continue to live. It’s a good standard that gives good quality images.”


System Integration Tracking Technology

Crestr0n GLS-EM-MCU Crestron has been flaunting the GLS-EM-MCU, an Ethernet-based power metering control unit, designed to log overall electricity usage in real time. It measures and tracks actual energy consumption by attaching to the incoming electrical service and branch circuits. The GLS-EM-MCU also works in unison with the GLS-EM-CTI and GLS-EMCT to provide more detailed data by tracking individual branch circuits in a home or office. This data is then displayed on a touch panel, mobile device or computer for viewing by users. In addition the GLS-EM-MCU system interfaces with Fusion EM™ Energy Management Software to provide reports with greater detail to show total building consumption. The main control unit (MCU) monitors both voltage and current to provide complete statistics of a building’s electricity consumption. To achieve this, the MCU connects to line voltage of each phase (up to three) and neutral. Current transformers (GLS-EM-CTs) clamp around each of the incoming feed wires. These CTs then wire into the MCU’s inputs. With the voltage and current data, the MCU calculates power usage. Distributed by

Meyer Sound XL2 Analyzer Meyer Sound Laboratories and NTi Audio AG recently announced a new cinema meter option for the handheld XL2 Audio and Acoustic Analyzer. Developed through a collaborative effort by the two companies, the Meyer Sound cinema meter option allows cinema sound technicians to calibrate loudspeaker systems efficiently and to an extremely high degree of precision – beyond the recommended basic SMPTE standards – using a small, easy-to-use handheld device. The cinema meter option extends the XL2 Analyzer to facilitate efficient and accurate alignment of Meyer Sound EXP cinema systems, which are inherently capable of highly linear performance with exceptionally flat phase and amplitude response. The new XL2 option includes a Meyer Sound test script that can be used for tuning any cinema system. Test signals can be sourced through storage in the cinema system or from the NTi Audio MR-PRO generator. Distributed by


Vivitek D7180HD

The Vivitek D7180HD is the ultimate short-throw projector with the world record shortest throw-ratio of 0.19:1, enabling perfect presentation for the presenter without incident light in the eyes and without shadows on the image. The D7180HD delivers a lot of brightness with 3 400 ANSI lumens and an outstanding contrast ratio of 2500:1 for a perfect displayed image. Also the Vivitek D7180HD has an impressive colour reproduction and amazing performance thanks to DLP® BrilliantColor™ technologies. A stylish projector with powerful 10W built-in speaker and an assortment of connectivity options, including HDMI v1.3 for perfect digital image transmission and RJ-45 for network connectivity, the D7180HD is the ultimate short-throw projector for perfect presentations. Distributed by

projectiondesign F85 series

The F85 is a compact 3-chip 3D DLP projector for large and small screen applications. It offers active or passive 3D at up to 120 Hz, as well as guaranteed colour accuracy and modular I/O and image processing. In many application areas and industries, projectiondesign has become the reference of reliability and high performance. Thanks to the ever trustworthy DLP® technology, skilled engineering and craftsmanship, projectiondesign presents the F85 series. With the users’ best experience as a top priority, focus is on performance and reliability in all aspects. In its class, the F85 is unique in terms of performance to size. It is available with an extensive selection of lenses, covering a wide range of focal distances and will fit in almost any kind of installations that seeks performance, high brightness and a low cost of ownership over time. Distributed by

Tracking Technology System Integration

BenQ T650

Extron Electronics PowerCage FOX HDMI

BenQ earlier this year, introduced new 42-inch, 55-inch, and 65-inch interactive flat panels (IFPs) with 1920x1080p full HD resolution. For education and corporate applications, the new T420, T650, and TL550 combines high dynamic contrast ratios with touch technology and multimedia connectivity to transform ordinary presentations into powerful, impactful experiences. Combining the power of touch technology with multimedia connectivity, the T420, T650, and TL550 maximize the learning experience for students, while enhancing meeting efficiency, training effectiveness, collaborative discussions, data visualization and team building exercises in corporate, government, and military applications such as conference rooms and command and control. In addition, the IFPs are ideal for interactive applications in a wide range of environments, including eBoard information displays for menus, airport flight schedules and much more.

Extron Electronics’ new PowerCage FOX HDMI fibre optic extender is a modular transmitter and receiver set that enables long haul transmission of HDCP-compliant HDMI, audio, and control signals over fibre optic cabling. Engineered for reliability and exceptional high resolution image performance, it uses Extron all-digital technology to deliver pixelperfect transmission of HDMI computer-video images up to 1920x1200 resolution, including HDTV 1080p/60. Integrator-friendly features include Key Minder®, EDID Minder®, Auto Input Memory, audio embedding/de-embedding, audio gain and attenuation, internal test patterns, and real-time system monitoring. The transmission capabilities and comprehensive feature set of the PowerCage FOX HDMI make it ideal for a wide range of applications requiring long distance extension of high resolution content with the highest quality.


Installations ETHERNET AUDIO

Transporting audio into the ether By Greg Bester

Given the advancements that have been made in both digital audio and IT networking technologies, we now have more ways than ever to make interconnections and create increasingly complex systems. More and more capacity is on offer for system designers, installers and operators with progressively smaller and smaller footprints, producing systems which belie their true power and, of course, offer endless flexibility. Gone are the days of cumbersome analogue audio snakes. Gone are the days of miles and miles of analogue cable. Gone are the days of actual, physical patching, for these are the days of the digital audio snake and network audio, configurable via software and iPads, and inter-connected via CAT5 cable. Audio transport hasn’t been the same since. But where does one start? After all, there are myriad AoE protocols out there and many are proprietary to specific licenced manufacturers so knowing what protocol suits your needs is key. Also, knowing the features of each protocol, their compatibility with other equipment, latency, upgradability and market longevity, to name a few important considerations, is paramount. Briefly the brand or protocol you choose is often the one you are stuck with and there are no guarantees to how ‘future-proof’ one protocol is over another. In light of all this, let’s take a look at some of the current forerunners in the AoE arena, their current list of features, and subsequent supporting manufacturers. But first let’s introduce Audio over Ethernet.


Robust To fully get your head around network audio, it might be worth your while to get acquainted with how it actually works; how audio is integrated into a standard 801.3x network (a wireless network is 802.11), the limitations standard network gear poses and how protocol developers have got around them. At first glance AoE might look similar to Voice over IP (VoIP). However, because AoE systems are designed to deliver high-fidelity, low latency professional audio, they do not generally incorporate any sort of audio data compression and therefore require a robust, high throughput network. Typically, an AoE network requires at least 1 Mbit/sec per channel and less than 10ms of latency. Although – as we will see – these figures are quite high. First thing to know is that not all AoE protocols are compatible. Often manufacturers have had to make adjustments to standardised network processes to accommodate the need for high channel counts and low latency, therefore rendering the technology proprietary in most cases. For example, because computer networking standards such as IP (Internet Protocol) have been adopted in most AoE systems, so have their limitations such as the fact that they are ‘packet-based’.

ETHERNET AUDIO Installations A ‘packet’ is exactly what it sounds like, a small collection of data that is part of a larger set. In the case of audio, these packets contain header information that specifies parameters such as source, destination, and involve an encoding /decoding process. Once a packet of audio data has been encoded, it can then be transmitted over the network where it is decoded by the receiver. However, in a standard IP-based system, there is no guarantee that the data packets will arrive in the order that they were sent. But it’s not all bad news. In this approach the upside is that such systems are compatible with off-the-shelf IT equipment such as standard routers and switches, which can be helpful. On the other hand, because of the unpredictable nature of packet delivery and to ensure smooth, glitch-free operation, a buffer must be implemented, therefore increasing system latency. Generally this is not acceptable for applications such as in-ear monitoring where ultra-low latency is required. A solution to this, such as is found in AES50-based systems, is to use ‘frame-based audio transmission’. This transmission style uses only the physical layers of the IP network which are the physical cables and transceivers at each end. In this system there is no need for an encoding / decoding process as audio data is sent from point to point instead of as generic data across a computer network. To put it another way, audio samples are streamed continuously using Ethernet frames from transmission to reception, which makes far better use of the throughput capacity of IP-based systems and ensures smooth, low-latency, high band-width operation.

Ethersound by Digigram

network. In terms of latency, the end-to-end transmission time of an Ethersound audio network is six samples at 48kHz, which equates to 125 microseconds at 48kHz. A further 1.5 microseconds (.5 microseconds in an Es-Giga system) is picked up for each slave module in a daisy chain configuration that is added. These figures are extremely low and acceptable for almost any pro-audio scenario. But how low should they be? One of the central features when selecting an AoE protocol is, of course, latency. These figures can be a huge selling point for manufacturers, especially with the growing popularity of in-ear monitoring systems. Generally, anything over 3ms of latency is considered unacceptable these days, even if it cannot be immediately perceived by the performer, and the rule of thumb is that total system latency cannot be greater than the time it takes sound to reach a vocalist’s ears from his / her mouth. Now that’s a pretty small margin because it can take milliseconds in the single figures, sometimes less, for this to occur, which creates a huge design constraint for protocol developers in the AoE field. How manufacturers handle this problem is a core consideration and one that I’m sure many dollars of R&D get poured into. Some, like Ethersound, strive to use existing network standards to stay nonproprietary. This has its advantages – such as the ability to integrate into a pre-existing network with standard IT hardware – provided you can keep latency figures below the acceptable threshold. Some have found other ways to jump this hurdle and often results in the development of proprietary technologies and hardware to sidestep the latency constraints of a standard 802.3x network infrastructure. Currently there are many mainstream manufacturers that are Ethersound partners including: Yamaha, Allen & Heath, Digico, Innovason, Martin Audio, Nexo and many more big players in the industry. We’ll let you decide what that means.

CobraNet by Cirrus Logic

One of the more established of the bunch, Ethersound by network audio masters Digigram, is a 64-channel (24-bit/48kHz PCM), low-latency, bi-directional audio networking solution over Ethernet with full compliance to the 802.3x standard. As we see with many other AoE protocols, there are two variants: a ‘high capacity’ and a ’standard’ version, namely the ES-Giga and the ES-100, respectively. In addition, in 2008, Digigram released a unidirectional version of the protocol entitled ES-100/spkr, which enables manufacturers to implement the ES-100 protocol where its full features are not required, such as in loudspeaker systems with Ethersound integration where a return stream is not needed. Basically, the difference between the two is that ES-100 utilises a 100Mbit/sec network and the ES-Giga uses a Gigabit network, which has ten times the bandwidth. Obviously, the higher the bandwidth the higher the capacity of the network, so the ES-100 system can handle 64 bidirectional channels at 48kHz; and the ES-Giga system; 256 channels. At 96kHz all channels halve and at 192kHz they halve again. Interestingly, in a single ES-Giga system, channel count can actually exceed 512 channels by ‘overwriting’ existing channels in parts of the

CobraNet is also a long time player in the AoE game, fittingly created in 1996 by Peak Audio in Colorado to provide background music at the Animal Kingdom theme park. It was eventually bought by Cirrus Logic in May 2001. CobraNet differs from proprietary AoE systems in that it utilises standard Ethernet packets and network infrastructure hardware such as controllers, hubs, switches and routers. Due to this latency figures come in a bit higher than that of Ethersound at 256 samples which calculate to 5.33 milliseconds. An additional delay of a dozen or so samples per process will also be picked up when analogue to digital conversion, digital to analogue conversion and sample rate conversion is performed. These figures are deterministic and therefore consistent at every point in the system. However, despite the fact that the difference in latency figures between CobraNet and Ethersound seems meagre, they are actually quite large. When you’re talking about microseconds and samples,


Installations ETHERNET AUDIO milliseconds are huge. This could be why CobraNet has seen a bit of a decline in the past few years as many other protocols have arrived on the scene that offer better performance and is why it might be best suited to what it was originally designed for: background music. The upside, however, is that there is no need for proprietary hardware so if you can live with five or so milliseconds of latency, then CobraNet might just be a more cost effective choice. One possible solution to the latency problem with CobraNet, however, is to send smaller packets more often, which can be defined by the system programmer. This can reduce latency to as low as 1.33 milliseconds, which is a lot lower but still almost ten times higher than the reported 125 microseconds for Ethersound. How any given CobraNet device handles this lower latency is revealed on a case-by-case basis and does not always equate to higher data transmission at lower latencies. There are almost always trade-offs, be it lowered channel counts or glitches in the audio stream and performance relies heavily on the devices’ bundle capacity. The other issue of interest is no doubt channel count. Just like the Ethersound ES-100 protocol, CobraNet can handle 64 bi-directional channels at 48kHz over a single CAT5 cable but these figures increase with increased bandwidth as is found in a gigabit network and when 16-bit audio is used instead of 24-bit. How many extra channels can be picked up is unclear from my research, but suffice to say that it is indeed possible. Because CobraNet is one of more mature of the AoE protocols currently on offer, there are many manufacturers who have implemented the technology, including Biamp, Bosch, Bose, BSS, Clear-Com, Crest Audio, Crown, DBX, Digitech, DOD, Dynacord, EAW, EV, JBL, Klark Teknik, Lab Gruppen, Mackie, QSC, Rane, Shure, Soundcraft, Tascam, Yamaha, plus many others. Indeed, the extensiveness of their licensee list reveals CobraNet’s longevity and might attest to its performance.

Dante by Audinate

any given network and configure themselves. This is a huge selling point. Another advantage is that Dante runs on standard, inexpensive, off-the-shelf IT hardware and does not require a proprietary network infrastructure. Dante digital media streams are transmitted alongside ordinary data traffic so you can integrate your Dante system into a pre-existing network and with the Dante Virtual Soundcard software, your PC or Mac is recognised as and acts like any other Danteenabled device on the network. This enables you to record lowlatency, high-channel count multi-track audio directly to your computer without the need for extra hardware! But what kind of figures are we working with here? Well, Dante works over most modern Ethernet flavours, including 100Mbit/sec, 1 Gbit/sec and 10Gbit/sec supported. Both digital audio and control data are distributed with some of the lowest latency figures in the business, and I mean LOW. The point to point transmission time of an optimised Dante system has been measured to be 83.3 microseconds. One interesting point is that latency can be configured to be different between devices in the same network, which means that more critical connections can be configured to have lower latency and less critical; higher latency, such as with a broadcast or recording feed. Now, channel count. Dante supports a mammoth 512 bi-directional channels over standard gigabit Ethernet at 24-bit, 48kHz resolution. As we often see, for sample rates over 48kHz, channels halve to a paltry 256 bi-directional channels. For 100Mbit/sec networks, 48 bidirectional channels are supported at 24-bit, 48kHz resolution and (once again) at higher sample rates channel count is halved. This may be where Ethersound picks up the slack because at the same bandwidth it offers a further 24 channels for a total of 64 bi-directional channels at similar resolutions. Of course because Dante is relatively new, its licensee list is considerably shorter but it is growing. For now, Dante is supported by Allen & Heath, Bosch, Digico, Dolby, Dynacord, EV, Focusrite, JoeCo, Lab Gruppen, Lake Processing, Peavey Commercial Audio, Symetrix, Turbosound, Whirlwind and Yamaha.

AES50 / SuperMAC / HyperMAC by Klark Teknik

Dante by Audinate has been a protocol that has been popping up more and more lately as it offers a one cable solution to low-latency network audio and multi-track recording via their Virtual Soundcard software. One of the younger technologies of the bunch, it was originally developed to construct and expand upon existing AoE technologies such as Ethersound and CobraNet and offers several advantages over the aforementioned, such as the ability to pass through network routers, native gigabit support, higher channel count, lower latency and auto configuration. At a glance, once might be inclined to think that Dante is the obvious choice. Well, it may be, but as always, it’s probably a good idea to know why and delve into the inner workings. I suppose the first point of interest is that Dante is auto-configurable and ‘plug and play’. Automatic device discovery and system configuration are both now a reality because Dante-enabled devices will seek each other out on


In July 2005 the Audio Engineering Society (AES) released a paper entitled AES50-2005 which outlined a new and exciting way of using a standard 100Mbit/sec CAT5 cable to transmit multi-channel digital audio over a network. This technology was developed by a team of geniuses at the Sony Pro-Audio Lab at Oxford, England and is now licenced under the names SuperMAC (for 100Mbit/sec networks) and HyperMAC (for 1Gbit/sec networks). We’ll see why shortly, but it was quickly picked up by audio console giant Midas to implement into the audio and control network of its flagship XL8 digital audio console. Soon after it was decided to put the Sony Pro-Audio Lab networking division up for sale which was picked up by Klark Teknik

with equal swiftness. Klark Teknik, in a move of corporate benevolence, has now made the technology available on a royalty-free basis, bless them. It’s interesting to note that Midas, Klark Teknik, along with Behringer and Bugera, are all owned by the Music Group holding company and they are the primary owners and licensers of the technology. Indeed, the technology, at this point, has been thoroughly road tested on mega tours with such acts as Metallica, AC/DC, Oasis, REM, The Verve, Depeche Mode, OMD, Arctic Monkeys and Led Zeppelin at London’s O2 Arena, not to mention many high profile festival shows such as Glastonbury. Is that a great start, or what? So, why all the fuss over this AoE technology? Well, it simply has some of the best performance figures money can currently buy, even when compared to some Dante specifications. Although, to be fair, in some cases Dante has the edge. As we have seen before, there are two variants, both based upon either a 100Mbit/sec or a Gigabit network and called SuperMAC and HyperMAC, respectively. As we’ve seen with the Dante protocol, we get 48 bi-directional channels at 48kHz for SuperMAC over a 100Mbit/sec network. For HyperMAC, we get 192 bi-directional channels at 96kHz or 384 bi-directional channels at 48kHz. In this case Dante is the clear winner with an additional 184 channel capacity over a Gigabit network. However, when it comes to latency in a Super/HyperMAC system, there is one victor. SuperMAC boasts a ridiculously low latency of 62.5 microseconds over a 100Mbit/sec network. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, HyperMAC takes it several steps further with a figure of 41.6 microseconds. These values are as close to real time as one can possibly get at this date and time, and certainly sets the bar high for future developers of AoE protocols who wish to up the game, so to speak. So what else is there to know about Super/HyperMAC? Well, it’s completely proprietary so it’s not compatible with off-the-shelf IT hardware. However, that is how it accomplishes such low latencies – because of its frame-based, point to point approach and because it uses proprietary hardware. Also, is fibre optic cable supported? Absolutely, but only when using HyperMAC. SuperMAC does not support it. Finally, which manufacturers have licensed the technology? So far, only four: Midas, Klark Teknik, Lynx and Auvitran. Let’s hope that once this technology gets more interest we will see more products hit the shelves that support it but for now, it seems that Dante is the up-andcomer with a wider market behind it.

The wrap Selecting a suitable AoE protocol can be a daunting task as the technology, despite being a relatively recent phenomenon, is more and more prevalent with many contenders that continue to pop up as time goes on. Indeed, the four listed here are one of many, including A-Net by Aviom, AudioRail M11, MaGIC by Gibson, AVB, Roland REAC, Hydra by Calrec, DSPRO, Livewire by Axia Audio, Audio Contribution over IP by the EBU, Q-LAN by QSC, RAVENNA by ALC NetworX. The list goes on. However, it seems that these protocols all work on the same principles so once you get your head around the fundamentals, the inner workings become clearer and better judgement starts to set in. One thing’s for sure, though; the need for low-latency, highbandwidth operation will never go away and knowing what you’re up against when selecting a system / protocol combination is definitely key. Happy hunting!


Installations Venue Solution

Photo by Bruce Schwartz

Gold Reef City 4D ride gets more exciting

Johannesburg’s Gold Reef City Theme Park boasts Africa’s first 4D ride.

The Theme Park offers entertainment for the whole family, rides and live entertainment. But if the real roller coasters are not your cup of tea, the 4D Ride can provide a rollercoaster for the senses. Gold Reef’s ‘4D Ride’ is an interactive experience. Not only do images jump out off the screen in the best 3D quality, but there is also the motion of the seats, wind, vibration and a range of scents which add extra dimension to the whole experience. Installed initially in 2006, the ride was updated this year with the help and guidance of Digital Fabric, who were the original consultant company for the project. Explains Gavin Olivier of Digital Fabric: “The system is based on Christie 3D projection, BSM video servers, Nexo audio, Crestron control and Kraftwerk motion bases and effects systems.” Theme Park visitors gain free access to the 4D Ride with their entrance pass. The ride seats 96 people and can be turned around in less than 10 minutes during peak times, essential when you have close to a million visitors a year. The films are not long, typically between nine and 12 minutes, which is usual for attraction films. Although the attraction has seen minimum downtime over the years: “The writing was on the wall regarding select key items, such as the Christie projectors needed replacing and the now discontinued Mediasonic video servers, were presenting a risk of breaking, resulting in down time,” says Olivier. Originally the system had Christie DS+8K projectors. “This was before affordable full HD projectors,” points out Olivier. “In order to fit the native HD content in, we overshot the 16:9 screen with the unused portion of the SX+ projection chips. It was a compromise, but it looked great – and for six years did the job. “With the advent of the Christie HD-M series projectors which use cheaper lamps sets, it was a no-brainer to switch. In the process the ride achieved full HD and the difference between the cost of the previous Xenon lamps and the new UHP lamps will pay for the


projectors within a few years. Christie veteran Andi Rogers of Fifty South supplied and fitted the new projectors and made the required modifications to the mounts and cabling.” As far as the rest of the system was concerned the video servers were the weakest link. The park wanted to have a fool proof solution and, since the Mediasonic 9200 video players have been discontinued, Digital Fabric chose a single Brainsalt Media stereo server with redundant drives and power supplies as a replacement and coupled this with a BSS Soundweb BLU100 for audio routing and processing to augment the existing Nexo audio system. “The existing PS10 amplifier and speaker combo were still in perfect shape and needed very little attention,” adds Olivier. The whole system is still driven by a Crestron controller. The original unit has been re-programmed with a simplified layout to suit the new equipment and functionality using the existing operator touchscreen and large format X-Panel interface in the control room. The entire upgrade was implemented in just five weekdays, up and running again in time for the busy weekend schedule.

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Installations OLYMPICS 2012

Pixel tablets provide

Of many impressive technical elements on the four Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies this summer, arguably the one most capturing the public imagination was the 70 500 Pixel Tablets installed at each seat.

These Pixel Tablets were all individually driven and so collectively acted as one giant video surface. The person at the centre of development was Tait Technologies’ Frederic Opsomer, based at their European HQ in Belgium. Opsomer has a history of designing and engineering weird, wonderful and left-field LED and video projects. The idea was first discussed in 2009. At that stage the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and everyone involved was talking in broad and general terms about integration and LED, resulting in Opsomer being one of the people asked to go to London…and think ‘out of the box’. A few months later, several proposals from different companies were on the table, from which the Tait Technologies solution was selected. Having a temporary (ie. removable) pixel display on each seat instead of the field of play offered many aesthetic and practical advantages. The 135mm square units each contained 9 pixels (Nichia LEDs) at a 50mm pitch. Based on the Barco FLX platform, they utilised Barco’s


already proven processing and control hubs. Having helped develop the FLX product while working at Barco, Opsomer knew it was extremely stable and would be robust enough for the job. A Pixel Tablet and its accompanying holder – also part of the design brief – was attached to the profile of each of the 70 500 seats in the Olympic Stadium. Processing wise, the stadium was divided into 50mm sections via a virtual grid, and the tablets were positioned in the seating sections, filling up this part of the grid. Video content for the four ceremonies was primarily designed and created out of the London office of Crystal CG from China, and stored and played back via a customised AI Infinity server from Avolites Media. The 3D model of the stadium was imported into the server and various content was mapped to the pixels. The first major challenge in manufacturing the Pixel Tablets was the short lead time between January when the contract was confirmed with Tait and the final Pixel Tablet design produced, and the product to be delivered on site in Stratford by the end of May. They had to be completely confident that all decisions taken in

the cure

rapid succession were the right ones, and working with the Barco backbone certainly helped this process. The components were manufactured in China and the final assembly was completed in Belgium. EMC was a massive issue, with the chances of picking it up on an installation of this scale very high, so every single component was rigorously laboratory tested to ensure all were compliant. This was undertaken in a lab close to Brussels over a two-month period, which is extremely fast in terms of any product development! The third big test was the logistics of the installation. With the perimeter of the top row of seats in the stadium measuring 950 metres, plenty of time is consumed just moving around the space, so efficient and practical planning and implementation of the works was crucial. Tait supplied a dedicated crew of 12 Pixel technicians to work on the ceremonies, with five permanently stationed at the stadium for the duration of the Games. As the world saw … the installation was another massive success for Tait Technologies – most definitely ‘a company to watch’.

Photo by David Morrell

By Louise Stickland

Dave Green, technical director, Immersive/Avolites Media and Martin Harvey, media server operator, Immersive in the Screen Media Suite at London 2012.


LIVE EVENTs Concert Report

Photo by Louise Stickland

The Idols South Africa franchise is a massive phenomenon that has grown in production value from strength to strength over the years, giving budding artists from around the country a dazzling platform to showcase their talents and compete for the title of the number one spot.

By Greg Bester

Technology enhances talent Staying at last years’ venue, the eighth season of Idols South Africa was held at the Mosaiek Teatro in Fairland, Johannesburg; a 3 000 seat venue that is equipped with state of the art audio, video and multimedia capabilities and boasts a large 278 square metre stage. Its sheer size and advanced AV integration makes it perfect for the needs of all involved, from the performers, to the stage and production crew. While being produced by local screen entertainment production company [sic] entertainment for M-Net and directed by acclaimed director Gavin Wratten, the technical handling of the show was contracted to Johannesburg-based production company Dream Sets, headed by technical manager Eben Peltz. Peltz’s responsibility included the negotiation of all things technical including the set itself, sound, lighting, video and broadcast. This entailed bringing on board a number of other companies and independent contractors to assist in bringing the production to fruition; all falling under the Dream Sets umbrella. Audio Logic and Alphacam were contracted by [sic] entertainment themselves and they all worked in collaboration to ensure the success of the event .All negotiations regarding sound and broadcast were done by Audio Logic and Alphacam themselves.

The set Season 8 set is just as impressive in real life as it is on television. Designed in a collaborative effort by Eben, lighting designer Joshua Cutts, director Gavin Wrattle and set designer Dewet Meyer, it was designed to be dynamic, interactive and encompassing. Incorporating such elements as HD screen arrays, low-res LED panels, metres and metres of LED strip lighting and Chameleon Star Cloth, the goal was to draw the audience in and wrap them up in the performances. The first features that you immediately notice are five wave-like frames in a staggered configuration above the audience that incorporate LED-strip lighting. These could change colour at will to match the theme of the rest of the set and were a particular challenge to rig, as expressed by Eben. Flanking the stage on each side are four internally lit fabric pillars which, combined with the wave structures above the audience, draw the viewer into the stage. Speaking of the stage, the first noticeable structure is an arch


spanning the entire width of the performance area, with 22 LED strip lights attached at regular intervals. On either side of the LED arch there is an array of twelve HD flat panels, arranged in an irregular fashion to break up the otherwise symmetrical configuration of the stage set. To the rear of the stage we see a wall of low-res LED panels – which opens and closes for entering and exiting performers – surrounded by several more hung above and to the side of the wall. All of these video panels are incorporated into the set and are a large part of how the set stays dynamic and evolving. Finally a star cloth was hung above and to the rear of the performance area, adding to the overall ethereal atmosphere of the set.

Lighting and video Award-winning independent lighting designer Joshua Cutts of Visual Frontier was commissioned for the third season in a row to handle lighting the set and, to some degree, the audience. In addition Cutts had a big hand in the overall look and feel of the set, as many elements besides standard lighting were incorporated, namely video, which was fundamental to the overall set design. Cutts’ rig incorporates a total of 104 moving lights, excluding LED fixtures, which is a big part of keeping the show interesting and energetic. There are also another ‘60 or so’ LED par cans and strip lights situated in various areas of the venue, such as the arch at the front of the stage and above the audience. Cutts’ lighting desk of choice for the production was a GrandMA II full size with a (NPU) Network Processing Unit that can be controlled via his laptop in the event of a system failure. All video is controlled by Cutts and is stored backstage on three Coolux Pandoras Box media servers and configured with Coolux Manager software. He explains: “This year at Idols we focussed more on the video element and created specific backgrounds for presenter links, the dimmer lights, the amber looks, and I control it all from my lighting desk. It runs through my network and we patch it as a normal DMX fixture so, to me, it’s as if I’m controlling a moving light. The awesome thing about having control of the video from the lighting desk is that I can change the colour of the clips, I can add flash effects, I can change the speed of the clips, depend on the song. The PC configures it and my desk controls the PC as if it was a light.”


Tech Box Lasers were also a big part of the show, incorporating five in total comprising a 20W and four 5W varieties. These brought a 3D element to the show, seemingly to emanating from the stage and enhanced by the smooth performance of a high spec MDG hazer.

Audio Audio was handled by Marius Marais and his company, Audiologic, which provided the FOH, monitoring and audio network for the production. Cristo Hattingh of Sound GP was also contracted by Audiologic to handle the broadcast audio side of things from his OB trailor where the show is mixed and recorded to multi-track for broadcast. Marais used a Soundcraft Vi6 digital mixer to mix the show which was networked via fibre optic to the remote stage boxes where three splits were made for FOH, on-stage monitoring and outside broadcast. Monitoring duties were handled by Willem Bronkhorst on cascaded Soundcraft Si1 and a Si3 consoles. Since the set did not allow for on stage wedges, everyone utilised Aviom in-ear monitoring systems with the exception of the backing vocalists, who were hidden behind the keyboard players and were therefore able to use wedges. For the final two weeks, the backing vocalists switched to the Aviom systems as well. The FOH loudspeaker system utilised was a JBL Vertec 4889 line array, which was brought in by Marius. Since Shure was the primary microphone sponsor of the show, on-stage microphones included an assortment from the ubiquitous manufacturer, including all the wireless hand-helds. Models used included Beta 91 and Beta 52A for kick, Beta 56A and Beta 57A for snare, Beta 98Ds on all the toms, congas and bongos, and either SM81s either SM94s on overheads. SM81s were also used on timbales and percussion overheads. Electric guitars were miked with Beta 57As and acoustic guitars were taken direct albeit with Shure UR series beltpacks with jack inputs. As far as vocals go all contestants and the MC were miked with Shure Beta 58A wireless mikes (20 in total) and the backing vocalists were miked with wired Beta 58As. Lastely, the judges were all miked with Shure Lecturn microphones. For the outside broadcast side, Cristo handled the mix of the show on an Avid Profile 96 channel system, fitted with two MADI cards to interface with an SSL MADIxtreme128 in a Mac Pro tower. A MADI stream was linked to the OB trailor with and AES/EBU backup and everything was clocked together with an Apogee Big Ben master clock, locked to Backburst from the camera OB. Monitoring was handled by JBL LSP2328s with a sub. Reference video was recorded on an iMac using a Blackmagic USB capture card. A TVone quad scaler was used to receive two video feeds along with the console and Mac screen onto a single 51” Samsung plasma screen. Audio-Technica microphones were used to capture the audience.

Audio • Soundcraft Vi6 FOH console • JBL Vertec 4889 Line Array & JBL wedges • Soundcraft Si6 & Si3 monitor consoles • Kick: Shure Beta 91 & Beta 52A • Snare Top: Shure Beta 56A • Snare Bottom: Shure Beta 57A • Toms: Shure Beta 98A • Overheads: Shure SM81s or SM94s • Congas and Bongos: Shure Beta 98A • Timbales: Shure SM81 • Percussion Overheads: Shure SM81 • Electric Guitars: Shure Beta 57A • Vocalists: Shure Beta 58A • Judges: Shure lecturns • Aviom MyMix systems

Lighting • GrandMA II Full size & NPU • Robe Colorspot 700 • Robe Colorwash 2500 & 700 • Robe ColorBeam 700 • Robe Robin 600 Ledwash • Robe Robin Ledbeam 100 • Longman LED Batton & LED Par64s • 1000w Par64 Parcans • 10deg Source Four profiles • MDG Atmosphere • MDG Heavy Fog machine

Video • Coolux Pandoras Box media players • Martin LC panels • Robe StageQube LED panels • Samsung Seamless LCD wall • Samsung 42” LED screens


LIVE EVENTs Show Report Photos by Kobus Loubser

That’s entertainment – Bidvest style

By Louise Stickland

International conglomerate Bidvest’s Annual Awards Gala Dinner in Johannesburg is one of SA’s biggest and highest profile corporate events of the year. We have the behind-the-scenes lowdown for this year’s event.

The three-night Bidvest awards event features a specially created extravaganza stage show and accommodates 1 100 guests per session, including Bidvest’s top executives and managers who travel from all corners of the brand’s impressive global trading empire. Pressure on the production team led by executive producers Debbie Rakusin and co-producer David Bloch is intense, and the expectations always high to produce something innovative, unique and completely different to the previous year. They come up with a series of initial concepts which are presented to Bidvest CEO Brian Joffe, and developed from there into a storyboard for the show. Joffe always has some ideas of his own, explains Rakusin, and he also gives her and Bloch the space to evolve the elements they think will work best to have most impact and entertainment value.

Variety This year’s theme was ‘That’s Entertainment’. Rakusin and Bloch sourced a cast of around 50, including dancers, five principal singers and a series of other performers – from Italian impressionists to members of the Chinese Imperial Circus. They commissioned musical director Bryan Schimmel who also amassed the live band. The budget was reasonable but not bottomless and the logistics of creating a world-class show with a true international flavour in the current economic climate and bringing it in bang on target are still: “A major challenge,” affirms Rakusin, adding: “It’s a massive collaboration which results in some incredible teamwork. ”With the results as rewarding as the whole thing is nerve-wracking at times!


Design For the past few years Tim Dunn from Gearhouse South Africa has designed the event’s lighting, visuals and set the technical parameters, working closely with Pieter Joubert from sister company and set / scenic specialists, SDS. Bidvest is also the largest corporate show for which Gearhouse currently supplies full technical production. The company’s ability to deliver all the required technical disciplines enables a highly cost-effective solution and helps make planning and communications a smooth, efficient process as it all slots together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The first meetings for the upcoming Bidvest show start about nine months in advance. Once on site in the week immediately ahead of the show, the schedule is absolutely gruelling for all departments. Resembling a West End blockbuster meets stadium rock show in attitude, scale and achievement; it’s no mean feat to transform a large stark room into a cosy, highly visual live entertainment experience that wows the crowds in a molten mix of drama, colour and excitement. Dunn is renowned for always ‘pushing the envelope’ on his shows in terms of aesthetics, imagination and technical ambition. He utilises the available equipment to produce the very best end results in a blend of experience, original ideas and he has the balls to take some risks! When Brian Joffe is involved, absolutely anything less than the best is not on the agenda. Says Dunn: “The show stretches everyone to the limits to produce in a very short time-frame. I enjoy working at this pace, it keeps your mind totally alive, energises people and the end results are a great tribute to the dedication and commitment of all involved.”

Show Report LIVE EVENTs

Gearhouse’s project manager this year was Lee Reynolds, who co-ordinated the massive technical operation which included the supply of rigging, lighting, sound video and AV plus set and staging. Dunn’s visual concepts year-to-year are radically different. Last year’s classic theatricality was replaced with a minimalist, high tech, video-based set with a dynamically cool urban look and feel. The stage was clean and stylish. Dunn also made the bold move of flipping it around 90 degrees from the 2011 event to run horizontally along the room, widening and shortening the entire space. This entailed meticulous pre-planning to get everything to fit and ensure that all parties and departments were happy. A 29-metre wide video proscenium arch defined the performance space, and the addition of four large sets of movable steps mirrored one side and clad with LED panels the other, was a bold, practical visual effect adding depth and versatility. This stripped back environment could be radically transformed with vibrant, highly detailed video content. Twenty-four upstage and side stage scenic columns (all angled at 15 degrees) emulated multiple textures from corrugated metal to velvety stage drapes depending on how they were lit. These were rigged from trussing above and clad with over a kilometre of canvas. The size of the pillars meant that 12 pantechs were needed to transport set to site, which was built by an SDS crew of five, project managed by Willie Louw.

Gearhouse Media. They had plenty of input from Dunn who had precise ideas about the digital scenery he needed for different elements of the action-packed show. The video content – together with 10 pre-recorded channels of multi-track audio plus a click track – were stored on an AV Stumpfl Wings media server. Grandin looked at the easiest way of making all the video surfaces work flexibly both together and individually, using a Christie Vista Spyder processing system for screen management. He created a mask mapping the exact pixel spaces with which they were working onstage, and these could also be used to separate the R16 and DuoLED elements as required and to apply different looks and treatments as required. Much of the content finally evolved as the show came close to completion during the concentrated five-day (and night) programming, technical and rehearsal period, for which Gearhouse Media provided full on-site editing facilities. Using video in this way enabled instant flips of the scenery and visual background information to suit numerous scenarios – steamy, township musical mixology to industrial raw, utopian hippy dream worlds to retro jazz and synchronised cabaret spectacular. It also filled the stage with basic colour and atmosphere for the additional line up of circus acts and mime artists. Even with a lone performer on the stage, the video setting could close down for intimacy and concentration – a powerful tool of visual psychology.

Video The main video elements were the spectacular pros arch framing the stage, made up from Lighthouse R16 panels; a large block of R16 upstage centre, six panels wide by 10 high; four jagged pieces of Christie DuoLED, 18mm pitch for the inner two and 12 for the outer flown from the roof; and the four sets of steps faced one side with DuoLED 18. Left and right IMAG projection screens were offset to contrast with the sides of the pros arch which were also slightly jauntily angled – and were each fed by a pair of overlaid Christie 16K projectors. The video control was specified by Chris Grandin, with the bespoke show content created by Marcel Wijnberger and Troy Wells from


LIVE EVENTs SHOW REPORT Lighting Tim Dunn has been designing lighting and visuals for years – way before ‘convergence’ ever became a buzz word. When looking at a show environment the two mediums have a completely natural synergy. The lighting rig featured many LED sources, to which he applied a few elements of magic so they would all work together in producing a uniform colour output. Nine over-stage trusses – some angled to make it more interesting – provided lighting positions, and another 10 trusses formed the backbone structural supports for a scenic forestage canopy plus additional lighting positions. The canopy trusses had to be angled and deaded precisely as they also stretched taut the canopy material attached to them, and it was also a bit of a brain teaser to calculate the cut patterns for the fabric. The moving lights included Robe REDWash3•192s and LEDWash 600s, Vari*Lite 3500 Spots and Martin MAC 101s. i-Pix BB4 LED wash / blinders were used to up-light the scenic columns back and side stage. Additional V*L3500 Spots and two Clay Paky Alpha Spot 1500s on the floor up-lit the canopy. Out in the auditorium eight striking scenic chandeliers – integral to the overall design – were hung in the roof and internally lit with 64 i-Pix Satellites. Dunn programmed and controlled all the lighting – 13 DMX universes in total – on a grandMA full size console with another running in full tracking back up. Gearhouse’s lighting crew chief Herman Wessels drew on his experience of Bidvest 2011 and picked 10 of their top lighting crew for the project, who worked with 20 stage hands from All Access. Rigging – around 220 points in total hanging lighting, set, video and PA most requiring a myriad of bridling to get in precisely the right places – was installed by maestro Kendall Dixon working with a team of six – three climbers and three ground-based. The pros arch was one of the most challenging elements; it weighed 3.5 tonnes and was lifted into place by 24 x 1-tonne Lodestars. It was split into two halves with a gap in the middle for the PA centre clusters and both the top and the sides were angled. Apart from the short timescale of getting everything into place, the other issue for rigging was gaining every available centimetre of headroom … and Dixon ensured that not a millimetre was wasted.

Audio This year Gearhouse asked Richard Smith to join their team as sound designer. He’s worked on Bidvest shows before but not for some time and collaborated closely with Andreas Furtner to specify the system. A major task was ensuring all in the room enjoyed the same quality of sonic experience and also to satisfy Brian Joffe’s stipulation for cinematic quality, and that the large expanse of a room exuded the cosiness of a supper club lounge. His starting point was Dunn’s set design which defined the space and where speaker arrays could be placed. Due to the LED pros arch and sight lines, what would normally be a centre cluster was split into two smaller arrays and he added more front fills. Although it was a relatively short run of around 40 metres to the back of the room, he decided to add delays half way down to help close the space down and boost the intimacy. He specified L-Acoustics Kara for the main system – nine elements


per side with two SB18 subs per array. He’s a big fan of the brand not just because his company (Sound Harmonics is SA distributor for the premium brand) but because in this case Kara’s smooth horizontal coverage was ideal for the shape of the auditorium and the main arrays 40 metres apart. The two centre cluster hangs were three Karas each and four SB18 subs under the stage completed the bottom end set up. The delays comprised two L-Acoustics dV-DOSC speakers a side and there was also another dV-DOSC each side of the orchestra pit for front fill. The whole system was driven by the proprietary LA8 amps, and L-Acoustics’ Network Manager software helped enormously in optimising the system and to get to sound bigger and fuller than its physical size. Yamaha PM5D consoles were used at FOH and for monitors mixed by Kholofelo Cyril Sewela (popularly known as ‘Rasta’). Smith has used a PM5D for lots of theatre and festival work where it has proved a reliable and flexible choice. The monitor system was made up of eight L-Acoustics ARCS II boxes in four arrays of two, the front ones on an 18-inch sub just behind the pros arch and the back two flown. The show’s five singers were all on a Sennheiser IEM system. The radio mics were Shure’s UR series, a mix of DPA headsets and Shure Beta 58 hand-helds and the band were micd with standard Shure Betas. The audio playback tracks from the Wings system were broken down into 10 channels of different instrumentation – strings, percussion for Smith to add big band components to the mix on top of the 13-piece live band, who used an Aviom personal monitoring system. Additional playback for some of the acts, awards stings, and so on, was fed via a QLab system. With Bidvest 2012 another great success for Rakusin and Bloch and simultaneously embracing so many new ground-breaking technical goals, next year’s event is already hotly anticipated as an opportunity for more cutting-edge ideas.

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LIVE EVENTS Product Review

Audio giant has the ’midas’ touch…

Audio mega-giant Behringer has a few new tricks up its sleeve, writes Greg Bester. Granted German-based Behringer has an almost omnipresence in the current audio market but taking a look at their staggering sales figures one would not be blamed for thinking that quality has always come second to price point. Their products are simply everywhere and to muster around as many boxes as they have requires some clever shenanigans. But now, the stops have been pulled and the cards drawn from a clandestine sleeve somewhere or other, set to breathe new life into the company. Back in the last quarter of 2009 Behringer bought legendary audio console manufacturer, Midas, along with Klark Teknik from the Bosch Group for an ‘undisclosed amount’. Shocked yet? Well, there’s more. Prior to that, founder Uli Behringer set up a holding company called the Music Group, which now includes Behringer, Midas, Klark Teknik, Bugera (valve amplifiers) and Eurotec, which is their electronic manufacturing services company. Back in 2002 he also built a massive 1.2 million square foot factory in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, China, which is known as ‘Behringer City’. This is where all Behringer and Behringer-related products are now manufactured. Astoundingly, the facility produces a whopping 50 000 mixers a week with a failure rate less than 0.1%!


So what’s the new trick? Well, it’s the Behringer X32, Behringers first digital mixer since the DDX3216 and it brandishes the words ‘Powered by Midas’ on the top façade. Yes this is a collaboration effort between Behringer and Midas and many will be dubious with their opinions. Well, I am of the opinion that after you try this console out for yourself, you might just change your mind. Shall we?

Features The motivation behind the creation of the X32 was to offer a mixer with pro-level features in the sub-R40 000 category. In reality the only digital mixers available in this prices range are the Yamaha 01V96i and the Presonus Studio Live, which do not offer what Behringer was hoping to achieve in the X32. These ’pro-level’ features include separate input and output sections, DCAs and small LCD scribble strips for labelling and colouring, among others. All in all it has 40 processing channels, 32 local microphone inputs, 25 mix busses, six mute groups and eight DCAs. The microphone preamps – all 32 of them – are Midas-designed and are fully recallable. Any of the microphone inputs are fully soft patch-able, as are the any of the inputs on the optional remote stage box, to any of

the input channels on the X32. For each input, the channel strip section offers 13 rotary controls and 17 backlit buttons with slick looking LED collars. These control the input, dynamics, EQ and aux sections, which are all distinctly marked and brightly lit. Each section also includes a ‘view’ button, which instantly reflects the selected parameter on the 7” colour TFT screen and is helpfully day-viewable. The console utilises 40-bit internal processing which boasts “no internal overload and near-zero overall latency”. However, input and output AD/DA converters are still 24-bit. Speaking of digital options, there are no options because the digital Firewire/USB output card comes standard along with all other digital i/o. This enables the user to connect his/her PC or laptop to the console for full control via their XControl software or to make a full multitrack recording. This turns the console into a powerful audio interface. In addition, when using the Firewire port connected to a DAW, the console doubles as a control surface on either the HUI or Mackie protocol. Besides the motorised faders we see four rotary encoders and eight buttons that are user definable. These can either be assigned to console parameters, or, when used in DAW control mode, as DAW parameters. Also there are actually three banks that can be selected for these buttons and encoders which total 32 different parameters that can be assigned. Looking at the back of the console we see 32 microphone inputs along with 16 outputs on the XLR format. These are essentially ‘omni’ outputs that can be fed from any source definable from the console GUI. There are also two control room / monitor outputs that can be attached to your studio monitors; a convenient plus which makes this console at home in both the live and studio domains. Remote control ports are available on either Ethernet or USB. A wireless router can then be attached and the console can be remotely controlled from an iPad connected to the network via the downloadable XiControl app. Next we see MIDI in and out ports, which can send MIDI control data through the AES50 network to the stage boxes and therefore to any MIDI device that is attached. Also there is an AES/EBU output that can be fed from any source assigned from the console. Probably the most interesting features of the console are the integration of the SuperMAC AES50 protocol and Ultranet. The AES50 ports (there are two) each carry 48 bi-directional channels of uncompressed, low-latency audio. These can be used to send and receive audio to and from up to six S16 stage boxes or to cascade consoles together for FOH and monitor operation. The S16 stage boxes themselves provide a USB port (for firmware update only), two AES50 ports, an Ultranet port, 16 ADAT outputs and MIDI in and out. Impressive! Lastly, the Ultranet port can feed up to 16 streams to Behringers new P16 personal monitoring system, which is a great advantage for stage monitoring.

The conclusion The X32 is a digital console that offers pro-level features at a budget price. There aren’t many contenders in the sub-R40 000 price range but given that this mixer offers features that are only found in consoles that cost R100 000 and more, there seems to be only one clear winner. The sheer input capacity, processing, connectivity, userfriendliness and flexibility of this console are sure to make it one of the best values for money that one is likely to find. As Behringer has branded on their X32 marketing media – game changed! 012-345 5303 082 924 9046

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Learning light – from the masters By Greg Bester

Light is magic. It is invisible and ethereal; only revealing itself to our eyes after its reflection. Indeed, one could even say that light and our senses cause us to live in the past because – as instant as it all seems – light has a limited velocity, taking time to reach us and to be decoded by our eyes and brain. Just looking up at the stars is a window directly into the past. Our closest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.24 light years away and therefore the light that reaches us from such a distance is almost four and a half years old. It could have gone supernova and we would be none the wiser for the time it takes a newborn to grow into a child almost ready for school. The mind boggles. And so, until that happens, we will have to settle for creating our own spectacular supernovae here on planet Earth in a contained environment without the inconvenient downside of mass extinction. I am, of course talking about event lighting, controlled in no small part by the lighting designer and his instruments. On 27 September this year, the fourth Stage Lighting Master Class was held at the Market Theatre Laboratory in Newtown, Johannesburg, Declan Randall lighting the way organised by creative consultant Declan Randall, a lighting designer with 17 years’ experience, both locally and abroad. This year the guest lecturers valuable insight into his methodology and philosophy as a lighting included Richard Pilbrow; probably the world’s most respected designer – and eventually moving on to his involvement in theatre lighting designer and theatre consultant with many decades in the consulting, which he continues to this day. Richard is a seminal figure business, and Mannie Manim, one of South Africa’s most well-known in this field and has consulted on the construction of over 1 200 and respected lighting designers and theatre producers. Declan was projects in 70 countries worldwide, not to mention well known theatres also one of the key lecturers as well as the main organiser. such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Opera House Despite being deemed a ‘Master Class’, the event was geared and Covent Garden. In addition, he is one of the principle inventors towards budding aspirants and working professionals so the crowd of lighting projection technology, which is becoming a major part of included a wide variety of attendees. Indeed, with such prodigious what lighting designers do today. names like Pilbrow and Manim on the bill, there was much to learn on After lunch, next up to speak was Mannie Manim, who also gave us all sides of the camp and ample was taken away by all. The main a retrospective to his career and learnings along the way. This was sponsors of the event included Artscape, CamQuip, DWR Distribution, particularly interesting and relevant as it gave us a small window into ETC, Electronsonic, LEE Filters, The Market Theatre, Phillips Selecon, not only his personal history but of the history of South African theatre. Prosound, Rosco, Split Beam, and of course us – Pro-Systems Of course lighting was the focus and he had a wealth of insight and magazine. knowledge to share. On our arrival at the event we were greeted with a warm welcome The rest of day one proceeded with workshops delving more into and two goodie bags filled with lighting things such as swatch books the art of lighting, including choosing colour, which was lectured by and gels; things that audio engineers know very little about. Richard and eventually moving on to a lecture entitled ‘Lighting Day one started off with the usual welcome and handshaking as Cycloramas’, lectured by Declan. In the evening at 8pm a lighting everyone got acquainted. There were many familiar faces in the performance was offered. crowd and it was clear that many people were particularly eager to Day two was much of a continuation of the first, opening with a hear Mr Pilbrow speak. He is undoubtedly a hero in the field that few discussion and critique of the evening’s performance. Throughout lighting designers would miss. the day, interspersed with a few tea breaks and lunch, many topics As we moved into the theatre, we were greeted by Declan and were discussed and lectured by Richard, Mannie and Declan, given a short introduction to basic lighting principles and eventually including LED lighting techniques, lighting for drama, opera, musicals to his guests. Next up was Mr Pilbrow, who is a quaint, warm man with and dance, and designing with Gobo and Projection. The day a good sense of humour and a sizable dash of English wit. ended with an open panel discussion with the lecturers. He began by giving a retrospective of his history in lighting – a


A team of specialised technical supply professionals for corporate, television, theatre and music events.

I had the opportunity to catch up with a couple of the master class attendees to find out what they got out of it. This is what they had to say.

Richard Newton Technical Representative, Sight and Sound Can you tell me what you thought about the master class in general? Was it helpful?  The overall knowledge shared by the speakers was unbelievably informative, I was surprised at the depth we went into, from simple lighting techniques to designing a complicated rig it was all very absorbing. Who was your favourite speaker and why? Between Richard, Mannie and Declan they have a wealth of knowledge and their own ‘special’ techniques so I’d have to say all of them. I must say I enjoyed witnessing Richards’s passion and dedication to lighting design, with his spontaneous outbursts you can tell he lives for lighting design.  What did you learn that you didn’t know before? Wow, the list could be endless, I came to SLMC having previous lighting experience and being under the impression I knew enough to do it well. After the first day I realised just how intricate the industry is and how much I still had to learn. I left SLMC with a whole new outlook on lighting, I find myself constantly thinking of ways I can improve on my rigs and my overall show design. A big thank you to the SLMC team: Richard, Mannie and Declan for sharing their lifetime of lighting knowledge. 

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Jean-Claude Laurent, Theatre Manager, University of Johannesburg Can you tell me what you thought about the master class in general? Was it helpful?  As someone that has been in Theatre for the past 21 years it was a good refresher. I however feel that the master classes spoke more to students and non-lighting practitioners. A bit of a back to basics thing! For the senior people it afforded the chance to do a bit of networking as well as to listen to one of the founding fathers of modern theatre lighting discuss his approach to lighting shows. It was also a good reaffirmation that the training I was providing at UJ Arts Centre was on the right track and for my senior technician, Sizwe, that he was approaching lighting in the right way as he is now starting to light shows.  Who was your favourite speaker and why?  The highlight for me personally was hearing Richard Pilbrow speaking. He has been an inspiration to me since I started working in Theatre and the opportunity to meet him was very special.  What did you learn that you didn’t know before? Having worked in the industry for close on 20 years you soon find out that you learn something new every day. The minute you stop learning you may just as well give up. The most informative piece of information that I took away from SLMC 2012 was all the new systems that are in place internationally that makes the life of an LD a little bit easier, even though it creates more paperwork. You win some, you lose some!

Advanced Video Presentation Technology


LIVE EVENTs INDUSTRY EXPERT With over 17 years in the audio-visual Industry, Denzil Smith is one of South Africa’s finest AV engineers. An operation manager at Johannesburg audio-visual rental company, AV Systems, Smith has

worked on all kinds of AV jobs, locally and internationally. He won the coveted Best Technical Production Services Association (TPSA) award for Best AV Engineer, and is also one of the most nominated AV engineers at the awards (having been nominated every year for Best AV Engineer since the TPSA Awards were launched). We recently sat down with Smith to talk about his career and other industry matters. How did you get into the AV industry?

Denzil Smith

Smith: I started out in the audio industry. In high school I used to work part time for Macs Music and when I matriculated they gave me a permanent job. At the company I gained a lot of experience in sound engineering, audio equipment repairs and rigging. After a few years I left Macs Music to join Sound Hire, where I worked closely with bands.

Worst piece of equipment?

Smith: The 1 ton motor – it’s so heavy and unfortunately you have to use it on most functions.

How did you end up at AV Systems?

What do you love about your job?

Smith: I met Alvaro Rodrigues (AV Systems owner) during the Roxette tour, at that time he had just started AV Systems. We talked about possible collaborations and after the Phil Collins tour I decided to join AV Systems. The company was still very small, with a small office in Doornfontein and I was its very first employee.

Smith: When I started I used to love to operate the shows but now I enjoy the design and pre-production side more. I enjoy working at venues that have nothing interesting and transforming them into something unimaginable.

Anything you hate about your job? You talked about technology. Where do you see the AV industry in the next five years?

Smith: Load outs and untidy cables.

Smith: It’s difficult to say because it’s a very fast-moving industry but I think we are going to see more of LED products. These days everyone prefers full HD presentations so I think projectors will slowly become a thing of the past.

What would you say is the most important thing that every person entering the industry must know? Smith: You must have a passion for technology. I always say that if you can’t set up your TV at home with your DSTV and DVD player then this industry is not for you. If you like a social life then stay clear!

Is that a good thing? Smith: Yes and no. The good thing about LED is that it offers the best overall quality but the negative side is that it is still very expensive.

OK. What has been your best job so far? Smith: For many years I have done presentations for renowned South African businessman Sol Kerzner. He has taken me all over the world for these jobs and it’s always an honour to work with him.

And do you think there are opportunities for young people in the local AV industry? Smith: Yes. There is a huge demand for young people in the local AV industry. Most youngsters are taking up audio engineering and the majority of AV engineers in South Africa are over 30 years old. So opportunities are certainly there for young people.

What are you up to when you are not working? What sort of invention would make your job much easier? Smith: Wireless power. Because at the moment you can do pretty much everything wirelessly but you always need electricity.


Smith: I am an advanced driving instructor for Mercedes Benz and I have been a police reservist since 1996. So in my spare time I am either instructing or out on the streets fighting crime.

What’s your favourite piece of equipment?

Great stuff! What is your holiday destination of choice?

Smith: The digiLED 6mm pixel pitch LED video screen – it’s so versatile and the quality is unbelievable.

Smith: I love wildlife and the bush, with no electricity or cell phone networks.

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after-party for Skyfall Nick Gray from London-based creative lighting and design practice Renegade imagined a dramatic and striking lighting ambience – both outside and inside – London’s iconic Tate Modern art gallery for the new James Bond Skyfall movie world premiere’s glamorous after-party.

Skyfall after-party event producers AD Events gave Nick Gray a demanding production brief that included making the after party equally as dazzling and memorable as the premier screening at the Royal Albert Hall. The event took up the entire Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern (formally a power station), and once again gave Gray the opportunity to work his lighting magic in this distinctive and uber cool architectural space. Gray comments: “The Turbine Hall is an amazing environment to work in and already highly atmospheric, so the real challenge was to add requisite 007 qualities like mystery, action and intrigue to the setting. Also to wow those who had already been blown away by the movie premiere!” A massive effort kept the space as clean and clear of visible rigging and technical infrastructure as possible. Special scaffolding structures were constructed around the pillars to provide lighting positions and to avoid running overhead trussing down the room. Fixture placement was crucial as the lighting also had to enhance massive scenic projections onto the walls of the Turbine Hall, which transported everyone from the banks of the Thames to the edgy street scenarios of downtown Shanghai. Additional video and effects were played out on a series of staggered floor-standing LED screens at the end of the hall, and the event space was further enhanced by several props from the film, including an eight-metre high Chinese dragon and an Aston Martin DB5 car. This made the lighting design process infinitely more of a brainteaser, but Gray also relished the task more. “You really had to think carefully about using lights appropriately and simultaneously maintain the raw, industrial beauty of the venue,” he explains. The most important psychological task for lighting was to create a high-impact entrance for the 1 600 guests. This happened on The Bridge immediately as everyone entered the Turbine Hall – and was the first impression they had of what they were about to encounter.


Gray used 24 Clay Paky Sharpies at the end of The Bridge pointing directly into the entrance, shooting piercing shafts of light down The Bridge. People flowing in to the building were silhouetted with 12 x Vari*Lite 3500 Spots from behind the entrance which stunned everyone. Underneath The Bridge was an assortment of lights including Martin MAC 301 LED wash moving lights, ETC Source Fours and pin-spots, rigged on two runs of black truss concealed between the structural RSJs. Carefully positioned and focussed Source Four PARs and Codas on top of The Bridge were used for generally illumination of the space below including the seating areas. At the far end of the Turbine Hall, Gray used a combination of Chroma-Q Color Force 48 and 72 LED battens, Clay Paky Sharpies, Alpha Wash 1500 and Martin MAC 700 Profile moving lights, together with Source Four profiles for highlighting. After only one intense overnight programming session – in the only available time – a steamy molten mix of Oriental nightscapes created by video and lighting pervaded the Tate Modern. Outside the lighting scheme utilised six Clay Paky Alpha Beam 1500s, together with eight V*L 3500 Washes and a splattering of outdoor PAR cans washed the building’s exterior. The interior lighting was programmed and run by Rob Gawler using a Hog 3 console and the exterior run by Matt Waterfield on a Chamsys MagicQ 100 console. Most of the lighting equipment came from Neg Earth, a regular Renegade supplier, with specific specialist elements and the Chamsys console supplied by Renegade. Renegade’s crew chiefs were Paul Saunders and Chris Fyfe. The impressive projections and other video content were designed by Richard Bagshaw of Digital Insanity with equipment supplied by CT London and Dobson Sound was the audio contractor.

Photo by Leon Pheiffer


Mapping out the route for the Volvo V40 On 14 August the new Volvo V40 was unveiled for the first time to 50 of South Africa’s major car dealerships at Turbine Hall in Newtown, Johannesburg, where the vehicle was brought to life through the medium of video mapping, writes Paul Watson. When the launch of the new Volvo went out to tender, technical supplier, EPH Productions, joined forces with video production company, ATTV and Penmac Audio Visual, to figure out a workable concept for the launch. “It was very much a team effort; I’m good friends with Andrew Timm at ATTV and Penmac’s director, Malcolm Finlay, who’s done a lot of jobs with (Dataton’s) Watchout. We’ve also been doing our homework on 3D mapping and mapping on buildings with projectors, so that’s where it started really,” says EPH’s Leon Pheiffer. “We decided: ‘let’s map the car’, so we offered the concept to Mineshift Events, a small events company in Johannesburg; they pitched for it and got the job.” Volvo International then sent the first demo of the car straight to EPH’s warehouse in Pretoria, where all parties gathered for two days of pre-production. The first step was to work out the projection angles. “We did this on a CAD system so we knew at what height and distance the projectors had to be put up at, then we created a map of the vehicle and projected a still image onto it,” explains Malcolm Finlay, who has been working in video projection and content for more than 25 years. “The still image became the template for doing geometric projection within Watchout; and once we had that right, we applied the video content with the same mapping distortion onto the vehicle.” Finlay says there were two very different aspects to the job: staging

the content onto the vehicle and actually creating the content. The latter was the task of Ronald Pillay, who started the process using a CAD drawing to ensure that all of the perspectives were correct. “You must get that part spot on before you can make the content fit; you haven’t gone near Watchout or a projector at this stage,” Finlay insists. “Essentially, you make a video in pre-production and then play the video on the side of the vehicle so everything has to be the right shape and have the right amount of distortion.” Pillay created the video in two parts: a city scape (which was used for the backdrop of the car), and a series of videos to cover the sides of the vehicle. “Basically we create a dynamic scene, put a vehicle in it, and map the content on the side of the vehicle to map the scene you’re driving through,” summarises Finlay. “Then you apply ‘eye candy’ flashes, to accentuate the car’s lines, wheels and lights; in this case it’s four videos in total: front, side, back and road.” Pheiffer put up a 12-metre Top Vision LED wall behind the car and deployed four Christie 605 projectors: two to project onto the front and side of the car; and two to project the road that the car was driving on. “All of these projected surfaces had to be geometrically correct because the projectors were all at very strange angles,” Finlay reveals. “Once we got that right all the video content for the car, and obviously the back LED wall, which was the scenery the car was going


Photo by Leon Pheiffer


to be against, was synchronised using Watchout.” Penmac has handled the local support for Watchout since its inception in 2004; therefore Finlay is somewhat of an expert; in his own words, he has “grown with the product and all the features that are available”. “The way Watchout has evolved in the past few years has made it possible to generate multiple video feeds from one computer. In this instance, we were running four of the projectors from one computer, then another computer was doing the LED wall; that’s great for us, as it cuts down the cost of hardware and licenses, because you have to license the software,” Finlay explains. “From a Watchout point of view, this was total show control; in addition to making it fit properly, Watchout takes these four videos and runs them in sync with each other, so it gives the illusion of being one large scene; it also stops and starts the show and we were able to drop in Powerpoint presentations onto the LED wall when the car wasn’t moving, to illustrate the features and benefits of the vehicle.”

Finlay estimates that this project was only the third exercise of video mapping on a vehicle in South Africa and points out that although the concept is not new to him, it is always a challenge. 46

“Video mapping onto buildings and other types of sets has been done plenty of times before but doing it on a vehicle is quite different,” he explains. “The real challenge is that it doesn’t matter how often you rehearse it, it will never be in the same place when you set it up; and with limited time to put it all together due to venue and staging costs, you’ve got to have incredible flexibility in the software to be able to correct your mapping points once you get to your final destination. That is one of the major strengths of Watchout: that it actually has that capability and is being used around the world for that exact purpose.” EPH also provided the audio and lighting for the launch. Pheiffer deployed a Soundcraft Vi1 console, which ultimately catered for playback as the audio was embedded within the video content; and a JBL VerTec line array system provided sound reinforcement: three VT4888 enclosures were hung over two VT881A subs a side. “There were only 50 people in the venue so you could say this system was a bit overkill, but it’s very good kit,” smiles Pheiffer. “We also put in 12 Martin MAC 401s and 12 Robe 101 lighting fixtures, all cued up using the Avolites Tiger Touch controller. It looked and sounded great, that’s for sure.” Good enough for Volvo’s managing director, Bram van der Reep, to invite the team to do an additional launch for the national press. “The more homework you do, the quicker and more efficient the setup becomes,” concludes Finlay.

“When we were asked to do a second show, we only had eight hours to put it up but it posed no problem; and when you consider that the content creation alone took about a week, the initial planning and mapping took two days and the staging took us a further day, then that’s pretty quick work! Overall this was a really successful project and everyone was very happy with the

Photo © Penmac, Picture Mafia and EPH


Tech Box Lighting: • Martin Professional MAC 401 • Martin Professional MAC 101 • Avolites Tiger Touch controller

Audio: • Soundcraft Vi1 digital console • JBL VerTec VT4888 elements • JBL VerTec VT4880 subwoofers

Video/Projection: • Christie LX605 projectors • Dataton Watchout


Photos by Ross Ashton

LIVE EVENTs International Video Projection

Illuminating the London UK-based Projection artist Ross Ashton was commissioned by Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire to produce an exclusive Son et Lumière show celebrating the 50th anniversary of its high profile Hopkins Centre for the Arts.


The show ‘Five Windows’ was based around stunning large format projections highlighting the history, achievements and impact of the Hopkins Centre, which also houses the Ivy League College’s drama, music, film and studio arts departments. Giant images were projected on to the front façade of the Hopkins Centre, which was originally designed by architect Wallace Harrison and opened in 1962. The College approached Ashton who has completed several prestigious projected art installations in the US within the past three years. He comments: “It was a great opportunity to work with one of the most prominent educational institutions in the US. The building is architecturally exciting, and compiling the storyboard and artwork was interesting and compelling.” Ashton took a brief from the College’s Organising Committee that discussed what they wanted. A student committee was also invited to present ideas that could be included; from there he originated the concept for the 13-minute work. There were historical and future sections to the show, plus a special dance piece devised by students which was videoed against a green screen, from which elements were edited and

International Video Projection LIVE EVENTs


By Louise Stickland

integrated into the projection sequence. “It was important to make it an all-inclusive piece and to emphasise the hugely diverse traditional and contemporary performance programmes for which the Hopkins Centre is renowned, as well as the reputation of Dartmouth as a liberal arts university,” explains Ashton, who knew from experience that dance as a medium would transpose very dynamically onto the front of the building. Ashton completed the story and script-writing in London, while Projection Studio’s Sang Gun Kim produced the motion graphics with some input from Ashton and Steve Larkins. Ashton asked UK-based sound artist Howie Saunders – whose cinematic credits include The Matrix – on-board to compose a special sound-track. This featured recording from the first events at the Hopkins Centre including readings by poet Robert Frost. The impressive arched windows on the front of the Hopkins Centre were each covered with bespoke Spandex shades made for the occasion by Rosebrand, that were attached via magnetic strips to the steel window frames. Ashton specified two Christie HD18 projectors which had images overlaid and were located in a special hide positioned 17.5 metres from the front of the building. They were fitted with wide-angle short-throw lenses and supplied by New York-based Atomic Professional Audio, co-ordinated by Dan Ostroff. Ashton worked closely on site with Hopkins Centre Production Manager Todd Campbell, audio technician Doug Phoenix and video tech Will Cleveland and they also hired carpenter Donald Winams. The Watchout show control system was programmed by Karen Monid. The big technical challenge was lining up the projectors across the Hopkins Centre façade’s different depths, which vary by up to about five metres.


Photo courtesy PLASA


PLASA pulsates with innovation By Simba Nyamukachi

The PLASA Show 2012 – the 31st edition of the premier exhibition for audio, video, lighting and stage technology, was held from 9 to 12 September at Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London.

Organised by the Professional Lighting and Sound Association, the trade fair exposed attendees to a wide array of innovative technologies, industry trends, product launches and informative seminars. A major talking point on the exhibition floor was the organiser’s decision to change the dateline and relocate the PLASA Show to ExCeL London for 2013. The move, which comes after having spent 21 years at Earls Court & Olympia, represents a major opportunity for the exhibition. The new venue is located in a thriving area of east London and offers excellent links to both Europe and the rest of the UK via London City Airport. “The move to ExCeL for 2013 gives PLASA and our exhibitors a great opportunity to develop how we showcase the new products and technologies as well creating more space to demo product for our visitors,” states PLASA CEO, Matthew Griffiths. “We will have more room to expand and enhance our conference and seminar programmes which are getting great interest and crucially we will be able to co-locate other like-minded industry exhibitions and events which will complement each other. Also prove that London in the first weeks of October will be the place to be if you work within the creative industries generally and the entertainment technology industry specifically. We look forward to seeing everyone then.” Although the show attracted fewer visitors than last year with overall visitor attendance at 11 500 (subject to ABC audit), event organisers were delighted to announce that their seminars, presentations and debates had been a resounding success with exhibitors and visitors alike. Registration for seminars showed more than 100% increase on last year. In all, more than one third of the attendees saw one or more of the sessions.


Education and conferences In addition to the plethora of new product launches and innovations on show, the training sessions and seminars available in the Professional Development Programme proved to be a huge draw card for many of the visitors. As we stated in Pro-System Q3, this year’s programme explored 9 distinct categories, from future trends and emerging technologies, to the fundamentals of audio, business issues, lighting and video. However, the most popular seminar was Olympics Uncovered session entitled ‘Behind The Scenes At The London 2012 Ceremonies’. Presented by Piers Shepperd, the technical director of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, the session gave attendees an overview of the mammoth staging, flying, audio, AV and special effects behind the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies. “The PLASA Seminar Programme was exceptional this year. It was crammed full of creative and production personnel that had provided the stunning shows and entertainment technology infrastructure around all the events happening in the UK this Summer, particularly the London 2012 Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This was augmented by themes on professional development, sustainability and business planning all giving visitors to PLASA so much more than just the exhibition,” explains Griffiths. Running alongside PLASA 2012 was the Rigging Conference where delegates gathered from all corners of the globe to listen to industry experts, share good practice and debate the future structure of rigging on an international level. The legendary ‘Disney Rigger’ – Roy Bickel, opened the Conference with a thoroughly engaging, entertaining and informative speech about his influence on the development of modern rigging over the past 50 years, which was enthusiastically received by the audience. The conference, a near sell-out event, was attended by 156 delegates.


Audio Awarding innovation Two important award categories were presented at PLASA 2012: The prestigious Gottelier Award and The PLASA Awards for Innovation. This year’s Gottelier Award, which recognises significant product designers and developers in the entertainment technology industry, went to John Meyer of Meyer Sound in recognition of his contribution to the modern sound reinforcement industry. With a total of eight Awards for Innovation to hand out, and with the option of bestowing a ‘Gold’ Award on one or more really outstanding entries, PLASA’s panel of independent adjudicators had a difficult task ahead of them. During the exhibition’s opening two days, the judges reviewed 47 product presentations ‘live’ in front of show visitors and a camera crew.

PLASA Awards for innovation Award winners: • Stageco – Arena Lift • Digital & Future Technologies – Super Twofer • Tait Technologies – Pixel Tablet • Avolites – Sapphire Media Infinity Video Control System • Robe – Robin DLF Wash • Harman International – JBL VTX V25 Line Array • Martin Professional – MAC Viper Profile • Gold Award Status: Cast Group – BlackTrax • Award for Sustainability: ETC Source – Four LED

Products that received special commendation: • Sennheiser 9000 Series digital wireless radio microphone system • Shure ULX-D digital wireless radio microphone system • Wentex Pipe & Drape System from Highlite International • d3 Technologies d3 Designer

Martin Audio took OmniLine® to PLASA 2012. OmniLine® delivers consistent audio coverage with unprecedented accuracy in a wide variety of architectural environments, using only one amplifier channel per array in many applications. By utilising a complement of unique, Martin Audio designed drivers, and mechanical alignment techniques, simple EQ and Limiting is the only processing required. A powerful software application provides extremely accurate intercabinet and array angles, in order to achieve optimum coverage over a predefined area. OmniLine’s aesthetically pleasing cabinet is finished in neutral light grey. Distributed by HARMAN’s JBL Professional presented the JBL VTX Series. The V25 is a full-size, three-way high-directivity line array element that features two 15-inch Differential Drive® woofers mounted, with four 8-inch Differential Drive midrange transducers and three D2 dualdiaphragm dual-voice-coil compression drivers mounted on a third-generation waveguide/Radiation Boundary Integrator assembly. The Radiation Boundary Integrator combines the midrange and high-frequency sections of the V25 so the transition across each frequency band is uninterrupted while providing broad, stable horizontal coverage combined with proper line source array coupling for 0 to 10 degree inter-enclosure angles in the vertical plane. Distributed by Significant to the Allen & Heath stand was the new GLD, a user-friendly, cost effective and scalable live digital mixing system. Conceptually based on the hugely successful digital iLive series, a standard GLD 32 input system offers 28 XLR mic inputs with plug n’ play I/O expanders allowing easy expansion up to 48 inputs (44 XLR mic inputs). Distributed by

Imported by


LIVE EVENTs PLASA REPORT NEXO paraded the Universal Amp Rack (NUAR). NUAR, which is filled with technological innovation and functionality, is a scalable amplification solution for all NEXO concert systems that encourages inventory standardisation among NEXO users and facilitates cross-hire opportunities. NUAR contains two NXAMP4x4 amplifiers, a new Digital Patch Unit (DPU); an intelligent output patch panel; a new Digital Meter Unit (DMU); an intelligent input patch panel providing digital communication with the NXAMP; and an optional network card, Dante or EtherSound by request. The NXAMP digital processors and amplifiers are now available in a dual-voltage version for touring applications. Distributed by Sennheiser flaunted their Digital 9000 system, which has been developed for all professional users in broadcast studios, theatres and live performances unwilling to comprise on sound. Its unique uncompressed digital audio transmission offers artefacts free sound with great dynamics. Shure featured the ULX-D Digital Wireless Microphone System with new multi-channel receivers, a High Density mode that enables 63 channels to operate in just 8 MHz of spectrum and integrated Dante digital audio networking. The new ULXD4D dual channel digital receiver and ULXD4Q quad channel digital receiver pack two or four channels of wireless into one rack space, with individual gain controls, LED meters and XLR outputs for each channel. Like the single-channel, half-rack ULXD4 digital receiver, the new dual and quad receivers feature fully digital audio processing and RF transmission as well as AES 256-bit encryption. Distributed by HARMAN’s JBL Professional showed the STX800 Series portable loudspeakers, designed to bridge the gap between lighter-duty portable PA speakers and full-size tour sound systems. The six STX800 passive loudspeaker models combine exceptional sound quality with rugged, travel friendly construction, extreme power handling capability and integration with Crown’s VRack amplifier V5 level processing and HARMAN JBL HiQnet Performance Manager™ software. Distributed by At the Studer stand was the Vista Compact Remote Bay. The product has been designed for users seeking a slave or secondary desk to work in parallel with their Vista console. Typical applications are theatre or live sound installations where it is desired to control the sound balance from the auditorium. It provides full control and monitoring functionality and can be used with all types of Vista consoles, including the brand-new, all-in-one Vista 1, running software V4.8 and up. In addition it may also be used as a completely stand-alone controller for the Vista’s DSP and I/O should the control surface not be available. Distributed by


Lighting Avolites showcased the Titan One Virtual Console. The Titan One offers a cost effective solution for all lighting applications. Its focus – to offer fast and intuitive control of intelligent lighting, Dimmers and LED effects from a single on-screen console. The DMX USB Dongle allows users to output one line of DMX on any of 12 lines, with the full functionality of Avolites Titan Software. Distributed by Phillips Selecon offered the PLCyc1LED luminaire. Delivering a smooth even beam, the PLCyc1 seamlessly blends intense washes of colour on cycloramas up to 5m high. Using LED source technology combined with a properly shaped asymmetrical reflector, the PLCyc1 delivers consistent light distribution without the compromising performance of vertical or horizontal spreader lenses. Each luminaire can replace the equivalent of a traditional four colour 1000W per circuit Cyc luminaire, and with the convenient powercon system, the PLCyc1 can light a typical cyclorama with a single 10A non-dim circuit. Distributed by Robert Juliat launched their ZEP profile. An evolution of the award-winning 85W LED profile. The new ZEP profile is designed to offer a higher light output – equivalent to a 1000W tungsten profile spot – together with very low power consumption. This new LED profile incorporates an innovative and powerful 150W LED engine offering two different colour temperatures, a choice of three zoom ranges and the option to integrate wireless DMX technology. Designed with ergonomic perfection, optical and mechanical excellence, ZEP features a better colour rendering index. Distributed by ETC showed off their new Source Four LED luminaire that has won the prestigious Award for Sustainability at this year’s PLASA Show, against some strong competition. Performing at 30 to over 40 lumens per watt, the Source Four LED spotlight excels in efficacy. This powerful yet energy-saving light creates beauty and artistry in stage, studio and architectural applications. It combines the popular features of ETC’s conventional Source Four profile spotlight with the intelligence and seven colours of ETC’s Selador Desire LED luminaires. Distributed by Martin Professional’s new MAC Viper Profile is the first fixture in Martin’s 1000-watt MAC Viper family of luminaires. Convincingly brighter than 1200-watt fixtures, the MAC Viper Profile kicks out 26,000 lumens, making it over 30% brighter than veteran 1200-watt products and 55% more efficient. It also outperforms them in terms of speed and compactness. Distributed by

PLASA REPORT LIVE EVENTs Clay Paky exhibited the GlowUp Strip 100 – a LED bar for professional stage lighting, with combined battery/mains power supply and combined cable/wireless control. Ten powerful RGB-W multi-chip LEDs are arranged in a line inside a 100cm linear aluminium housing suitable for outdoors use (IP65). The fixture creates a curtain of brightly coloured light, with a beam angle adjustable from 14° to 70°. The original ‘white power saving’ function helps optimize power consumption. Distributed by High End Systems’ Lightweight and compact yet extremely punchy, the 550W SolaSpot LED was featured at PLASA. The luminaire weighs only 24.5kg but produces a high fixture output of 6,000 lumens and offers an even beam field. SolaSpot LED’s fixed colour wheel creates red, blue, green, yellow, magenta, orange and cyan; the fixture’s indigo highlighter function creates dramatic new design possibilities. The LED possesses a colour temperature of 6,500K, pan / tilt of 540 x 250 degrees, variable zoom and iris, remote focus, static and rotating gobo patterns. Distributed by Chauvet Professional showcased the Ovation™ F-165WW – the first Fresnel-style fixture in the new Ovation™ line of theatrical lighting fixtures from CHAUVET® Professional. Its innovative LED source produces smooth, even washes from 13° – 41°. Powered by 16 10W LEDs, Ovation™ F-165WW delivers over 1,500 lux @ 5m (13°) without a significant temperaturerelated drop off. The LED delivers this output with a colour temperature of 3100K and a beautiful soft field. The selectable dimming curves allow this fixture to blend into existing systems. Distributed by MDG paraded its latest product, the FAN. It is a digital, fully DMX/RDM operated stand-alone unit that has a very low power consumption of only 100W making it very economical. It also not channel hungry: the velocity of its three-bladed rotor is controlled via DMX (1 or 2 channels) or RDM, or locally using a discreet 4-button controller with LSC panel on the base of the unit. A surge-protected, universal switching power supply covers the full range of 100V – 240V, 50/60Hz ensuring the FAN can be used anywhere in the world at the flick of a switch.

DTS Lighting’s JACK is a high-power, compact, lightweight moving head was present at PLASA. It features a wide excursion motorized zoom allowing any application from long-throw projections to large wall washing. Beam opening is: 1° – 2,5° ‘Beam’ projection; 2,5° – 37° ‘Spot’ projection; 38° – 46° ‘Wash’ projection. The JACK generates a huge luminosity and extremely uniform projection using only a 189 W lamp; power consumption is just 230 W. Also, JACK comes equipped with the FPR (Free Pan Rotation – patent pending) system, which allows limitless pan rotation, in either direction, never having to reverse motion. Roland Systems Group (RSG) showed a range of products at this year’s show, including a UK debut appearance for the Roland V-800HD Multi-Format Live Video Switcher. It incorporates high-definition picture quality and eight multi-format channels with independent scalers as well as a variety of output formats including a built-in multi-viewer. The V-800HD Live Video Switcher is ideal for any live event or installation that requires the freedom to connect any type of source whether it is digital or analogue, computer or video format. Robe brandished the new ROBIN® DLF Wash This is the perfect companion to the ROBIN® DLX, the new ROBIN® DLF Wash is based on the same RGBW LED module. With a perfectly smooth output via the front Fresnel lens, this fixture has been optimised for those wanting an even light output with no shadows. (RGB breakups and shadows are not present even when on closely positioned trussing or other objects.) Distributed by

Networks Klark Teknik paraded its pioneering DN9610 AES50 multichannel digital audio network connector. The KLARK TEKNIK DN9610 is a cost-effective solution for extending AES50 multichannel digital audio network connections (Cat-5E/Cat-6 cabling) to greater distances than previously achievable. Housed in a rugged, compact, alloy case, and enclosed in a shock-absorbing silicone sleeve, the DN9610 will fit almost anywhere, being no larger than many DI boxes. Distributed by

Imported by



Industry professionals’ perspectives on PLASA 2012 Robert Izzett – DWR Distribution Overall impression: A lot of people complain about PLASA shrinking, which I guess is true. But PLASA has never been about products, it’s about the networking element and this year did not disappoint. Products: Robe’s new MMX Wash Beam is brilliant. It’s a great wash light that turns into a beam light via DMX. I also really liked the Elidy from Chromlec – a fantastic lighting tool that makes the most incredible Effect wall. Trends: The one trend that really has not caught on in SA much, which is huge in Europe, is moving trusses or sets etc. It’s not a new trend at all but something that has evolved over the years to a point where it is truly state of the art. Seminars: I went to the Olympic Opening Ceremony Seminar – It was awesome to see how it was all done, especially the rigging and automation and moving sets.

Alison Taman – Audiosure Overall impression: PLASA was a relatively small show, but it was certainly well executed and the overall presentation of the exhibitors was very professional. Over the years the lighting side of the show has grown and many of these exhibitors put on a very impressive display. Although attendance was said to be higher than previous years it did not feel that way to us or any of the exhibitors we spoke to. Despite the gradually more compact nature of the show we always enjoy PLASA as our vendors have more time to spend with us than at other shows and one can easily cover the entire floor. Products: Martin Audio made a big impact with their stunning “Audio Lab” demonstration. They also had two Nissan Jukes on display with a boot-load of powerful sound. Seminars: I attended the Martin Audio ‘Audio Lab’ which showcased spectacularly good sound.

Riedel Communications unveiled the new RockNet RN.345.IL network plug-in card for Allen & Heath’s iLive digital mixing console family. RockNet is a digital real-time audio network that provides up to 160 digital audio channels over a single counter-rotating CAT-5 ring. Based on a redundant ring topology, RockNet forms a self-healing network with no loss of audio in case of a connection fault between two devices. Dante Users of Yamaha’s PM5D, M7CL, LS9 consoles and DME series digital mixing engines are set to benefit from new updates that were introduced at PLASA 2012 for the Dante-MY16-AUD interface card that will allow the devices to control the head amps on the company’s new Rio i/o rack mount interfaces. A key feature of Yamaha’s CL series of mixing consoles is the ability to control the head amps of the systems’ new Rio i/o rack mount interfaces. This facility will now be available to users of other Yamaha digital mixers as a result of the updated firmware of the Dante card and a new version of Audinate’s Dante Controller software. MA Lighting exhibited the MA 8Port Node and MA 4Port Node set an additional benchmark in MA Lighting’s networking product range as they feature the 1Gbit capability. They allow the conversion of Ethernet data into DMX or vice versa and fit perfectly into the MA system and its MA-Net2 protocol which is based on this high speed to ensure maximum performance. Optimised for touring and installations purposes, both have rugged steel housing for a long life even under harsh conditions. Distributed by

Rigging – Screens – Projectors MILOS previewed its new Mobiltechlift range. Three different versions of the Mobiltechlifts were on display, all offering a telescopic mast and manual hand-winch system for easy operation and maximum safety in lifting loads of up to 240 Kgs (529 lbs). Loads can be lifted up to 6.5 metres in the air, and the tower lift can be safely stopped and locked off at any of a number of Pin Locking System (PLS) locations on the mast, which will then take the load as opposed to the wire rope hauling mechanism. Distributed by

Justin Mamulis – iLed Overall impression: This was the first PLASA I have attended since 2006 and felt that it had changed considerably since my last visit. The show was far more locally orientated than I remember. Products: I went to PLASA with the very specific purpose of meeting with my suppliers, and understanding what new products they had lined up for the next year.  Apart Audio was certainly on the mark with the new product releases planned for 2013.  I was also incredibly impressed with Traction Sound products. New Agencies: We signed up Traction Sound. Traction Sound is a fairly new company out of Brighton that is made up of a fantastic group of guys, whose combined experience in the pro audio industry is impressive to say the least.


In the technical curtain sector, Gerriets featured the G-Mesh fabrics, which are particularly impressive because of their uniqueness, durability and multipurpose applications. G-MESH is available in two structural forms: as ring mesh made from stainless steel or bronze with a diameter of 7mm; or with a diameter of 12 mm made from stainless steel, bronze or bicolour. Prolyte flaunted the newest version of its popular performance platform LiteConsole. The LiteConsole XPRS, previewed at PLASA Focus earlier this year, combines all the most desirable features of LiteConsole in a sleeker, lighter package. The design makes the system incredibly easy to assemble and the innovative folding frame design means the LiteConsole XPRS will flat pack and fit into an average car. The LiteConsole has been described as “the all singing, all dancing behemoth of portable, quick install DJ booths”. Distributed by

Doughty unveiled the Baby Quick Trigger clamp, designed for smaller truss sizes. Adjustable to diameters of 25mm – 38mm and with TUV approval pending, the Baby Quick Trigger clamp comes in polished aluminium or satin black. Distributed by


Industry professionals’ perspectives on PLASA 2012 Matthew Griffiths – PLASA CEO

Christie showed off the YK50, a small, dual-arm yoke that supports the Christie LX700 and Christie LHD700 projectors, offering a 7 000 ANSI lumens LCD option for moving video projection. The combination of the Christie YK50 with either of these projectors gives you bright, realistically colored, moving digital images, lighting and video displays – ideal for any small- to mid-size venue where space is limited or less brightness is needed, such as casinos, lobby displays, churches and planetariums. projectiondesign introduced a new 3-chip 2D/3D projector model – the brightest projector in the Norway-based company product range and designed for 24/7 operation for small to large screen applications. Available in WUXGA or 1080p resolution versions, as well as a special version that can optically switch between REC709 and DCI P7 colour spaces, the new F85 boasts a brightness of up to 11 000 lumens, and a contrast ratio of 14.000:1, featuring high valuable performances in terms of colour saturation, accuracy and image quality. Distributed by

Clearly the run up to the exhibition in London was heavily influenced by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Apart from the logistic headaches a lot of the exhibitors and visitors to the exhibition were heavily involved in these events. However it was great to see everyone use the PLASA Show as a place to meet up, share their experiences and see the technology used close up. Against this regional challenge we also had the ongoing global economic challenge which we are all trying to trade out of. There was much more positive feedback about the future for our industry from exhibitors, which I found to be very encouraging.

Nick Matzukis – AVL Distribution Overall impression: My overall impression of this year’s PLASA was that it was reasonable. I think that it is a good idea that the show is moving from Earls Court to ExCeL London for the 2013 edition. Products: There were a number of new products that caught my including Gerriet’s new track systems, fabrics and screens. Trends: In terms of notable trends that could be adopted by the South African industry in the near future – I see more theatre equipment in rental companies.

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Photo courtesy IBC

Studio & Broadcast IBC REPORT

By Simba Nyamukachi

IBC bustled with possibilities With a highly respected and peer-reviewed conference, a trade floor that exhibits more than 1 400 leading suppliers of sophisticated electronic media technology and an unrivalled networking platform – International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) is a must-attend for professionals in the studio and broadcast industry. Held in Amsterdam between 6 and 11 September, this year’s IBC had a slight upsurge in popularity by recording 0.93 percent increase from last year’s trade fair. The exhibition’s total number of attendees, conference delegates, exhibition visitors and exhibitors were pinned at a record 50 937 by the end of the six-day exhibition. Speaking at the end of the trade show IBC’s CEO Michael Crimp noted that its success was a result of the quality associated with the exhibition. “That we have drawn a record audience at a time when there are still economic challenges in many parts of the world – and when broadcasters are dealing with massive events like the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games and US presidential elections – clearly shows that, above all, IBC is relevant to people at every level in our industry,” he stated.

Conferences At the IBC Conference, a huge draw card for many visitors, more than 300 speakers addressed the audience but none drew more attention than Black Eyed Peas front man and Hip Hop impresario – He is a technologist and Intel’s Director of Creative Innovation and drew a capacity audience for his highly subjective view of the future in a session co-hosted by Intel Corporation’s marketing VP – Johan Jervøe. In their keynote address entitled ‘Creativity and Technology Forces Combine – Transcend the Barriers of Convention and Rethink What Can Be Achieved,’ the duo dealt with how creativity combined with technology can be used as a nexus for change to identify and overcome conventional thinking and challenge the status quo. When was asked about his thoughts on broadcasting and technology he said that the world needed more innovation. recently inked a multi-year deal with Intel, which sees the musician using Ultrabooks to communicate with his two million Twitter followers and compose and record new music while on tour in different cities. The relationship ties in with Intel’s ‘compute continuum’ vision, in which more and more devices will compute and connect to the Internet. Another prominent meeting was the ‘The Loudness Breakfast’ presented by Florian Camerer, Chairman, ORF & EBU/PLOUD, AUSTRIA. The session dealt with the complaint made by consumers to


broadcasters relating to the irritating jumps in audio levels between channels, programmes, clips and commercials. This session offered a solution and a comprehensive explanation of the problems encountered in audio loudness for multi-platform and connected world applications. The practice of focusing on loudness in mastering audio recordings dates back to the days when vinyl records were played on jukeboxes in clubs and bars. Any recording that was mastered louder than its competitors was more likely to gain the attention of the audience, and so disks were produced to replay at the loudness limit of the medium. Fifty years on, modern computer-based digital audio effects processing allows mastering engineers to have more intricate control over the loudness, compression and quality of a recording. Therefore with the recent rise of international broadcast standards, ‘audio loudness’ has become one of the most important and debated topics in broadcast and pro-audio today.

Local perspective When talking about an international trade fair such as IBC it is always important to bring the discussion back home and to get a local vantage point. Pro-Systems spoke to two South African industry professionals – Steve Alves of Concilum Technologies and Francois Lötter of Prosound, to get their impression on the show and insight on exciting products that will be hitting our shores soon. Alves, who regularly visits IBC, believes that the exhibition lived up to previous editions and stated that event organisers seem to improve on the visitor experience year on year. “The show seemed to have much more of a vibe than in recent years. All of our partners had very impressive stands, and there was no shortage of traffic through them so the recession does not appear to be having a major impact on the broadcast industry. We find IBC is a good opportunity to build on the relationships we have established with many premium suppliers over the years,” he said. With regards to notable products paraded at IBC, Alves highlighted that Glensound and Prodys showcased solutions

IBC REPORT Studio & Broadcast that improve the quality of audio for remote broadcasts stating: “Glensound and Prodys, have been implementing new technologies to improve audio quality over bandwidth limited feeds. During this year’s IBC exhibition Glensound was awarded the IABM Award for Excellence in Innovation and Design 2012 for their GS-MPI004HD HD Voice Broadcasters’ Mobile Phone. While Prodys introduced portable codecs that have the versatility to connect an audio broadcast via cellular or satellite technologies that can be deployed in any remote area, even where cellphone connectivity is not available. Lötter, who had last visited IBC in 2004, was excited about returning to the exhibition after a long absence. “It was great attending the IBC show – it has grown considerably since the last time I visited the trade fair. However, it is unfortunate that the pro audio side has not grown at the same rate,” he stated. While at the exhibition, Lötter attended the ‘Digital Radio Experience Seminar’, which he found very fascinating. Of interest to him was how certain countries approached the uptake to digital radio, reasons why some are not moving forward, and some of the misconceptions about digital radio. Lötter also picked up new trends that he sees may be adopted in the country in the near future. “On the audio side one of the more key issues and trends that stood out for me is the adoption of the new loudness metering and processing set out by the ITU. The South African industry will naturally have to adapt to these standards very soon,” Lötter explained.

Codec Prodys paraded a Bidirectional Portable Video Codec for Live Broadcast over IP and Satellite called Ikusnet. Ikusnet is not only a backpack uplink video encoder. Ikusnet is a multi-purpose HD/SD Mpeg4 AVC/H.264 bidirectional portable IP video and audio codec that can broadcast live from anywhere, at anytime, supporting ad-hoc bandwidth aggregation of up to 10 links (3G/4G/ Dual-Ethernet). Ikusnet is the only portable video codec in the market supporting bidirectional live video and audio/talkback streams all in one compact unit, with two switchable video inputs (two cameras-SDI & HDMI) and two monitor screens that allow the user to monitor video inputs, video feedback (cue program) and the quality of locally encoded video.

Consoles Sound Devices introduced the 664 Field Production Mixer; the newest addition to Sound Devices mixer line. The mixer is the new flagship in Sound Devices’ line of portable audio mixers. Building on the foundation of the popular 552 mixer, the intuitive 664 has six inputs channels and four output buses. All inputs and outputs are recordable to both CF and SD cards. This unprecedented amount of I/O connectivity and recording capability makes the 664 perfect for any production application

The 664 can record each of its inputs and its four output buses, for 10 record tracks. Recordings are saved to CompactFlash and SD cards. Recordings are either 16- or 24-bit Broadcast WAV files with extensive metadata. All popular production sampling rates are supported. When used with a CL-6 Input Expander, the 664 records 16 tracks, 12 inputs and four output buses. Distributed by Digico showed the SD7B mixing console, which caters for all broadcast situations from the most complex to the most straightforward. The console draws on DiGiCo’s Soundtracs heritage by adding comprehensive broadcast-specific feature sets to the respective multi-application consoles. The SD7B has the routing capacity, processing ability and user interface to form the heart of the most complex broadcast audio productions, with a feature set designed to manage extensive, challenging work. The work surface handles up to 996 simultaneous optical, plus 224 MADI, 24 analogue and AES/EBU connections, along with 128 busses (each with full processing in mono, stereo, LCR or 5.1), 32 matrix busses and 32-band graphic equalisers. Multi operator engineering is easy, while up to 100 physical faders can be accessed with the addition of EX-007 Expander Units. Distributed by SSL demonstrated compatibility between its consoles and Riedel RockNet and MediorNet systems at IBC 2012. Collaborative development between Riedel and SSL has resulted in SSL C100 HDS and C10 HD digital broadcast consoles that can now connect to Riedel RockNet audio distribution networks and MediorNet fibre-optic transport, routing and conversion networks. Via Riedel’s RN334.MD MADI interface, SSL consoles can remotely control mic gain, phantom power and pad settings for Riedel RN series audio interfaces connected anywhere on a RockNet network. In addition SSL’s own MORSE Stagebox and Alpha-Link I/O units can also be connected via MADI to Riedel’s MediorNet networks with full remote control capability maintained. In a world premiere, Lawo presented a new, innovative highlight of the mc² mixing console series. The latest mc² console will surprise by its new dimension of intuitive operation, efficiency, flexibility and easy to use. Among the mc²56’s new features is real, two-man operation with fully decentralised control of all parameters including bank and layer selection, EQ, dynamics and bus assignment—due in no small part to the console’s fully featured ISO bay access provisions. The new mc²56 now offers improved ergonomic and intuitive handling, providing operators greater confidence when working under pressure.


Studio & Broadcast IBC REPORT Wheatstone unleashed the LX-24 Console Control Surface, which is an entirely new design, combining a sleek, low-profile, high-tech look with superior ergonomics. Featuring smooth Penny & Giles long-throw faders, high-resolution metering, positive-action switches with LED lighting and film labelling, and fully modular construction, the console has an impressive array of capabilities. It’s designed specifically for use with the WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network. Low profile design and a table-top form factor allow the LX-24 to fit into almost any studio situation, requiring no holes or cut-outs in the furniture. The meter bridge features three sets of bright, ultra-high resolution LED meters, as well as LED talkbacks for auxiliary levels and pan control. A digital clock/timer is also included. Each fader provides access to four stereo busses, plus four pre-fader aux sends a stereo CUE bus and four mix-minuses. An LED source name display, an A/B source selector and two programmable soft buttons are also available, plus SET button provides access to assignable controls in the master section. Calrec demonstrated Hydra2 – an audio routing system. Its plug and play architecture means that connecting consoles together is as simple as connecting their routers, with a single connection between routers providing 512 audio signals in both directions and enormous network expansion. The router does not require an entire console system to function, so complex networks can be created with minimal cost. The AEQ CAPITOL makes digital technology available to radio and TV stations where digitalisation has still not been feasible. AEQ CAPITOL was conceived taking into account our customers’ needs for a versatile, powerful, easy to use and not less importantly, very cost efficient digital mixer. Based upon the AEQ ARENA and FORUM digital mixing consoles that are currently in service at thousands of studios of both medium and high level, AEQ CAPITOL offers the same performance as the FORUM but in a ‘fixed’ format; perfectly adapted to the real needs of the majority of stations but with a limited number of options. Distributed by

Microphones Sennheiser unveiled the Digital 9000; a digital wireless system that can transmit completely uncompressed audio, artefact-free and with superb dynamics. Targeting broadcasting professionals, (musical) theatres and high-profile live audio events; it sets a new benchmark in digital wireless transmission. The system, which includes the EM 9046 receiver, SKM 9000 handheld and SK 9000 bodypack transmitters, and a comprehensive suite of accessories, has been meticulously designed for the highest channel counts in today’s increasingly dense frequency environment.


The ground-breaking digital wireless system is fitted with two transmission modes to suit any need and environment. The High Definition (HD) mode will transmit entirely uncompressed, artefactfree audio, as if a high-quality cabled microphone were used. The Long Range (LR) mode has been designed for difficult transmission environments with many sources of interference. It ensures maximum range with a proprietary Sennheiser digital audio codec. At 53.9 centimeters long, Audio-Technica’s new BP4071L is among the longest shotgun microphones on the market today. Originally developed at the request of broadcast professionals, this microphone boasts an extremely narrow polar pattern, excellent rejection from the sides and rear of the microphone, along with crisp, intelligible audio reproduction. It offers switchable low-frequency roll-off and a 10dB pad, and comes generously equipped with a stand clamp, windscreen and case. Distributed by

Audio interfaces AVID announced the new Pro Tools|HD Native Thunderbolt interface, delivering the lowest latency and the highest sound quality of any host based audio workstation for Thunderbolt technology equipped CPUs. The Pro Tools|HD Native Thunderbolt interface brings the industrystandard Pro Tools HD toolset and premium conversion of Pro Tools HD Series interfaces to a broader group of customers who use a laptop or other computer with Thunderbolt technology, at great value. With its elegantly implemented Thunderbolt connectivity, the Pro Tools|HD Native Thunderbolt interface gives producers, engineers and mixers the incredible sound quality, low latency and sheer power of the award-winning Pro Tools|HD Native system in a mobile-based hardware solution, while connecting with Pro Tools HD Series interfaces (such as HD OMNI and HD I/O) for capturing and monitoring audio with pristine clarity. In addition, customers can conveniently monitor mixes using the interface’s built-in audiophile grade headphone output, which is powerful enough to drive headphones with high impedance loads.

Recorders Roland Systems Group introduced their new flagship field recorder, the Roland R-88. The Roland R-88 establishes a new standard in professional portable recording by providing seamless integration of a recorder, mixer and a multi-channel audio interface. With eight discrete channels of audio recording plus a stereo mix, the R-88 is ideal for demanding multi-channel applications such as location sound design, event production, event videography and live musical performance. Solid State Logic flaunted its Live-Recorder system. Live-Recorder is designed for situations where a robust and reliable high-channel-count recorder/player is required in a live performance environment.

IBC REPORT Studio & Broadcast It is ideal for live music recording from front of house consoles at live shows, in broadcast production studios and location recording vehicles. Live-Recorder is also an excellent solution for live performance playback of studio recorded multi-tracks. Unlike any other solution, Live-Recorder exports/imports native (.ptf format) projects directly to/from Pro Tools™ and to/from Apple™ XML and Steinberg™ XML. System connectivity is via standard optical MADI so can connect over long distances directly to any MADI equipped Digital Mixing Consoles, Venue Audio Distribution infrastructure (Riedel, Optocore etc) or Routers. The system presents significant cost saving opportunities when compared to Hard Disk Recorders or other DAW recorder systems. Live-Recorder systems can capture up to 128 Channels @ 24bit/48kHz or 64 Channels @ 24bit/96kHz.

Loudspeakers Genelec unveiled its new Smart Active Monitor (SAM) concept, which is capable of automatically adapting to acoustical environments. As a sound engineer, you need to have a reliable and precise monitor system that reproduces the source sound neutrally. You want an uncolored and undistorted sound with flat frequency response in all situations. A monitor that is capable of automatically adapting to acoustical environments and correcting for levels, delays and room calibration is an indispensable tool for a sound professional. A Smart Active Monitor (SAM) addresses all these demanding tasks. A SAM system can be controlled with digital networking, enabling you to build highly flexible computer controlled systems of monitors. The acoustical features of SAMs can be optimised with software calibration features for different working styles or client demands. SAM reflects the most advanced monitoring system features available in the audio industry.

Telecomms HARMAN’s Studer introduced CMS Lite, the new, cost-effective telephone system solution for broadcasters. CMS Lite serves from a single studio up to multiple studio installations and integrates perfectly with Studer’s range of OnAir consoles, making call-ins easier to manage in the studio. CMS Lite uses state-of-the-art technology and allows the installation of a flexible and scalable phone system. It profits from renowned and powerful technology, already proven in various large broadcast environments with more than 100 users. Because CMS Lite uses off-the-shelf standard IT components, it is very cost-effective, requiring less installation labour, less cabling and providing a high return on investment. CMS Lite also helps save costs by moving away from old-fashioned, proprietary telephone hybrids. CMS Lite retains much of the functionality of the large CMS System, including DJ Self-op, switchboard operator and producer modes, waiting rooms and database support. Distributed by Clear-Com announced Shipment of BroaMan’s DiViNe V3R-FX-ICOM-SDI to Broadcast Market at IBC.

The new BroaMan DiViNe V3R-FX-ICOMSDI is ideal for any setup that requires multiple feeds of high-quality audio, video, data and intercom. It provides scalable, protocol-independent routing, repeating, transport and distribution of multiple signals over optical fibre and is equipped with (four) four-wire RJ45 matrix ports and (four) four-wire RJ45 panel ports. This ensures that either matrices or intercom panels can be connected to the unit using standard CAT cables. Users can send audio and control data from Clear-Com key panels or matrices transparently through the optical network. The unit is capable of housing up to six SD/HD/3G-SDI coaxial video inputs, or outputs that are converted to and from single-mode DiViNe optical fiber links.

Audio monitors The latest member of TSL’s Precision Audio Monitor (PAM) product family, PAM PiCo is a compact, yet comprehensively equipped, standalone audio and Loudness metre featuring the revolutionary StarFish™ surround sound display. Designed for use in any operational position where ‘at a glance’ audio metering is required, PAM PiCo is available in three formats; to display stereo, multichannel or surround sound audio from analogue, AES or embedded SDI signal sources, all measuring loudness to international standards and recommendations including ITU, EBU and ATSC. Both simple to use and easy to configure, PAM PiCo puts high quality metering within easy reach of anyone involved in sound production, from operators working throughout broadcast production to music studio technicians and record producers. TC Electronic displayed the TC TouchMonitor TM7 & TM9. These products are the ultimate, stand-alone loudness meter solution, featuring a touch screen with highly flexible layout options, an extremely consistent loudness readout and compatibility with American, European and Japanese broadcasting standards, for example. TC TouchMonitor TM7 & TM9 is a full-featured stereo and multichannel loudness and true-peak level metre, which is perfect not only for broadcast ingest and transmission, but also for post, film and live production. When you need to comply with a given international broadcasting standard, the numbers representing loudness are paramount, and these all-important digits are displayed instantly on the large colour touch screen. Distributed by Wohler’s newest audio monitor offers fast, intuitive operation for monitoring SDI audio in the most demanding production applications. Whether in the studio or on the road, the AMP1-16M provides instantaneous selection and summing of any grouping of SDI audio pairs. It features adjustable volume and balance controls, clear display of levels, and phase indications on bright 2.4” LED-backlit LCD displays, with configurations that can be created, saved and recalled via Ethernet connection using an intuitive PC inteface.

IBC returns to Amsterdam from 12 to 17 September 2013.


17 – 19 July 2013, the Coca-Cola dome Northgate, Johannesburg, South Africa advanced technology trade show

Book your stand now!

Proudly brought to you by Thebe Exhibitions & Sun-Circle Publishers

Photos by Greg Bester

INDUSTRY EXPERT Studio & Broadcast

Ian Osrin

By Greg Bester

Tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood on the outer reaches of Albert’s Farm, stands a recording studio that is as unassuming as it is seminal. If the walls could talk, they would have a lot to say and we would listen with bated breath because when it comes to South African music, there are few studios that can contend with such a long and impressive pedigree. Digital Cupboard’s owner Ian Osrin, a veteran of the SA recording scene and a virtual godfather of audio. To many of us young aspiring audio engineers who were still wet behind the ears when Ian was already decades into his career making hit records. What sets the Digital Cupboard apart is that it was one of the first – if not THE first – fully digital recording studios in South Africa and possibly anywhere else within 10 000 miles at the time. On top of that, Ian Osrin, despite being a long-time player in the game, has not let his longevity ail his sense of technology because the man is a virtual technological guru. But do not be fooled. Once you meet him he starts to reveal himself as somewhat of a paradox because model numbers, specifications, and marketing claims mean very little to him because his philosophy leans more towards function and transparency than anything else.

What did you do when you returned from the States?

The man

Kerk Street in Johannesburg near Downtown Studios?

Ian give me a little bit of background as to how and when you started your career in audio? “Back in 1983 I tried to produce a group and they told me how useless I was and how little I knew, and they were right. I then went to study sound engineering in the States at one of these six week recording workshops – and quite a good one – in Chillicothe, Ohio. It was a fantastic course, and I loved it.”

“Initially I couldn’t get a job so I was advised to work in live instead of trying to get into studio so I got a job with Coliseum Acoustics and did many shows with them. Then I was lucky enough to do an event for Gallo Records.”

Please go on. “At that show, the head of what was then RPM studios – which eventually became Downtown Studios – heard (my mix of) the show and said to me: “You’re not bad. Do you think you can record?” and I said, “Ja, I think so.” So he said: “Okay, go to a studio, get a band, and if you can bring me a cassette in the morning with music on, you’ve got a job.” So I said: “Cool.” I did that, delivered it, and he put in me in an old studio in Gallo Studios in Kerk St.” “Yes. Basically, all those studios used to record were demos, church choirs and Mbaqanga groups, which were typically material that white engineers at the time would scoff at. But for me it was like heaven for three years because nobody came there. They left me alone. I had a two-inch Studer 16-track machine, which was amazing. The quality was amazing. I had a Neve desk as well. That studio was heaven for me and I learned a lot there.”

What came out of your experience there? “Well, like I said, that studio was heaven and I was lucky because I was recording all this interesting traditional music. It was really lekker. Then I graduated to the bigger studios, did a bit of work there until I finally got a job at the Teal Truetone record company as an A&R manager. I worked there for a couple years until I was fired for being too revolutionary.”

We laughed. What did they mean by “too revolutionary”? “Effectively, I was once told by one of my bosses that I was too black, which was a bit silly, because I’ve never tried to be. I just happened to see that in those days that there was a lot of injustice so I stood more on the side of justice. That made me too radical. Plus, I insisted I go to work in shorts and refused to go to a 9am meeting after a 4am session.


Studio & Broadcast Product Review

Allen & Heath GSR24

An established British manufacturer of audio consoles is in the spotlight.

By Greg Bester

To those familiar with Cornwall, England-based Allen & Heath, they are a company who has had a long and prestigious pedigree in almost many areas of the pro audio market. Their ML5000 live analogue mixer and now their digital iLive consoles have a firm hold in the minds of audio enthusiasts, famous for their great sound, ease of use and comprehensive features. The EQ on the ML5000, after all, is known as one of the finest in the industry. Given their history, then, it is no surprise that they also offer products for the recording market, making a huge mark currently with their ZEDrange of studio mixers / audio interfaces and their recently released ICE-16 standalone USB recorder. Of course, we shouldn’t forget to mention past studio products, like the System 8, a mixer released in 1983, built for studio and stage that enjoyed much success through three revisions; the Saber, a medium format studio mixing console; and then the GS3000, a medium format, 8-group, inline studio mixing console aimed at commercial and project studios. The GS3000 was a huge hit with many users because it bridged the gap between the ubiquitous small format cannon fodder that has an almost omnipresence in the industry and the large format mixing consoles found in commercial studios. Sadly, it was discontinued and as a result cries were heard all over the world for Allen & Heath to reinstate or revise it. Well Allen & Heath listened to their users and have reincarnated the GS3000 in the form of the new GSR24 and GSR24M studio mixing consoles. Let’s see if it retained its karma!

has brought with it many conveniences that save us a lot of time and streamlines our workflow but many professionals still long to work on a good analogue console for the tactile feel and the sound. As a result, hybrid systems have been popping up all over the place that incorporate outboard processors and summing mixers that are fed from digital audio converters. This also has its drawbacks – No EQ, no subgroups and none of the other features that an analogue console provides. This has prompted other companies, like Euphonix and SSL, to release consoles that are not only full featured analogue consoles but also DAW controllers. But still, they are very expensive and still require outboard AD/DA converters, which can also cost an arm and a leg. Enter the GSR4. The GSR24 is essentially a 24-channel analogue recording console with integrated DAW and MIDI control and a 32-channel audio interface, provided you have the optional interface card installed. There are currently two cards available for the GSR24: analogue and Firewire/ADAT. Of course, to take full advantage of the GSR24’s features, the Firewire card is required in order to send DAW control messages to and from the console. Using the Firewire card, a total of

Features Given the success of their ZED R16 recording consoles, it is easy to see why Allen & Heath were prompted to revise the GS3000 format and produce the GSR24. Those familiar with the ZED R16 will be quite at home on a GSR24 as many of the features are translatable. Quite simply put, there are three sides to this design combination: a full featured analogue console, an audio interface and a DAW controller. This format is a growing trend in the current market. Digital audio


Analogue option card

Digital option card

Product Review Studio & Broadcast

nine routing configurations are possible which includes enabling direct out multitrack recording, latency free monitoring, or mixdown modes (and more). Of course, as the GSR24 is both an analogue console and a DAW controller, mixing can be accomplished by routing audio directly to the console or by using the 100mm fully motorized faders to control the DAW. This is where the GSR24 and the GSR24M differ; ‘M’ stands for ‘Motorised’. The GSR24 does not have motorised faders and is therefore less expensive. Another noteworthy feature is the inclusion of two valve channels that can be used to add ‘valve warmth’ to any signal you designate to it. This expands the tonal ‘colour palette’ of the mixer. There are also four stereo line channels so the GSR24 affords 34 channels in total. When it comes to Aux sends, there are six, and independent stereo and mono main busses along with a full-featured monitoring section afford the user two stereo cue busses and 5.1 surround monitoring. DAW-control is widespread in the GSR24. These include transport control buttons, 12 rotary encoders and 14 user definable buttons that can conceivably be assigned to any parameter of your choosing. Also there are, of course, the 24 motorised faders in the GSR24M. Anyone familiar with the layout of a traditional analogue audio console will be quite comfortable on the GSR24. There is a full metre bridge that displays a variety of configurations for channels and monitoring. As mentioned, the console is in line design-wise with the input channels to the left, and the master section to the relative centre. The microphone preamp comprises the same preamp found in the

ZED R16, which is nice if you have one of each for translatability. The preamp gained its heritage from the summing amplifier that was originally manufactured for a very high quality unnamed console in the 1980s and is a very low-noise design. The EIN (Equivalent Input Noise) rating of the preamp is an incredible -128.5dB at 60dB of gain and also boasts an extremely low distortion rating. This makes for an incredibly quiet and transparent preamp that has received much praise from users all over. Another feature taken directly from the ZED R16 is the EQ. It is a four-band, dual parametric design with a high and low shelf. The summing bus of the console incorporates low-noise transistors for a clean, high-performance summing action during mixdown.

The wrap The GSR24 is a fantastic, one-stop solution for any and all studio recording needs. The fact that is first and foremost a full featured analogue console is good enough but with the inclusion of DAW control and audio interfacing, there is little reason to spend a lot of time sourcing each of these components individually. With one cable from the mixer to your PC you instantly have a powerful, great sounding studio solution for recording, monitoring and mixing purposes. Combined with the power of the DAW the GSR24 represents a truly hybrid system that many engineers will find comfortable, powerful and streamlined.


Studio & Broadcast Product Review

Listening to the future

What type of audio system do you use – native or propriety? How similar are they? Do you know how they differ? Greg Bester asks (and answers) all these questions – and more. If one looks back several years, maybe even a decade or two, there was not a huge amount of evolution in the digital audio workstation market for the majority of the period. At least not on the surface. As the industry slowly marched on, two distinct camps emerged: native systems, such as Cubase, Nuendo, Logicand proprietary systems, such as Pro Tools, Soundscape and Pyramix (DSD). If we strip away all of the specifics, the topologies of these systems are actually quite similar. After all, both are track-based and offer processing, editing and mixing tools to route, mix, and manipulate audio; a ‘virtual’ production studio within a computer. So, given that, what are the differences? Well, proprietary systems are often exclusively linked to their hardware. In the case of Pro Tools, until recently, one could not operate the software without the hardware counterpart. In addition Pro Tools HD incorporated DSP accelerated cards which ran their TDM plugins to take strain off of the processor, which in turn, ran only the audio engine. The hardware was all connected with proprietary connectors and cables too and this made for a closed system that was not open to hardware from very many third party manufacturers. The upside to this is that quality, reliability and support could be assured and that is why Pro Tools became the de facto industry standard in almost all commercial recording facilities.


Native systems, such as Steinberg’s Cubase, rely on the computer’s internal CPU to handle all audio duties, including the audio engine itself and real time processing, such as when using native plugins. This potentially puts a huge amount of strain on the processor but given the ever-escalating rise in the power of personal computing, running a completely native system is becoming more and more feasible. In addition to native systems being completely software-based and running completely on the CPU, they are also open to a wide variety of compatible third party hardware and software – both free and commercial. This means that you can feasibly use any compatible audio interface of your choosing and have the freedom to choose from a massive and growing selection of free and paid-for plugins. Plus given that third-party DSP cards like Universal Audio’s UAD series are becoming more and more powerful (and affordable) and take processing strain off of the CPU, native systems have seen a rise in recent years and are now competing with Avid’s audio giant, Pro Tools HD. Given these advancements in technology and the rise of the native system, it is no surprise that Avid chose to go native in 2010. From Pro Tools 9 and onwards, Avid allowed the integration of a wide variety of hardware on standard computer audio transport protocols such as ASIO (PC) and CoreAudio (Mac) into Pro Tools and this did much to broaden its user base. The initial release of the HD Native and later the HDX cards for Pro Tools 10 saw the introduction of the AAX plugin format; up to five times the processing power of a TDM HD system on a single card and the introduction of the Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) DSP Chip for processing of audio tracks. Ultra low latency (1.6ms analogue throughput!), input processing and high processing capacity are still the main points of interest for Pro Tools HD systems and despite the fact there are powerful native systems available, Avid continues to lead the field as a studio standard.

Product Review Studio & Broadcast Thunderous applause So what’s next? Well, in a follow on to the Pro Tools HD Native PCI-e card that was released in October 2010, Avid recently released the HD Native Thunderbolt interface, which is basically an HD Native card in an external enclosure that interfaces with a PC or laptop via the brand new Thunderbolt protocol developed by Intel. These two pieces of hardware enable you to use Pro Tools HD software and any of the Pro Tools HD interfaces without the need for any accelerated DSP cards. It also enables laptop users to harness the power of Pro Tools HD on-the-go. Conceivably, an engineer could use the HD Thunderbolt interface at his / her studio, unplug and then perform a remote recording on his laptop; all cross-translatable between systems. This was not possible in the past. But what is Thunderbolt? Thunderbolt – code named Light Peak – is a new bus expansion interface for personal computing and the next step forward in connecting peripheral devices to a PC. Originally developed by Intel, it was first brought to the market in collaboration with Apple and was introduced in their MacBook Pro product line on 24 February 2011. It uses the same connector as the Mini DisplayPort (MDP) that most MacBook Pro users are familiar with. Diving deeper into the technology, Thunderbolt combines PCI Express (PCI-e) and DisplayPort into a “serial data interface that can be carried over a single cable”. This means it carries both generic data and display data over a single cable and supports transmission of audio via the DisplayPort protocol, USB-based external audio cards, or through HDMI adapters.

The controller chips multiplex (multiple data streams are combined into one signal over a shared medium) data from these two sources for duplex transmission over a Thunderbolt lane and are then de-multiplexed at the other end by the receiver controller, as seen in Figure 1. A massive 10Gbit/sec data rate per device is possible, which is absolutely huge considering USB 3 comes in at 5Gbit/sec and SATA 3 at 6Gbit/sec. Six devices can be daisy chained together and hot plugging is supported.

ThunderboltTM Cable

PCI Express

PCI Express

PCI Express / DisplayPort DisplayPort

DisplayPort l le r ntro Co

l le r ntro Co

Interface the music As mentioned before, the Pro Tools HD Thunderbolt interface is an HD Native PCI-e card in an external enclosure. Looking at the interface, it is unassuming and indeed, one could be fooled into thinking it’s nothing special. The front façade comprises a single headphone output, a volume knob, and an LED light that indicates whether the interface is connected and engaged. The words ‘HD NATIVE’ are brandished there, along with the Thunderbolt logo, which is fittingly a bolt of thunder superimposed over a circle.

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Studio & Broadcast Product Review

The rear of the interface is almost just as sparse as the front comprising the Thunderbolt port, an external DC power port and two Avid Digi connectors for the connection of Avid HD interfaces. Austere? For sure, but the lack of controls belies its true power because, despite being a ’native’ system, there are a few features which distinguishes this system from others.

Firstly, the system is not strictly 100% native. Granted, processing is handled by your computer’s CPU but the audio engine itself is run on the FPGA chip installed on the card itself. This chip provides the low latency performance HD systems are famous for and runs the mixer I/O. The card can run both Core Audio and ASIO drivers, which opens it up to operation with other DAW software such as Logic or Cubase. However when sticking the Pro Tools domain there is full session cross-compatibility with TDM-based Pro Tools HD systems. RTAS plugin versions will automatically be engaged. The only features that aren’t available in an HD Native system are TDM-only plugins and Avid’s HEAT analogue saturation emulation. So what features does one get with a Pro Tools HD Native system? Well sessions of up to 256 tracks are supported, along with 64 channels of I/O. Tracking is enhanced with ‘set-and-forget direct monitoring’ and the included low latency mode feature. All in all, you get a grand total of 1.6ms analogue throughput latency in this system! This is undoubtedly one of the best latency specs on the market. AAX and RTAS plugins are supported, plus AGC (Automatic Delay Compensation) on hardware and software inserts. Sessions can be seamlessly shared between Pro Tools|HDX and Pro Tools|HD users without any loss of data and with complete mix translatability. Timecode and video reference synchronisation are also supplied when using the SYNC HD interface. Finally, one of the nicest features for me at least, is the new RAM Disc Cache feature which loads an entire session into physical memory, provided there is enough available. This makes operation of the software ‘snappier’ as there is no loading from the hard drive or streaming over a network.


Breaking into the box For this review, I was supplied with a brand new i7 quad-core MacBook Pro, the HD Native Thunderbolt interface and an Avid Omni HD interface. The Omni is Avid’s ‘Swiss Army Knife’ interface that offers eight channels of AD/DA on a variety of I/O protocols. There are two microphone preamps included with send and return-style inserts; along with eight analogue line-ins; eight analogue outs (on a DB25 connector); eight digital outputs (also on a DB25 connector in the AES/EBU format); an AES/EBU input on XLR, S/PDIF i/o on RCA; and ADAT optical i/o. There are also ports for a remote, wordclock i/o, and loop sync i/o. However, only eight channels of I/O can be used at any time but you can mix and match inputs to your heart’s content. I found this limiting and a waste of all the connectors at the rear, but we’ll leave it at that. Set up could not have been simpler. I connected the Omni to the Thunderbolt interface via single Digi cable and plugged the Thunderbolt interface into the MacBook Pro with the supplied Thunderbolt cable. It was identified immediately. After opening Pro Tools all that was left to do was configure the interface via the Playback Engine menu by selecting ‘HD Thunderbolt’. Supplied with the MacBook Pro was a sample session by Grammy winner Imogen Heap of the song ‘Tidal’. This session is 160 tracks and uses nothing but standard plugins in Pro Tools HD Native. The session played back instantly and without flaws despite the slew of plugins used and a large amount of automation. There was no lag after pressing play and everything felt tactile and fast. The Omni sounded good too, and coupled with the Genelec 8030 system with a Genelec sub, I had connected it to; the resulting sound was clear, precise and full.

Verdict I was quite astounded at the sheer power of a system with such a small footprint. With 160 tracks going on and lots of processing taking place, the relatively standard MacBook Pro didn’t even seem to blink an eyelid. This, I assume, is because of the load taken off the processor by the FPGA chip and because of Avid’s RAM Disc Caching, not to mention the sheer speed and efficiency of the Thunderbolt interface. Just when we all started doubting Avid’s market choices and thought they were about to join the rest of the native droves, they came back to establish why they are the industry leader and distinguished themselves as innovators. ‘Going Native’ did nothing to hurt their reputation, in fact, it probably bolstered it not to mention secured them sectors of the market they were only dabbling in before. Goodbye Pro Tools LE and the restricting nature of closed systems. Hello to the future.


DF Solutions and Residential Solutions Training – iLED offices, Roodepoort

DF Solutions and Residential Solutions Training

Trevor Morkel and Dean Knoetze

Craig Potter and Bruce Atkinson

Tumelo Sibanyoni

Werner Steyn

Polycom HDX and RealPresence Series Launch – Kathea office, Sandton

Nathan Goldstein

Dan Engel

Dan Engel and Tinus van Wyk

Elaine Shellard, Wynand Langenhoven and Darren Cordoso, Chris Maritz and Dale Angela Murison MacMarray

Divesh Nathoo, Craig Hooker, Parmesh Naidoo, John Dyssell and Joe Ndala

Vanessa Speedie and Nickie Wolmarans

Mpho Moseki, Ivy Dlamini and Charity Nyabereka

Joe Ndala, Tinus van Wyk, Mauritz van Wyk

Dr Kramer’s “Future of AV” Seminar – Pick n Pay Institute, Fourways

Dave Sternberg and Paul Lowther

Bomaru and Lebogang Busami

Brad Miller and Phillip Austin

Elvis Machebele and Stefan Mayer

Marnus Jacobs and Nicholas Scott Paul Servant and Bruce Genricks

Dean Govender and Jason Johnston

Peter Varley

Raul Novick

Electrosonic Team (back) with Dr Kramer & Mrs Kramer (front)

Martin Professionals’ Peter Dahlin and Christian Engsted South African Visit – Electrosonic offices, Johannesburg

Andrew Rowan and Christian Engsted

Bruce Genricks, Christian Engsted, Bruce Schwartz, Peter Dahlin and Eugene Coetzee

Vanio Alexondrov Justin le Roux, Christopher Bolton and and Lourie Coetzee Bruce Schwartz

Cliff Gurney and Leon Mulder

Omar Sharfoodeen, Joel Davis, Petros Sithole and Joey Twala

Denise van Wyk and Thea Pretorius

Eugene Coetzee and Vanio Alexondrov

Raylene Power, Themba Phillips, Posa Nkomo and Nikiwe Lubisi

J.C le Roux and Renier Smit

Suren Lutchman, Peter Dahlin, Adrian Skinner and Grant Williams


SACIA Breakfast – Blandford Manor, Johannesburg

Brinlay Pritchard, Steve Alves and Bruce Genricks

Kris Dobie, James Hill and Wikus Venter

Sammy Naidoo, Anton Pike, Rudi du Plooy, Brent Eustice and Mark Geldenhuys

Bruce Genricks

SACIA members discussing ethics

Sobi Mokholo, Duncan Todd, Mike Berridge and Rob Nelson

Tebogo Dube, Levy Modiba, David Forbes and Dean Jules

Stage Lighting Master Classes 2012 – Market Theatre, Johannesburg

Adrian Poulsen, Jaci de Villiers Andries Liebenberg and Keegan Adams, Rene Russol Andre Westrad and Kevin Rieck and Joceyn Broderick Norman Sesana and Benjamin Mills

Mannie Mannim, Richard Pilbrow and Declan Randall

Ian Blair, Mathius Kunde and Dave Whitehouse

David Mukwana, Emelda Khola and Thunyelwa Thambe

Declan Randall

Arno Mocke

Elijah Makgobenyane and Wilhelm Disbergen

Kealeboga Molefe, Palesa Zimbiri, Tersia du Plessis, Lucky Nkosi, Jeffrey Kubheka, Anele Tsewu, Dr Jan Nel, Lebogang Dhlamini, Patrick Mbatha, George Masilela Thabang Sebothoma, Keoitse Lobelo, Mthunzi and David Mukwana Ntshangase, Chantel Coetzee, Mac Motlotlo Makhobtloane & Thato Moalusi

Peter Mitchell, Marcus Henning Brendan Pursey and and Chantel Coetzee Gareth Chambers

Ernett Nkwana and Tebogo Madega

Grant Nortman and JC Laurent

Mannie Manim, Dr jan Nel and Catherine Dickinson and Kamini Soobben James O’Donoghue

Vivitek Product Launch– Audiosure, Johannesburg

Bright Asante, K. Fosu-Amoah, Abram Mmuthule and Lancelot Manjoro

Brendan Venter and Stuart Black

Brian Grogan

Gerhard Klopper and Nilesh Bhana

Mpho Mazibuko and Lukas Sibeko

Maria Khumalo and Nonhlanhla Kunene

Camilla Brengosz and James Hsu

Sam Mutero and Len Bloem

David Mafokeng, Aubrey Ndaba Gavin Atkinson and Thato Mafokeng

Stuart Black, Camilla Brengosz and Charl Marais

Thys Venter (left) shows off the power of 3D

Lightweight cost, Lightweight mass

! h c n u p t h g i e w y v a He

Small footprint and light weight

DVA T12 and DVA T4 are totally compatible to fit together

DVA Composer predictive software manages the complete set-up – which includes the DVA S30N Subs, DVA T12 and DVA T4 line array enclosures – ensuring limitless combinations, to suit venues from clubs to stadiums and everything in between

RDNet Software manages the system during shows

With stats to produce a technical knockout




3 Way Active Line Array Module 3 Way Active Line Array Module


Frequency Response (+/- 3dB):

Frequency Response (+/- 3dB):

Frequency Response (+/- 3dB):

60 – 19000Hz

80 – 19000Hz

30 – 120Hz

Max SPL: 136dB

Max SPL: 128dB

Max SPL: 141dB

HF Drivers: 3 x 1” Neo Compression Driver

HF Drivers: 2 x 1” Neo Compression Driver

LF Drivers: 2 x 18” Neo

MF Drivers: 2 x 6.5” Neo

MF Driver: 1 x 6.5” Neo

Power Rating: 3000 W

LF Driver: 12” Neo

LF Driver: 8” Neo

Weight: 72Kg

Power Rating: 710 + 350 + 350 W

Power Rating: 220 + 100 + 100 W

Dimensions mm:

Weight: 29.9Kg

Weight: 13.8Kg

1100(W) x 580(H) x 720(D)

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

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

viva afrika

Viva Afrika Sound and Light (Pty) Ltd Unit 2, 2 Drakensburg Road Longmeadow Business Park West, Westfield PO Box 4709, Rivonia, 2128, South Africa Tel: 011 250-3280, Fax: 011 608-4109,

IT’s All AbouT The


Thank you to the people for your support. Happiness in 2013.

Pro-Systems 4th Quarter 2012  

Pro Systems Print and Online News publication aimed at four target markets: AV System Integration & Installations, Concert & Live Events and...