22.02.10

Turku City Theatre revamps for Capital of Culture year

AUTHOR: Inavate

Finland’s Turku City Theatre has been refurbished in anticipation of Turku’s 2011 status as European Capital of Culture. The theatre is Finland's oldest municipal theatre, founded in 1946 although re-built in 1962, and Turku itself is Finland’s oldest town and a former capital.

At the core of Turku’s audio refurbishment is a 48-in/48-out TiMax2 SoundHub-R48 delay-matrix processor equipped with a bespoke selection of audio interfacing options.  An onboard Ethersound module provides networked audio to the main Nexo GeoS LCR proscenium and balcony delay systems via their Ethersound-compatible NX242 system processors.  The same network also delivers analogue audio via distributed Netcira interfaces for six Alcons SR9 front fill cabinets, four on-stage VR8 vocal reference speakers and eight VR8 side-surrounds.  TiMax analogue outputs feed groups of twenty-seven Alcons TS3 balcony delays and rear surround effects speakers split across nine amplifier channels.
Multiple outputs from the Digidesign console connect to the TiMax via digital AES3 inputs, with an additional 48 tracks of random-access audio playback sources also available from the TiMax internal hard-drives.   Turku’s engineers specified optional dual-redundant mirrored 250Gb drives and dual power supplies in the TiMax for added security.
Integrated with the TiMax2 SoundHub matrix is a TiMax Tracker performer tracking system, which automates the delay-based localisation of performers’ radio mics to ensure their audio signature always follows their on-stage position.  A network of five TiMax Tracker TT Sensors continuously monitors the stage so that miniature TT Tags worn by the actors can be tracked in real-time using radar-frequency pulses transmitted by the Tags.  The actors’ positions on stage are continuously relayed via MIDI to the TiMax matrix where special DSP algorithms transparently cross-fade delay-matrix values between the actors’ mics and the vocal system to apply the corresponding audio localisations.
Only two TT Sensors need to “see” an actor to achieve precise 3D tracking down to an accuracy of 15cm, including vertical positioning so they can be followed up and down ramps or stairs.  Turku has two TT Sensors on auditorium lighting bars pointing down and across the stage to catch two forestage wing locations apparently favoured by many directors.  Two more Sensors look across the stage from high up behind the proscenium arch while a fifth Sensor points forward from the rear of the stage, adding further redundancy to mitigate against blocking by scenery or thespian lifeforms.
On-site commissioning was carried out by Hedcom project engineers, Kurt Nyback and Ari Manninen, assisted by Out Board’s Robin Whittaker, who also trained senior engineers, Jari Tengstrom and Mika Hiltunen, in the programming of TiMax delay localisations and TiMax Tracker’s automatic calibration procedures. 
Turku’s Jari Tengstrom declared himself to be “highly satisfied and enthusiastic” about how well TiMax Tracker and TiMax2 SoundHub have integrated with and performed in the theatre for signal distribution, EQ, delay-localisation and automation.  The system is currently busy in rehearsals for a lavish production of Laulavat Sadepisarat (Singing in The Rain) which re-opens in April 2010 following a successful run last autumn.