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WSDG DESIGNS IMMERSIVE ACOUSTICS FOR CHINA’S EXPO 2010

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SHANGHAI STATE GRID PAVILION’S MAGIC BOX

Largest World Expo In History Expected To Attract 70 + Million Attendees

BASEL, SWITZERLAND: By October 31, EXPO 2010 Shanghai China will have entered the record books as the largest International Fair in history. Themed “Better City – Better Life,” with over 190 countries and 50 international organizations participating, the 6-month-long event is expected to attract between 70 and 100 million attendees.

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In an effort to create a totally unique Pavilion exhibition, the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) commissioned ATELIER BRUECKNER of Stuttgart, Germany to design the Magic Box, a distinctive cube which appears to float within the State Grid Pavilion complex. Rated number three in China’s top ten enterprises, and a global partner of EXPO 2010, SGCC is tasked with the country’s transmission and distribution of electricity.

The stunning Magic Box Pavilion consists of six giant LED walls – the six faces of the cube, each measuring approx. 15m x 15m (50 feet x 50 feet) – and features a glass bridge suspended three meters (10 feet) above the floor to facilitate downward viewing for 250 visitors to each presentation. Once inside visitors are rewarded with a unique, fully immersive, entirely computer-generated, three-dimensional surround audiovisual experience. Not surprisingly, the story focuses on energy: its origins, its transportation and how it is used to improve the quality of everyday life today and in the future.

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Acoustical Challenges

Creating the fully immersive illusion is possible only with proper triggering of the visual and auditory senses. To establish this holistic listening experience a totally innovative environment was developed and implemented by Switzerland-based IDEE UND KLANG, a full service audio specialist, simultaneously charged with composing, creating, editing and mixing the original show soundtrack, an audio program designed for playback on a 21.2 channel Acousmatic Room Orchestration System (AROS).

“A permanent directionality does not exist within the 720 degree cosmos,” explain Daniel Dettwiler and Ramon de Marco of IDEE UND KLANG. “The parameter of localization and spaciousness therefore is extremely relevant for the composition and truly needs to be treated as a separate creative trail on the same level as melodies and harmonies. Our AROS system allows us to treat the loudspeakers as individual instruments to stage a fully immersive audio experience.”

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In an effort to study a multitude of design versions and their impact on the acoustics of the space, the Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) was brought on board. One major issue was the actual spacing of the LED panels – these needed to be as close to each other as possible to properly establish the fully immersive visual illusion. However, gaps were also required firstly to position the loudspeakers and secondly to obtain a sound path to the rear wall structure which was purposely designed to be highly absorptive.

The electro acoustical design was driven by the goal of delivering the audio signal exclusively to the audience positions in order to reduce the potential for triggering the room’s excessive natural reverberation.

Solutions

WSDG Project Supervising Engineer, Carlo Fickler, comments: “Due to the parallel assembly of the LED panels we had to accept a certain amount of flutter echo, so increased attention was devoted to reverberation control. The decision regarding the exact spacing of the LED panels was driven by the predicted reverberation characteristics. Therefore, multiple configurations of LED panel sizes and spacing’s were modeled, simulated and auralized by means of specialized acoustical software.”

Additionally, WSDG was responsible for evaluating if and how the selected digitally controlled line array loudspeaker system could deliver the best performance considering the unfavorable room acoustical conditions, and to suggest treatment if needed. The superiority of the line array system in terms of directivity was established by simulating the direct sound pressure coverage of the entire room through additional acoustical simulations.

Ultimately, the complexity of the design program and the hyper-sophisticated playback system were resolved. “The opportunity to apply our expertise to a project of this magnitude was a significant challenge,” concludes WSDG Partner/GM for Europe, Dirk Noy. “We were confident that our collaboration with IDEE UND KLANG and ATELIER BRUECKNER would create an unforgettable viewing and listening experience for the Magic Box visitors. Our journey towards unlocking this visual and acoustic puzzle was as exciting and educational an adventure as the program it produced.”

Equipment Specifics

The LED screens are built from multicolor RGB LEDs and have a pixel pitch of 8mm. The dual HD video show is 100% computer generated. The audio replay equipment consists of an Insynergie 24 audio server player and a total of 21 Fohhn LF-220 digitally controlled line array loudspeakers and 2 subwoofer line arrays.

Photo Captions and Credits

01 – Stategrid – Exterior.jpg
Copyright by Roland Halbe Fotografie
Magic Box Exterior – LED Screen Building Skin

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Copyright by Roland Halbe Fotografie
Magic Box Interior

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Copyright by Roland Halbe Fotografie
Magic Box Interior

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Copyright by WSDG
Acoustical Direct Sound Simulation

Please credit photos to: Roland Halbe, www.rolandhalbe.de

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The Walters-Storyk Design Group www.wsdg.com has designed over 3000 media production facilities in the U.S., Europe, the Far East and Latin America. WSDG credits range from the original Jimi Hendrix Electric Lady Studio in Greenwich Village to NYC’s Jazz At Lincoln Center performance complex, broadcast facilities for The Food Network, Interlochen Public Radio, CBS and WNET, and corporate clients such as Hoffman La Roche. Recent credits include private studios for the Goo Goo Dolls, Jay-Z, Timbaland’s Tim Mosley, Tracy Chapman, film composer Carter Burwell, Aerosmith; Green Day, Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen and Alicia Keys. WSDG principals John Storyk, Beth Walters, and Dirk Noy lecture frequently at universities and industry events, and contribute regularly to industry publications. WSDG is a six-time winner of the prestigious TEC Award for outstanding achievement in Acoustics/Facility Design. The firm maintains offices in NY, SF, Argentina, Brazil, Beijing, Mexico City and Switzerland.

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