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New AV System for New World Center, Part 1

May 19, 2011 1:09 PM, with Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

You may think you’ve seen it all until you see the New World Center in Miami with curved projection surfaces, a sound system with hundreds of speakers, and a six-story projection wall outside. Brad Gallagher with Pro Sound and Video was right in the middle of this project and he’s here to give us the details on this groundbreaking installation, coming up on the SVC Podcast.
Brad it’s great to have you with me on the SVC podcast coming to us from Pro Sound and Video in Miami. Tell me a little about Pro Sound and Video.
Well, we do pretty much everything out there. Our primary market is larger projects. We tend to excel on the stuff that requires a lot of project management or engineering, but our business is open to just about everything except for K-12. We do airports, concert halls, stadiums, arenas. It’s pretty broad. [Timestamp: 1:17]

Yeah I see a lot everywhere about Pro Sound and Video, so obviously you have a lot of plates spinning all over. Now this project was for the New World Symphony in Miami, what sort of outfit is the New World Symphony?
The New World Symphony is basically a training ground for musicians that are about to move on to some of the major orchestras throughout the country and throughout the world. Essentially after students have graduated from graduate level training programs, they move on to here and it’s the last step before taking on a career as a professional musician in a major orchestra. [Timestamp: 1:49]

Very prestigious organization and the building was intended to be no less impressive. I’ve seen the pictures of it and it’s absolutely fantastic but it’s really dressed up with the AV systems both inside and outside. So what was the aim or the scope of this project? What exactly did they want when they came to you with this?
The thing that’s interesting about this particular facility is that one of the aims architecturally of the building initially was to have a…it’s designed by a Frank Gehry along with other buildings that you are probably familiar with like the Disney Concert Hall but whereas those type of buildings have the crazy architecture on the outside, this one has some of those interesting curves on the inside of the building and they’re high-lit through a glass curtain wall that you can see all this on the inside. The theme there was…their thing is to always be pushing the boundaries of what’s done but staying between the lines of classical musical doctrine but always pushing those limits and those boundaries. So the AV system’s stayed right along those lines. We’re doing things that really haven’t been done before or haven’t been done to this extent but they’re very concerned with the aesthetic and keeping that technology where it enhances the performance but so it’s not seen. So for example, inside the facility we’ve got 14 Christie HD 30k projectors that are being displayed on—it’s hard to describe it without actually seeing the inside of the building—but the term that’s commonly been used in the construction is "sails" and they’re curved surfaces that completely surround orchestra that are primarily serving an acoustical purpose but they’re just broadcast upon by every conceivable direction by those 14 HD 30k projectors covering pretty much every square inch of that sail structure. [Timestamp: 3:38]

And I should mention here that Pro Sound and Video was right in the middle of this. It was a cooperative venture with your company, Acoustic Dimensions, and Sonitus and I was looking at the pictures and you’re right it’s hard to describe verbally but when you look at them they remind me of an old sailing ship with the sails full of wind and billowing out. The projection on these curved surfaces just surrounds you when you’re inside the place.
A number of interesting facets that were related to that, the actual construction material for those sails shotcrete, like you’d see in a swimming pool in the backyard. The contractor that did all that they actually went out and bought an entire setup to do shotcrete as if you were installing a bunch of swimming pools in people’s houses because of the extent of it. So you’ve got several inches of shotcrete on the inside of this that’s on a wire lath frame and then there is a walkable metal surface on the top that—well, on the back end of that and then on the fascia you’ve got two layers of 5/8 chipboard and then where we have speakers on the interior of the building. They’re actually rigidly mounted into the face of those sails, so instead of having a typical installation where you would have a loud speaker behind a acoustically transmissive fabric, in this case the manufacturer, ETC, custom built all the speaker boxes so you’ve got the baffle face and then all of the speaker elements actually protrude forward of that baffle face. And then we’re having custom-milled pieces of MDF board that the driver elements are actually protruding through, so when you look at the final sail, you’re seeing the drive elements through the fascia of that sail surface and they’re rigidly mounted in place, which has several advantages. Obviously the aesthetic, but then also the acoustical element because the building’s NC15 noise criteria and you’ve got these projectors that are obviously enormous. Those 30k projectors weigh about 360lbs. and they put out…it’s about 30,000 BTU per hour of cooling required for each one of those units. So that’s quite a sizable amount of sound coming from behind that sail that then puts a higher demand on the acoustical requirements to separate that from the rest the hall. [Timestamp: 5:56]

Yeah, a lot of logistics involved in the projection because of the curved surfaces and those appear to overlap depending on which angle they’re being viewed from. I would think that it would make the placement of the projectors very tricky as far as where they needed to be and where they could be placed.
Acoustic Dimensions did the initial design and all the layout of the projectors and just did an amazing job. When we came in everything had already been modeled in the 3D. The building was done by Frank Gehry in a software called Catia that’s used for a lot of sophisticated aeronautical manufacturing and prediction. It allows you to…on a more complicated level they designed planes and things with this software so that you can actually take and…as if a person were sitting there looking at a part on an airplane to see if you could reach your hand on the inside and actually be able to reach something for service—just an amazing amount of 3D involved in this project. It was…you commonly hear people talk about things being down to the inch and in this case with a lot things in the project they literally were down to an inch, or even in some cases fractions of an inch to make things fit. Part of the reason for that being, going back to the noise criterion for the facility that I had mentioned when you…when you start to get things to a noise floor that’s that low obviously that starts increasing the size of all your ducts and this is not a large concert hall for the quality that they’re doing, it’s less than 1,000 seats&mash;I want to say it’s 6 or 700 seats and so when you start expanding the duct sizes that large one of the first things that happens is that it encroaches on to all of the other spaces so we would see that the mechanical rooms were already very limited in size. The AV rooms that we had…the spaces for these projectors, the projection enclosures and as the project went on and they had to increase the size of those ducts that caused other things to shift around mechanically. The rooms would just gradually get smaller and smaller. It’s the shrinking act that we were playing with pretty much the entire construction project. [Timestamp: 7:59]

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