Having outlined the current state of the market in the first part of this feature, here we look at the growing importance of multi-functional spaces, as companies look to make the most of limited space on board, as well as the shift towards LED lighting due to a greater emphasis on energy efficiency, writes Mike Clark.
Canadian LD Chris Moylan has been designing for TUI Cruises for about five years and has operated as chief lighting designer for all TUI Cruises shows, as well as complete entertainment lighting systems designer for the Mein Schiff 3 and 4.
He has also seen the shift to LED at first hand. “The big factor as far as lighting is concerned is efficiency and power usage,” he explains. “Almost all lighting on the newer ships has been converted to LED, which of course offers much longer life and lower power consumption and heat output. We have no conventional dimmers, and our ‘dimmer room’ is filled with network racks instead, routing our extensive Art-Net and video network around our theatres.”
As TUI produces all its shows in house, very modular multifaceted theatre stages have been designed, integrating products from established manufacturers, such as MA Lighting consoles, coolux media servers, Martin and Robe lights.
Regarding new liners, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 5 is scheduled to be ready in 2016, followed by a new ship each year until Mein Schiff 8.
Torsten Hirche, sound designer and technical director for TUI Cruises Entertainment Berlin, comments: “Cruise liner companies are constantly searching for the ‘new wow effect’, to differentiate them from competitors, and another important factor is multi-functionality. Space on ships is limited so designers often try to ensure a single space has multiple functions. For example, our Klanghaus room enables guests to enjoy live classical music with the audio characteristics of an opera house, thanks to its integrated audio modelling system. A few hours later, there will be a theatre show with live actors, in the evening it can become a lounge or movie theatre, and the next morning host a presentation of the next destination – all in one room!
“We consider ourselves to be at the forefront when it comes to our theatres’ lighting, video, sound and kinetics technologies and have chosen Martin Audio speakers (fitted in all key areas across the 15 decks on TUI’s two newest ships – Mein Schiff 3 and 4 and with the marine debut of MLA systems), MC2 amplifiers, XTA processing and DiGiCo consoles.”
For NED, all-in-one presentation switcher/scalers are another popular item for spaces that handle a wide variety of events, and there’s also an increase in the use of AV transports via IP such as Dante. The decreasing cost of using fibre-based technologies is also becoming very important as the ships grow in size and required bandwidth.
Alan Edwards, principal audio design consultant at NED adds: “Now that newer protocols have been developed for faster networks, such as Audinate’s Dante, bidirectional audio distribution to and from and between venues becomes more viable. Control of AV devices, whether remotely or locally using WiFi devices, is among the more recent implementations we see today.”
Paolo Campanelli, executive technical-artistic specialist with Costa Crociere, states that, as far as Costa is concerned, investment in AV technology is definitely increasing.
“On the Costa Diadema, which we inaugurated in November 2014, the TV control room has already been completely redesigned, testing new innovative products, such as Panasonic’s AV-HS60C production switcher.”
Campanelli has no doubts as to the most interesting technologies being integrated on board: “IPTV and streaming technologies are definitely the most interesting at present and, although not technologically new, current ‘firsts’ for some of our liners are 5m x 10m full LED walls being used in retrofit projects for our production shows. We also began working with Clay Paky recently, and a lot of its products are already on our ships, such as the B-Eye, Stormy LED strobes and (we hope) soon Mythos fixtures.”
All Costa liners are crossing over from SD to HD, according to a pre-programmed schedule, and moving to DVB-T or IPTV. There are big new-build projects planned and, on that front, there is considerable discussion regarding the adoption of 4K.