A new 360-degree immersive theater on the main campus of College La Cité in Ottawa, the largest French-language applied arts and technology college in Ontario, has been outfitted with a Soundscape system from d&b audiotechnik.
The conceptual idea for the 4,000-square-foot theater, called Excentricité, came directly from Suzanne Gibaultx, the executive director of the Office of Ideation and Creativity, who wanted the immersive experience to be total — not just visual, but sonic. Beyond basic surround, she envisioned a spatial dimension that placed viewers/participants within the context of the environment of a real-world experience.
“I’ve known our customer for 15 years,” explains Patrick Roy, senior account manager, Directeur de Comptes, CBCI Canada. “When Le Collège La Cité Des Arts, approached us initially, we were asked to look at providing a solution for their immersive studio. The college had an idea of what they wanted for audio and presented us with an outline plan. We looked at that and advised that they needed a d&b audiotechnik solution.”
The theatre was envisioned to be equipped with surround projection screens that are acoustically transparent so that loudspeakers could be placed behind and sound energy can pass through, but that ultimately didn’t happy. “With such a limitation of loudspeaker positions this made the screen and audio solution highly complex to achieve the goals set by La Cité,” Roy notes. “From a physical standpoint alone, working with the primary contractor we had an additional eight tons of steel support structures installed in the roof from which to suspend the screens, the projectors, and the loudspeaker system.”
He adds that CBCI pushed for the d&b Soundscape system because he knows the brand and product lines and was sure it would be the right tool to realize what the institution wanted to achieve. ‘The Immersive Technology and Entrepreneurship Pavilion is a complete AV fully networked installation. In addition, the college has a green room where they can develop a program with the students, send it directly over Dante upstairs to the theatre (Excentricité) and try it out; they can even send it to broadcast if desired.
The project began at the end of 2017 with a conversation between Roy and Francois Corbin of d&b Canada. “He and I discussed different solutions, and Francois proposed Soundscape.” says Roy, “so I asked him to give me a preliminary design proposal and cost. I explained to the college that this could be the perfect system. To reinforce the idea, we took them to Las Vegas for InfoComm where they could hear a Soundscape system demonstration and experience the potential of the En-Space and En-Scene modules. That proved to be a compelling demonstration; the customer was delighted.
“The faculty already had d&b equipment on the original bid spec, but back then Soundscape had not completed development and was not released to the public,” he continues. “So timing was important. Once they heard it, the system was agreed in principle and it remained for us to put together a system design for Patrick. who did all the work in terms of selling the concept and the system to La Cité. He has a lot of energy and pushed hard.”
Installation of the new system began in mid-2018, and the project was completed by the end of August — everything from proposal, though final design, pulling cable, installing hardware, testing and commissioning. “We used an audio specialist contractor from Québec City, Pierre-Paul Gignac, who helped us on the Dante side,” says Roy. “The d&b system, Crestron, and Q-SYS are all connected and controlled over Dante. There is no analog; the whole building is Dante networked. Pierre-Paul programmed the networking and all the downstream Q-SYS, the console, and power distribution system.”
Even with a condensed timeline, “The system sounds amazing,” according to Roy. “The theatre is constantly in use. It has made a massive wave on the market, not just in Ottawa, even from Montréal people come who want to make use of, or experiment with, the Soundscape system. The buzz about it is everywhere.”
The Soundscape system is comprised of five V10P point source loudspeakers for the front180 system, nine E6 loudspeakers for front fills, 24 10S-D loudspeakers for the 360 surrounds, five more Y10P point louds for delays that cover an upper level of retractable seating, and nine V-GSUB woofers, all driven by, 14 30D amplifiers, four DS10 audio network bridges, and a DS100 signal engine with En-Space and En-Scene.