Park life

Vida Systems has recently upgraded and refreshed the audio system at Verona’s Gardaland in Italy, making use of IP-Networks and remote controls across a number of rides and attractions.

October 17th was an important day for Vida Studio’s technical director, Italo Lazzerini, as he was able to celebrate the commissioning of a site-wide QSC Audio-based network system at Gardaland’s Audio Park in Verona. This newly-designed system enables background music and generic announcements to be zoned and distributed by the QSC matrix over the complete 55-hectare area, with a greater degree of intelligibility.

The work is latest chapter in Vida Studios’ decade-long association with Italy’s biggest theme park, the complex owned and operated by Merlin Entertainments Group, (which also incorporates the 28th Sea Life, the world’s leading aquarium brand).

The Audio Park has proved to be something of a technical miracle. Thanks to the programmability of QSC’s NAC-100 touch screen remote (with colour GUI), Vida Systems are not only able to tap into the QSC network control to undertake remote system diagnostics via IP — hundreds of miles away from their Milan offices — but control the system remotely in real time.

“For example, this morning we were able to relay instructions via the car telephone back to our office instructing them to change the volume levels in one zone and switch on another,” says Italo Lazzerini. “The system is always online and it will flag alerts immediately there is a problem.”

Gardaland’s audio technical manager, Lino Fasoli, confirmed that the upgrade to digital had also brought with it huge space saving: “At Gardaland we have been able to replace two large, tired 6m high analogue racks with just two QSC RAVE 522aa units and a NAC-100, offering us four different control presets , which is a very affordable option.” In other words, two QSC Basis devices, operating on the platform, has provided site-wide control, with much greater clarity.

This includes zones such as the popular African Island — a themed area which is populated by multiples of QSC AD-S82 and AD-S282. In fact the music is themed for each of the territorial zones and stored on an Alcorn McBride player.

The Audio Park’s sound reinforcement is being similarly upgraded, and recently a QSC ISA 800T transformer amplifier and 14 AD-S82 loudspeakers were installed with the AD-YM8T yoke-mount system for the S82’s containing the transformer.

There are already well over 100 x 70v/100v line QSC loudspeakers operating in the park and as elements of the old public address systematically come up for renewal so Gardaland will move towards an eventual standardisation on QSC.

Aside from the Audio Park, a further QSC installation was carried out this summer with the introduction of ‘Mammut’, the biggest family roller coaster ride in Italy.

Vida Studio’s audio design for this ride incorporates an EN 60849-compliant background music and voice evacuation system, while at the hub is a Bouyer central unit and announcement microphone station, with fault report devices on output lines. Purpose-created evacuation messages in several languages have been recorded ready for distribution via 14 QSC AD-S52T loudspeakers, strategically located around the ride (and in the station terminus).

Italo explained that QSC system components had originally found their way onto Vida Studio’s specification as a result of an excellent presentation made by distributors, AudioLink.

“I first heard the Acoustic Design loudspeakers in a demo down in Parma three years ago, although another brand had been specified for Gardaland at the time.

“The principle reason for changing to QSC was because compared with the competition it was like day and night. The audio technical department agreed immediately and went to the management to have the original proposal overturned.”

Meanwhile, the Gardaland technician adds that he was as impressed by the aesthetic of the AcousticDesign enclosures as he was by the performance. “This, and the fact that they were weather-resistant, was crucial.”

In addition to the brand’s success at Gardaland, a further QSC installation at the new Sea Life has also caught the eye (and ear) this summer.

Gardaland Sea Life reproduces marine and lake environments with scenographic accuracy. The aquariums and lakes housing the 5,000 creatures of the deep are maintained crystal clear by high tech filters and in excess of 850,000 litres of water are stored in a vast oceanic tank, where waves are created by a special machine.

The technical design for this was undertaken by Thöne and Partner, a Merlin consultant, and a team of onsite technicians based in Gardaland, who oversaw the realisation and implementation. Music is generated by Thöne and Partner’s own specially-designed 20-channel MP3 player.

Their co-operation with Vida Studio has resulted in a QSC Audio solution that makes full use of the brand’s integrated system capability — from the Cobranet audio signal transport to the network for the remote control of all the Basis DSP devices. The NAC-100 local control panel with LCD regulates levels and signal sources at the restaurant. The system is linked to three Basis 922uz and a 922az processors, providing a 32 x 32 matrix, which provide a large element of the control.

The audio system runs on two Ethernet networks, one T100 and one T10 (respectively for audio transport and control). The system is interconnected with the EN 60849 voice evacuation system, while a 16-frequency UHF system provides the radio mic capability.

Vida Studio also designed and installed the automation for the Sea Life pre-show, including the audio video and lighting control (via their own DMX player). The pre-show provides the first visitor introduction to the Gardaland Sea Life Aquarium and uses video players and lighting, connected to the opening/closing door system.

Meanwhile, multiples of QSC Audio Acoustic Design 10v/100v line speakers handle the sound distribution, in the form of 30 x AD-S32T, 19 x AD-S52T, four AD-S82T and a pair of AD-C42T ceiling speakers. These are controlled by multiples of QSC’s CX-108V (8ch) and CX-502 (2ch) amplifiers, fitted with DataPorts. All speakers are in purposely-discreet black with the exception of a pair of white AD-S82’s in the grandstand overlooking the Patagonia sea lion pool.

Media displays distributed throughout the attraction, are largely in the form of Samsung 50in plasmas, along with projectiondesign EVO2SX+ DLP projectors.

Back at Gardaland everyone is delighted that the 2008 season has ended on a high note, with the installation of the QSC network. Next, they plan to upgrade the cabling infrastructure by commissioning a stand-alone optical fibre system.

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