S&S Editor's Choice Awards

Showcasing the winners of this year's S&S Awards.
Celebrate Libya.
Celebrate Libya.
Beyonce.
Beyonce.
Desert Rock.
Desert Rock.
Coldplay.
Coldplay.
Doha Tribeca Film Festival.
Doha Tribeca Film Festival.
Meydan's mother of all LCD screens.
Meydan's mother of all LCD screens.
Miss World South Africa 2009.
Miss World South Africa 2009.

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This year’s Sound & Stage Awards honour the remarkable achievements of the Middle East industry’s top talent during one of the toughest economic periods on record.

STAGING AND RIGGING PROJECT OF THE YEAR
Celebrate Libya – Al Laith/Serious Stages/Atlantic Entertainment

Dubai-based Al Laith Scaffolding teamed with UK company Serious Stages and Atlantic Entertainment to construct the MENA region’s biggest ever temporary stage in Tripoli.

The stage was the venue for an anniversary celebration of controversial Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s ascension to power.

The dimensions make for remarkable reading: a massive 122 metres wide, 43 metres deep and 27 metres high, providing artists and other performers with an incredible 5246 sqm of floor space to work with.

Its size almost matched that of the world’s largest temporary stage, which was deployed in Lisbon, Portugal – ironically, for a Guiness World Records ceremony – and measured 7276 sqm.

“It’s a massive stage,” commented Tony Nobbs, managing director of Al Laith Scaffolding at the time. “It is the biggest we’ve built by far.”

The structure consisted of a triple arch-roofed steel stage which required Al Laith to have 50 staff on the ground (excluding supervisors) during the busiest periods of preparation. A number of unusual design requests from the client were also entertained.

“The organisers wanted a swimming pool built in the middle of the stage, which was quite technically challenging,” said Nobbs.

Al Laith Scaffolding sent four loads of staging equipment to Libya via air freight from Dubai for the celebrations, with each load weighing approximately 100 tonnes.

This material was in addition to the staging equipment supplied by Serious Stages and Atlantic Entertainment and excluded production equipment.

Honourable mentions
Yasalam concert series – Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi, UAE – Flash/Al Laith Scaffolding/Protec
Shrouded by the wings of the remarkable Ferrari World awning, the stage erected for the Yasalam concert series was one of the largest ever constructed in the GCC.

Coldplay/Andrea Bocelli, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, UAE – Flash/Al Laith Scaffolding/Protec
Unseasonably wild weather conspired to severely test the resolve of the production crew at this Abu Dhabi concert event. Rapid turnaround of a heavily reinforced wind wall was the highlight of the team’s achievements.

EVENT PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR
Yasalam F1 concert series, Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi, November

Given the timing of the concert series in light of the recession, the sheer scale and ambition of the Yasalam F1 concert series makes it the runaway winner in this category.

After arguably the toughest 12 months in the industry’s short but eventful history, it was fitting that the event, which featured the likes of Beyonce, Kings of Leon and Aerosmith and attracted more than 100,000 punters over four nights, created headlines for all the right reasons.

Steered by Abu Dhabi promoter Flash, the series brought together more than a dozen of the UAE’s leading live event organisations, including equipment rental companies, staging consultants, F&B suppliers, and lighting and sound engineers.

Dubai-based equipment rental companies Protec, Creative Technology (CT), Delta Sound and Techno Pro supplied pro audio, lighting and AV technologies; Al Laith Scaffolding, CEM, Byrne Rentals, WTF Rentals and Harlequin supplied venue and staging infrastructure; while safety, security and catering personnel requirements were met by Spark Security Services, Gulf Crewing and The Event Safety Shop.

At least seven other local companies combined to provide an assortment of associated services. Ultimately, the event successfully showcased the combined talents of the local industry to more than 500,000 punters and the world’s assembled media, making a mockery of less stellar F1 concert events staged elsewhere.

Nestled beneath the imposing steel arch of Yas Island’s Ferrari World theme park, the venue for the concert series also deserves mention as the most impressive temporary location for a large-scale event staged in the Middle East, period.

Notable production firsts included the largest installation of L’acoustics line-arrays in the Middle East and the most extensive collection of moving lights ever installed in a temporary concert venue.

Ultimately, the concert venue incorporated more performance technology than any other temporary venue previously constructed in the Middle East.

Honourable mention
Coldplay-Andrea Bocelli, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, March (Flash)
Most notable for the sheer logistical challenges presented to the production team on account of the wild weather that coincided with the event, the concert series proved a triumph of temerity over turmoil.

Desert Rock
Festival, Festival City, Dubai, UAE, March (CSM)
The 2009 instalment proved a fitting finale to a festival event that gave hard rock a voice in the Middle East. Headlined by Motorhead, the event showcased Al Laith’s all-steel monster stage, whose 50 tonne capacity came in handy for supporting a massive lighting rig consisting of more than 100 pars.

VIDEO INSTALLATION OF THE YEAR
Doha Tribeca Film Festival – CCG Qatar/Creative Technology Dubai

The inaugural Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) presented a showcase of the latest video presentation technologies, ranging from HD projectors to LED presentation screens, in addition to the world’s first LED ‘red carpet’.

Organised by the Doha-based Museum of Islamic Art in conjunction with Qatar Museum Authority and New York’s Tribeca Film Festival, DTFF took in 11 separate venues across the city, each of which featured an impressive array of AV and event production technologies.

Event organisers contracted Doha-based Creative Communication Group (CCG) and Dubai-based Creative Technology (CT) to supply the bulk of the kit required, which included HD projectors, LED displays and assorted pro audio and lighting tech.

CT provided 16 projectors from manufacturers including Christie, Barco and Panasonic, ranging from 10K HD to 30K HD. Each film screening was played back using Sony HDW2000 VTRs, which were supplied by CT.

CT Dubai also supplied two Lighthouse 9x7 (49 sqm) R7 LED screens, which were positioned at either side of the main stage located at the Museum of Islamic Art and were fed from an SDI source.

Measuring 30m wide, 18m high and 32m deep, the stage featured a lighting rig consisting of Clay Paky Alpha fixtures provided by CCG, which is also the Italian lighting manufacturer’s official distributor in Qatar.

CT Dubai general manager Damien McGurn said the festival also presented an ideal showcase for the merits of HD projection and LED display technologies.

“The outdoor displays located at the Museum of Islamic Art in particular proved a stunning platform for displaying the various films and live presentations during the event,” he says.

DTFF rolled out a high-tech red carpet comprising 155,000 LEDs and constructed a 24-metre screen — the largest ever erected in the Gulf country — for the film festival.

Widescreen living
Assuming pride of place at Dubai’s new landmark racecourse facility Meydan is one of the largest and widest video systems ever manufactured.

The Diamond Vision screen, manufactured and installed by Sojitz Corporation and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, measures a massive 107.52m x 10.88m for a total area of 1,169.8sqm (registry as a Guinness World Record is pending).

The screen contains approximately 12 million high-brightness light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for spectacular high definition images.

Other impressive features include 7,000 cd/sqm (64 levels) of brightness, a picture element count of 11,698,176 dots (1,088 dots high × 10,752 wide), and horizontal and vertical viewing angles of ±70 degrees and +15 to -30 degrees respectively.

Honourable mentions
Yasalam F1 concert series, Abu Dhabi – Creative Technology/Flash
Flash’s landmark event of 2009 featured the biggest installation of video tech ever conceived by the Abu Dhabi-based event promoter, according to production director Lee Charteris.

Yas Marina Circuit, yas island, Abu Dhabi
The crowning glory of Abu Dhabi’s $36 billion mixed-use development, the inaugural Abu Dhabi
F1 Grand Prix showcased the track’s undeniably impressive AV infrastructure, including 14 high-resolution SLite LED displays supplied by Belgian company Barco and worth a reported US$8 million.

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launch – Filmmaster Events/ Eclipse Dubai-based Filmmaster Events employed more than 900 tonnes of steel shipped by 40 cargo jets and 80 trucks to build the venue for this landmark event in Saudi Arabia. Fittingly, the launch featured a massive installation of high-tech projection screens linked by more than 3,000 metres of fiber-optic cabling.

PRO LIGHTING TECHNOLOGY OF THE YEAR
Robe Robin 300 series

Robe’s Robin 300 Plasma series has caused quite a stir in the professional lighting market since its release in 2009, largely on account of its revolutionary plasma lamp technology.

While Robe intends to roll the technology out across other product lines in the next 12 months, the Robin remains the mainstay for now, offering cutting-edge features such as a perfect colour rendering index (CRI = 94), an extremely flat and even light beam (1 : 1) and a lifespan in excess of 10,000 hours.

Moreover, in the Robin Spot iteration, the plasma lamp source offers a dimming capacity from 20 – 100% and a semi-hot restrike function (of less than 120th of a second for full lamp brightness to return after initially shutting down).

Utilised as a wash lamp, the plasma technology provides the ROBIN 300 Plasma Wash with a perfect colour rendering index of 94, a CCT of 6,000K and 10,000 hours average lamp life.

The fixture’s zoom capability is an impressive 10 – 35 degrees, and onboard effects include smooth, fast colour mixing, CMY and CTO dichroic colour flag system, plus a colour wheel with seven replaceable ‘SLOT&LOCK’ trapezoid shaped dichroics and in an open position.

Robe Robin Plasma Spot key features:

  • Luxim LifiENT 31-02 plasma lamp source, 266W, Luminous Flux 18,000 Lm, CCT 6,000K, CRI=94, lamp life 10,000 hrs.
  • Linear motorized zoom 10°– 40°.
  • (RNS2 - Innovated Robe Navigation System with LCD touch screen and battery backup, gravitation sensor for auto screen positioning and operation memory service log with RTC.
  • CMY + CTO dichroic colour flag system in combination with light homogenization system provides smooth and fast colour mixing (patent pending).
  • Colour wheel with 7 + 1 user replaceable magnetic ‘SLOT&LOCK’ trapezoid shaped positions. 
  • Rotating gobo wheel with 7 + 1 user replaceable magnetic ‘SLOT&LOCK’ gobos. 
  • Static gobo wheel with 9 + 1 user replaceable ‘LOT&LOCK’ gobos. 
  • 3-facet 11° rotating indexable prism.
  • Extremely fast motorized iris, opening and closing pulses up to 3Hz. 
  • Variable frost effect.
  • Mechanical shutter/dimmer.
  • Electronic dimming 20 – 100% and strobing possibilities.
  • Electronic auto ranging power supply 100 – 240V AC, 50/60Hz.
  • Pan and tilt movement in 16/8 bit resolution 540°/280° with locking mechanism.
  • Communication protocols USITT DMX-512, ArtNet, MA Net, MA Net2, RDM.

I’m Miss World
Since its worldwide release in September 2009, Robe’s Robin Plasma series professional lighting fixtures have been used at a range of high-profile events, most notably the recent Miss World pageant in South Africa.

Lighting designer Tim Dunn employed more than 280 Robe lighting fixtures during the production, stocking up on 72 Robe Robin 300 Series spot, wash and beam version fixtures, 72 Robe ColorSpot 2500E ATs, 12 Robe ColorBeam 700E ATs and Robe CitySkape 48 LED wash fixtures.

The CitySkape fixtures were a particular highlight, being used to illuminate the edges of the set, its support legs and the cyc.

PRO AUDIO TECHNOLOGY OF THE YEAR
Allen & Heath iLive-T

Critically acclaimed and a winner of multiple professional choice awards since its release at last year’s NAMM Convention in the US, the iLive-T has successfully raised the bar for what can be expected from compact digital mixing systems.

Evolved from the successful flagship iLive digital range, the iLive-T Series packs the performance and power of the original iLive in a lightweight, affordable package. 

The T Series comprises the fixed I/O iDR-32 and iDR-48 MixRacks and iLive-T80 and iLive-T112 Surface options with remote CAT5 connection.

Each rack can be used with either control surface, and all models are compatible with the existing iLive units. T Series provides distributed audio and control, various configuration possibilities, an intuitive instant access analogue-style user interface, and features the same 64x32 RackExtra DSP mix engine as the iLive range.

The iLive-T Surface features the proven and popular ‘Processing Strip’ found on A&H’s flagship iLive system. It’s a combination of dedicated functional controls for Gain and Preamp, HPF, Gate, Parametric EQ, Compressor and Limited/De-Esser, which can be applied to any DSP channel in the iLive system, with full metering within each processing block.

An incorporated touchscreen is used to set up and manage iLive’s system configuration and data, and also supports general operations with a graphical display of signal processing tasks.

Affordable and hugely capable, the digital mixer is our undisputed winner of this year’s pro audio technology of the year award.

AT A GLANCE – Allen & Heath iLive-T

  • Distributed system - Separate MixRack and Surface
  • Choice of two MixRacks (32 or 48 mic)
  • Choice of two Surfaces (20 or 28 fader, 4 layers)
  • TCP/IP network and PL-Anet control
  • ACE Audio and Control over Ethernet link up to 120m single CAT5 (depending on cable used)
  • Systems from 40in/24out to 64in/36out sockets
  • High-grade, recallable mic/line preamps
  • Local analogue and SPDIF I/O available at the surface
  • 64x32 RackExtra DSP engine with eight stereo FX processors
  • Stereo FX slots emulating popular devices
  • Up to 72 sources to the mix
  • Three dynamics, PEQ, HPF and Delay on all 64 channels
  • Two dynamics, PEQ, Delay and GEQ on all 32 mixes
  • Fully configurable audio bus architecture
  • Ten main mix types including unique Sub mix mode
  • Fully-assignable surface strip layout 
  • User-definable channel names and colours
  • Monitor capability with engineer’s Wedge and IEM strips
  • Input, output and insert soft patchbays
  • Quick access, analogue style channel controls
  • Touchscreen for graphical view and setup
  • Libraries, Scenes and Show memories with USB transfer
  • Password protectable user profiles
  • Editor software for online or offline PC control
  • MIDI interface at both the MixRack and Surface
  • Plug-in card slot for popular audio network and interface options

Honourable mention
Digidesign VENUE SC48
Ideally suited to the rigours of live event production, the Digidesign VENUE SC48 deserves a mention for its combination of I/O, DSP and control, as well as its Protools integration and support for Avid and third-party developed plug-ins.
 

Fast facts
iLive series
Ideal for touring applications, iLive mixers come standard with CAT5 cables; 64 input channels including a gate, parametric EQ, compressor, limiter/de-esser and delay; and 32 mix outputs featuring a 1/3 octave graphic eqauliser (EQ), parametric EQ, compressor, limiter and delay.

MENA Distribution: PAXT (Africa); Palwani Audio (KSA); A&H UK (rest of region.

EVENT PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
Flash

Abu Dhabi’s rise to prominence as the region’s top live events destination can in many ways be attributed to the growing ambition of the capital’s most successful new promoter, Flash.

The company, which was established by the Abu Dhabi Government in 2007 to encourage grassroots development of an events production industry in the UAE, has been responsible for organising some of the biggest concerts to date in the GCC.

Artists ranging from Rihanna to Coldplay, Kings of Leon to Aerosmith, have drawn thousands of punters to gigs staged in the capital.

Unquestionably the company’s biggest achievement to date was the Yasalam F1 concert series, which encapsulated the company’s growing stature as a serious player.

While rock concerts have proven a successful staple for Flash, efforts to expand its remit to include family-focused and sporting events have proven successful in recent months, with last month’s Wakestock Abu Dhabi proving a particular highlight.

The company also recently made a significant investment in the popular Ultimate Fighting Championship, guaranteeing the series access to the lucrative GCC market.

Despite the ongoing economic uncertainty, Flash turned a profit in 2009 and is on track to double the size of its business in 2010. All in all, the company’s short but brilliant record of achievement combined with its plans for the future make it a worthy winner of this year’s award.

2009 FLASH PRODUCTION HIGHLIGHTS
Yasalam F1 concert series, featuring Beyonce, Aerosmith, Kings of Leon
Rihanna NYE concert special
The Killers
Coldplay
Creamfields
Andre Bocelli

Honourable
mention AEG Live
Steered by Thomas Ovesen, Dubai-based AEG is sustaining itself through the economic downturn by focusing on smaller gigs. Recent highlights have included Keane, Paolo Nutini and Backstreet Boys (the latter still unnerves us).

LIGHTING INSTALLATION OF THE YEAR
Yas Hotel, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi

The runaway winner in this year’s lighting installation category is the incredible Yas Hotel situated on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.

The hotel, which straddles the Yas Marina Circuit F1 racetrack, features an innovative LED shroud containing 208,000 LEDs.

The LED grid was conceived by architect Hani Rashid of Asymptote New York and designed in conjunction with Dutch firm Arup Lighting. The technology used in the project was sourced from UK-based architectural lighting firm Cooper Lighting and LED manufacturer Enfis Group.

Highlights of the design include a 4.2 billion colour palette, with two-way communication providing real-time monitoring of fixture temperature, colour and energy consumption, as well as DMX remote control.

The main feature of the design is a 217-metre expanse of sweeping, curvilinear forms constructed of steel and over 5,300 pivoting diamond-shaped glass panels which are illuminated via a sophisticated LED lighting system, providing an incredible combination of shades and colours.

More than 5,800 Enfis LED arrays were sourced for the lighting installation, predominantly consisting of Enfis UNO Plus arrays and control drivers integrated into custom-designed IP65-rated stainless steel stanchions.

Honourable mention
Reflective Flow, Beau McLellan
Design, Doha, Qatar
Arguably McLellan’s crowning glory in the Middle East, this incredible LED installation, as featured on pages 14 and 15 in this issue, is a landmark, world-class design. Brilliant stuff.

VIDEO TECHNOLOGY OF THE YEAR
Christie Entero LED

The world’s first LED-based SXGA+ and WUXGA resolution projection display system, the Christie Entero LED system was universally hailed as the future of large-scale rear projection video walls upon its release at NAB 2009 in Las Vegas.

The LED-illuminated, 1-chip DLP product line features a ‘zero maintenance’ design, with no consumable components such as lamps, filters or colour wheels to replace, while the LEDs are rated at more than 50,000 hours, providing five years of dependable operation.

The technology also features built-in Christie LiteLOC and Christie ColorLOC for automatic brightness and colour management, and ArrayLOC, which is an innovative technology that automatically matches colour and brightness levels for every cube, across the entire display wall, on a continuous basis.

Utilising the new generation of solid state LED technology, Entero LED also sets new standards in control rooms with extremely long life.

With 600 ANSI lumens of brightness, the projection engine is capable of illuminating Christie’s 50”, 67” and 72” display cube platforms.

In addition, these cube platforms feature superior cross prism optical screen technology for higher brightness and wider angles of view.

Sealed optics eliminate the need for dust filters, making the technology ideal for the harsh environment of the Gulf, while innovative “heat pipe” cooling technology minimises audible noise.

All in all, a very worthy winner of our video technology of the year award.

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