Vancouver, Canada (March 18, 2010)—At the Winter Olympics, the concert venue at Ontario House made use of a sizable d&b audiotechnik J-series PA.
“The project started out about a year ago,” says Corry McGibbon, project leader for Apex Sound & Light, one of the principal technical contractors for the delights within Ontario House. “The main contractor for the building, EllisDon Construction, had to submit a proposal that included its functionality and how it would work and communicate with its visitors. Patrick McKenna from Infinite Stage Design engaged Apex to conceive and design a sound and light solution for the venue.”
McKenna picks up the story. “The ‘Request for proposal’ we received from the Government of Ontario was fairly descriptive, but left latitude for creative input. My company, Infinite Stage Design, formed part of the team put together by EllisDon in collaboration with Nussli. For our part, we proposed a cutting edge technology approach, strongly media based; one that would give us the ability to be flexible in the way the building contents were presented to the public. The idea was not to be static–live acts of various types would appear all day; the aspect of food and beverage available all day inside Ontario House also proved a strong draw. And the 3D and 4D presentation modes we planned would give the visitor an unexpected perspective on events (4D in this context is 3D video with airborne scent enhancement).”
“The master proposal was submitted in the Spring of 2009”, said McGibbon. “Naturally, the initial idea has evolved quite a bit since then, as these things do. One of the key elements we included was that however complex and dispersed the audio system, we would maintain a ‘one amplifier channel, one loudspeaker’ scenario to enable total control and re-configurability. That has proved an absolute blessing.”
The system specified by Apex is a selection from d&b audiotechnik. One of the principal functions of the pavilion was to stage a concert each night of the games and as such there was a main stage performance area with a d&b audiotechnik J-Series. This system was also used during the day for public appearance events, not least the world famous Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretsky who talked about his Ontario vineyard. But elsewhere Ontario House had other audio demands; the walls were festooned with a variety of video devices, and there ere eight 9′ by 16′ projection screens, all of which required sound reinforcement of one kind or another.
“We have drawn upon d&b inventory throughout–E3s as discreet fills, various types of Q-Series for delay and as a separate system in the lounge area,” said McGibbon. “It’s all linked and controlled by d&b’s R1 software, which remotely controls access to the one amp channel, one loudspeaker rationale that has given us the flexibility to respond to the audience demand that has grown, even in the few short days since the games opened.”
McKenna explains just how dynamically the venues’ popularity grew during the Games. “The first night was tricky because of over-demand; the concert hall is licensed for 750 and probably five times that number turned up. But as I said, anticipation is everything; we already had audio set up outside, plus we put an LED video screen out there. It’s just a shame it was raining so it wasn’t that pleasant for people out there. We learned lessons that first night and within 18 hours, had implemented changes. That’s been a daily event now, where we review the positives and negatives of the day and because of the flexibility in built, make responses. We have, for example, increased our public access by a factor of three because it seems everyone wants to come here to watch the ice hockey.”
Ontario House was different from the other pavilions in that it is a permanent structure rather than a temporary one. Designed by Nussli (Swiss specialists for events and expos), it has solid wood walls concrete footings with insulated wood floor, and roof steel in abundance. “That’s how we were able to hang a relatively large J system in what is quite a small auditorium” said McGibbon. “While the acoustics aren’t the friendliest, we’ve easily overcome the dangers of reflective surfaces and a reverberant ceiling with the tight accuracy of d&b pattern control; that was never going to be an issue with this system.”