Learning through artistic performances can greatly enhance students’ educational experiences. An important aspect of learning through performance is the space in which the performances take place. Whether a student is performing a monologue in front of a few classmates, listening to a classical orchestra or viewing a historic film, the performance hall needs to be equipped with the right audio and video technology to provide a memorable experience for viewers.
Charles W. Eliot Arts Magnet Academy, located in Altadena, California, understands the importance of learning through performance and prides itself on being an art and performance-integrated school. It separates itself from traditional instruction by teaching students core subjects such as science, math and English through artistic demonstrations and performance tasks.
A valuable part of a student’s educational experience at the Academy is learning from performances and films presented in the school’s auditorium. Built in the 60s, the auditorium was in need of a significant upgrade. The 800 seat hall consisted of basic speakers and a basic mixer, and the school was looking to update the space to meet modern technology standards.
The Academy envisioned an auditorium that could be customized to support specific types of music or band sizes through high quality sound and video technology. The new sound system needed to allow artists and performers to hear house audio backstage, and the technology needed to be user-friendly, where Academy workers, performers and stage directors could adjust and control the audio and video system with ease. The school aimed to provide an enriched entertainment experience to every guest in the auditorium, no matter their distance from the stage.
ForTech Solutions, Inc., a technology integration firm, installed the new audio video system which included a variation of audio and video technologies. A consultant for the Academy designed the new system and worked closely with ForTech Solutions to implement the design.
“The consultant had an idea as to how to implement the design but there were a lot of issues,” says Joe Alabashyan, chief engineer of ForTech Solutions. “We have hands on experience so it was much easier for us to implement it. We identified the problems of the design with the consultant and gave our recommendations. We spent a lot of time understanding the design and the clients’ needs and we communicated with the consultant to make the changes.”
ForTech Solutions’ experience in A/V installation enabled them to successfully implement an A/V system that allowed for different configurations, which was one of the Academy’s top priorities.
“The Academy wanted a system that was designed to handle small bands and large bands, and allowed them to easily customize the space,” says Alabashyan. “We installed two EAW speakers, wide band and they cover the whole space with one sub. The loud speakers were elevated high so the five front rows weren’t getting enough acoustics, so we installed seven speakers at the front of the stage. We also installed a 64 channel Yamaha mixer that is very flexible. You can do a lot of control effects through the mixer.”
Along with the new speakers and mixer, ForTech Solutions installed a subwoofer and 7 QSC digital amplifiers. Countryman microphones and the Yamaha mixer created high-quality sound in the auditorium and backstage areas, providing optimum audio experience for all guests, stage crew and performers.
The video component of the installation is also professional grade. ForTech Solutions installed a Christie projector and a 28 foot motorized video screen in the auditorium, which helped to provide a high quality image for movies and videos. The entire system is controlled by an Extron control system, which with a single push of a button starts the projector, brings the video screen down and starts the audio. Five jack bays and more than one hundred stage connectivity allows the operator to create special effects, foldbacks, wireless inear monitor systems, and multiple monitors. The Academy’s new A/V system is very user-friendly, despite the various technologies and equipment involved.
“The school was really impressed with the system and really excited about the functionality,” says Alabashyan.
In addition to the A/V technology, ForTech Solutions implemented a paging system that greatly simplified communication between the director and his crew.
“With the stage paging system, the director can sit in the auditorium seat and can communicate what the lighting should be and who should control the light,” says Alabashyan. “He can also talk to the audio booth technician and communicate to the dressing room. He has full control of the show.”
The new A/V system gave the Academy a range of capabilities and enabled them to support various forms of entertainment. With the modernization of its auditorium, the Academy is able to provide its audience with optimum entertainment and valuable learning experiences through a range of artistic performances and presentations.