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Theater Adds Multipurpose AV System

THE LEWIS and Shirley White Theater at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center (OPJCC) in Overland Park, KS, is a new, $10.1 million, 500-seat auditorium used for theatrical productions, live musical performances, and movie screenings. However, the theater, which officially opened in October 2005, wasn't initially designed to support all of those applications.

The control booth in the Lewis and Shirley White Theater at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, KS, features on AMX control system and a Crest Audio mixing console to control its audio and video capabilities.

The control booth in the Lewis and Shirley White Theater at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, KS, features on AMX control system and a Crest Audio mixing console to control its audio and video capabilities.

CHALLENGE: Adapt an auditorium's original plans to add a theater-based audio system to include live performance and cinema capabilities after building construction is finished.

SOLUTION: Add a backstage control unit with a Cat5 digital snake system to handle new wired audio elements, and install projectors and projection screens to accommodate movie screenings.

THE LEWIS and Shirley White Theater at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center (OPJCC) in Overland Park, KS, is a new, $10.1 million, 500-seat auditorium used for theatrical productions, live musical performances, and movie screenings. However, the theater, which officially opened in October 2005, wasn't initially designed to support all of those applications.

“When we started out, it was strictly going to be a theater system with 24 wireless microphones for performers,” says Lonnie Theer, project manager and president of Omaha, NE-based systems integration company Theer & Associates, which designed the AV system for the new theater. “Then it graduated to the need for live musical performances and video for intimate movie screenings and for use as a large cinema.”

Because Theer's team was included in the original design phase of theater, Theer had intimate knowledge of the structure and was able to modify the system without the need for a costly overhaul.

The theater system

Before the live musical performance and cinema capabilities were added, Theer's team, which included acoustical specialist Jessica Hiatt, presented the owners and architects with nine different acoustical models until one was found that fit both the OPJCC's architectural and acoustical demands. “We took the architects' footprint of the auditorium and worked with them to get a concept of the volume of the space, size, and square footage,” Theer says. “Then we created the acoustical models using the CATT-Acoustics program.”

The room's dimensions were entered in the Windows-based program, along with speaker placement, wall, ceiling, and floor material types (see sidebar). The CATT-Acoustics program then gave SPL and reverberation levels, which the team used to adjust surfaces and speaker placement in the room.

“We tried to design the auditorium with non-parallel surfaces as much as possible to minimize standing waves and detrimental echoes.” Theer says. “We designed the acoustics with a very low reverberation time, just below 1 second, and there's a lot of acoustical treatment on the side walls.”

Next, the team installed two speaker clusters in the ceiling of the auditorium — one positioned just above the stage, and the second positioned 2/3 of the way back into the seating area. Both clusters include JBL ASB4128 subwoofers and two JBL AM6340/64 three-way loudspeakers in the center and two JBL AM6340/94 three-way speakers — one for both the left and right sides of the clusters, which are fed into Crown CTS Series power amplifiers located in Lowell L277-70 equipment racks backstage.

The racks also house the Crown amplifiers, 24 AKG SR 4000 stationary wireless microphone receivers, six AKG PS 4000 antenna splitter systems, eight AKG PSU 4000 central power supply units, and four AKG HUB 4000 PC network concentrators.

The network concentrators send the wireless microphone data via Cat5 cable to the control computer in the control booth, which is located on the left-hand side of the auditorium. It houses a Crest Audio HP-8-56 mono + five-channel stereo mixing console with AMX control system components, including an NI-4000 digital control master, an NXT-CA12 12-inch touchpanel, and two AXB-232++ RS232 control units. The control units monitor and manage the system's amplifier power and sound sources, which include a Marantz PMD351 CD/cassette deck, a Marantz DV7110P DVD player, and a JVC SR-S365U S-VHS player. A computer station running AKG's MCS 4000 mission control software monitors the wireless microphones.

Adding live music

As the project progressed, the OPJCC committee, which was charged with overseeing the project, decided that there was room in the $250,000 AV budget to add live music capabilities to the theater. This required adding new, wired microphones for instruments onstage.

“The major technical challenge was changing from using all wireless microphones to adding microphones with inputs for live performances,” Theer says. “Conduit had already been laid in the floor, so the problem became, ‘how do we get all of these wired microphones from stage left, stage right, up stage center, and the orchestra pit through the conduit to the sound booth?'”

The solution involved using a Biamp AudiaFLEX System located in one of the Lowell racks backstage. By using Biamp's EXPO and EXPI input/output expander units, the team created a digital snake. To control the wired microphone audio signals from the control booth, the output from the Crown amplifiers is fed into Biamp EXPO output modules and the AudiaFLEX-CM digital signal processor in the rack. A single Cat5 cable from the EXPO modules runs from the equipment rack through conduit in the floor to one of seven Biamp EXPI input modules in the control booth. This connects to the Crest Audio mixing console to deliver 56 channels via CobraNet over a single Cat5 cable.

“After looking into the EXPO and EXPI modules, we found out that they could be addressed as CobraNet bundles,” Theer says. “It was an ideal way to create a digital snake. It saved a tremendous amount of labor and cable.”

Movie screenings

The OPJCC committee also decided that the new auditorium would be a good place to hold its annual Jewish Film Festival in the spring, as well as small- and large-sized movie screenings throughout the year. A curtain runs down the center of the theater to separate it into two smaller spaces for more intimate settings. On one side of the theater, Theer installed a BenQ PB8250 projector on a Chief wall mount on the back wall of the stage for small screenings. He used existing fly bars to hang a 12- by 10-foot Da-Lite rear projection screen. For larger screenings, Theer installed a Sony VPL-FX51 projector with a VPLL-ZM101 long-throw projection lens in the lighting booth at the rear of the auditorium. Theer used another existing fly bar to mount a 20- by 15-foot front projection Da-Lite screen above the stage.

All of the RS232 control and video signals from the sources in the control booth are sent to the projectors via Extron IN1404XT four-input video/RGB switcher/scalers with Cat5 twisted pair outputs. The signals are received by Extron TP-R-15HD twisted pair RGBHV receivers and inputted into the projectors.

Another component the committee wanted to add was surround sound. The team added six JBL AV29 loudspeakers for surrounds on the walls, which can be activated by the AMX touchpanels.

Continuing changes

Even after the committee had given its seal of approval to the finished system, it decided that more could be done. “We're now planning to install a series of stage monitors,” Theer says. “We're adding a 360 Systems Instant Replay sound effects unit and two Yamaha REV100 reverb units with an insert patch, so they can patch into different channels of the mixing panel. Those additions add 99 preset sound effects to the system.”

Paul Kramer is associate editor of Pro AV. He can be reached at pkramer@ascendmedia.com.

 


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