“Shining a Light,” an AV installation in Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis that delivers high-definition video and light shows every evening, is accompanied by a musical soundtrack reproduced by an AVB-networked system of 36 Meyer Sound loudspeakers.
The show offers images, including global maps and a throbbing heart, projected on surrounding buildings, with the instrumental music soundtrack was custom-recorded by members of the Indianapolis Symphony. It’s a joint venture of the city’s business association, Downtown Indy, Inc. and the Indiana War Memorials Commissions, with the latter group responsible for the monuments occupying the circle.
“Shining a Light” made its debut last November with a patriotic tribute to Indiana veterans, and a special holiday program was inserted in late December. The current program, a response to the global pandemic, was introduced in late March during the stay-at-home order. Since restrictions were lifted, expanded programming includes a patriotic tribute or a motorsports presentation leading up to the postponed Indianapolis 500 automobile race.
The technology infrastructure for “Shining a Light” was designed and installed by Dodd Technologies of nearby Pendleton, IN. For audio, the system comprises 24 Meyer Sound CAL 32 column array loudspeakers, all mounted in threes on eight light poles around the circle, along with 900-LFC subwoofers hidden in recessed pits.
“Monument Circle presented multiple challenges from an acoustical standpoint,” says Caleb Cassler of Dodd Technologies, the system designer and project manager. “With the concave building fronts all around it is a very reverberant space, with echoes of up to three seconds carrying down side streets where there are numerous hotels and apartment buildings. So filling the circle with uniform, high-impact sound demanded very precise control.”
Cassler says that several options were considered, including small distributed “rock” loudspeakers, large loudspeaker towers and even arrays on adjoining buildings. But these solutions were rejected for either lacking audio power and fidelity, or raising aesthetic objections.
“The Meyer Sound CAL solution made everybody happy,” continues Cassler. “The speaker trios blend into the light poles, which are essentially duplicates of those there previously. And the precise beam steering capabilities of CAL allowed us to tailor exact coverage to maintain high levels with minimal spill outside the circle. And finally, because CAL connects directly to the AVB network, we could minimize the size of new conduit we had to run out to the speaker locations.”
Audio and video programs as well as show control commands all originate from computers in an equipment room located below the central monument. In addition to the AVB network switch, the control room also houses a GALAXY 816 network platform and an RMServerTM for remote system monitoring. Video from the media servers is carried by a licensed 80 GHz wireless link to projectors on adjoining rooftops.
The AVB-networked system of CAL 32 loudspeakers affords flexibility in tailoring the system for different uses and different audio effects, according to Cassler. “Because each loudspeaker can be addressed individually, I have the capability of doing 24 discrete mixes plus a sub effects mix. Right now we’re just doing eight mixes, one for each pole, with panning for left-right-left-right stereo around the circle. But we can really do anything we want. For example, when the Indy 500 resumes, we could do a program with car sounds zooming around the circle.”
As senior vice president of marketing and events for Downtown Indy, Inc., Bob Schultz has a stake in the impact of “Shining a Light” as a technology showcase for the city. “I had been out on the circle for various tests of the video and lighting prior to public launch last fall,” he recalls, “and I remember the first time I heard the sound kick in. The high quality sound and the vibrating bass created an overwhelming experience for all who had gathered.”
Heading the “Shining a Light” team for Dodd Technologies was owner and president Mark Dodd, with producer/production designer Andy Meggenhofen tasked with overall supervision of AV system design and content integration. Terry Linger and Conrad Piccirillo of Indianapolis-based Innovative Edit were principally responsible for program content creation. Events director Courtney Howell Rissman coordinated with Bob Schultz on behalf of Downtown Indy, while USAF Brigadier General (Ret.) J. Stewart Goodwin represented the Indiana War Memorials Commission throughout the project. “Shining a Light” was funded in large part by a grant from the Lilly Endowment.