L-Acoustics Gives Voice to Oscars Outdoors

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently cut the ribbon on its newest screening venue, an open-air theater at its 7.5-acre campus on Vine Street in the heart of Hollywood.

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As of mid-June, the site is currently hosting its inaugural ten-weekend summer film series known as “Oscars Outdoors,” which is being reinforced via an L-Acoustics P Series self-powered loudspeaker system.

With Friday evening showings dedicated to classics and adult-contemporary favorites and Saturday nights offering family-friendly fare, the grassy new theater is a nod to the popular drive-in cinemas of the past and can accommodate up to 500 moviegoers on blankets or low lawn chairs.

The theater’s full 7.1 loudspeaker setup is comprised of three coaxial L-Acoustics 112P cabinets for LCR and four smaller stand-mounted 108P systems for true surround. Low end is delivered by two SB15 subs positioned together beneath the 40x20-foot screen, which is hung on the back of what once was A-1 Audio’s Los Angeles facility years ago.

“The Academy has always set the gold standard in its theaters, and even though this new venue offers a casual setting, we still wanted to create the best possible experience for our patrons,” said Academy Theater operations engineer Jay Palmer. “From my experience of hearing L-Acoustics line arrays at the Hollywood Bowl and Fox Theater, as well as personally using some of their smaller coaxial systems, I knew that L-Acoustics would be the right choice for Oscars Outdoors.”

“As expected, the systems have been performing brilliantly,” Palmer said. “The coaxial 112Ps have to throw nearly 90 feet, but with 1000 watts per enclosure they’re able to do that with plenty of headroom to spare. Even when three fire engines pull out of their station a block away from us we’re able to very cleanly boost the system above the noise and ensure that no one misses a syllable of dialog. That’s impressive.”

“We strike the system after every screening, so it’s fantastic that the five speakers from the front can all fit onto a single cart while the four surrounds – each weighing less than 29 pounds – go into their own bags. But the best part is that this system is pre-tweaked with the optimum amplifier and DSP settings to work perfectly right out of the box. We simply have to put them up, plug them in, and they sound great. That’s really powerful.”

“Unlike most theaters, our loudspeakers aren’t positioned behind a perforated screen; but if they were, most people would naturally assume there was a large system hidden there,” he added. “Although our speakers look downright tiny under our big screen, anyone who sees a film here will be quick to tell you that they don’t sound tiny – they sound beautiful.”

In addition to hosting the Oscars Outdoors screening series, the new open-air theater is expected to serve both the Academy and community as an event space for special screenings, educational programs and other functions. For more information on the Academy’s public events, visit oscars.org.

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