China's National Day
Even knowing that this is the most populous nation on earth, nothing quite prepares you for the sight of two hundred thousand people processing into Tiananmen Square. The night before all main roads around the square had been blocked off in the largest security operation since the opening of the Olympics. And deep within a compound to the north sector of this enormous space, a team of sound technicians from Zenith, Beijing's leading event specialists, were rehearsing for a show that must at all costs, achieve perfection; the 60th anniversary of the founding of the modern state of China.
The day's events started with a huge military parade that occupied the square from 10 till noon. Then just a few short hours after the morning's muscular might had subsided, an altogether softer, more sensitive show got underway. A show of singing, dancing, and the fabulous coordinated motion of thousands of people to create breathtaking mosaics of light and colour; something the Chinese do so well.
With the concept of 'face' being central to the Chinese ethic, one overweening imperative of this mass event was that technology in support of the people must not be overt. Study the newsreel footage as hard as you like and you will not see a loudspeaker anywhere. But loudspeakers there were, and in abundance. "Zenith is one of the biggest owners of d&b audiotechnik systems in China," began Daniel Chan who heads up the d&b office for China and HK, and provided several of his own technicians in support of Zenith's work. "For this show they provided almost fifty boxes of J-Series; the design for deployment around Tiananmen Square was made by Jin, Shao Gang. He's an independent sound designer; the top man in China in fact, and was heavily involved in the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics last year." So too Zenith, a company that has strong ties to many of the more official State run events. "This was however, his first big show with J-Series" said Chan, "but of course he had used it before."
Mr Jin had the Js deployed across the central zone of the Square in stacks of four J8s, projecting onto the performance area and beyond, "Remember the Square is huge," said Chan, "We had to cover back approximately 100 m throw. Of course there were other PA systems on the outer reaches of the square; these too were provided by Zenith, but the central area was most important, for here was where the singers would perform and where the heads of State sat to watch from above."
In total fifty eight of China's top singing stars performed, some operatic, some pop, and some more main stream; all had brief cameo performance slots within the 100 minutes of the show. "The show was run off two Digico SD8s, with an SD7 for monitors; in fact the two were linked and provided back up for each other," reported Chan. "Zenith used Light Viper to run signal around the system; all stacks were controlled using the d&b Remote network with an R60 interface. That may sound simple enough, but because of the military parade in the morning, the PA had to roll in at 2 pm on the day and be ready at 6 pm." Rehearsals for performers had been taking place for six months; Zenith conducted two dress rehearsals on site; one on 29th August, another 12th September. On the day they had the d&b system pre-rigged on dollies, with just one or two stacks inside a fleet of small trucks, which then arrived at the square with military precision, whereupon a swarm of Zenith technicians descended and had the system up and running comfortably ahead of schedule.
"It was a smooth operation" said a delighted Mr Li, Zhen Xing, owner of Zenith. "We were very pleased to play our part in the celebration of sixty fantastic years for the modern State of China."