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November 2012 l 55

Gröna Lund Theme Park, Sweden


frequently necessary for onboard deployment. The design and delivery process can be protracted, but it seems that the end results do justify the labour involved. “Onboard systems are perfect

[for telling] the story of the ride and also give the possibility of having different versions of the story [for each cart],” remarks Kocks. For the properly besotted, there will be a desire to experience

TAKING CONTROL With greater complexity, of course, comes an increased need for effective control. Consequently, show control software is a prerequisite for the vast majority of new installations, where it is selected to trigger often widely contrasting effects at different stages of a ride. No wonder, then, that Kocks describes show control as “the heartbeat of the system,

a visitor as they walk through an area, or providing an interface for the visitor to control all of what happens, interactivity is where designers are exploring more and more ways to enhance their productions.” Logistically and practically, rugged software/hardware ‘combination’ systems often represent the best way forwards. As Wadsten notes: “The time needed to connect up 50 ‘black

“The ride determines how audio will be provided to the audience. It can be onboard audio if the carts on the ride are suited to build a sound in; it can be audio provided by source along the track; or a combination [thereof]” Marc Kocks, TM Audio

every variation – a tendency that means lucrative repeat-business for theme park operators. “True fanatic rollercoaster junkies will love to experience all the different versions of this one rollercoaster.” Indicating the elaborate nature

of many new rides, Kocks cites a recent project in which “the proximity of the props to the cart and the localisation required by the user [resulted in the specification of] a 96-output system with individual loudspeakers across the 300m track. Fifteen carts are in different scenes on the track at the same time and all of the effects had to be triggered and timed. In total, this took three weeks of programming on-site, resulting in our crew going on the ride more than 500 times before completion.”

[precipitating] effects in lighting, sound, motion or other show elements. This show control system can work on timecode or external triggers.” Apart from issues of

practicality, more powerful control also brings the ability to refresh a theme park environment more readily – an important consideration when it comes to ensuring that crowds make return visits year in, year out. Merging’s Wadsten reflects:

“Control software and software that has a control paradigm built into it – like our Ovation Media Server – are able to provide a level of show that can react to the environment in which [they are] placed. So whether it is simply starting a scene running when someone walks into the room, panning a sound to follow

boxes’ and get them to do what you need can be so much more laborious and costly than employing products like Ovation.” Along with effective control, the ascendancy of flexible networking technology has contributed significantly to easing the design process. More easily managed networks, observes Levison, have “made the whole process of integrating elaborate sound much more manageable”. As in other sectors, project specifiers face a variety of possible solutions. Riedel is just one of the suppliers to have benefited, with general manager South East Asia Joe Tan highlighting demand for the company’s RockNet redundant ring topology. Video, audio, data and communications network solution MediorNet is also

generating interest. Tan notes: “An infrastructure that not only transports video in real-time, but also provides the backbone for distributing the communications and audio signals streamlines the installation significantly. With MediorNet being a fully fledged network this also makes the system a lot more flexible, allowing point-to-multipoint set-ups over great distance with high bandwidth.”

GOING GLOBAL As to where theme park audio goes next... “From Iosono’s perspective, we see ‘object-based’ production of audio to be a major advance for themed entertainment,” says Levison. “Sound designers can make content in a different environment than the final venue and have successful reproduction that works when the venue opens. I can’t stress how big an advantage this is. Until now the sound designer had a limited range of ability without building a duplicate of the venue in which to prepare the audio. With an object-based creation and rendered output (as in the Iosono system) the end-result will be as expected in the studio where it was designed.”

Tan, meanwhile, pinpoints the

continuing drift towards digital. As he remarks: “Switching over to entirely digital systems will prevent noise interference while allowing even longer distances when using fibre systems instead of common copper cabling.” The prospect of upgrade/

renewal programmes can only be good news for suppliers – as is an expanding geographical focus that encompasses the BRIC nations as well as the stronghold markets of the US and Western Europe. “While the traditional markets

are perhaps about maintaining what is already there, the emerging markets are where the future business lies,” says Copeland. “As more people start to have disposable income, attractions like theme parks and other leisure centres are emerging in tandem with that.” For audio suppliers, it is

evident, this is one thrilling ride that is far from over.n

The Gröna Lund Theme Park, close to Stockholm, has purchased and installed an Ovation Gold turnkey system as it’s new park-wide musical playback and announcement system



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