A war with a happy ending: World War Z premier at Star Casino, Sydney, Australia

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Never really in any danger of being overrun by zombies, Sydney’s number one event destination the Star Casino recently hosted the Australian premier of the latest Brad Pitt movie World War Z. The occasion was promoted by Peter Puchner at Visual Event Management. “Prior to the event we’d been on the cover of AV Magazine in Australia as best Australian concert venue,” said Ben Whatmore, Technical Manager of the Event Centre within the Star Casino complex. “On that basis Peter came in to take a look at the place and decided it was an ideal venue.”

Staging a movie premier is a little more involved than rolling out the red carpet, inviting the Press and then popping in the DVD; sound reproduction it transpired, was a pivotal component in evoking the claustrophobic anxiety Pitt intended. “The house sound system within the Event Centre is based on a substantial installation of d&b audiotechnik J-Series,” explained Whatmore. “We also have some Qi-Series for the centre cluster and T-Series for front fills. But the movie was to be shown with 7:1 surround sound so we were obliged to provide considerable sound augmentation.”

Whatmore passed the Paramount Pictures sound brief to his Head of Audio, Ian Brown. “Even with such a large concert system installation we are a busy venue and host many different artists and presentations. As such we have an established working relationship with Jands/Johnston Audio Services and quickly sourced most of the extra loudspeakers we’d need from them. With additional support from National Audio Systems (NAS) the d&b audiotechnik distributor for Australia we were able to complete the 7:1 system with all d&b products, making for seamless audio consistency.”

Brown determined the precise demands of the 7:1 listening environment with Dolby Labs and configured the extra system deployment himself. “I used the d&b ArrayCalc software to verify the distribution pattern and calculate time alignment for the multiple loudspeaker locations. It’s a complex mosaic of overlapping sound fields, being able to model that quickly and accurately in ArrayCalc made the process a whole lot more manageable. In simple terms we swapped out the centre cluster for more J-Series and put Qi1 and Qi10 loudspeakers at six locations down each side of the concert hall. The rear system was all T-Series and we put further elements of the d&b E-Series into the VIP areas. We already have flown J-SUBs and J-INFRAs on the ground; an additional six J-INFRAs hidden beneath the screen ensured a suitably gut crunching low end. This was really about creating a coherent sound field to immerse the audience within the action. Even with all that available firepower the people from Paramount just wanted a relatively modest 96 dBA Slow; our highest readings peaked at 105 dB. We hooked up everything over our existing network using the d&b R1 Remote control software. For simplicity ArrayCalc has an export function for all the predetermined settings. Sending signal traffic to the d&b D6 and D12 amplifiers via AES completed the picture.”

“It was a big day for us,” concluded Whatmore. “Anthony Davis, Director of Feature Services at Deluxe Corp (LA) who oversaw the premier for Paramount Pictures said the Star Casino provided the ideal turnkey solution for such a prestigious event. That’s the sort of response we like to hear, sweet and to the point.”

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