EV Sound for “All the King’S Men“ U.S. Premiere

September 29, 2006

Starring Sean Penn, Kate Winslet and Jude Law, the movie is based upon the life and times of legendary Louisiana politician Huey P. Long. Having spent the weeks immediately preceding the Katrina disaster in and around New Orleans, cast members returned to the Crescent City for the premiere, voicing appreciation for the hospitality they were shown during production. Sean Penn also returned to the city after the hurricane to assist with the rescue effort-a gesture that was applauded by the huge crowd outside the theatre.

Inside the 1500-seat auditorium, the audience response to the movie was equally enthusiastic, largely thanks to a stellar sound production job by Boston Light & Sound, Inc., who worked with regional company Gulf Coast Sound of Rane, Louisiana, to deploy an EV XLC system at the historic venue. The infrastructure at the 65-year old venue posed a couple of sound production challenges: the ceiling is the inside face of the world’s largest self-supported concrete dome, and consequently there isn’t a single fly point over the stage from which to hang the line arrays necessary to tackle the acoustically tricky architecture. Over 1000-feet of truss was erected to fly the XLC arrays with ground support, and the room was then tweaked and tuned using a combination of high technology (EV IRIS-Net software) and practical innovation, in the form of weather balloons strategically positioned to absorb sound.

“The whole production was a real pleasure, and the XLC performed wonderfully.”

Three hangs of eight XLC127 boxes were flown in an LCR configuration, with two additional hangs of six XLC118 subs crossed over to carry the low mids with the main 12-inch woofers, providing maximum punch. 16 additional XLC118 boxes were dedicated to sub duty. EV Xi-1152s were deployed for delays. 32 remote-control EV P3000RL and P1200RL amps running IRIS-Net software powered the system.

“We have used EV equipment for years, including XLC line arrays, at the annual ShoWest convention in Las Vegas,“ reported Chapin Cutler, Technical Director, Boston Light & Sound, “and EV line array specialist Monte Wise works with us there on the sound production for many movie previews that need to sound their very best. That’s why we use the XLC. We asked Monte to recommend an XLC user in the New Orleans region who could supply us with a system for the All the King’s Men premiere, and he put us in touch with Gulf Coast Sound. Larry Habetz and his company were fantastic-very thorough, well thought out and totally compatible with what we wanted to achieve.“

“Among the many challenges that the team faced were the acoustical properties of the room itself,“ Cutler added. “In addition to the dome, the side walls had long since lost any acoustical absorption that had been incorporated in the design. The room is basically a cylinder with a large “cross’ creating four large alcoves jutting outside the cylinder. The top alcove was the stage. The largest of these spaces was the “foot’, which also had seating for 350 people. Its low ceiling and hard walls made an acoustical trap that required treatment. Boston Light & Sound’s sound engineer Michael Rome created an acoustical environment that would allow for improved intelligibility within the room while maintaining the ambience of the historical structure.“

The key to solving the problem was the treatment of the dome. Because of its construction, nothing of substance could be hung from the structure, so the team applied a concept long dreamed of by Cutler: Balloons. Twelve four-foot weather balloons were inflated and secured to the roof structure. “As soon as the first balloon went up, we knew we had a workable solution,“ stated Cutler. “The acoustical properties of the dome just went away.“ Additional acoustical focus points were treated in the same manner. And, much to everyone’s satisfaction, the balloons looked like they belonged there.

Having addressed the major acoustical issues, the production team used EV’s IRIS-Net complete system control and supervision software to streamline the DSP tasks, eliminating the need for racks of outboard processing and saving considerable time:

“Ron Serbuts from Dolby came out to tune the system for the event; when he walked up to the stage he was glad to see the EV amps and arrays-he told us “this ought to be an easy day,’“ reported Gulf Coast Sound’s Larry Habetz. “We worked with Ron, tuned the system to his specs with IRIS, and were done within an hour. Everyone involved was impressed with IRIS, its ease of use and effectiveness. We were easily able to meet the noise floor Ron wanted, and backed the amps down minus 15dB from usual, so they never went above idling for the whole show. This system is so quiet, but all that headroom makes it a sleeping giant. And, of course, the XLC has a reputation for warm sound in the vocal range, which was further reinforced with the additional low/mid response crossed over from the 18s. This was pretty dynamic soundtrack, and there was plenty of headroom for the action scenes, which included a huge-and very loud-train crash scene. From the quietest dialog to the biggest action scenes, the whole movie sounded fantastic in this space.“

Habetz added: “Working with Boston Light & Sound and Dolby Laboratories was a first-class professional experience. Chapin Cutler and Michael Rome from BLSI told us this was one of the smoothest productions they’d done, even though it was a challenging space. The whole production was a real pleasure, and the XLC performed wonderfully.“

For their efforts, the team was thanked publicly from the stage by film Director Steve Zaillian for the work and effort that went into the transformation of the hall. Comments of this type are rare in the high visibility world of Hollywood red carpet premieres.


Guy Low

Public Relations Producer

Telex Communications, Inc.

12000 Portland Ave. South

Burnsville, MN 55337

Phone: 952-736-3935

Fax: 952-736-4582

James Edlund

Public Relations Manager

Telex Communications, Inc.

12000 Portland Ave. South

Burnsville, MN 55337

Phone: 952-736-3901

Fax: 952-736-4582

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