Nestled in Henderson Valley in Western Auckland, Whoa! Studios is a state-of-the-art film studio and theatre specialising in live action, puppetry and miniatures. Its flagship offering is an original, world class, live show based on the characters and sets of Custard’s World – adapted for stage from a script by Bob Baker, BAFTA award winning screenwriter of Wallace & Gromit.
Whoa’s owner David Sutherland wanted to create an exciting family destination in Auckland with unforgettable live experiences. He says “It started out as an idea to do something fun for children and for families, to do something that was different to what they had engaged with before. We wanted to try and do something that was magical.”
David’s vision has resulted in a world class facility with a children’s adventure playground, a modern family restaurant and hi-tech studio and theatre facilities. In order to realise this vision and create a truly immersive experience alongside the mix of puppets, digital effects and live action from within the main stage movie set, leading world class AV technologies were needed.
World Class meant that one of New Zealand’s top integration companies, ITAV was called upon to knit together this immersive experience that would create lasting memories. Their brief was clear: sound quality, flexibility and ease of use.
Consultant and ITAV Integrator Paul Ivory had no doubts when it came to selecting his team that would partner on this project. Paul declares “I called on the best of the best in all different aspects of this project.”
Leading AV equipment supplier and specialists in Sound System and Video Distribution design JPRO were selected because of their far-reaching support, emphasis on relationship, as well as audio and product knowledge base.
AMX specialist Quentin White designed the video and switching distribution system. Projector mapping was suggested in conjunction with specialist lighting to create themes for the shows. AMX touch panels control scene changes, projectors and video monitors. This resulted in a unique part of the delivery and a main component now written into all live shows.
JPRO Sales Director and Audio Designer Paul Edlin designed the fully integrated networked audio system for the theatre and restaurant. BSS Soundweb and Soundcraft Vi3000 are an integral part of the audio distribution and essentially, the heart of the theatre system.
AMX touch panels control scene changes, projectors and video monitors. This resulted in a unique part of the delivery and a main component now written into all live shows.
The primary objective was to keep as much of the Audio Signal in the digital domain as possible. Audio was passed in and out of the Vi3000 via Dante, into the BSS BLU-806 signal processor before reaching the Crown DCi Amplifiers that powered the JBL CBT 70 Array speakers and eight Zones such as the Green Room and back of stage.
Audio outputs for the live film studio and theatre were configured in 7.1 and 5.1 respectively. This was not only for a surround sound effect, but for localised sources as puppets came in from different locations around the room.
For the theatre, the first choice of speakers for Paul Ivory was always going to be the JBL CBT 70’s. “They are great for speech and music” he says, “the array of the speakers is perfect for having clear sound for the front and back end of the room; there was nothing else that came close to that decision.”
The new AKG MicroLite HC81 headworn microphones were selected as they are comfortable and lightweight to wear for the actors while the AKG wireless microphone technology used has a track record of solid reliability.
Through clever configuration and use of the Soundcraft VISI App, from an operator’s point of view the Soundcraft Vi3000 mixing console provided the central control point for all performance areas.
Paul Edlin from JPRO explains the use of the VISI integration: “Vi3000 controls all the actors and playback audio within the main theatre and on the second layer it controls audio in the second theatre.” This resulted in a cost saving of an additional mixing surface. Paul continues, “So the main theatre can be running a show and the second theatre can simultaneously run another show with audio controlled via the VISI iPad App.”
“You can walk throughout the cafe, into the parent’s area, toilets, the shop into the entrance way and the sound is all even, it is not overbearing in any area”
The approach to the AV design for the restaurant and mezzanine areas is equally as ingenious, with exceptional sound quality produced by the unobtrusive JBL Pendant speakers.
“You can walk throughout the café, into the parent’s area, toilets, the shop into the entrance way and the sound is all even, it is not overbearing in any area” states ITAV’s Paul Ivory.
All AV technologies such as switching on projectors and lowering screens, operating lights and adjusting volume are controlled on a touch panel system via an automated process. Third party systems control is made simple and easy to execute with Audio Architect and AMX seamlessly integrating together.
Through effective communication, simplistic AV and sound system design and leading World Class products from Harman Professional, the teams from ITAV and JPRO were able to put together a solution that will provide simplistic user operation for staff, and unforgettable live experiences for families.
David Sutherland concludes “We wanted to exceed expectations. I didn’t think it would be as good as this result – and that makes it all worthwhile.”