Protec’s race against time at inauguration ceremony
SAUDI ARABIA: The realisation of two major infrastructure projects that will reportedly further stimulate Saudi Arabia’s economic growth was recently celebrated with an inauguration ceremony attended by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and several other government dignitaries. The event took place at the King Abdullah Cultural Centre in Al Jubail with Protec supplying the A/V and lighting solution in addition to robotics.
The projects inaugurated are the largest integrated chemicals complex in the world, to be operated by Sadara Chemical Company (Sadara) and a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Total in Jubail: the Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Co (Satorp). This sees Sadara and Satorp merge together and these projects are expected to create investment and job opportunities in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
‘The project was challenging from the start as we only had three weeks’ notice to plan and deliver an event of this size,’ recalled Fabio Umilta, the project manager for the creative agency employed for the ceremony, Moment International. ‘Shipping and programming time were only two of the challenges faced. Delivering a project of this size in such a short time would scare anyone.’
‘We had a very small window between confirmation and the event itself. Part of our full production service was to put together and manage all the necessary visa and logistical arrangements and what usually takes a matter of weeks we managed to achieve in days,’ said Protec project manager, Robert Handley. ‘We took five 12m trucks of equipment that included an L-Acoustics Kara system for audio and Kuka LED panels for video which was located left, right and centre and run with d3 server technology. It also included a comprehensive lighting rig of Claypaky and ETC fixtures along with more than 400 Schnick Schnack units, rigging for over 100m of truss, 6km of cabling and a robotics system of six Kuka Kr 240-2 and two Kuka Linear Track.’
Setup wasn’t so simple though. ‘Upon arrival it was clear that the pre-rigged hanging points were unsuitable,’ furthered Mr Handley. ‘This venue had a very restricted height clearance of just 10m and was a cluttered environment. So we knew we had our work cut out.’
‘We brought in our own truss, hung from the main beams of the building,’ Ed Ross, head of audio at Protec expanded. ‘This allowed us to locate the PA positions accurately. These still ended up being very wide for the room so it was crucial to have some powerful 115xtHIQ speakers to cover the VIP section at the front.
‘The King was seated very far forward at the front so we positioned a 5XT speaker on the ground a few meters in front of him to make sure he had decent high frequency coverage and speech intelligibility,’ Mr Ross continued. ‘We then positioned four 115xtHIQ speakers towards the back of the room on a truss to make sure there was ample high frequencies at the back of the auditorium and to smooth out the overall frequency response front to back. The desk was a DiGiCo SD9 with SD-mini and D-rack for distribution of signal, and we used Figure 53 QLab for playback and Shure UR series radio microphones.’
‘The Schnick Schnack was placed downstage centre, in front of the King, travelling up to centre stage in the shape of a tree,’ Mr Handley noted. ‘The King activated it by holding a small acrylic tree prop, which he gave to two children who placed it on the round trigger. The tree was the symbol of the two companies merging.’
Time also presented the biggest challenge for Kuka robot programmer Amir Haghshenas. ‘Each robot needs between three to four hours to programme one sequence and we had six different sequences,’ he explained. ‘Under normal circumstances we would have time for a full setup of the robots in our warehouse which wasn’t possible here. We needed an empty stage to move the robots and obviously, there were always people working around the robots. To achieve what we had to in the time available, we simplified some of the moves. On the night, the show was all there and looked great.’
‘We had 12 days to set up and there were times when I wasn’t sure it would all come together,’ concluded Mr Handley. ‘From power issues to the size, shape and height of the venue and the restricted timeframe, it seemed like everything was against us. However, I can honestly say that it proved to be the best ever production I’ve been involved in.’
‘Moment International, together with the team selected for the event managed to keep focused and in high spirits throughout the project despite the issues or time constraints that we faced,’ said Zaki Saeed, CEO of Moment International. ‘From the start of the project until the end we stayed as one unified team and I am extremely happy with the end result.’