A 4D Experience for d&b at the London Eye.

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Mist, snow, rain, smoke, bubbles and wind effects are just some of the kinesthetic experiences that await visitors to the 4D Experience at the London Eye. The cinematic event has been running as a free to attend part of the London Eye for the last five years and in late 2013 the attraction took the decision to completely renovate and update the facility. As well as completely stripping back the interior of the venue, this was also an opportunity to replace and enhance the audio system to provide the audience with the very best listening experience possible. It fell to Southby Productions from High Wycombe to supply and install the d&b audiotechnik system chosen for the job.

Director James Southby explains the rationale, "We have a history of working with these clients and our brief was to increase the standard of the audience's listening experience and provide the loudspeakers that would deliver the audio special effects in a dynamic and memorable way. This was not simply an update of equipment; this project was a complete revamp from the ground up. Internal walls were taken down, new screens installed as well as an array of new interactive FX machines. The venue was closed for two weeks in January and all the contractors, us included, had to work around each other to complete the job within that very tight time frame. The venue can hold up to two hundred people who stand for the rolling programme. Of course at other times it is possible that only a few people are passing through and we are also mindful that many are small children or possibly wheelchair users so not everyone is at a similar height, unlike a seated auditorium. Steve Jones from d&b audiotechnik Application Support and Education and I created the sound design with these variables in mind."

"We opted for an xA-Series system, with 10As on the left, right and centre of the screen and supported by 18A-SUBSs and B2 subwoofers from the C-Series for the extended bass requirements of the special effects. For the very vital surround system, the unobtrusive 8S loudspeakers from the xS-Series were used. Amplification was from D6 and D12 amplifiers and of course the R1 control system was exactly what was needed for a programme of this type."

Co-ordination with other contractors was a priority here as the main speaker system had to be installed behind the new screen and new cable runs made as the building work progressed, "In effect we only had a couple of days to set-up," remarks Southby. "The room had been acoustically treated during the refit to isolate the sound from other parts of the building; County Hall is not only listed but contains organisations that are very separate from each other. In effect we could not be absolutely sure how the room would finally sound as it was effectively being built around us."

Described as 'the perfect prelude to a flight on the London Eye' with 'ground-breaking and spectacular in-theatre effects' that add a breathtaking fourth dimension, the visual image tells the story of a little girl who is unable to see the sights of London clearly until a seagull shows her the London Eye and her father takes her to visit. Since the installation in January, the system has now completed its first summer season of continuous playback.

"There are few harder working environments for an audio system than this one," concludes Southby. "The show works on a constant loop whenever the London Eye is operating which is approximately eleven hours a day, seven days a week. The increased audio experience has enhanced the whole performance as it plays such a big part in delivering the special effects to the audience. So I'm happy to say we've ticked all three of the big boxes: we were on time, on budget and the audiences leave with a smile on their faces!"

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