X-Men premiere
Familiar to New York AES Convention regulars, the space and architecture of the Jacob K Javits Convention Center provides a very ‘live’ ambience for reinforced sound. Yet this was the setting for the world launch of the summer blockbuster X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Using a 75ft-wide screen hung on the hall’s north wall, the showing had to reproduce the film’s bombastic 5.1 surround soundtrack, and live up to its cost (US$200m-plus), cast and billing.

Event producer Samantha Sackler Productions called on NYC-based See Factor Industry – its longtime collaborator on East Coast events and movie premières – who looked to an L-Acoustics’ K2 full-range line source array system for the solution. For the premiere, the A/V specialist set 24 K2, 12 SB28 subs and 16 coaxial 115XT HiQ wedges, all powered and processed by L-Acoustics’ LA8 amplified controllers. See Factor also provided all lighting, rigging and management services for the event.

‘It’s rare that you’d need to use a system as large as a K2 for a film premiere,’ says Mark Friedman, one of See Factor’s principals.

See Factor has used L-Acoustics Kara systems for the debut of other films, as including the James Brown biopic Get On Up, which premiered at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, the opening night of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival at the Beacon Theatre, and the Johnny Cash biography Walk The Line, which had its debut at the Hammerstein Ballroom. ‘But the Javits is huge and called for a much larger sound system,’ Friedman warns

‘When doing movie surround sound events in unconventional venues with very high expectations from the client, and knowing that producers, directors and sound editors will be in the audience, it is quite challenging.’

X-Men premiereFriedman notes that reproducing the 5.1 surround soundtrack is important to fully experience a film like X-Men: Days of Future Past. See Factor’s technicians work with cinema-sound specialists from Dolby, as well as projection specialists from Digital Media Systems, to set up the sound system, carefully calibrating parameters such as delays and time alignments between speakers and calculating horizontal and vertical dispersion patterns. However, in such a reverberant environment that process is vastly more complicated.

It also called for a smart, flexible sound system.

The K2 was configured in three hangs of eight modules each for the LCR array, with eight 115XT HiQ wedges arrayed on either side of the room for surround. On the hang closest to the glass wall, the K2’s Panflex asymmetrical variable horizontal coverage technology came into play with that speaker hang having the directional fins on the speakers set for 35° horizontal dispersion while the right hand was set for 55°, keeping the sonic energy off the reflective glass surface and focused on the audience seating area.

The angles were determined by L-Acoustics’ SoundVision 3D acoustical simulation software, which offers real-time mapping in coverage and delay modes, including time-delay optimization, and subwoofer acoustical and mechanical data. In addition, the operation of all of the speakers, zones and LA8 amplifiers were coordinated through L-Acoustics’ Network Manager, which provides a graphical interface optimized for tablet PC use and lets systems designers place units and groups in the workspace in a way that reflects their location in the field.

‘This is what really made it work — the ability of Panflex to precisely aim the sound asymmetrically to avoid reflected sound,’ Friedman explains. ‘At the same time, the DSP algorithms in Network Manager provided complete control over the amplifiers and speaker zones. K2’s Panflex gave us the physical level of control while Network Manager gave us the electronic plane of control, and those tools were invaluable.’

Dolby Sound Engineer David Berti was responsible for calibrating the audio for both the X-Men and James Brown premières : ‘The See Factor crew was very professional and easy to work with, and they nailed both shows,’ he says. ‘The audio playback was extremely accurate to cinema standards, and See Factor’s designs, speaker selection and positioning made my job of tuning the rooms very straightforward, yielding the correct playback response expected by the film makers. Both film companies were very happy with the results stating that the sound far exceeded their expectations.’

Hosted by 20th Century Fox, the debut was attended by Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry and other stars.

More: www.l-acoustics.com

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