Academic excellence: Intelligent AV at the Amman Academy

Intelligent audio, flexible setups and a streamlined control system combine to create a pioneering theatre at the heart of the Amman Academy. Reece Webb reports.

The Amman Academy is known in the region as an esteemed school with a rich, 30-year history. To expand its offerings for students and commercial use it recently added a new building dedicated to theatrical performances including a multipurpose space designed for meetings. International New Technical Est. (INTE), a systems integrator specialising in theatre installations, was brought in to bring the academy’s ambitious vision to life.

Hashem Nazzal, project manager, INTE, explains: “We were brought on as a subcontractor for the project by the main contractor. “They wanted the best theatre, and the school was very excited about this project.”

The Amman Academy required an adaptable, world-class theatre equipped with the latest AV technology and stunning lighting to create a space that immerses audiences and can be adapted for the varying needs of the school. Additionally, a multipurpose space was required that could be used by staff and visitors for meetings or as a breakout area.

Curtain call

The theatre is mid-size with approximately 437 seats, dominated by a Leyard CV4 4mm pixel pitch LED videowall clocking in at a 20 sq m display.

INTE worked closely with theclient to ensure that the videowall would not compromise the look and feel of the space by encouraging the installation of a mobile display that can be adapted to the needs and requirements of the theatre’s users. 

Nazzal clarifies: “The original design called for a videowall, and we made a recommendation to allow the design to be of a non-fixed type. You cannot have a fixed display because you will lose space and flexibility. We installed the videowall on one of the theatre’s rigging bars and you can simply bring the screen down, itis easy to reconfigure or reinstall and is one of the nicest aspects of the theatre.

“I had to prepare the receivers and the cabling in such a way that we can add more screens or reconfigure the display to futureproof the design.

”The theatre uses a TVOne Magenta video matrix and corresponding transmitters and receivers that are designed for long-life use. The TVOne system was selected due to its reliability in hard-to-reach environments. The latency is very good, and you can switch quickly from inputs to outputs.”

Control of the system was designed to be streamlined and simple for staff at the academy, with INTE selecting an Extron IPCP Pro 550-IP link control processor to control numerous aspects of the theatre’s operation, from control of the curtains all the way to the control of the theatre’s two BirdDog P100 PTZ video cameras.

Nazzal: “I tried to enable as much control as possible via the touchscreen. We can also record remote learning sessions through the Extron SMP 351 remote learning system. You can also start recording from the touchscreen for any event in the theatre. It’s designed to be simple for end users to use, making it as smart as possible.

“For me, it’s very important to offer the end user as much control as we can give. Often, it is not a technical specialist using these systems so if it is not well prepared, then there will be operational issues.”

A Digital Projection M-Vision Laser 18K single chip DLP projector is available to provide 18,000 lumens projected onto a Screen International Major Pro-c7m x 4m electric projection screen. The projector can be controlled via the Extron touchscreen, opening the menu to allow calibration and configuration changes to be made. The projection screen can also be positioned via the Extron touchscreen.

Additionally, the theatre’s dressing rooms are equipped with Samsung RU7170 50-in flat panel displays.

A Roland V800HD MK-II-multi-format video switcher is used for video mixing in the theatre, with potential scope for additional cameras to allow the theatre to mix scenes in the space.

Nazzal says: “This theatre is the first theatre in Jordan to have an assisted listening system [Ampetronic D72 DSP hearing loop driver and audio induction loop receiver]. We worked with Ampetronic and a lot of students will be happy with this setup, we have never seen a theatre in the country with a system like this.”

The main sound system is comprised of a DAS Audio loudspeaker system, using fourAero20A and Aero20 12A, as well as four Artec 5-8A loudspeakers as front fills. The system is supported by four LX-118A line array subwoofers and DAS Audio Road loudspeakers ranging in size from 12-in to 15-in.

Nazzal: “The distribution in the sound is amazing, as the difference between the first row and the last row is less than 3dB, the human ear can’t even detect the difference. The sound is exceptionally clear and for a theatre hosting performances or musicians, this is one of the most important things.”

“DASAim technology has been used to optimise SPL distribution, tonality and frequency response in the whole of the audience area. Audio is distributed by Cat7 cable and it's managed by DASNet software and DSP 2060 A.

Alvaro Plumed, DAS Audio engineer supported the design and optimisation of the Amman academy theatre system, achieving an amazing result.”

The theatre also features a comprehensive microphone system, using Sennheiser SKM100G4 and MMD 835-1 BK wireless microphones as well as a range of wired microphones to support events at the theatre. AKG microphones – from small-diaphragm condenser microphones all the way up to professional vocal microphone and instrument microphones for visiting performers – were provided.

"A reliable well equipped lighting system and a clear sound supported by a powerful video system, this is what makes a good theatre." - Hashem Nazzal, INTE

INTE was responsible for working with the client to add wireless microphones to the mix, increasing the number and types of microphones available for added flexibility and added value. An Allen & Heath SQ6-D digital mixing console is also used with four AB168 boxes on stage to handle inputs and outputs where needed.

INTE also specified a Philips lighting system for the theatre, equipping the space with 92 Philips luminaires and moving spots. MKII LED luminaires were installed ranging in size from 18-34 degrees zoomspot models up to the 15-54 degree PLFresnel LED luminaire, as well as SLBeam 300FX and Signify VL 2600spot moving heads.

Additionally, a Proel PL I S 20 follow spotlight was installed alongside a custom power and control box designed and manufactured by INTE.

Functional design 

Adjacent to theatre is the Amman Academy’s multipurpose hall, designed for the theatre team to hold meetings with up to 75 people.

Designed as a space that can be adapted for meetings with staff and visitors, the multipurpose hall features a Digital Projection E-Vision 6900II laser projector and Screen International compact electric projection screen which can be discreetly concealed when not in use.

An Extron IPCP Pro 550processor sits at the heart of the room, with control functions accessed from an Extron TLPPRO 525 M-Touch-screen control panel.

Nazzal says: “I connected everything to the control processor, even the architectural lighting of the room and the motorised shades. We have the screen and projector connected to enable up and down movement of the screen as well as all inputs and outputs connected to the processor. Everything is controlled by the touch panel.

“There is also a Roland video mixer which I configured to work remotely from the Extron panel to switch inputs, acting as a video switcher.”

Eight DAS Audio CL6T and two ARTEC 315.96 speakers were installed in the ceiling and wall, supported by DAS Audio PA1500 and PA900 amplifiers.

A project of this scope is, of course, not without its challenges, with the Covid-19 pandemic causing an impact both on project delivery time and the number of staff available to carry out the installation.

Nazzal explains: “This project was built from scratch. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we were in the middle of the project and things became much harder. We couldn’t work at full capacity, and we had to work with personal protective equipment.

“Despite that, I wanted to make the systems as simple as possible, this was my main focus, and I wanted to make the system as futureproof as possible, to allow the theatre to upgrade and upscale the system as required in the future.”

During the project, some members of the INTE team were required to move to other projects, leaving Nazzal to continue with two technicians and additional support staff to complete the project.

Despite the challenges, INTE were able to deliver the project to a high standard, providing the academy with a powerful system that is streamlined and ready for anything that future requirements can throw at it.

Nazzal closes: “The greatest achievement on this project is the theatre: it’s great to have a system that is so well connected. A reliable well equipped lighting system and clear sound supported by a powerful video system is what makes a good theatre.

“I had support from all the companies that we were working with, and they were very supportive. We had to put in a lot of hard work, and we delivered the project to an exceptional standard.”

Article Categories




Most Viewed