ASHEVILLE, NC 4.30.20¾College La Cité, the largest French-language applied arts and technology college in Ontario, prides its educational program beyond knowing theory and practice, pushing for mastery that goes along with a trade – creativity, autonomy, adaptability and more. This also involves incorporating technologies of tomorrow for today’s students to better prepare them for the professional industry they are striving to enter.
For their new 360-degree immersive studio, ‘Excentricité’ located at their main campus in Ottawa, La Cité had a clear conceptual idea that came direct from Executive Director of the Office of Ideation and Creativity, Suzanne Gibault. She wanted the immersive experience to be total: not just visual, but also sound. Beyond simple surround, she envisioned a spatial dimension that placed the viewer/participant within the context of the environment in a real-world experience. In other words, “what you saw would relate directly to what you heard; there would be a direct connection between the eye and the ear via the brain”.
“I have known our customer for fifteen years,” states 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.”
La Cité is first and foremost a school and education facility, though ticketed events were always part of the vision for the building. “The theatre is 4,000 square feet, with total surround projection screens. The screens should be acoustically transparent so that loudspeakers can be placed behind and sound energy can pass through, but they are not,” says Roy. “With such a limitation of loudspeaker positions this made the screen and audio solution highly complex to achieve the goals set by La Cité. 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.”
Roy says CBCI pushed for the d&b Soundscape system because he knows the brand and product lines and was sure it would be the ideal tool to realize what they wanted to achieve. Soundscape aligns with the mission of the studio to deliver total 360-degree immersion through spatialization and, precise localization of audio with video. The whole project, ‘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.
“I started by having a conversation with Francois Corbin from d&b Canada, back at the end of 2017 when the customer first approached us to look at the screens,” says Roy. “He and I discussed different solutions, and Francois proposed Soundscape, 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.”
“CBCI had the opportunity to do it right; it was apparent when Patrick first approached me that he had done his research, understood the potential of d&b Soundscape, and made a good assessment of its suitability for the aspirations of La Cité,” states Corbin. “When he contacted me, it was just before InfoComm in Las Vegas and I was able to arrange for members of the La Cité faculty to come and hear the system at the d&b demo. For the faculty, they 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. So as I say, 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. Patrick 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 equipment began in June 2018., 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 consists of 5 x V10P point sources for the front180 system, 9 x E6 loudspeakers for front fills, 24 x 10S-D loudspeakers for the 360 surrounds, 5 x Y10P point sources for delays that cover an upper level of retractable seating, 9 x V-GSUB, 14 x 30D amplifiers, and 4 x DS10 audio network bridges , 1 x DS100 signal engine with En-Space and En-Scene.