Indigenous Sky Song Drone Spectacular
Novatech designs ‘invisible’ L-Acoustics Syva for Adelaide Fringe.
Adelaide Fringe festival’s Sky Song was the world’s first feature-length drone art display, and it took place throughout the month of March on the rolling hills and plains surrounding a winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia. The multi-media experiential show featured music and stories from Australia’s First Nations indigenous people, told with the aid of stunning visual effects against the night sky. This epic visual spectacle was created through a collaboration between the producers of the Adelaide Fringe and partners providing technical, artistic, and hospitality support and was backed by the Australian government’s RISE Fund initiative and the South Australian Tourism Commission.
A 72-metre-wide holographic screen showed visual projections of First Nations stories, with the UK company, Celestial operating drones in the sky for a visual extension. Each of the drones possessed an individual LED light and were all programmed digitally to complement further the unique dot art style of the indigenous people of Australia. The show’s soundtrack was a mix of speech, poetry, and music, which were the first elements produced in the initial pre-production phase. All visual elements were then designed to match, and the collaborative teams knew the importance of a sound system that could reproduce clarity of speech as well as provide sufficient power for music soundtracks such as the bottom-end heavy finale track by Aboriginal Australian electronic music artiste Electric Fields.
As official production partners for the Adelaide Fringe, L-Acoustics Certified Rental Partner Novatech was tasked with deploying a system for the show’s 100-metre-wide by 80-metre-deep open grass audience area, in which six thousand attendees could come with their own picnics and seating to enjoy the visual spectacle. The primary challenge for the team at Novatech was to design a system that would cover this vast audience area without obstructing any of the visual elements. With the ground-based holographic screen measuring a massive 15 metres tall, stacked, or flown speaker arrays were not an option.
“With this project’s unique challenges, Syva was the logical choice. We needed even coverage, exceptional quality, and the lowest possible visual impact to ensure clean sightlines. Syva’s wide dispersion angle also allowed us to have fewer delays to cover the width of the site,” explains Michael Roberts, Account Project Manager at Novatech. Before presenting it to Sky Song’s production design team, the Novatech team, an all-L-Acoustics supplier, worked on a system design internally using Soundvision 3D mapping software. Roberts reveals, “I think they were expecting us to propose a much larger system with more elements, so our design was initially met with considerable scepticism. However, I was confident with Syva and our calculations in Soundvision.”
Novatech also used Soundvision to plan out the best spacing and height of the delay system and ensure that people sitting right underneath the delays received appropriate sound levels. The deployment consisted of five sets of Syva and Syva Low sitting atop an SB28 subwoofer across the front of the audience area. Two delay lines consisted of three positions of a single Syva rigged on Novatech’s custom mounting stands, placing the top of each Syva about 3-metres high. The overall system was driven by L-Acoustics LA4 and LA8 amplified controllers. Novatech’s sound technician Marco Rab aligned and tuned the system.
The decision to replace a Syva Sub with L-Acoustics SB28 proved to work amazingly well, achieving a powerful low-end for the dynamic music segments of the show. Moreover, the expectations of both clients, Celestial and Adelaide Fringe, were met and well surpassed. “There was a sense of excitement across the collaborative production teams on whether Novatech could deliver a system with minimal impact to the ground-based projection. Fast forward to the first dress rehearsal — everyone was impressed with the system’s quality of sound and even coverage,” Roberts adds.
“I was personally ecstatic with the results,” Roberts concludes. “The clients’ expectation was a world-class, high-quality sound experience, and we absolutely provided that. The system had headroom to spare, the coverage was spot on, and the visual impact to the audience was kept to a minimum with the low-profile design of Syva. Everyone involved in the production had a great experience, and we received plenty of positive comments about the sound system from attendees.”