Saviour for a rainy day

Saviour for a rainy day

Published: WORSHIP

Festival Of Life 2013 coincided with monsoon rains in the Indonesian capital, presenting a tough challenge for those setting up the audio. Alice Gustafson finds out more.

Featuring guest artists Darlene Zschech, Sidney Mohede and Joyce Meyer, Festival Of Life 2013 was off to a promising start. But then came the rain. In fact, torrential downpours that occurred during the exact time the worship event was being set up caused mass flooding across Jakarta, resulting in tens of thousands of people being evacuated from their homes.

Consequently, the team on-site at the 80,000-seat Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium faced less than ideal set-up conditions when rigging the Clair Brothers i218 system for the worship event, the majority of which was purchased by Electro Production specifically for the concert.

‘We managed to put the order of 48 i218Ms and iS218Ms together in a very short period of time,’ reflects Wayne Grosser, managing director, Clair Brothers Australia, who acted as system engineer for the concert. Impressively, this was the company’s fastest turnaround ever, taking just one week from order to delivery.

‘This relied on a combination of a few double shifts with manufacturing and using some stock that we were building for January orders,’ he explains. ‘We managed to get this shipment on two planes a couple of days before Christmas. This was not the easiest time of the year to get a shipment of this size to the other side of the globe. However, all went smoothly,’ he smiles.

‘Indeed, this was Clair Brothers’ best turnaround time ever for a large stadium system like this,’ concurs Jim Monk, FOH engineer for worship leader and singer-songwriter, Darlene Zschech. ‘It went directly to the stadium and was flown, plugged and played in the rain.’

With the order delivered on time, the team then turned their attention to the much bigger problem. ‘The biggest challenge in the end was not with any of the production as such, but more so with the incredible wet weather that we encountered each day that caused city-wide flooding,’ Mr Monk reflects.

‘As the event was in an outdoor stadium, this caused serious delays when putting the system together – minimising time for tuning and time aligning, let alone line checks and sound checking for two complete bands with separate line systems and consoles!’ he adds. ‘But Ellyas Benyamin from Electro Production and local system engineer Tony Subarkah and his technicians got the system up in very inclement conditions and did a great job.’

‘Jim was very understanding about the weather conditions we were having to deal with,’ nods Mr Grosser. ‘The entire team did a fantastic job as we were building the system in the rain using any easing breaks in the weather that we could take advantage of. We had guys carrying each i218M in the mud from the container to the hanging points left and right of the stage as no transportation dollies for the system could be used. This was not what we wanted to see for the new i218 system.’

The system in question comprised 15 i218M large format line arrays per side for the main left and right hangs, supported by 10 iS218M subs either side of the stage – all of which were powered by Clair Brothers 20K amps. Six FF2-H-M speakers per side provided front-fill support, powered by Clair Brothers 10K amps, whilst 12 i212Ms with four iS218Ms per side were used for out-fills.

‘The stadium is 282m wide by 160m from the front of the i218M array hang,’ furthers Mr Monk. ‘The system design needed even coverage throughout this large stadium as the FOH mix position was sat at 70m. This wasn’t a problem though, as the i218M’s throw capability was amazing all the way back to the last row,’ he beams.

The team’s main objective was to provide complete and even coverage, prompting Mr Grosser to model the venue in Ease Focus v2. From this, he designed the system and calculated the average predicted SPL throughout the stadium.

‘This gave us a good starting point, and then the rest of the fine-tuning was done by walking through the venue with a wireless tablet,’ Mr Grosser explains. ‘For the short-to-medium throw we applied minimal shading to have consistent system power from front to back. For this, we used a combination of our i-Series and long, mid and short throw CB-Lake presets, which worked really well. Josh Sadd, (our senior design engineer and head of R&D) came up with the presets.

‘This really helped in this situation, as we urgently needed to get a head start. Time was very tight, and we were obviously also trying to work around the pouring rain and lightning bolts that were striking around the stadium. This left such small windows of opportunity of workable weather in which to tune, timeline and balance the system,’ he furthers.

But try as it might, the weather did not dampen the team’s faith in the Clair Brothers system. ‘I had no doubt about the i218Ms’ ability,’ asserts Mr Grosser. ‘I knew that we just needed to plug and play and that it would work. Plus, every Clair Brothers system is tested and commissioned before leaving our US facility.’

Mr Grosser was equally keen to praise Mr Monk’s FOH mixing skills. ‘Jim did a great job mixing the show on the Avid Venue Profile – he has a gifted ear. He got the system sounding nice and punchy, which is great because Indonesia has a great appreciation for music from all over the world. They really pay attention to the audio quality at their concerts.’

Despite the obvious setback, the system was set up in an impressive time, as Mr Monk explains: ‘The speed at which the audio system came together really stood out for me, especially given that it was completed whenever there was finally a break in the weather. Also, the punch of the system (particularly in the low-mid and the low-end extension of the line array) really left the subs to act as the "icing on the cake"– so to speak. You could almost run the event with no subs at all,’ he enthuses.

So impressed was Mr Monk that he is keen to work with the i218 system again. ‘This was the first time that I was exposed to the i218M in this configuration, and if first impressions are anything to go by, I will definitely be adding this to my rider for future events.’

In this industry, you are only as good as your last show, and return business is key to a company’s success. Mr Grosser breathes a sigh of relief and assures Worship AVL Asia that ‘the system performed and sounded amazing. The biggest challenge was making sure that we had the system sounding and working perfectly in time to hand over to Jim so that he could put the icing on the cake!’

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