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Stadiums alive with sound and vision

What have Taylor Swift and the 2012 London Olympics got in common? The answer was revealed by Scott Willsallen during the keynote presentation at this year’s Sports Venue Technology Summit at ISE 2016. The Summit, organised by SVG Europe and RH Consulting, with title sponsorship by Blackmagic Design, covered many aspects of event technology and implementation.

Willsallen is founder and director of Auditoria, a company which designs and delivers audio and communications systems for high performance venues and events like the 2012 Olympics.

“Our job as consultants should be to improve the experience of not just the audience, but the hirer. Venues compete with each other and our job should be to help that stadium make more money and host events that otherwise would not be there,” said Willsallen.

Many sports stadiums are trying to maximise their revenues by hosting music concerts or special events like Monster Truck Fests. “Music events are fantastic for stadiums,” noted Willsallen. “They can be launched in a few days and gone again in a couple of days. And every single person who enters the concert has a €20 note that they want to spend on beer.”

Willsallen is not impressed with many stadium audio systems: “The general approach to stadium sound is outdated and often doesn’t meet the audience expectations, because people are used to listening to good sound in a car or at home,” he commented.

And the Taylor Swift connection? At the 2012 Olympics more than 70,000 LED panels were placed amongst the audience, turning the area into a giant LED screen. A down-scaled version of this technology was used on Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour, with the audience wearing LED wristbands synchronised with the music and lighting. “Major events have the money that allows creative people to invent things that become commercial products,” said Willsallen, “What starts off as remarkable and unobtainable, becomes part of a special event or even a regular event.”