Berkeley—Dec 18, 2009
Meyer Sound Sets New Benchmarks for Outdoor Cinema at Doha Tribeca Film Festival
In 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
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.