In late January, newly elected President Barrack Obama was inaugurated in Washington, DC.
ATK AudioTek welcomes another administration and the hope of increased business in Washington Many hours later, he stepped into a ballroom at the Washington Convention Center to witness the Neighborhood Inauguration Ball, where many amazing performances occurred in his honor. ATK AudioTek was on hand to provide sound reinforcement for the evening.
ATK’s Mikael Stewart was on hand to provide PA mixing. “We provided the in-house sound reinforcement and the on-stage monitoring,” he notes. “It was quite a complicated show because of the schedule and the two stages. It was very ambitious, with lots of performances and elements involved, and little time to get it all done.” Performers included many high-profile acts such as Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Shakira, Faith Hill, and Sting.
The event was held in a ballroom of the Washington Convention Center, which was a large concrete room. “It was a big concrete convention room and they used about 2/3 of it,”
ATK used a JBL Vertec line array system for the event, which allowed good coverage for attendees. Stewart explains. “But the way we were able to design the system and keep reflections off the wall and isolate the sound to the area of the attendees, it worked fairly well.”
ATK put together a system that would work well in the ballroom as well as provide proper support for the acts. “We had JBL Vertec 4889 arrays with 4887 delays,” he explains. “We used Yamaha PM1D consoles and our own M2 and M5 monitor system on stage, and a variety of mics, including Shure RF mics. We tailor our projects based on show demands, flexibility, and quality. That system worked well for the room, and it’s a dominant system we use. It sounds great and is reliable.”
With so many performers, it was lucky that Stewart actually got to soundcheck each one. “We had a chance to rehearse with everyone and we did a dress rehearsal on show day to put it all in order. It was no different than any other variety show, with the usual complexities.”
The biggest challenge seemed to be working with the White House. “When you’re dealing with an event that has the President of the U.S., there’s always a raised feeling
The Ball featured many performers, such as Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder,Mariah Carey, and Beyonce. of expectation,” says Stewart. “And when you’re working with the White House, they have control over certain things and security is always an issue. The White House Communications Division requires full control of the president’s microphone, and we had to rely on them to give us the feed on the proper time frame. They run the feed through their mixer and then it goes to us.”
The video company chosen for the ball was Chaos Visual Productions. Chaos set up an elaborate stage with Winvision 18.75 LED screens, Mitrix LED screens, Barco I-10 LED screens, Barco I-6 LED screens, and an Element Labs Stealth modular video display system to create an icicle effect.
While this ball was a huge success, Stewart notes that this was a big change from the last administration, where there was less work of this size. “We did less and less with the White House during the Bush administration, but during the Clinton years we did a lot more. Technically and creatively it was straightforward, but with the hype of the Obama administration, it was a bit more exciting.”