Press Release

Adelaide Festival Debuts ‘Baleen Moondjan’ with the Help of Syva Adelaide Festival Debuts ‘Baleen Moondjan’ with the Help of Syva...

Syva Sub

Novatech Creative Event Technology takes its complement of L-Acoustics Syva to the beach to provide a low-profile Professional PA System solution for the festival opening event

ADELAIDE, Australia – April 2024 – “Dramatic and haunting” is how you could best describe Baleen Moondjan, a contemporary retelling of Australian First Nations stories and culture. The production is the creative vision of choreographer and legendary indigenous dancer Stephen Page and premiered at the Adelaide Festival this year.

The staging of Baleen Moondjan required considerable imagination and resourcefulness, in no small part because of the setting – Adelaide’s Glenelg Beach. Sand, surf, and baking hot summer weather aren’t generally things to complain about, but it’s not every day a full-blown audiovisual production needs to contend with the elements in this way.

“As soon as we heard about the vision for Baleen Moondjan, we knew this wasn’t going to be a standard job,” explains – with some understatement – Leko Novakovic, Managing Director of Novatech Creative Event Technology, which has had a longstanding relationship with the Adelaide Festival. Normally, festival openers will be staged in venues such as the Adelaide Festival Centre, with all the necessary infrastructure, power, data, lifts, ramps, and access, or in the event-friendly Elder Park, where event infrastructure is commonplace. This wasn’t that type of production.

Giant fibreglass ‘whale bones’ designed by Jacob Nash form the basis of the show’s staging, which is a staggering 120 metres long, low, and open to the sky. The vision for the show was for audiences, mostly sitting on rugs and camp chairs on the beach, to be utterly absorbed by the setting and the story. In other words, there are no huge truss towers, no conspicuous professional PA system, and no lighting grid.

Making shore

When the unusual production requirements of the beach event became clear, Leko immediately thought, ‘Syva.’ L-Acoustics loudspeakers form a large part of Novatech’s inventory, and Syva carries the lion’s share of the rental company’s portable professional PA system duties. Not only is it low profile, it’s aesthetically pleasing, and its deceptively capable performance has made Syva a mainstay of Novatech’s premium corporate and outdoor international sporting events. But a beach gig for thousands?

“The producers didn’t want the professional PA system to be conspicuous so that immediately  led us towards Syva,” continues Leko Novakovic. “We did play around with an alternative design based on an L-Acoustics line array hung high, up and behind the stage, but ultimately, we returned to a Syva-based design.”

Leko handed the audio design over to his audio specialist, Matthew Ruggiero. Ruggiero worked with L-Acoustics Soundvision sound design and prediction software to arrive at the best arrangement of Syva, subs, and fill.

The Syva solution

The solution saw a left/right arrangement of Syva Low and Syva columns on either side of the stage – set wide to ensure the performance area was as clear as possible. From there, three delay rings of Syva ensure complete coverage of the audience area out to 90-100m from the stage.

For low-frequency reinforcement, four L-Acoustics SB28 subs in an end-fire configuration were placed in a block between the Syva performing front-of-house duties. A further three L-Acoustics SB18 subs provide additional low-end energy for those further from the stage, placed behind the mix position, arranged in a cardioid configuration for the comfort of the FOH engineer.

Other fills included L-Acoustics X8 point source loudspeakers on the front edge of the stage, half buried in the sand to ensure minimal impact on sightlines.

“We bounced our Syva-based design off of L-Acoustics for a second opinion,” recalls Leko Novakovic. “They were very helpful and came back with a few tweaks. We were confident we had things right, but it was an unusual application, so it was reassuring to have that backup.”

Digging in

Novatech first invested in Syva when it won a bid to provide the public address for the Santos Tour Down Under professional cycling race in 2018. It was a brave and innovative move. Deploying Syva with custom-engineered winch-up stands that allowed Syva to be deployed four meters in the air along streets, the Tour Down Under never sounded so good. 

For the Baleen Moondjan production, Novatech used the winch-up stands again but asked the site crew to assist by digging holes for all the Syva in the delay rings. It hid the stand legs but retained the 2-3m height required to cover the audience area. 

“We buried the stands, put fence weights on the legs in the sand, and winched the Syva loudspeakers up from there,” recalls Leko Novakovic. “It resulted in a very stable and low-profile solution. Running and concealing cable in the sand wasn’t an issue either!”

All the elements

The performance itself comprised a five-piece band, playback cues from Q-Lab, and narration via headset microphones. The system performed flawlessly over four nights. Completely open to the elements, the stable Adelaide summer weather ensured almost perfect conditions for the four-night run.

Thanks to the Syva professional sound system, audiences were utterly immersed in the experience. Syva’s wide horizontal coverage and even dispersion, along with the team’s meticulous time alignment of the delay rings, ensured everyone was totally enthralled by the action, music, and storytelling on the night.

“We were pushing Syva out of its comfort zone, but it responded superbly,” concludes Novakovic. “The wide 140° horizontal dispersion of Syva really came into its own, especially for the two front-of-house loudspeakers – we still managed to capture the vast bulk of the audience despite being set so wide.

“For me, it confirmed what I already knew: Syva is the most versatile loudspeaker in our inventory. It never ceases to amaze me just how capable Syva is. It’s just a freakishly well-designed speaker.”

Back in the warehouse, it took many hours for the team to thoroughly clean out all the Glenelg Beach sand from every piece of equipment. But it was worth it!

Learn more about Novatech Creative Event Technology:

Press release assets are found by clicking here.