On June 23, 2023, a unique show was held to celebrate the millennium of Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey. Called “Solstice du Millénaire” (The Millenium Solstice), the sound and light show designed by Les Ateliers BK retraced the history of the historic monument and magnified the building listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The Millennium Solstice in the Mont-Saint-Michel by Les Ateliers BK – Technical production: VLS.
The technical production of this grandiose mapping was entrusted to AV technical provider VLS. Comprising 5 scenes, the spectacular combined video projection, sound, 18 beams of light and 400 drones. Teams of VLS were faced with the challenge of staging such a show while respecting the listed site. The modules housing the video projectors were installed 200 meters from the abbey. A total of 36 x Epson 20K dual projectors were needed to ensure sufficient light output and manage the different depth levels of the building.
The projectors were powered by 9 x Modulo Player Pro media server from Modulo Pi to play media over 17,000sqm of projection area.
The media server and its X-Map function made it possible to handle the warping work in 2D, with +200 layers warped independently, so that the images perfectly followed the lines of the Mont Saint-Michel island and abbey.
All the elements of the show – projection, audio, lighting and drones – were synchronized to the timecode generated by Modulo Player. An audience of 15,000 came to see this exceptional 10-minute show, broadcast every half-hour from nightfall to 1am.
A new audio system driven by Powersoft’s Quattrocanali and Duecanali install amplifiers is packing a punch at the Ebimpe stadium in the suburb of Abidjan. More than 60 Powersoft Quattrocanali 4804 amplifiers are delivering the power for an all-new PA system serving one of the biggest stadia in West Africa.
Located in the eponymous suburb of Abidjan, the largest city in the Ivory Coast, the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé is the country’s national stadium, being home to Les Éléphants, the Ivory Coast national football team. The 60,000-seat venue was inaugurated on 3 October 2020, when it was given the additional name Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium (Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara), after the Ivorian president. It is expected to eventually form the heart of a vast, 287-hectare Olympic village, and will next year host the opening ceremony and final match of the postponed 2023 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
The need for a new sound system so soon after the Olympic Stadium’s construction came after its original PA system,installed by the original contractor, China’s Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG), was damaged by adverse weather conditions. The new system was designed by Ricardo Castro, CEO of Portuguese AV consultancy RCOe, on behalf of local integrator Protech Distribution.
In addition to the 61 Quattrocanali 4804 – of which he opted for the DSP+D model, with Dante audio-over-IP networking, Castro specified 14 Powersoft Duecanali 6404 DSP+D amplifiers to lend additional power for the 104-loudspeaker system, which is divided into 28 clusters to maximise audio coverage across the stadium. A pair of Quattrocanali are bi-amped to each Community R2-66MAX speaker cluster, while the Duecanali are used to power the Community IS8-215 subs.
All amplifiers, patchboxes and network switches are divided into four rack rooms, located at the four corners of the stadium, to minimise the length of the cable connection to the loudspeakers. A Biamp TesiraFORTÉ DAN DSP is used as a Dante converter for the primary audio source to the amplifiers, as well as for a four-zone paging system for security and emergency announcements.
One of the four rack rooms full of 4804 DSP+D Quattrocanali.
Castro explains that while he is generally manufacturer-agnostic, he knew when first approached by Inza Bamba, Protech’s managing director, with whom he has a long working relationship, that Powersoft amplifiers and Community loudspeakers from Biamp would be a perfect fit for the new-look Ebimpé Stadium and that’s before he found that BCEG had used some Powersoft racks for the otherwise poorly designed previous installation. This discovery was important from a budgetary point of view: having already paid out for one sound system, the stadium’s managing committee was looking for a cost-effective solution for its replacement.
Inza Bamba Protech’s managing director.
Additionally, “time was very tight, which I think was the biggest challenge,” continues Castro. “I was given six months for everything.” The installation was completed on time in May, despite additional difficulties recruiting suppliers and dealing with a shortage of parts and equipment. On that front, “Inza managed things very well,” he adds. To confirm that the stadium operator had made the right decision signing off on his design, Castro initially equipped a quarter of the venue, one of four zones, with the new Powersoft–Community/Biamp system as a proof of concept. “I said, ‘Let’s see how it works,’” he recalls.
“And on one of the days we were there, stadium staff, consultants and clients all came along and heard the system for themselves, and they couldn’t believe the difference – in sound quality, volume and intelligibility – compared to the previous system. It sounds incredible.”
Powersoft solutions engineering team leader Davide Quarto.
Powersoft solutions engineering team leader Davide Quarto, one of four people on site to configure and test the new system, along with Castro, Bamba and John Caton of Biamp, says that all parties were happy with the support offered by Powersoft both during the installation and system set-up.
“They strongly believe in the added value of Powersoft when supporting project activities, from the design phase to the system first run by a skilled technical team,” he comments. “To them this is strong confirmation of why choosing Powersoft makes a difference.”
Quarto adds that the stadium audio team are particularly appreciative of the operator view interface offered by ArmoníaPlus, Powersoft’s system design and monitoring software, as it limits user access to the system configuration options. “The customer wanted to have a system that can only be monitored and safely operated,” he explains, “with limited access to the system, so as to avoid dangerous situations like changing the EQ or presets or even unlinking an amplifier.”
A Biamp TesiraFORTÉ DAN DSP is used as a Dante converter for the primary audio source to the amplifiers.
“I have been working with Powersoft for over ten years – it’s a very reliable brand and we know their products work,” confirms Castro. “They have good expertise, the support is great, and their amplifier platforms are very reliable. Plus, their software, ArmoníaPlus, is a must for us when it comes to getting everything connected and making sure it’s all working properly.
“Of course, there are other brands also do good work, but when it comes to challenging spaces and installations, you know you can count on Powersoft.”
A graduate in Professional Sound at CNSMDP, the French National Conservatoire, Magali brings extensive experience working in both live and installed sound, most recently as a Planning Engineer for Skena Planungsgesellschaft mbH.
During eight years with the Heidelberg-based architecture, media, stage and event technology specialists Magali assisted in upgrading and replacing AV systems in several prominent venues including the National Theater Mannheim, Staatstheater Darmstadt, Theater der Stadt Heidelberg, Freilichtbühne Ötigheim, University of Gießen and Stadthallen in various towns, working across all areas of the projects from tendering and financing through to system design and installation.
Looking forward to the new role at NEXO, Magali says: “Although performing arts venues are my first love, I’m excited by the challenge of working in a broader spectrum of acoustic environments, each with their own particular requirements for an installed sound system. I’m also thrilled to soon be working in an international environment, becoming a part of a highly specialised though versatile team, and helping to reinforce relationships between NEXO and German-speaking partners.”
“The Engineering Support team ensures customers get the best returns on their investment in NEXO products, first by assisting in configuring the right system for the application and then by training operators and being on-site to optimise performance at the event or venue” comments ES Director François Deffarges. “A strong academic background combined with solid experience in sound engineering and consultancy makes Magali a perfect fit for the role and we’re delighted to welcome her to the team.”
A French speaker also fluent in German and English, Magali joined the NEXO team on September 1st.
Ayrton Domino fixtures have hit the road with country music royalty accompanying multi-Grammy-winner, Shania Twain, on her “Queen of Me” global tour. ACT Entertainment is the exclusive distributor of Ayrton lighting in North America.
“The show is themed around Shania’s new album, which also features a handful of her classic hits. Waking Up Dreaming is the opening song and best describes the theme of the show,” says Nashville-based André Petrus, the tour’s lighting director and console programmer. “It’s a journey through space on a rocket ship which crashes into Twain Town. The show is packed with 3D animations, including an LED floor that really gives every seat a good perspective.”
Shania Twain’s Queen of Me Tour will play some 80 dates throughout North America, the UK and Ireland this year. The best-selling female artist in country music history kicked off the tour in Spokane, Washington in April; it will visit the UK and Ireland in September and wrap in Vancouver in November. It marks Twain’s first tour in nearly five years and follows the release of her eponymous album, which is her sixth original full-length offering, her first record since 2017 and the debut of her new label partner, Republic Nashville.
Petrus explains that, “Shania creative directs her own shows and wanted the set to be made up of LED so it can consistently morph into different scenes. She wanted to feel immersed in the content so we carried an LED floor and LED IMAG screens so the entire show feels totally enveloping.” Cory FitzGerald, a Senior Partner and Lighting Designer at Silent House Studios in Burbank, acted as production designer for the tour and devised the screen configuration and truss layout.
“The show started with the placement of screens, including a main upstage screen, large LED facia, LED floor and a header that borders stage right and left and the downstage,” says Petrus. “Once the screens were confirmed, then it was time to fit in the lighting with a giant box truss that runs upstage to downstage and a downstage truss that floats over the header with 13 Ayrton Dominos, plus another six Dominos used for floor shin kickers.”
With such an LED video-intensive show Petrus chose Domino fixtures for their ability to cut through the presence of so many screens. “They are by far the brightest hard edge we carry, and the optics are phenomenal,’’ he says. “Generally, we use them for aerial looks that really help give the entire picture a frame.”
Petrus notes that, “the support I got from ACT was top notch, as always. Ryan Kanarek and Aria Hailey have always answered my calls and helped me through a number of situations. Bradley Cronenwett and Doug Mekanik have set me up with anything I’ve needed. The ACT team is great!”
More information on Ayrton Domino fixtures and the full portfolio of innovative Ayrton LED products can be found at www.ayrton.eu
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – one of Shakespeare’s most enduring, timeless, and intricately cerebral comedies – is always a delight to light, and Singapore-based lighting designer Gabriel Chan relished this task for the 2023 Shakespeare in The Park (SITP) version of this magical and mischievous work.
Gabriel chose 67 Astera NYX Bulbs to get light sources into some of the more inaccessible parts of Richard Kent’s stunning ‘cityscape’ set design, a cocktail of architectural fantasies that reimagined Athens as a stark industrial landscape that transformed into a dynamic hi-tech playground for the magic parts of the narrative. The set needed careful lighting from specific places and NYX Bulbs proved a perfect solution.
It was the first SITP event for producers, The Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT), since 2018, and the goal was to return to the popular outdoor theatrical season with an impressive bang, which was spectacularly achieved with this acclaimed production directed by Guy Unsworth and staged at Fort Canning Green within Fort Canning Park.
With the judicious location of the NYX Bulbs, Gabriel was able to colour segments of the set diligently and in detail, and to dramatically shift the mood of the piece according to the narrative, crafting the dynamic array of different atmospheres needed. He did this together with approximately 150 other lights all helping to deliver this masterpiece of human nature, temptation, and folly.
The set worked as two completely contrasting worlds for the two main settings in the play – Athens and the dream world of the fairies, explained Gabriel. It was also the initial visual impact of the show that the audience encountered when entering Fort Canning Green and was pivotal throughout the play due to its scale and size. “For Athens, we referenced the raw industrial environment of oil refineries, docks and factories harshly lit with white floods that created sharp and abrasive lines,” he elucidated.
With the introduction of several large canvases that were drawn across the set like curtains, and plenty of lighting magic, that same set would magically become an entirely different landscape for the dream world of the fairies led by Titania and Oberon. Theirs was a colourful and rave-tastic, party-esque place … a trippy cauldron of fun, chaos, and anarchy, also enabling characters like disruptor in chief, Puck.
Gabriel’s main concern in architecturally lighting the scenic elements was that the fixtures had to last the entire 4-week run outdoors. Having had “less than satisfactory” experiences during previous SITPs – this was his seventh season – using DIY LED products, his pitch to SRT this year was focused on “needing quality manufactured products with IP protection.”
Most of the set chimneys were also not load bearing, so they needed something small and light, and once the chimneys had been installed by crane with the lights attached inside, access was very limited, so any troubleshooting had to be done wirelessly!
Astera NYX Bulbs are IP44 rated and splash proof so they can survive rain and Singapore’s constant humidity. Gabriel and his team also rigorously tested them, including by running the bulb under a tap for “an extended duration” to check the ingress protection which they found to be “very satisfactory”. He adds that the NYX Bulb’s Bluetooth and CRMX wireless connectivity was “ideal for the troubleshooting requirements and in fact the greatest utility for this project as we didn’t have direct access to the fixtures”.
The Singapore Repertory Theatre purchased the 70 x NYX bulbs specially for this production of which 67 were used in the lighting scheme, with three as spares. They were installed in 10 of the 17 set chimneys which created an array of light sources that Gabriel built into a sprinkling effect that evoked magic when that was happening, together with a variety of other narrative references.
Before using NYX Bulbs for this production, Gabriel has used Astera’s Titan Tubes, AX1 tubes and Hydra Panel products on other smaller shows and on previous SITP predictions. He also utilised five Titan Tubes on AMSND, taking advantage of their individual pixel control for dimmer, colour, and strobe parameters for an extended lighting sequence reenacting Cupid’s story. The Tube is a metaphor for Cupid’s arrow, with dimmer and colour effects simulating him ‘charging’ it up before unleashing on the unsuspecting lovers-to-be!
On Astera generally, Gabriel thinks the products and accessories are “well designed and built,” and for projects needing wireless control, some form of IP rating or portability, he regularly takes Astera as a starting point for designing and drawing up a lighting plot.
With L2, L-Acoustics has made an innovative, original and decidedly practical choice. Is it a winner for both the manufacturer and sound companies, does it address a recognized requirement and, certainly not the least important criterion to consider, does L2 sound good? Find out below! But first of all, if you’re not at all familiar with the L2 system and its indispensable LA 7.16 controller, click here, we’ve already talked about it at some length.
A battle between two systems that are only a few Hertz, a few decibels and a few years apart, but the future is knocking at the warehouse door.
Off to Marcoussis
It’s always a pleasure to arrive in Marcoussis and, as well as handshakes and hugs with old friends, there’s also an impressive number of new faces, many of them from all over the world. Talent knows no borders. Like every time we visit, we get a bit lost. The walls are either pushed back or a new building is added to accommodate the growth of our French sound giant. A stroll along the assembly lines also shows the extent to which well-targeted recruitment has led to the evolution of the tools of the trade and the various procedures, and the level of quality to which the in-house QC pushes its approach. The slightest discrepancy, even if barely visible, in the height of the grille or fabric, the smallest non-conforming grain or chip on the cabinetwork, or the slightest noise when the box is listened to (at low level) results in the box leaving the line and being labelled with a colored sticker and a description of the fault detected.
Quality and durability are assured over time, thanks to comprehensive archiving of the curves and data for each new enclosure, making it possible to compare them with the same box several years and thousands of hours of use later. Although on the day of our visit a large K1 and K1-SB order was occupying the production lines, some (very complex) L2 cabinet-making in the workshop proved that the Marcoussis firm was already working on this product, in order to be able to fill the first orders for the autumn of 2023.
Scott, with L2 on the ground, right next to a stack of four K2s, which is the benchmark for listening because of its similarity in terms of size, weight, SPL and frequency response. There are differences, which we’ll outline below.
On hand on the day of our visit was Scott Sugden, Director of Project Management, Electronics & Software, the consummate combination of super sound technician and brilliant product manager. With him, we enjoyed a series of pertinent and informative questions and answers.
SLU : What happened to the hole for moving the Panflex?
Scott Sugden : All gone! Clack! Clack! You tap it and it comes out, then you tap it again with your fist and it goes in. Don’t worry, it’s extremely solid. We made this choice because we had a little imperfection generated by this hole when we measured it, and the polar pattern suffered as a result (laughs). We also modified the fin so that part of it folds up underneath to reduce space requirements on the front and prevent a gap from forming on the side of the fin.
The side of the Panflex fin, where you can clearly see a cut-out that folds away when it’s retracted.
SLU : How do you like the look of L2? We’re getting some unconvinced feedback at SLU.
Scott Sugden : Personally, I don’t really have an opinion, but in France I’m used to criticism on social networks (laughs). For example, I’ve heard that the underside of the L2D cabinet is slanted… If you look closely, it forms a right angle with the front of the last “integrated enclosure” in the system, exactly like a classic line-array element open to the maximum angle, which is the case here since L2D opens to a total of 60° vertically. The French are quite conservative, while we innovate a lot, which no doubt explains this.
L2 and L2D flown. The cables run up to the bumper following a loop held in place by cable clips. Note the wave guide of the bottom “box” of L2D. No movable fins. The four drivers at the bottom are coupled with fixed, progressive wave guides that open from 110° to 140°.
SLU : That’s the cable routing at the rear…
Scott Sugden : We’ve taken advantage of the L2 system’s small-section multicore and limited number of elements (maximum of four). This means they can be snaked and invisibly fixed to the rear with four rows of cable clamps.
Our Cable Management system is designed to exit through the bumper. Of course, L2D, which is always used at the bottom of the system, has no clamps, unlike L2, which has four.
As always with L-Acoustics, the listening session is carried out in a very structured way, outdoors, with one system flown from a gantry and a second deployed on the ground, side by side with K2. We begin with an A/B between the two, using the same soft guitar-voice track, Hurt, by Youn Sun Nah. Without any subs.
While the character is the same except for a few details, the depth at the bottom end of K2 is slightly less evident on L2. This becomes more apparent with the subsequent track. Being 2-way + bass extension on the one hand, and 3-way on the other, the reproduction of the female human voice also changes a little, as it is shared between four 6.5” and two drivers in K2, and between two 10” and two 3” drivers in the other. L2 seems more precise and defined with, if not measurable energy, superior clarity in the upper midrange, accompanied by a slightly fuller extreme treble.
The well-known, enchanting “dB Grove” next to the L-Acoustics headquarters, where we listen to the various systems and, a few minutes after taking this photo, we discover what makes K2 start to seem dated: the cardioid directivity of L2 in the low frequencies.
The next track, Keb’ Mo’s Wake Up Everybody, features greater dynamics and warm, well-defined material at the bottom end. L2’s sound is clean, analytical and as precise and incisive as ever at the top – a sound that could be described as more modern and that needs subwoofers more than K2’s 6.5” and 12”, which are very generous at the bottom and sound more “familiar” to our ears. Better? I don’t believe so, but L2 lacks the “glue” of the last (or first) octave, despite a punchy, ultra-defined bottom end that measures well, rounded out by the 12”, which isn’t there just to cancel the rear wave.
We take advantage of this track to check out the remarkable polar pattern. From 0° to 40°, there’s a very slight, almost wide-band drop. Beyond that, we start to notice the 6 dB drop, then it plunges sharply (listening at 110°) and, once again, we get the feeling that the volume is being lowered because it’s so consistent. At the rear, it’s almost dead calm. Nothing to listen to. The logical attenuation of the drivers is compounded by that of the 1”, of which very little low end remains. For a first venture into the world of cardioid heads, this is a complete success for the R&D team at Marcoussis.
The ground support structure in Marcoussis holds L2 and L2D, behind which can be seen an array of four KS28s in end-fire configuration, for full-range and long-throw listening. On the ground, there are K2 and L2 for A/B listening without subwoofers.
To drive the point home, Scott plays the K2 stack while we’re behind L2 and, after scolding him for cheating, we understand even better the usefulness of the cardioid heads. Energy is needed up front, not in the rafters knocking down confetti from the previous show. The K2’s abundant bass is omnidirectional, and you can hear it.
We then switch L2 from Cardioide to Supercardioide, a practical choice when you want to ease up on the sides up to 110 Hz, while tightening the rest. This can be useful in several configurations, such as a simple left/right at the sides of the stage, where a little pressure is desirable. The result is immediate and without any transition noise…
The next test track demonstrates the consistency of the tonal balance from 55 meters away right up to in front of the system, with it flown at a height of around ten meters. Only a few dB of difference should be perceptible. The selected track is Birds, by Dominique Fils-Aimé, featuring vocals, a very dry double bass and a drummer/percussionist. The results are very good, despite the side wind that has picked up around the L-Acoustics launch pad. Only under the system, or nearly so, is a difference, logically, perceptible.
Let’s not forget, though, that it’s quite rare for the bottom box to be so close to the ground, it’s also rare to be able to get right up underneath it. When questioned, Scott points out that Beam Shaping, which has maintained perfect dispersion and balance, can’t work miracles at or near point 0. He also points out that with L2 it’s now possible to work even better at the lower end of the spectrum when coupling two or, even better, three L2 elements.
L2 and L2D, 70° in just over two meters and forty centimeters. L2D is definitely made for the near-field. With each additional L2, L2D starts to attack at an additional 10°. The fixed fins of the two bottom “boxes” of L2D are clearly visible; the curvature lengthens these considerably.
SLU : Aren’t the angles of L2, if I’m counting right, 10 + 60, 70°, a bit too extreme for a flat horizontal throw?
Scott Sugden : Of course it is. The array is too low and too angled. If we’d mounted eight K2s in the same configuration, 10° or 15° would have been sufficient. We’re at the theoretical limit of PULS (Progressive Ultra-dense Line Source) technology. The proof is that we can work flat, but the system was designed for rooms with a certain audience height and an angle with the stage.
This is the conceptual choice we’ve made to meet the widest possible range of requirements. The system, as assembled with an L2 and an L2D, will suffice for a very large number of shows worldwide, with a capacity of a few thousand spectators and a 15-meter hang.
SLU : There are eight 10-inch and four 12-inch speakers in each L2 enclosure. Are the 10-inch units filtered in the low end of the range?
Scott Sugden : No, they both work in full-range mode and go down to 45 Hz, they just have a different loading and role, and you’ll see with this last track that L2 delivers the low end.
L2 on its own is great, but it really shines when combined with subs
The track used to demonstrate L2’s dynamic capabilities and low end without, and finally with, subs, is none other than Donald Fagen’s Snowbound, with the late Walter Becker accompanying him on guitar and bass. And what a bass. A comparison with K2 still gives the latter system a slight advantage in terms of low midrange, the onset of infra and the fuller nature of the bass, while the rest of the spectrum seems more percussive, incisive, and faithful with L2. The bass of L2 is like the beater on the head of a bass drum, the information is there, it just lacks a bit of contour and a few Hz, and for that, KS28 is the ideal sub.
When the end-fire array of four KS28s is added, and fortunately played at the right level, L2 really comes into its own. Its precise dynamics and impact are complemented without loss of focus or any kind of distortion. In this respect, KS28 and LA12X are a major improvement over SB28 and LA8. If you want to nitpick a little, and everyone can do so or not as they please, a plateau of two little dBs from 3 kHz would give even more relief and crispness to L2 + sub compared to K2. L2 solo is fine, but it really comes into its own with subs.
The two ways of taming the bass in L2, both very effective. Here, in Cardioid mode, from 30 Hz downwards, and from 120 Hz upwards, everything is held at 110°.
In Supercarcioid mode, the bass returns slightly up to 110 Hz, when the cleaning starts up again, giving the performers a bit of pressure on stage without sacrificing rear rejection.
Faced with our questions about the bass and the ability of LA 7.16 to cope with heavy, even overloaded, mixes at the bottom end, and L2 to cope with them, we were treated to the great track that’s great, unless you’re a membrane and a power supply, Mansa, by the Super Rail Band from Mali. Before the days of well-engineered protection, this track would have blown out domes and bulged voice coils, if not worse.
This track is played right at the edge of the limiters, and it’s a joy. The snare slams hard, loud and clear, and cuts through impeccably, with the kick pulling an endless bass note behind it, too. Of course, there’s a trick. The contour and bottom octave are served up on a platter by KS28 and LA12X, which takes a lot of the load off the LA7.16’s shoulders. That said, the rest of the spectrum is delivered with no apparent effort and a newfound clarity, no doubt due to L2’s two-and-a-half-way configuration and the wealth of resources available for each transducer.
Scott attaching L2D to the L2D-Chariot.
Asked about the potential left in the LA7.16’s power supply, Scott is serene: fifty percent. 50%. A glance at the screen and the track does indeed pull on the 16-armed beast, but it’s far from bringing it down.
Scott Sugden : “We tested L2 with LA7.16 for many months and with a wide variety of musical styles, storing the logs. Very recently L2 and LA7.16 were used at the Mojave Tent in Coachella, (three L2s per side to cover the first 50 meters and 16 KS28s on the ground, plus K2 delays). It’s the third-largest stage in terms of capacity, with a maximum capacity of 20,000.
“We were thus able to gather a wealth of comprehensive information, including not only the power supply, but also the spectral content of the amplified signal and FoH levels. Only once did we exceed the 50% mark, and that evening it was 106 dB (A) at FoH. Definitely the L2 and LA7.16 combination works, and this amplified controller was designed specifically for this system, so there’s no question about it!”
Blondie is joined by a guest whose familiar guitar sound resonated under Coachella’s Mojave Tent: Nile Rogers. Three L2 elements can be seen at stage right.
With Fred Bailly dropping in at the end of the demo, we complete our list of questions about L2 and its relationship with the manufacturer’s two big subs.
Fred Bailly : L2 works perfectly well with KS28 and KS21. With KS28, the crossover is a little higher than usual, at 70 Hz. With KS21, where a few Hertz are missing compared to KS28, it’s perfect with the preset at 60 Hz. The advantage of this latter sub is its small size. Flown behind L2, it disappears completely and packs a remarkable punch.
Coupling between the enclosures is achieved by means of self-locking captive brackets, ensuring safety, rapid installation and close spacing between the elements.
A quick look at the process of taking L2 down from the Marcoussis test rig shows just how simple and quick it is to operate. We’ll spare you Scott’s joke, but really anyone can lift L2, and hooking it up from the front and locking it from the rear is child’s play. With no angles to negotiate, a lightweight cable and rear latching, the ergonomics of this system are virtually unbeatable. Once the position of the arrays and their composition have been determined, they can be flown in a matter of minutes, with the rest of the set-up taking place behind the screen at FoH.
The two accessory layers of the L2-Bumpflight case allow four L2s to be managed, i.e. a left/right combination of L2s and L2Ds.
Famous Last Words (One more for the road)
L2 is not only a breakthrough in terms of ergonomics and ease of use, but also, and above all, a new sound solution. Its ideal coverage, thanks to its high level of precision, and its near-full-range output to within a few Hz and dB, make it a perfect match for KS28, whose potential for impact and fullness in the 30-60 Hz octave complements L2’s “modern” energy.
The KS28 isocontour map in cardioid configuration. You lose 5 meters in distance, but the pressure distribution is more useful and clears the rear perfectly.
In the same way that we’ve become accustomed to K2 and other 3-way line sources, to their distribution of energy and color between large diaphragms, small diaphragms and drivers, we’ll do the same with L2, which acts differently, a little like a 10” two-way and 3” driver with 12” bass reinforcement, the sub acting as cement and an indispensable pedestal to sustain and accentuate the whole.
The trick is nicely concealed. The two black lines outlining the outer edges of L2 are actually ports that bring around to the rear some of what the 12” generates.
A latecomer to the cardioid head market, L-Acoustics has hit the bull’s-eye. The L2 is very clean and easy in terms of rear pressure, and should make life a lot easier for sound engineers who like the classic Alain Français “airy” sound, and will be less of a thrill for rooms with a Sputnik-style bottom end. The power of the Autofilters in their task of smoothing and evening out, or even shaping vertical dispersion, is further enhanced by the resolution and power of the LA 7.16 DSP and the discrimination provided by its 16 separate channels per loudspeaker.
I can’t wait to be able to hear the L with a real live mix (the Marcoussis listening session was done with extracts of very good and representative tracks, but mastered) and, above all, in a L-ISA deployment, even if in such a case you’ll have to hold back your mix when faced with its density and precision at the high end.
Another image from Coachella 2023 with Blondie and L2 performing. And K2 too ;0)
ETC’s Source Four LED Series 3 fixtures have been selected to upgrade the famous Cultural Centre (CC) in Koksijde, Belgium. The popular centre has state-of-the-art facilities in its theatre and concert hall which regularly host a variety of performances including dance productions, comedy shows, arthouse film screenings and more.
ETC dealer FACE led the successful installation of the fixtures at the venue with Account Manager Koen Ceulemans and team, alongside Head Technician at the CC Miguel Rooms and his technical team. The CC previously used conventional tungsten lighting and made the change to LED lighting as part of a plan to reduce their environmental impact by 75%.
The upgrade to the space includes 63 Source Four LED Series 3 fixtures placed Front of House alongside 40 ColorSource PARs and additional CYC fixtures to create beautiful smooth washes to enhance the stage lighting. Boasting an industry-leading eight-color mixing system, Source Four LED Series 3 luminaires include ETC’s advanced color integrity technology and new deep red LEDs which bring even more depth and richness to performances at the venue.
“Converting a venue from conventional to LED lighting is always a challenge – you have to consider the unique technical needs and restrictions of the building. In addition to this, you also have to consider the travelling theater companies visiting the theatre as the transition to LED has to be an added value for them as well. We are always aiming to make this transition as smooth and easy as possible and were able to do so with ETC lighting equipment at the CC,” comments Koen Ceulemans from FACE.
Miguel Rooms expressed his enthusiasm for the newly installed lighting fixtures: “The output of these fixtures is truly unparalleled, and the color rendering is also very powerful. Source Four LED Series 3 was the most efficient choice for our venue and the fixtures have been very well received.” With wireless DMX/RDM and NFC technology built-in along with ETC’s innovative Set Light app, the team at the CC also benefit from ease of use and convenience as they control the lighting devices directly from their smartphones.
ETC Market Manager Tania Lesage comments: “The Cultural Centre of Koksijde has earned a reputation for its technical excellence and high standards and we are delighted that ETC’s Source Four LED Series 3 product line has been chosen to upgrade the space. The fixtures were selected for their exceptional power, quality, and color technology which has greatly enhanced the venue’s capabilities. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the talented lighting team: Miguel Rooms, Fabrice Coppens, Aaron Jonckheere, and Ward Seru, for their hospitality and valuable contributions to this project.”
Following several successful shows since the upgrade with ETC fixtures, audiences will be able to see even more stunning performances at the Belgian Cultural Centre after the summer break.
Created in 2017 by Gaëtan Byk in coordination with leading French research institutions CNRS and IRCAM, today HOLOPHONIX has become its own legal entity with dedicated resources and has increased its total capital stock to 3.99 million euros and is seeking capital for a first round of financing to accelerate the company’s growth and product deployment.
Frédéric Biessy and Gaëtan Byk.
Since its initial product launch in 2017, HOLOPHONIX technology – which is completely ‘Made in France’ – has been quickly adopted by several major institutions in France and worldwide, as well as by many creators, composers, and artists. In just a few years, the solutions developed by the young startup company became an essential reference for immersive creation and spatialized mixing, especially for the performing arts field.
“HOLOPHONIX technology aims to democratize immersive sound and spatialized mixing for live performances, to break out of the monophonic or stereophonic paradigm – formats that are still mostly used in the field – to offer users and spectators a new experience of live performances with an augmented sound dimension,” says Gaëtan Byk, Founder of the brand.
: Holophonix 128 and 64 side by side
“Nearly two million spectators have already experienced the HOLOPHONIX sound during the past five years, in the context of hundreds of creative projects or within the numerous cultural institutions equipped with our technology,” adds Gaëtan Byk.
The Cour d’Honneur of the Palais des Papes during the Avignon Festival.
The HOLOPHONIX users and customers are spread across the world. Examples of the use of its technology and products include The Cour d’Honneur (Main Courtyard within The Popes’ Palace) Palais des Papes during the Avignon Festival, the Théâtre de l’Archevêché during the International Festival of Lyric Art in Aix-en-Provence, as well as within the Pantheon in Paris, and at major live venues across Europe: the Grand Auditorium of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (French National Library), the Comédie Française, the Opéra de Lyon (Lyon Opera), the Théâtre National de Chaillot (Chaillot National Theatre), the Scala Paris. HOLOPHONIX is also used at the Beijing Stadium in China, at ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and more.
A view of the HOLOPHONIX piloting soft at Avignon.
“The success of the HOLOPHONIX immersive audio solution and the demands we currently have to meet led us to accelerate its deployment. We have to live up to the challenges and the trust that our customers and users place in us,” Gaëtan Byk continued.
HOLOPHONIX recently announced the release of two new immersive hardware sound processors. Since 2022, the brand has also been marketing a software-only (macOS) solution, called HOLOPHONIX Native, enabling immersive sound creation and spatial mixing on an Apple computer using the App.
“We have nearly 40 orders from the presentation of the new HOLOPHONIX 128 and HOLOPHONIX 64 immersive hardware sound processors at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) trade show,” reveals Gaëtan Byk. The company recently announced an ambitious three-year research and development project called “Continuum” in conjunction with IRCAM, Amadeus, and VRTUOZ, with a 1.2 million Euro budget, financed by its own funds and supported by the Caisse des Dépôts within the framework of the France 2030 program.
“This project is an extension and reinforcement of our historical partnership with IRCAM,” adds Gaëtan Byk, CEO at Amadeus and Founder of HOLOPHONIX. “We have been working for a long time to design and make available technological tools, mainly intended for creative artists and participants in the performing arts, to compose space, to create immersive experiences, and to maximize the coherence between sound and visual images in performance venues, to improve the localization of musicians, actors, and singers on stage, and to create virtual acoustic spaces, among other concepts.”
The Continuum project aims to develop, among other things:
– An active acoustic variability solution, allowing the virtual transformation of the reverberation time in a room, without any additional treatment or acoustic panels
– Very high-resolution convolution reverberation tools to capture the acoustic properties of a room and apply them in another space
– Tools to transcode these room acoustic ‘fingerprints’ for reproduction on personal audio devices such as headphones, earphones, etc., in 3D immersive audio
“Our development plan for the next few years is clear; it is guided by what our users and customers wish, demand, and need, and by the challenges they meet,” says Adrien Zanni, researcher-doctor, developer, and HOLOPHONIX partner.
At the same time, HOLOPHONIX is strengthening its governance to ensure the proper execution of its development plan, in line with the technological and artistic challenges dear to the brand. To further these goals, HOLOPHONIX hired Frédéric Biessy as director of the new HOLOPHONIX company. As a producer of live performance shows for several decades, an aesthete and great patron of culture, and a founder of major theatrical institutions with an innovative model – including La Scala Paris and La Scala Provence, as well as of the production label La Scala Music – Frederic Biessy is one of the original customers of the HOLOPHONIX solution.
“His vision, his deep knowledge of the arts and the performing arts, of the issues at stake, and more generally his friendship and benevolence are dear to me. I am very proud and honored to count Frédéric among our board members,” says Gaëtan Byk.
“We are witnessing the necessary evolution of sound in live performance and more globally in artistic creation, possibly influenced by parallel ecosystems that are more advanced in this area, including cinema, gaming, virtual reality, and personal audio experiences,” says Frédéric Biessy.
Since its opening, La Scala Paris, a contemporary theater created by Frédéric and Mélanie Biessy, has been committed to multi-disciplinary art forms. “A venue open to all artistic disciplines including theater, music, dance, circus, humor, stand-up, and visual arts, since 2017 La Scala has been home to an immersive and spatialized sound system utilizing 172 speakers capable of adapting to any artistic form, including the most acoustically and sonically complex ones,” continues Frédéric Biessy.
A view of Scala Provence, also equipped with HOLOPHONIX.
“We fundamentally believed in this (r)evolution long before the HOLOPHONIX project began, in 2017, and before it was almost immediately adopted by major cultural institutions,” says Gaëtan Byk.
“The project’s original roots in the performing arts world and its close ties with the largest national scientific institutions, including the CNRS and IRCAM, make this technological environment probably the most advanced solution on the market today,” comments Frédéric Biessy.
“After five years of development, our environment is becoming global, including software, processors of different formats and services, especially in terms of specific developments and technological and artistic advice for major creative projects,” says Clément Vallon, Product Manager and partner at HOLOPHONIX.
The funds raised in this first round of financing will allow the company to accelerate the deployment of the HOLOPHONIX brand in Western Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia including China, and South Korea, and to advance the production of electronics designed by the brand and to triple the company’s workforce in the short term.
The company has also decided to set up an employee shareholding system to retain and reward its historical talent. “This opening of the capital will also allow us to involve our engineers, developers, and historical collaborators in the company’s growth,” concludes Gaëtan Byk.
The company plans to hire ten principal employees in the coming months.
Ayrton is excited to announce the official launch of its new IP65-rated Argo 6 Wash and Argo 6 FX fixtures. ARGO 6 – Ayrton’s first weather-sealed effects luminaire. Feel the Freedom! For the first time in its history, Ayrton is launching a weather-sealed effects luminaire that offers as much creative potential indoors as outdoors. Argo 6 presents a minimalist design incorporating features for total protection against harsh weather with easier internal access.
The Argo 6 official launch video will be live online. Watch it below:
A new composite alloy, reduction in thickness of the parts, an optimised cooling system, simplified lens guidance, and integration of low-density optical components, mean Ayrton has been able to reduce overall weight by 20%. Meanwhile, the placement of pan & tilt motors in the base and head of the luminaire avoids the constraint of weatherproofing the yoke arms. A new submersible ventilation system in a non-waterproof compartment allows for optimal cooling.
Argo 6 FX
Available as Wash or FX versions, Argo 6 is equipped with 19 LEDs of 40W with RGB+W additive colour synthesis that can deliver a light output of 13,000 lumens. Its 280mm anti-reflective treated glass front window is designed to ensure optimal visuals and offers increased performance. Argo 6 can obtain a highly intense beam with a zoom ratio of 14:1 and a wide zoom range from 4° to 56°.
Argo 6 FX
Argo 6 FX is a versatile fully-equipped luminaire designed for a multitude of applications. It borrows from the main features of the Wash version and offers continuous rotation of the pan and tilt movement I.R.S.TM. Argo 6 FX is equipped with a high-definition liquid effect system enhanced by a translucent honeycomb that can generate complex graphic effects LiquidEffectTM.
Argo 6 Wash
Argo 6 Wash
For the first time, Ayrton has provided individual control of the LEDs on the Argo 6 Wash version and added a virtually infinite library of effects. Argo 6 Wash is a precise machine that can obtain perfect colour reproduction. A complete library of pre-programmed colours allows quick creation of subtle, dense and contrasting swaths of light. Its black honeycomb and perfect separation of the light sources help to significantly boost the level of contrast.
Argo 6 Wash and Argo 6 FX can be used alone or in combination with the main LED matrix. By allowing for more precision and exactness, they add a breath of creativity. Part of Ayrton’s Multi Sources IP65 6 Series, Argo 6 allows the rediscovery of a new sense of pure freedom.
Argo 6 is already being adopted worldwide by major players with PRG Middle East being the first company in the world to take stock of the new fixtures, closely followed by Procom and Media Pro, Lunatec of Poland and Axente in France; Ambersphere Solutions in the UK, ACT Entertainment in North America, Molpass in Italy and Show Technology in Australia. Watch this space for more stories to come!
For more information on Ayrton and its full range of LED and laser sourced products, visit www.ayrton.eu
SIXTY82, manufacturer of trussing and staging systems in the entertainment industry, is pleased to announce that Progear OÜ has been appointed as its exclusive distributor for Estonia. Progear OÜ is a dynamic and vibrant company that has quickly emerged as a significant player in the Estonian market. With a commitment to meet their customer’s needs swiftly, Progear OÜ has built up a comprehensive stock of SIXTY82 products, ready for distribution.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with Progear OÜ and extend our market reach in Estonia,” stated Rainier Smeding, Sales Director of SIXTY82. “Progear OÜ mirrors our dedication to delivering top-tier products and services. Their industry knowledge, resources, and passion position them perfectly to represent our brand and fuel our growth in this region.”
Brand Manager for SIXTY82 at Progear OÜ, Andreas Reinula, will be at the helm of this partnership. Andreas brings to the table a wealth of experience in the field and an unmatched enthusiasm for SIXTY82’s innovative solutions.
Raivo Sinijärv, Managing Partner at Progear OÜ, shared, “It’s an honour to be the exclusive distributor of SIXTY82 in Estonia. Their superior product design and reliability have left a significant impression on us, and we’re confident that our customers who are seeking cutting-edge trussing and staging solutions will feel the same. We are eagerly looking forward to a close collaboration with SIXTY82 and building a lasting partnership.”
Building on the company’s acclaimed expertise in compact, high-output, point source loudspeakers, NEXO’s P+ Series proved an instant hit following the launch of the P12 back in 2019.
P18 posé sur son nouveau subwoofer de référence, le L20.
Widely installed in theatres, halls, sports stadia and hospitality settings, and highly valued as essential inventory for countless rental and event production companies around the world, the P+ Series now expands with the launch at PLASA 2023 of the new the P18 and L20 sub.
Joining a range that already includes P8, P10, P12 and P15 models, the new P18 employs a long-excursion, Neodymium 18-inch LF / 4-inch diaphragm HF coaxial driver in a curvilinear enclosure of custom birch and poplar plywood.
La grille d’acier grande ouverte montre le puissant 18”, et le 4” prêt à accueillir les différents flanges.
The cabinet footprint is relatively compact, measuring 680mm x 579mm x 446mm. Frequency response is 50Hz-20kHz, and the SPL is an impressive 140dB Peak (passive mode) / 142dB Peak (active mode). Like other speakers in the P+ Series, versatility of the P18 is enhanced by an ingenious system for varying HF coverage patterns.
Horn flanges can be interchanged to deliver a choice of directivities – from the 60°x 60° that is provided as standard, to a 90°x 40° or an asymmetrical 50°- 90°x 40°. Switching between different directivities can be accomplished in just 15 seconds, easily removing the steel grille with a coin and replacing the flare, which uses a magnetic fixing.
Un combo très, très puissant, parfait pour un side, une sono très sérieuse pour un DJ, sans oublier un système audio principal de théâtre.
The new P18 is available in Touring, Installation (passive only) and hybrid TIS versions. In the Touring version, two large handles on each side hold a 35mm pole stand adaptor and Speakon connector for discrete connection when the cabinet is used on pole stands or in wedge monitor applications. Two other Speakon connectors are included on the back plate. In the Installation version, a cable gland with a 2-core cable for audio input ensures IP54 protection when it is used outdoors.
Joining existing L15 and L18 sub bass cabinets in the P+ Series, the new L20 uses a 20-inch long-excursion driver, achieving an SPL of 141dB Peak and extending LF response down to 28Hz.
L20, le dernier subwoofer de Nexo, et le premier à franchir la barrière des 18” .
NEXO NXAMPMK2 or DTD/ DTDAMP deliver tailored power and processing solutions, combining multi-channel, high powered, networkable amplification with sophisticated loudspeaker control and protection. Linear phase presets included for P+ cabinets in both vertical and horizontal configuration – and for the full range of NEXO cabinets – make it quick and easy to configure a ‘Plug & Play’ solution for any system.
NXAMP4X2MK2, le nouveau contrôleur de NEXO, est riche en ressources DSP et est prêt à fournir un total de 10 kW sur ses quatre sorties.
The new P18 and L20 are accompanied by a comprehensive range of accessories, enabling them to be used in a wide variety of touring and installed applications.
Following the acquisition of Claypaky by the ARRI Group six months ago, Claypaky CEO Marcus Graser reflects on the manufacturer’s commitments and current developments.
Claypaky CEO Marcus Graser answers our questions on the impact of the company’s acquisition by the Arri Group.
After the separation from Siemens AG through an IPO in 2023, OSRAM, the former mother company of Clay Paky, had been acquired by Austrian semiconductor company AMS in 2019. Shortly after finalizing these acquisitions, AMS-OSRAM announced its intention to divest certain activities, with the rationale that five or six companies, including Claypaky, were not part of the Group’s core business. As it turned out, this manufacturer was one of the last to be sold, due to delays stemming from the Covid pandemic.
Marcus Graser explains : “This strategy was purely focused on their core business, and I think it’s worked well for us so far. In fact, we’re very pleased with Arri as our new shareholder, and personally I fully understand the reason why Claypaky was sold. It made perfect sense and, I have to say, it was handled professionally.”
Claypaky is located near Bergamo in northern Italy.
SLU : During this period, was the company supported in its response to the pandemic?
Marcus Graser : Osram supported us in spite of revenue losses that were in the worst period as high as 80%… In terms of cash flow, the Group supported us in managing the costs associated with maintaining our staff over a long two-year period and even beyond to continue to invest into innovation and new products as well as machinery and modernization of our infrastructure
The changes and developments brought about by ARRI
It was a long planned transaction, with an investor who already had a strong presence in the world of lighting. Of course, one wonders what changes might occur, and whether a market logic might apply, or whether synergies between the two giants in the industry might be established. But the parties involved seem to be very attuned to each other’s unique characteristics, which is good news.
SLU : Will you continue to use Osram as your main supplier of LEDs and lamps?
Marcus Graser : We’ve always had a very flexible policy with Osram, in the sense that we always use the best LED or lamp for our fixtures. As it happens, some of our products don’t have an Osram lamp or LED. So we were really independent, always aiming to build good products. That said, Osram makes excellent products and, where we can, we use them.
Arri CEO Matthias Erb signs the Claypaky acquisition with CEO Marcus Graser.
SLU : In the wake of ARRI’s acquisition of Claypaky, will you be continuing production in Italy, and will this have an impact on your workforce?
Marcus Graser : Yes, we will continue to manufacture here. That’s the plan, and it’s also in line with our shareholders’ philosophy. In fact, I believe that Italian manufacturing is one of the reasons why ARRI bought the company.
They are also a company with a strong technology and industrial background, and there are advantages in terms of labor costs, which are lower than in Germany. There’s also a unique advantage in terms of hiring opportunities in the north of the country, which means that there’s a very good pool of engineers and production personnel. The current staff will therefore be retained, and we are actually looking for new talent. In 2023, we hope to be able to hire between 15-20 new colleagues.
SLU : Is everything currently manufactured in-house?
Marcus Graser : R&D is carried out in-house, and we are careful to maintain the right balance between innovative, high-end products made in Italy and entry-level products with production outsourced to the Far East.
SLU : How might Claypaky and ARRI develop their synergy?
Marcus Graser : ARRI is renowned as one of the market leaders in cinematographic equipment, or “CineStyle” as it is called, but also in sectors such as television, film production and theater.
Claypaky’s expertise is renowned the world over, and is now of interest to the film industry.
As far as Claypaky is concerned, I think that on the one hand it could open certain doors for us, as it seems that the film industry is using more and more moving heads.
On the other hand, we’ll definitely be working on certain technological synergies, as ARRI is known for delivering very high-quality color control, from which we could benefit. As for us, we’re renowned for our motorized fixtures, electronics and optics.
SLU : Is this work already underway?
Marcus Graser : Our engineers are already working together on certain projects. The good thing about ARRI is that they’re not looking for radical integration and reorganization. Instead, they’re looking to maintain Claypaky as a separate, independent business unit, while trying to foster the exchange of know-how. Our business is different, but at the same time also very complementary to theirs.
Marcus Graser, current CEO of Claypaky, has a 20-year professional career under his belt, starting out as a management consultant for Siemens. Three years later, he joined Osram and rose through the ranks within the group, moving from the automotive division to the architectural division, before finally being chosen to head the famous Italian show light manufacturing company. “The most challenging job of my career and the most exciting so far,” as he has himself described it. In September 2019, he would succeed his charismatic predecessor, Pio Nahum, who was retiring.
Marcus Graser : “You can imagine that it was already a rather peculiar time for Claypaky, as the company was emerging from a period of difficulty. And when I’d only been in the job for three months, the biggest crisis in decades began with the pandemic, followed by major difficulties in the component supply chain and a war in central Europe, on top of many other challenges”.
Positive, spirited and dynamic are the qualities of the new CEO, who is deeply committed to the success of the company and its partners. During this difficult period, he made a number of internal changes to cope with an industry in turmoil, and took the opportunity to introduce a new vision.
“We wanted to renovate and transform the company as a whole from innovation to process, people and culture. We therefore proposed changes in key areas, starting with an innovative approach, ranging from the development of totally new technologies, such as laser sources, to specific noise, color management and thermal management algorithms. The story continues today with the recent acquisition of the brand by the ARRI Group”.
Marcus Graser takes us on a tour of the Claypaky company in a video interview.
A “Smart Product” Portfolio that anticipates demand
Since taking up his new post in September 2019, Marcus has been working to develop the brand’s philosophy by making far-reaching changes. He has initiated work focusing on the product range.
Marcus Graser : “We have withdrawn products from the catalog that we felt were no longer in step with the times. At the same time, between 20 and 30 new products have been introduced to the range since 2019”. This initiative is designed to ensure that the company is well represented on the market in a variety of categories, power classes and source technologies.”
SLU : Do you expect further innovation in the LED sector, or do you think the technology has reached its peak in terms of efficiency and performance?
Marcus Graser : Yes, I expect LED technology to continue to evolve, and not just in terms of white LEDs, but also in terms of multicolor LED sources, to offer higher color quality and greater efficiency. We’re also likely to move towards the optimization of all systems involving the interaction between the LED light source, the thermal management of the electronics and the complete integration of these systems in a fixture.
What’s more, these days, almost all the new luminaires are IP65 rated, and there will be more innovations to come, like the use of new materials. But overall, I think the steps might be a little slower compared to the exponential evolutionary curve we’ve experienced with LEDs so far.”
Modernization continues with a digitization initiative that introduces new processes for customer relationship management, demand planning and forecasting. This digital aspect extends to Claypaky’s fixtures, which have become “Smart Products” thanks to the CloudIO system. The goal is to facilitate service and handling.
Another aspect of the changes that have taken place concerns the organization of production and the application of a Kanban workflow. “Our internal flow of products is now managed in this way, and we do the same with our suppliers. This more rational approach means we can minimize our inventories while maintaining good responsiveness”.
Arri has set up a Kanban-type production organization.
The Kanban method is a workflow management process first developed and applied by Toyota as a planning system, with the objective of “just-in-time” manufacturing. The downstream workstation communicates its needs to its “supplier” (upstream in the chain) via a set of labels called “Kanban” in Japanese, according to a “Pull” strategy.
The company’s values are reiterated to remobilize teams and encourage them to take training courses during the difficult Covid period.
In response to the pandemic, and because people remain at the heart of the business, Marcus, who is very attentive to the needs of the company’s 150 employees, decided to emphasize the positive aspects of the entertainment industry, which was at a standstill at the time, as well as the underlying missions and values.
“Our passion and our way of doing things must also be backed up by sound values. So we introduced the ‘Claypaky way’ program to take concrete steps in the direction of training to build everyone’s skills. New methods of collaboration have also been introduced, bringing together people who work in different departments”.
A fond acknowledgement to Davide Barbetta, Marketing Production Manager, who guided Marion Schneider (Head of Marketing at Dimatec in France) and myself through the company in the beautiful Italian light.
Davide Barbetta, Marketing Production Manager for Claypaky.
Marion Schneider, Marketing Manager at Dimatec, distributor for Claypaky brand in France.
A roadmap with expanded objectives
With a consolidated internal strategy, the company has been able to work on a roadmap to guide it through the next few years.
Marcus Graser : “Claypaky has always worked in the Touring Rental and Live sectors, accounting for over 70% of our business. Today, we’re trying to position the company on several pillars by strengthening our theatrical portfolio.
The Claypaky Sinfonya, a moving head designed for the theater for which the noise, the color and the beam had to be irreproachable.
Along these lines, new static fixtures were launched under the ADB by Claypaky brand (a brand traditionally dedicated to theater) at Prolight+Sound 2023. “The range will focus on modernity while respecting a good compromise between innovation and price”.
We all remember the recent decision to discontinue activities associated with the ADB Ocean console. This was a logical choice, given the strength of certain competitors, bbut one that seems to have been a little hasty given the return today of a rich offering aimed at the Theater.
The installation sector will also be addressed, and although Claypaky products may already be used for certain architectural applications, this is a sector in which the brand still has little presence. This objective now seems attainable, thanks to a distribution network that extends to over 70 countries.
The Claypaky touch
SLU : But what makes the company so special?
Marcus Graser answers without hesitation: “In addition, of course, to the ‘Italian touch’ – that is, the attention paid by Italians to design and a certain way of doing things – I think what really sets us apart is innovation. We have invested a major part of our resources, around 8% of our revenue. I think that is and always will be the backbone and DNA of the company”.
The Claypaky Sharpy is one of the brand’s flagship projectors, and features prominently in the company’s famous Museum of Light.
SLU : What products would exemplify this innovation?
Marcus Graser : The Sharpy, which took over every stage and TV production in the world, and long before it, the Astroraggi, which was very popular in discos, made the company famous. And even though the market is now much more mature and ever more competitive, we continue to innovate with fixtures such as the Xtylos, the first source equipped with an RGB laser engine developed entirely in-house.
The famous Astroraggi (the half sphere on the left), a symbol of innovation in the early 80s, stands alongside the battle between automated heads and mirror-servo projectors (at the back of the ring).
Source diversity is another of Claypaky’s hallmarks, as the CEO points out: “We’re one of the few manufacturers to use different source technologies in parallel. Whether it’s lamps, white and multicolor LED sources, RGB laser sources and, now a white laser.
I think another difference is that we’re one of the few companies still manufacturing here in Europe. Having our own know-how in the way we industrialize and manufacture products makes all the difference”.
Pascale Quadri, founder of Claypaky in 1978, pictured here on the brand’s first stand at SIM in Milan.
SLU : What about the products manufactured in China?
Marcus Graser : We use the ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) activity with a “Claypaky” imperative. In other words, we don’t just specify products. We also develop and design essential parts of the assemblies, to achieve a combination between the production capabilities of our manufacturers in China and our own skills. This is a significant difference compared with certain competitors who simply rebrand existing fixtures.
An Original Design Manufacturer, is a company that manufactures a white-label product on which another company can affix its brand.
SLU : Does this help combat the problem of Chinese imitations?
Marcus Graser : Thanks to our firmware, copying our products has been made more difficult. In addition, all our expertise in optics and light sources has been relocated in-house, and our dedicated engineers have been employed within Claypaky since three or four years ago. While copying continues for us and our competitors, I think the best response is still innovation and speed. Being the first brings competitive advantages, as with the laser source, and we take care to protect our ideas and create international intellectual property patents, even if this is not always effective, particularly in the Chinese market.
SLU : Does Claypaky have a flagship fixture at the moment?
Marcus Graser : We’ve moved away from a “hero product” strategy. Certain products have been very successful, such as the Unico, Mythos and Sharpy. Of course, we realized that if there were problems with the supply chain or copying, it would be difficult to stay ahead. So, if a product works well commercially, that’s fine, but we make sure that we’re also viable in various market segments and with different products.
The Volero Waveis currently well received around the world, although we’re still catching up on the supply side. It’s a fixture that opens up new effects and possibilities for lighting designers, thanks to its versatility. That said, many other products are selling very well, such as the Sharpy X-Frame and Sharpy Plus.
The Claypaky Volero Wave, with its unlimited range of effects, captured the attention of lighting designers during its public presentation.
The CP Green approach to production
With a power consumption of 600 W, the Claypaky Skylos can compete with 4,000 W xenon lamps.
With the launch of the new Skylos, a laser-powered skytracer capable of competing with 4,000 W xenon lamps, the manufacturer continues its revolution in environmental awareness. At the same time, a zero-carbon production strategy is becoming increasingly important.
Marcus Graser : In fact, for us innovation is not just about the product or the process, but also about the way we create it and its ultimate impact not only on the market but also on the environment. To my knowledge, we are the first and only company dedicated to entertainment lighting to have been officially certified ISO 14064-1.
This certifies our efforts to measure our carbon footprint. We did this for the first time in 2021, and our former Technical Director, who has now retired, is in charge of the CP Green project. The goal in calculating our carbon footprint is to reduce our emissions and become greenhouse-gas-neutral in our operations and facility by 2030.
ISO 14064-1:2018 Carbon inventory management system certification: Specification and guidance, at the organizational level, for validating the approach to quantifying and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and removal. (Source iso.org)
SLU : What concrete examples have you implemented?
Marcus Graser : We’ve optimized the building’s heating and will install solar panels on the roof to sustain a good part of our electricity consumption. For new car purchases, we always prefer electric models.
Claypaky commits to measuring its greenhouse gas emissions. A first step towards more environmentally friendly production, strongly supported by Marcus Graser.
Furthermore we try to optimize Supply Chain and transport routes to lower Carbon emissions. It’s a very serious project, which may one day have a commercial impact, but above all we think it’s important to do it as a company and “corporate citizen”.
The first and really difficult step was to measure our overall carbon footprint in a reliable and scientific way and derive a carbon management plan from that. Now we are into the next phase of looking for ways to reduce and compensate our emissions created by our company site.
SLU : Innovation in this field will surely arise from collaboration between manufacturers and users. Have you already received any specific requests in this area?
Marcus Graser : We’re seeing this more and more, as some top lighting designers, encouraged by their client artists, are emphasizing this point. Coldplay is one of them, and this sensitivity is spreading to other acts. I believe that Live Nation has set up a department dedicated to this issue, and some suppliers ask us to avoid plastic packaging. We’re also open to ideas for reducing CO2 emissions in the manufacture of our products. That’s why we invest heavily in laser technology, as these sources deliver high lumen-per-watt efficiency. For example, a very narrow powerful Beam like the Xtylos consumes around 300 watts, whereas an LED source would need minimum 1,000 or beyond watts and even not delivering the same result in the beam appearance than the laser source can provide!”
Since 2019, Claypaky has faced many challenges with a dynamic, modern and efficient approach under the leadership of Marcus Graser, the CEO who will soon be celebrating his fourth year at the helm of the company. Both internally and externally, the company is implementing new methods From R&D and Kanban manufacturing to product delivery. The optimization of the catalog, attention to customer requirements and ongoing innovations are all aimed at improving manufacturing and working conditions in order to maximize the brand’s customer base.
Their product range and production approach are being revised to meet the challenges of climate change in a timely fashion, a wise move in the race between premium manufacturers in a market that has become highly competitive over the years. Even if the engine has to rev up from time to time, you also have to be able to stand the test of time, and the Italian team has long understood this. Their know-how and reassuring, engaging approach continue to impress us.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London has become the first open air theatre in the UK to install Ayrton Perseo fixtures as part of its plan to update to a more sustainable and environmentally-responsible lighting rig.
20 Perseo Profiles have been supplied to this unique venue by White Light for the full 20-week summer season. White Light worked in close collaboration with the teams at Regent’s Park and Ambersphere, Ayrton’s exclusive distributor for the UK, to understand the aims, and facilitate the provision of the correct LED fixtures, to meet all the Theatre’s requirements. Joe Kirk, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s Head of Lighting, was determined to make changes to the lighting inventory when he took on the role last year: “I wanted to replace the old rig of power-intensive tungsten and discharge moving lights with more sustainable LED replacements,” he says, “starting with 20 heavy discharge moving heads which were housed in large, unsightly wooden boxes on temporary truss towers.
“The weatherproofing was not very effective, the movers would overheat in hot weather, and their fans would frequently get blocked with pollen. Moving and maintaining 45kg fixtures at a height of 10m was both dangerous and inconvenient, often resulting in the need to refocus other lamps that got knocked in the process. They had to go!”
However, the replacement fixtures also needed to meet some strict criteria to be suitable for theatre lighting: “We needed high CRI, good colour mixing, good gobos and good quality dimming,” says Kirk. “Most IP rated moving lights cater more for rock and roll than theatre, so factors such as good dimming curve or the ability to differentiate between Lee 201 or Lee 202, are harder to come by. For theatre, the quality of the colour and the dimming really does matter.
“On top of this, it’s also really important we have bright fixtures because, as an open air theatre, our shows begin in daylight which means we need a lot of intensity. The stage is 17m wide and the truss towers 10m high, and most IP rated fixtures are heavy and not very bright, so we needed a moving light bright enough to cope with our throw distances, but not heavy to rig or high-maintenance.
Ayrton Perseo Profile
“I design the season rig, so I had a responsibility to make sure any replacement was equally as good as an indoor fixture and something that a theatre lighting designer was going to be happy with.”
White Light, with whom Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has a long association, brought in Ambersphere’s Briony Berning to demo the Perseo along with other fixtures. “I was really impressed with Perseo’s theatre-friendliness, not only in terms of its high CRI, colour-mixing, gobo selection and zoom, but also its size, weight, intensity and reliability,” confirms Kirk.
“The reliability has made a huge difference to our maintenance budget and schedule. We no longer need to do a lamp round – and when the fixtures are 10m up a vertical truss tower, this is absolutely amazing! – and the problem of having different lamp colours each time one is replaced has simply gone away! My lamp budget has simply disappeared into the season hire budget.”
The Perseo Profiles are rigged on the four 10m high front of house temporary truss towers where they are completely exposed to the elements from April through to September. “The IP rating meant we could at last get rid of those ridiculous wooden boxes that protected the old fixtures, and the Perseos now look so neat and tidy and blend in with the rest of the lighting rig,” says Kirk. “They are the only moving light fixtures we allow LDs to re-rig!”
Kirk reports that the incoming LDs are very impressed with Perseo, “which is great as it is not a light a theatre LD would naturally come across while working indoors. They are significantly brighter than anything we have had before and have become absolute workhorses which will be heavily used on every show this season.”
“One of the most amazing features of the LED rig,” adds White Light’s Business Development Manager for Hires, Stuart Porter, “is, because of the brightness of the units, the shows are now lit the very moment they start – you can definitely tell the difference, even in daylight – so the magic begins from the very top of the show.”
As an open air theatre nestled in the centre of a London park, sustainability and environmental accountability is a big concern for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and another area in which it is aligned with Ayrton’s philosophy. “Ayrton pays a lot of attention to ways in which it can improve its environmental credentials and this is important for us also,” explains Kirk.
“The power savings from changing twenty 1200kW discharge units to twenty 600W Perseo fixtures are huge! Pre-show rig checks also use minimal amounts of power now as Perseo can be switched on and off instantaneously, whereas the old discharge units would remain on from the start of rig check at 5pm. That’s a game-changer from our sustainability point of view. “So, from a production point of view the Perseo Profiles are amazing and reliable; from a design point of view the designers are happy with how bright the colours are and absolutely love everything about them, and from an environmental point of view Perseo is a natural go-to fixture. So, I am very, very happy with them, and so happy to be rid of those boxes!”
Lighting designer Mike Swinford of UpLate Design loves new tech as much as he loves the chance to be the first to use it, so he was delighted when everything aligned for rental company Fuse to invest in the first Robe Footsie luminaires to arrive in the USA … which he utilized as a key lighting element for the 2023 CMA Fest.
The 4-day festival is hosted by the Country Music Association (CMA) and recorded at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, in front of live audiences and broadcast on ABC a couple of months later, but this year the popular airing date was brought forward from its traditional August slot to 19th July.
Mike has lit the star-studded multi-camera event for the last 21 years
Being a massive televisual event as well as four days of fantastic live music for fans there in the venue, key lighting is critical to everything. As a country music extravaganza, cowboy hats onstage are almost guaranteed and with that comes the inevitable shadows over faces which challenge lighting designers and directors … but this year Mike had an additional cool tool up his sleeve with the Footsie! Thirty Footsie luminaires were positioned in a line along the front of stage, giving Mike a stylish, clean, and solid strip of footlight illumination in the perfect place.
Mike used the inbuilt Footsie diffuser and commented, “They looked beautiful, very smooth, and worked perfectly for eliminating face shadows.” As the Footsie has an integral cable tray, all cabling was concealed resulting in a flat, streamlined look onstage emitting a smooth, high-quality output and impressing camera director Alan Carter and stage manager Cindy Sinclair as well.
“I had every confidence the fixture was exactly what we needed … and they worked precisely as I envisioned! Perfect job done!” declared Mike. Mike’s Footsie journey began a few months back at the Robe factory in the Czech Republic, when he saw late-stage prototypes of the ingenious product that was launched at Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt. He loved the idea so much that he specified them for the CMA Fest and the units arrived at Fuse via Robe North America just in time for their high profile live and TV debut.
Robe’s revolutionary IP65-rated Footsie redefines the concept of traditional ‘footlights’ with a smart design that effectively removes the visual barrier between audience and performers whilst delivering dynamic LED foot lighting, whatever the production, environment, or weather!
Footsie is currently available in two standard lengths, Footsie1 measures 600mm and Footsie2 is 1200mm – this was the size that Fuse ordered. The luminaire has a choice of warm or tuneable white LEDs or RGBW high power single chip LEDs. The classic warm white LEDs offer a CRI greater than 90 which is perfect for the key lighting of faces, which is exactly how they were used here. The tuneable white ranges from 2,700K – 6,500K.
The CMA Fest Footsie luminaires certainly had their waterproofness tested during the festival as the weather on the final night was seriously soggy! “They took A LOT of direct rain, we left them out there and they just worked flawlessly,” recalled Mike. Another huge advance for multi-camera environments is that pedestals in the pit, hand-helds and Steadicams onstage can shoot right over the low-profile Footsie luminaires, making no impact on sightlines. “It’s just a brilliant, inspired and highly practical fixture,” enthused Mike.
Additionally, he also specified 80 x Robe Spiider luminaires on the rig which were installed on 18 x 35 ft vertical towers positioned across the back and around the sides of stage and used for stage washing and for whizzy pixel effects which looked great in all the back-of-camera shots. On top of 10 of the towers at the back were 10 x Robe Forte luminaires, six running on RoboSpot followspot systems. Mike has been a big fan of this system since using them on a Kenny Chesney tour shortly after their launch. “Another great Robe product,” he says, referring to both the RoboSpot system and the newer Forte, currently Robe’s most powerful LED moving light.
Mike thinks that Robe as a brand is good at “listening to what designers are discussing and wanting, and at responding with excellent products.” He worked alongside a talented FOH team including lead brogrammer Mark Butts, and Andre Petrus who took care of the key and audience lighting. They collaborated closely with television lighting director Mark Carver and gaffer Cole Kiracofe to produce a slick and dynamic live experience for country music fans in the stadium and watching on TV.
Fuse’s account handler was Scott Bishop. It was their first time as the CMA Fest lighting vendor, and Mike noted “they did an excellent job,” in addition to making the Footsie investment to ensure that he had the rig he wanted. “The CMA Fest is an iconic event in the country music and live production industries, and we were thrilled to be a part of it,” said Scott Bishop, Fuse Technical Group. When Scott and Fuse’s Kevin Forster were asked by Mike to supply the new Footsie luminaires as part of the lighting package, they knew they could count on Robe to deliver an innovative lighting solution. “It was a lot of fun to be one of the first production providers to see the Footsie in action,” Scott added. “It was robust and made a tremendous impact on the stage design.”
CMA Fest has moved away from having large amounts of video onstage in recent years, leaving lighting right at the forefront of the aesthetics. The biggest challenge was the tight time window and no rehearsals, straight in to the first night on Thursday, which even for professionals with the experience and skills of this team was some serious pressure! They did have some pre-viz time, but because it was a festival set up and many artists played special sets, no one was completely sure of what they were getting until the artists were onstage and playing live.
Mike takes all these challenges in stride, commenting that it’s also part of the enjoyment. Many of the production team have worked on the project for several years and a great synergy and creative energy exists between everyone across all departments.
For more press info about Robe Lighting, you can visit www.robe.cz
ETC returns to the Plasa Show in September with new seminars, state-of-the-art products and a unique games arcade area featuring the latest in lighting technology for visitors to explore.
This year, visitors to ETC’s stand B29 will get a chance to experience industry leading technology in a whole new light. The Arcade will feature some of ETC’s newest lighting solutions as a part of a series of interactive games for attendees to enjoy. Visitors are invited to the booth to put their skills to the test in three different games, all whilst playing against the clock and in for a chance to win some swag!
During the three-day show, ETC product specialists will also present a series of seminars in the Seminar Theatre 1 – Lighting + Production Theatre. On Sunday 3rd September from 13:00 – 13:45 BST, ETC’s Senior Product Manager Sarah Clausen will present ‘Hog 4 OS v4.0 – Hog’s Next Chapter’. This session will give an inside look into the anticipated upcoming Hog 4 OS v4.0 release which includes a brand new color system that is inspired by the award-winning Eos color engine.
On Monday 4th September, ETC’s Events and Training Specialist Graham Parker will demonstrate how easy and valuable it is to set up a 3D programming environment based on any stage in ‘Workflows, Tools and Tips – A Programmer’s Guide’ at 13:30 – 14:15 BST.
‘A Taste of Johnnie Walker’ will be hosted by ETC Training Program Coordinator Declan Randall on Tuesday 5th September from 13:30 – 14:15 BST. In this session visitors will find out all about the set up and powerful technology that was used to install an immersive storytelling space over eight floors of the Scotch brand’s flagship Edinburgh store.
A range of ETC’s latest product releases will also be showcased on stand B29. Visitors can get a close look at ETC’s newest line of automated fixtures – High End Systems Halcyon with sizes suitable for any application. The latest in entertainment lighting and control will also be displayed on the stand for visitors to see including ColorSource V and Source 4WRD Color II luminaires, Eos Apex control and much more.
The Plasa Show – the UK’s leading event for entertainment technology – will take place from the 3rd – 5th September 2023 at the Olympia London. Register for free to attend here