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Feature: Making an entrance

Feature: Making an entrance
‘Aquatique’ is the first sculptural waterfall installation in the Southern Hemisphere

Feature: Making an entrance

For an entertainment complex to succeed, a dramatic entrance is vital. Richard Lawn arrives in style at the Star Sydney

Following an 18-month reconstruction period, the grand lobby at The Star Sydney in Pyrmont has been transformed into a part-light, part-water and part-digital art gallery. The entertainment resort features one of Australia’s largest casinos as well as numerous F&B outlets and two five-star hotel towers. 

Central to the new layout is an indoor light and interactive digital art foyer featuring a 25m-long, 8K, crescent-shaped, 3.5mm pixel pitch screen from ROE Visual that was supplied and installed by Big Screen Projects. Over 21 hours of locally themed content created by a number of emerging and established Australian artists such as Brad Eastman and Vicki Lee, in addition to university students, cinematographers and animators, is stored in the server system. Vying for attention with the digital canvas, the Aquatique artwork of falling water is the first sculptural water installation of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Star Sydney director of audio visual, Trevor Watt
The Star Sydney director of audio visual, Trevor Watt

Conducted in phases, the construction of the Grand Lobby saw the extensive area closed off to visitors, while 12m floor-to-ceiling scaffolding allowed the audio, video and lighting contractors – in addition to the specialised water fountain installation team – to execute their individual blueprint designs.

A pair of Christie Crimson HD25 3DLP projectors serve as the main visual outputs for the hourly water displays. The latest model incorporates an IP5X-​sealed, solid-state laser light source. ‘We’ve used a number of Christie projectors in the past, and they have proved themselves to be reliable,’ comments The Star Sydney director of audio visual, Trevor Watt. ‘As these laser projectors are concealed in the ceiling over a very high foot traffic area, we don’t want to be regularly closing off the area to either change lamps or to carry out repairs.’

Big Screen Projects was also awarded the contract to install 1.2 linear kilometres of strip LED into the overhead grid and walls that synchronise their displays with the fountain shows and crescent LED screen content. ‘The fountain show or any visual content can be triggered to display from a preset stored on my mobile phone,’ continues Watt.

Big Screen Projects installed the 3.5mm pixel pitch screen in the foyer
Big Screen Projects installed the 3.5mm pixel pitch screen in the foyer

Sydney-based SI Saltec Group was called on to install an audio solution for the exhibit. Not only did the management require powerful, even SPL coverage, it also demanded that the resultant system had to be discreetly installed out of view. ‘The space lends itself to a column speaker solution, but no speaker could be attached to any visible fixtures,’ explains Watt. Following a discussion with Meyer Sound distributor Audio Brands, technical sales and business development manager Damian Juhasz was tasked with creating a design never previously proposed.

‘From the outset, we realised that this was going to be a challenging project with both unusual coverage and strict aesthetic requirements,’ explains Juhasz. The challenges that Juhasz correctly identified included the lobby’s 40m x 7m entrance between the main doors and the staircase leading up to the first floor. Given this long, narrow space, The Star Sydney stipulated that the speaker placements had to be fixed overhead. With wall-mounted cabinets discounted, the speakers would need to be installed between the overhead acoustic panels at a height of 10.75m and needed to fit within 300mm gaps between the panels.

‘Providing an ideal form factor, directivity and output level, Meyer Sound’s digitally steerable CAL fixed installation speakers appeared to be perfect for such an application,’ adds Juhasz. ‘However, they are normally wall mounted with coverage vertically steered across the projected audience area. To the best of my knowledge, these column array loudspeakers had never been applied in an overhead configuration before.’ Undeterred, Juhasz created preliminary modelling in EASE before collaborating with Meyer Sound’s design services team in Berkeley, California. ‘The results convinced me that CAL would give us the coverage, control and SPL we required for this application.’

Having been provided with the MAPP online loudspeaker simulations, Saltec was tasked with accurately applying the design to the real world. Capable of limiting their individual vertical beam coverage to a 5° dispersion yet providing a horizontal coverage of 120°, three CAL32 models are now permanently installed overhead between the acoustic panels. To create optimum intelligibility, Juhasz programmed the individual vertical beam widths of all eight 4-inch drivers within each CAL32 by digitally steering the beam’s pattern between 5° and 30° up or down, avoiding the 40m glass windows at the entrance while dropping off at the base of the stairs.

Grand AV designs await visitors in the foyer
Grand AV designs await visitors in the foyer

Operating within a frequency range of 100Hz to 16kHz, the CAL32 columns required low-frequency reinforcement. Extending the operational bandwidth down to 37Hz, three 750-LFC single 15-inch subwoofers are flown in near proximity to each of the CAL32 models. However, for events requiring extended low-frequency reinforcement down to 32Hz, a further two 900-LFC single 18-inch subwoofers are fixed into the main curved LED wall fixture. The resultant system is controlled over the Dante network from the main control centre using the existing MediaMatrix Nion DSP via a Nion node. The venue’s BGM can draw on 25 different playlists.

Finished in black, the CAL32 models remain undetected to the eye to deliver clear vocal reproduction over the long, narrow area without undesirable reflections. ‘We depend on a number of speaker systems throughout The Star complex,’ explains Watt. ‘However, Meyer Sound has proved itself to be both consistent and reliable over the years.’



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