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Berkeley—Dec 18, 2009
Meyer Sound Sets New Benchmarks for Outdoor Cinema at Doha Tribeca Film Festival
n its inaugural year, the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) laid claim to a giant outdoor screening venue equipped with what may have been the most powerful Dolby 5.1 surround sound system ever assembled. On a grassy expanse next to the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar’s capital, 104 Meyer Sound loudspeakers complemented a towering 24-by-10 meter screen, providing faithful audio reproduction for the much awaited screenings and
performance of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra to the pleasure of 5,000 guests.
The audio systems for all four of DTFF’s temporary venues were designed and specified by Michael Rome of Boston Light and Sound, a world-renowned consulting firm in specialty cinema systems. For Rome, the vast scope of the principal outdoor venue presented an extraordinary challenge for maintaining exacting cinema audio standards.
“Dolby has a specification for how a system should respond in any venue,” notes Rome. “It’s the same response we would expect in a screening room, a movie theater, or on a scoring stage. It’s the SMPTE “X curve” specification of 85 dB, plus or minus two dB, front to back and side to side—something not easily achieved in a large open space.”
To fulfill this requirement, Rome specified a system comprising front LCR arrays each with eight MILO® line array loudspeakers backed by two flown 700-HP subwoofers. Eight surround towers were erected on the perimeter, each carrying three MILO and three smaller M’elodie® line array loudspeakers for near-field coverage. Eight UPJ-1P VariO™ loudspeakers provided front fill, while a Galileo® loudspeaker management system with two Galileo 616 processors supplied signal matrixing and processing. All Meyer Sound equipment was supplied by TechoPro LLC of Dubai, under a subcontract from the primary AV supplier for the festival, Creative Communication Group (CCG) of Qatar.
Tuning the system to meet Dolby’s specification was the primary responsibility of Boston Light and Sound’s Charlie Greenough and Canada-based Dolby sound consultant Matt Kunau. According to Greenough, the power and linearity of the Meyer Sound arrays were key to delivering performance that, he states, met or exceeded all expectations. “The surrounds impressed me the most, with plus or minus two dB front to back, and the three dB points penetrating to the opposite sides.”
Albeit known for its power to anchor the main system on a tour like Metallica’s, the MILO met a different set of requirements in this cinema application. “The system gave us excellent dialog clarity throughout the seating area,” says Rome. “It did exactly what it was tuned to do, which is what you want in cinema sound. You’re not looking for the subjective, overwhelming power of a rock concert, but rather a precise match to a specification.”
The massive outdoor system delighted audiences for three evenings of the festival, including the Middle East premiere of director Mira Nair’s “Amelia”
on opening night.
The response of both the audience and festival organizers, according to Greenough, was highly gratifying. “I received word from the DTFF executive producers and the director of “Amelia,” and they thought the outdoor screening was fantastic,” he reports.
Rigging and tuning the sprawling audio system proved a formidable effort that required close coordination of a large team. Jalal K. Dudin, managing partner of CCG, supervised the role of his firm, with Philip Venter serving as CCG’s lead technician for the event. TechnoPro owner Nabil Bourgeili and head technician Hadi Nassar worked closely with Meyer Sound contract consultant David “dB Dave” Dennison on configuration specifics and alignment with the SIM® 3 audio analyzer.
In addition to the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, other notable film industry events and venues have selected Meyer Sound audio systems. Acheron loudspeakers, part of the company’s new Cinema Experience line, have been installed at Skywalker Sound, ImageMovers Digital, and American Zoetrope as well as at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
The Doha Tribeca Film Festival is a partnership formed between the Qatar Museum Authority and New York’s esteemed Tribeca Film Festival. Although following the New York festival’s lead in many respects, including a dedication to promoting emerging filmmakers, the DTFF maintains its own regional identity by highlighting the work of acclaimed filmmakers from the Arab world.
Representing the Qatar Museum Authority in the DTFF partnership are the Chair, Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, QMA CEO Abdulla Al Najjar, and DTFF Executive Director Amanda Palmer. New York’s Tribeca is represented by the festival founders: producer Jane Rosenthal, entrepreneur Craig Hatkoff, and celebrated actor Robert De Niro, who was on hand to present awards at the close of the event. Other prominent industry figures participating in the first DTFF included actor Ben Kingsley and director Martin Scorsese.
About Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc.:
Family owned and operated since 1979, Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc. designs and manufactures high-quality sound solutions that include self-powered sound reinforcement loudspeakers, digital audio systems, passive and active acoustic systems, cinema sound systems, and sound measurement tools for the professional audio industry. Founded by John and Helen Meyer, the company has grown to become a leading worldwide supplier of systems for theatres, arenas, stadiums, theme parks, convention centers, houses of worship, and touring concert sound rental operations. Meyer Sound’s main office and manufacturing facility are located in Berkeley, California, with field offices and authorized distributors located throughout the USA and around the world.
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