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Staging the Party of the Century

When the government of Alberta was deciding how to celebrate its 100th year as a Canadian province, it wanted to include as many of its citizens as possible. For a province of more than 255,000 square miles, this presented a huge challenge. The result was AlbertaSpiritThe Party Of The Century, a multi-community birthday bash held in 10 cities throughout the province.

With the help of broadcast and Webcast technologies, festivals and centennial concerts were produced simultaneously in the celebrations 14 venues. The celebrations featured concerts by k.d. lang, Paul Brandt and Ian Tyson, Jann Arden, and the Calgary Symphony Orchestra to name a few, and were linked through large-screen video displays at each site. At the end of the night, the celebration climaxed with a huge fireworks display in all ten cities choreographed to music by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra & Albertas Centennial Jazz Band.

Impact Video provided outdoor LED Video Screen Support for the historic Celebrations across the province on September 1, 2005. The Alberta Spirit Gala, the grand finale to the celebrations, culminated the days festivities with a two-hour event featuring live entertainment from ten different communities across the province. All ten-event sites were linked by satellite feeds from the Golden Jubilee auditorium in Edmonton to Impact Videos LED Screens located in the various communities. Executive producer Don Metz and chief operating officer Marilyn Riddell of Aquila Productions created the vision of bringing the entire province together for this historic event by simulcasting the events in Edmonton to the different community sites across the province. A live television broadcast on the CityTV, ACCESS and Canadian Learning television networks was also provided for those that could not attend the festivities.

In total, 10 large LED Video Screens featuring Daktronics ProStar technology in both truck mounted and panel based configurations were used in sizes ranging from 10 feet H x 14 feet W to 22 feet H x 30 feet W. The Impact Fleet of Illuminator Truck Mounted LED screens were specifically chosen for seven of the ten communities not only for the image quality delivered by the ProStar LED technology, but for the fact that the screens can be set up in as little as 60 minutes. The need for additional stagehand labor, ground support, external generators and forklifts is eliminated due to their design. The three communities of Edmonton, Calgary and Medicine Hat opted for panel-based LED screens that were more conducive to their stage designs. In addition to the Impact crew of 12 LED screen specialists, Daktronics Mobile and Modular division as well as Daktronics Canada provided additional technical support.

In all over 128,000 people attended the festivities that included live performances by Albertas top artists including k.d. lang, Tom Jackson and Jann Arden. Additional programs included artisan displays, a hockey and figure skating exhibition and a tribute to small town Alberta. The provincial wide party culminated with a simultaneous fireworks display set to live music by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and the Alberta Centennial Jazz Band.

'It was a Meyer Sound festival'
With a total of 14 concert venues, there was a lot of sound reinforcement to be done. With offices in Edmonton and Calgary, Allstar Show Industries was a natural choice to be the primary audio supplier. After considering the sheer immensity of the task at hand and the variety and quality of artists involved, Allstar turned to their large stock of Meyer Sound products to meet the celebrations logistical, coverage and sound quality demands.

Danny Bracken in Allstars Edmonton office coordinated the massive undertaking of planning and logistics for the outdoor venues (only two of the events took place in traditional indoor venues). We used every piece of gear we had, he stated. Basically, it was a Meyer Sound festival in virtually every city.

The main outdoor venue was in front of Albertas capitol building at the Edmonton Legislative Grounds. Primary reinforcement was provided by left and right arrays of six Meyer MILO high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers each, augmented by four Meyer M3D-Sub directional subwoofers groundstacked on each side. Four Meyer MSL-4 horn-loaded long-throw loudspeakers provided delay coverage, and four legacy, conventionally powered UPA-1C loudspeakers, powered by QSC amplifiers, were used for frontfill. Four CQ-1 wide coverage main loudspeakers were stacked on top of the subwoofers as sidefill monitors for the stage. The MILOs just give you so much power, an enthusiastic Bracken said. They sound incredible and have amazing headroom.

Most of the venues required coverage for 3,000 to 5,000 people. For the celebrations in Banff, Fort McMurray, Wainwright, and Edmontons Churchill Square, the FOH systems consisted exclusively of MSL-4 cabinets. In Lethbridge, UPA-1C units provided sound reinforcement to accompany the video screens.

The centennial celebration also marked the re-opening of the twin Jubilee Auditoriums, located in Calgary and Edmonton, after a major refurbishing. Both venues now sport Meyer Sound line array systems, with main left and right arrays of M2D compact curvilinear array loudspeakers and M2D-Sub compact subwoofers, plus a center cluster constituted of M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array loudspeakers paired with M2D cabinets. For this occasion, both venues required extra attention to logistical management for the video displays and broadcast equipment. Clive Alcock, general manager of the Allstar Show Industries location in Vancouver, was enlisted to coordinate activities at these venues.

With so many venues to cover, Allstars stock was stretched beyond its limits. Our Alberta warehouses were barren of equipment on September first, reported Allstars Bob Gregory. Other Meyer Sound products used include UPA-1P compact wide coverage loudspeakers, UM-1P narrow coverage and UM-100P wide coverage stage monitors and legacy products UM-1C UltraMonitors and USW-1 compact subwoofers. Consoles used included four Midas Heritage 3000s, six Yamaha PM5D digital desks, and several Soundcraft analog consolesMH4s and MH3s out front, SM24s and SM16s for monitors. Effects included units from Drawmer, BSS, Focusrite, Klark-Teknik and others.

All the local celebrations included music, with headliners scheduled during the final two hours. During this time, the entire celebration was broadcast live on Citytv and ACCESS television, switching coverage among the headline artists in all ten cities. The live broadcast was shown on large-screen video at the various sites, and made available as streaming video on the Internet.

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.