Kingshott School

Prime AVLS provide innovative solution to Hertfordshire Schools’ new multipurpose sports/performing arts venue.

After a series of investments to secure its future as one of Hertfordshire’s leading independent schools, Kingshott School approached the team at Prime Audio Visual and Lighting solutions to provide a comprehensive, yet flexible solution for their newly constructed sports hall facility, which can also be converted into a 450 seater performance venue with full live sound, stage lighting, projection and back of house theatrical show relay systems.  

Drawing from their wealth of experience in designing bespoke systems across multiple sectors  ranging from conference boardrooms to full sized theatre and live music venues, the team at Prime AVLS were able to incorporate a number of key features which allowed for easy switching between day to day use of the system for assemblies or sports lessons and full scale sound, lighting and projection for school productions, music concerts and presentation evenings which require a greater degree of control.

Early on in the project it was realised that due to the roof structure having to accommodate a complex network of sports nets and tracks, space for fixed lighting positions was going to be limited. Two lighting truss positions were agreed with consultants Ball Hall and main contractor Evers Construction to give optimum coverage over the stage, and over the audience, front of house. The chain hoist system installed and commissioned by Prime engineers is conveniently controlled using a portable controller with all cabling folding neatly down to the trusses on a custom built flip-flop tray system.

A number of efficient LED stage lighting fixtures were selected for rigging on the trusses – sixteen fresnels and profiles providing fixed coverage of the stage area and twelve moving head washes and profiles giving ample scope for programming effects. In addition a pair of 1200W follow-spots, a full LED-lit cyclorama and side lighting packages were provided along with flight cases to enable secure storage of equipment when not in use. 

The audio system was designed around a Soundweb networkable audio backbone as it allows a near infinite number of presets and parameters to be pre-programmed and then recalled by the school staff using the dedicated Contrio control panels located around the building. Prime AVLS have used Soundweb London devices on projects for many years and it consistently proves to be a flexible and reliable solution. 

In addition, an 18K lumen Digital Projection laser projector was installed on the rear wall and fitted with an ultra long throw zoom lens. The school has commented on how pleased they are with the Digital Projection unit – consistently providing bright, crystal clear images regardless of light levels in the hall. The projector can be configured to project onto a dedicated 4m electric projection screen for assemblies or onto the 8m cyclorama when setup as a theatre. 

The CAT6 network infrastructure also allows connected source devices to be plugged into any of the data sockets located around the building, being patched to the projector via the control room. CYP switcher/scalers were deployed in both a mobile rack and in the control room to handle the different resolutions and aspect ratios. Finally the system is fully controllable using the Contrio panels, with staff being able to drop the screen, change inputs and power on/off the projector.

Another challenge for the team was achieving consistent audio coverage across the twenty-five metre wide span of bleacher seating without resorting to having a large number of point source boxes on each truss. Due to their wide dispersion and selectable vertical coverage a total of three pairs of JBL CBT 70J-1s were specified, one pair on each lighting truss and one pair installed on the front wall for use during assemblies. Their controllable directivity minimises the amount of sound being fired at the hard surfaces in the hall. In addition a pair of JBL PRX 18” subwoofers were incorporated to allow reproduction of the lower sub-bass frequencies which can be rolled out and plugged in as required. 

At the design stage of the project the school voiced that having a dedicated control room that could also be used to carry out tuition and training would be essential in allowing students to participate. As such, a large room on the 1st floor has been created to allow optimal visibility of the stage as well as housing all system equipment and control surfaces. 

For front of house and monitor mixing a Soundcraft SI Impact console was specified because of its relative ease of use and intuitive controls making it ideal for students to learn on. Audio signals can be patched from/to multiple custom facility panels located around the venue and in backstage areas using a dedicated patching system. In addition, a Zero88 FLX S48 lighting console was provided allowing programming of lighting effects and presets with DMX distribution being routed using LSC signal processors and Anyscene lighting preset panels. Both consoles are also fully networked and can be wirelessly controlled using a tablet from within the hall allowing for more accurate mixing and programming of lighting and sound during rehearsals. 

The final aspect of the project involved installing a number of backstage relay systems allowing effective communication between stage crew and actors, which would otherwise be difficult in a building of this size. A venue-wide show relay and paging system was installed with speakers across eight zones, and dedicated paging mic positions built into the custom facility panels. In addition, a separate Granite sound intercom system was provided for use by stage crew, and a full HD camera system was installed which can be relayed to monitors backstage over the CAT6 infrastructure.

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