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Theme park sound design achieved with SADiE

David Davies 15 November 2010
Theme park sound design achieved with SADiE

Brussels-based Studio 5/5 has been using SADiE digital audio location recorders and workstations to complete the sound design for a number of theme park rides and attractions.

One of the facility’s most recent projects saw it create sound effects, consult on the sound installation and undertake other audio-related tasks for the world’s first 5D theme park show. Now running at two sites on either side of the Atlantic, the show  is called The Castle of Horror in the USA and Nightmare in Europe at Tusenfryd, Norway.

Studio head Jean-Jacques Quinet explained: “3D is for the movies and 4D is for all the special FX such as animatronics, buttkicks, surround sound, etc. Once you start incorporating player interactivity then you have 5D, which is what this show does. Players can shoot virtual and real targets and pictures of the best player are integrated ‘live’ into the show.”

The Castle of Horror/Nightmare involves seating 25 spectators/players on a rotating platform that can quickly turn through 360 degrees. The participants face two or three 3D High Definition screens or wall of animatronics.

“The room is full of special FX such as wind, rain, moving beams, odoriferous spray, neck or leg tickle systems, dropping seats, etc,” said Quinet. “For example, when the rotating platform stops in front of a screen displaying a rainy storm, the spectators are sprayed with water and strong wind; when insects invade one of the castle’s rooms, the spectators feel the bugs on their necks and legs thanks to the application of compressed air via a small, hidden pipe. At the end of the show, the entire castle collapses and because parts of the set are moving the participants actually feel as though their seats are dropping very quickly, which is brutal but impressive!”

To create the sound for the show, Studio 5/5 opted to surround the room with eight loudspeakers that coincide with the four cardinal points where the rotating platform stops. Two more speakers are positioned on the ceiling, while there is also a huge subwoofer hidden in a fireplace. Further speakers are positioned on the actual platform. (The loudspeaker and amplifier brand specified for the project was Beglec.)

All of the soundtracks were prepared in Brussels, before the mix was finalised on site using SADiE LRX2 multitrack workstations. A SADiE user since 1996, Studio 5/5 currently runs six SADiE systems, including a SADiE H64, a PCM8, a PCM2 and three SADiE LRX2 Location Recording Workstations.

“The portability of the LRX2 is vital for these types of projects. Equally important is the reliability of the SADiE equipment that we take on location – and its compatibility with what we have back in the studio,” said Quinet.

Speaking to IE, Quinet said that prior to Studio 5/5 being brought onboard, the show had already been running for six months, during which period it had “a quality appreciation of 7.5/10. After our mix on site, the global appreciation [is] 9.5/10, according to the client’s satisfaction survey. The customer feedback has been extremely positive."

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