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Scottish Schools Get the Multi-plex Treatment

by Phil Haldane , under Installations

Schools in Perth and Kinross can now enjoy state-of-the-art cinema and theatre equipment thanks to an innovative collaboration between the lighting, stage, sound and AV company, Black Light and the biggest construction company in the UK, Laing O’Rourke. The £1m project highlights Black Light’s technical expertise and the importance it places on consultation.

Thanks to the skill of the company’s installation team, five schools are now enjoying exceptional new facilities and a sixth school is due to have its equipment installed by the end of the year.

 “The project brief involved primary and secondary schools in rural Perth and Kinross,” says Black Light’s Installations Project Manager, Paul McGreal. “We were asked to provide all the schools with full drama school facilities (lighting,sound and AV systems) and to turn their assembly halls into high-spec. performance venues. We were also asked to provide the secondary schools with cinema systems (including 7m-wide projection screens) and fully-featured sound recording studios.”

Consultancy for the project took place over an 18-month period, during which time Black Light undertook meetings
with project managers from the Council, teachers and representatives from the school and the local community. The project itself involved a number of technical challenges, including how to get spaces to function as both cinemas and theatres.

“These have specific and sometimes conflicting requirements,” explains Paul. “For example, cinemas require 5:1 surround sound whereas theatre and presentation-use needs sound that appears to come from the same location as the presenter in order to be intelligible.” This problem was solved by installing well designed and specified 11-speaker systems, linked to controllers capable of managing the challenges set in a user friendly way. At a touch of a button, the configuration of each school’s system can be changed from a cinema set-up to a theatre set-up, thus providing ease of use for the end users.

Another challenge was presented by the fact that the primary school halls are all used for ball games. This meant
that Black Light had to develop innovative lifting mechanisms for the lighting rigs it installed. These feature electrically operated Pile Wind hoists that allow the whole truss, lighting, AV and sound systems to be hoisted out of harm’s way, and lowered back to the desired, predefined height when in use – all at the flick of a switch!

Amongst the equipment supplied and installed by Black Light were the following:

• Prolyte X30V Box-Section Truss
• Internally Wired Lighting Bars, Cord Patch Panels and Facilities Panels
• Zero88 Chilli Dimming and Outstation Systems
• Zero88 Betapack 3 Dimmer Racks
• Zero88 Jester Lighting Control Desks
• Selecon Acclaim Fresnel, Axial Zoomspot, and Hui Floodlight luminaires
• Yamaha IF-series Loudspeakers
• Yamaha PC-series Amplifiers
• Yamaha DME24N DSP Processors
• Yamaha Blu-Ray Players
• Tascam CD/MD/MP3 Playback
• Soundcraft LX7ii and Phonic Powerpod 1860+ Audio Mixers
• Shure + AKG Microphones, inc. SM57, SM58 and PGX-series Radio Mics
• Sanyo XF70 LCD Projectors (9000 lumens)