The Qing show is a hi-tech, permanently installed stage show produced by the Sunac Group in a purpose-built, 1600-capacity venue at the Oriental Movie Metropolis complex at Qingdao in the Shandong province of China. The venue’s architecture has a number of marine elements and is designed to represent a conch, giving it a truly unique appearance. Based on the Chinese legend of ‘Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea’, the show was conceived, designed and created by Artistic Director Luke Petit through Art Team Group Asia, his world-class international team with members from China, the USA, Canada, Switzerland and Belgium. Petit and his team are responsible for developing some of the most stunning, extravagant shows on the planet and this is no exception.
Four years in the making, the show, which covers a floor area of 21,500 square metres, has a cast of 63 performers, features a lifting stage, acrobatics, dance, classic Kung Fu moves, 3D holographic projections and a water curtain fountain to create the perfect fusion of traditional culture and modern stage art. The cast which features 12 main roles, was selected from more than 10,000 dance and drama actors across China and took two years to assemble. The scene fluctuates between land and sea throughout the performance and delivers a rich and vivid background to a spellbinding story. Rave reviews greeted the opening night which took place in April 2019.
Production Director Philip Alexi engaged experienced Belgian sound designer Erik Loots for the show and he in turn recommended a CODA Audio sound system for the project. The technology required to support a performance on this scale must meet the highest standards of quality and reliability and meet stringent criteria. Leading Chinese integrator (and CODA distributor) Tempo, was tasked with installing an expertly designed system.
Erik Loots takes up the story: “I became familiar with CODA when my old friend Hans Engelen at Viladco became a distributor. We go way back and he’s always been someone I’ve held in high regard. He introduced me to the brand and I quickly became a fan, both as a front of house engineer and from the design perspective. When this project was in its early stages I consulted with Hans and he offered invaluable assistance throughout, including introducing me to the CODA team in Hannover from whom I also received fantastic technical support.”
The CODA Audio system was chosen first and foremost for its excellent sonic qualities and huge dynamic range but its compact size added significant further value to the project. The spectacular aerial displays and video projections required the sound system to be as unobtrusive as possible – the positioning of the speakers was a challenge in itself – so the comparatively small size of the CODA Audio boxes was a big bonus in this setting.
The main flown system comprises a total of 48 x AiRay cabinets in a 4-hang/12 element-deep configuration. This setup enables the creation of 3 different audio images, ranging from a narrow L/R configuration, using mainly the centre-L/R arrays, over a wide-L/R image, by using mainly the outer-L/R arrays, to a complete wall of sound using all 4 arrays at the same time. 12 x SC2F in 2 arrays of 6 cabinets deep were flown behind the centre Main-L/R arrays as a spectral lo-frequency extension of the main L and R arrays, while a central flown array of 16 x SC8 subwoofers, 2 hangs of 8 cabinets deep, flown side by side in a cardioid configuration, served as the LFE channel of the system.
12 more ViRay cabinets, 2 arrays of 6 cabinets, were built into the scenic assets and served the dual purpose of infill arrays for the main flown AiRAY system and bringing down the audio image from the high-flown main arrays. To achieve the cinematic soundscape desired by the show’s director, the system was completed by the addition of 48 x wall-mounted G715-96 cabinets in an Auro-3D immersive layout, using 3 layers of sound, namely ear-surround, height surround and a ‘voice of god’ layer. The system is driven by 24 x LINUS14 amplifiers, 24 x LINUS10C amplifiers and 6 x LINUS CON management system units and controlled via CODA Audio LINUS software.
Erik Loots reflects on the challenges: “The main issue with the installation was finding speaker positions that enabled complete coverage of the audience area and allowed for realistic audio-imaging, without interfering with the visual aspects of the show – the flight paths of 2D and 3D flights and video projection. The main system had to be flown very high above the performance area with the result that the bottom of the arrays is 19m from the floor. Through Tempo’s hard work and the support I received from Hans and the CODA Audio team, we achieved great success. Now that the show is up and running, everyone involved with the project is very happy with the system and its performance. Pierre Mush, the music composer for the project told me how impressed he was with the clarity and punch that the system delivers. I certainly agree – you can hear every detail of the music and sound effects.”
This major installation of CODA Audio by Tempo is further evidence to the Chinese market of how the quality, power and flexibility available from such compact enclosures can be harnessed to great advantage on the most demanding of projects. The ambitious aims of the Qing Show have been entirely fulfilled and CODA Audio has played a significant part in delivering its success.