Issue 28

City-wide Festival Boasts Immersive Forest Sound Design

Novatech calls on L-Acoustics X Series and Syva for outdoor light and visual art exhibitions at the Illuminate Adelaide 2021 Festival


31 January 2022

Taking place over three weekends, Illuminate Adelaide is a new annual winter event in South Australia’s coastal capital that celebrates music, art, and light technology innovations. The festival transforms the cosmopolitan city’s streets, laneways, gardens, and iconic architecture into immersive art and cultural experiences, maintaining Adelaide’s reputation as a UNESCO Creative Cities Network member.

The festival hosted over 150 collaborative installations and events with local artists, including the Australian premiere of Light Cycles created by Canada-based Moment Factory, and the free outdoor City Lights program. L-Acoustics Certified Rental Partner, Novatech led the supply of audio and technicians for the two exhibitions. Novatech was also a presenting partner of the festival.

City Lights was a collective of over 40 site specific installations, three of which, Emergent Horizons, Kaylene TV and The Big Picture Series featured visual projections on building exteriors with a fourth installation, Naturae Vitibus incorporating visuals projected onto a massive tree. All four exhibits took place in Adelaide’s central business district, with accompanying sound which allowed audiences to experience each exhibit up close or from a vantage point across the street. Since the locations were among a busy city environment of tram lines and traffic, Novatech chose to mount L-Acoustics Syva onto visual media projection towers.

“Syva is perfect as it has a wide coverage distribution from a minimal footprint,” explains Ashley Gabriel, Director of Sales and Marketing at Novatech. “Aesthetically they possess a streamlined, low profile design and compliment the projection towers perfectly. Syva gave us clear, consistent and immersive sound across all four activation sites.”

Novatech installed a total of 13 Syva and six subs across all four sites. Soundtracks for each exhibit were a dynamic mix of vocal tracks, ambient sound and music, handily managed by the Syva cabinets. “The client knew of L-Acoustics but had never encountered Syva before. Through our consultation and guidance during planning and set up phases, they were pleased with the results for the City Lights program,” Gabriel reveals.

For the Light Cycles event, Illuminate Adelaide producers partnered with Canada-based Moment Factory who created the visual and lighting design as well as the immersive audio content. Moment Factory created seven zones of dynamic soundscapes to accompany the night-time light and video art installation in the natural surroundings of the Adelaide Botanic Garden, and Novatech responded to their technical design intent by proposing an audio solution that would be deployed in the garden. Novatech used 5XT, 8XT and X8 short throw coaxial loudspeakers to cover the spaces. This was the first time Moment Factory’s creative sound design team worked with L-Acoustics speakers. Novatech’s Ashley Gabriel comments, “To achieve the best result on site, sound designers and engineers wrote and mixed tracks at their outdoor Forest Lab in Canada (where they can test audio spatialisation), through the same L-Acoustics systems we specified for each installation of this event.”

In response to Moment Factory’s creative and technical brief, Novatech designed unique speaker configurations in each of the seven zones to match the natural forest environment of uneven ground, hills, trees and creeks. “Achieving homogeneous and consistent coverage within the zones was challenging. We also had to reduce the interference between zones as much as possible. It was vital to give the audience an immersive experience, without them getting distracted from sounds in other zones,” explains Gabriel.

With their excellent off-axis performance, L-Acoustics X8 and 8XT were mounted on push-up stands two metres high to diffuse coverage for each exhibit’s main soundtracks. L-Acoustics 5XT output-to-size ratio also played a crucial role. Placed on shorter stands 40 centimetres from the ground, the boxes were concealed under natural plant cover to simulate sounds emitted from the environment. SB28 and SB18 subwoofers were used in areas where more low end reinforcement was required.

Gabriel acknowledges the versatility of the L-Acoustics speakers chosen for this outdoor immersive light and sound exhibition. “As it was the first time working on an event with this concept, we were pleased with the results that we achieved with the installation of a range of L-Acoustics products. Despite the challenging context, we managed to deliver the best coverage possible in all the different zones, providing an immersive experience to the audience and satisfying the expectations of the client.”

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