Behind The Scenes – Chapter 12

The Audio Video Department


Of the many wonderful aspects to experience and enjoy at an International Convention, the ‘Love Never Fails’ program will undoubtedly be a highlight.

The Audio Video team has the fine privilege of ensuring that this vital spiritual food is delivered in a way that the 50,000 delegates can fully benefit.

To that end, the department has a singular focus – that ‘every word, of every session’, from the opening welcome to the final comments, are broadcast in an intelligible and natural way. We literally, ‘hang off every word’!

Department Structure

The AV department comprises an overseer, four assistant overseers, keymen and 130 volunteers. The AV overseer works under the direction of the program overseer and works closely with the convention chairman.  

The whole AV team is committed to achieve good-quality audio and video transmission throughout all the seating areas. This includes all language conventions throughout the venue; English, Auslan, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

In addition, arrangements are being made for volunteers in administration and department areas to have access to sound and vision.

This task poses some significant challenges!  Much of the behind the scenes activity to date involves extensive planning and decision making to address those challenges. Here are just a few!

The Challenges of High-Quality Sound and Vision

Venue Layout

Unlike many performance events, our convention is ‘in the round’.

This means getting audio to every seat in the house through 360º, and to the multiple stadium levels. The extensive use of media, a convention feature, also requires that delegates have visibility of screens and monitors.

A sophisticated 3D sound and vision model has been used to develop a proposed system and determine how it will perform.  This takes into account a multitude of factors that impact the quality of the sound, i.e. heat, humidity and reflection from hard surfaces, to name a few.

The aim for the 2019 convention is to have the source of sound, as close to the audience and as far away from the talker, as possible. This is made simpler given there is no seating on the arena. You will notice 23 arrays of speakers known as ‘ground stacks’ distributed around the arena as well as speaker arrays hung from the roof to achieve this balance.

The detailed planning for this design has been underway for a number of months and a final proposal chosen.  AV along with Local Broadcasting has been working with Norwest, one of Australia’s leading suppliers of audio for the ‘live events industry’, to achieve this outcome.

For those technically minded…

  • 172 L-Acoustics high quality speaker cabinets will be used for the ground stacks and flown arrays
  • DiGiCo SD7 digital mixing console, front of house in the main arena
  • Two Marvel stadium arena screens complemented by 4, 10 metre x 5metre LED screens, flown above the stage
  • In addition, the program can be viewed on most of the 1300 monitors situated throughout the venue

Roads, Rigging and Turf Protection

An important AV task, is setting up for the convention, often referred to as ‘bump in – bump out’.

Basically, ‘Bump in and Bump out’, are the set times agreed upon with the Venue, Contractors and the Convention Committee, for the set up and pack down of the event.

Detailed production schedules are currently being developed. The AV team plays a pivotal role in coordinating the bump in, bump out process given much of the setup involves AV equipment. We will be working closely with the convention Production Liaison team and the Installation department in finalising these schedules.

The schedules are time sensitive, particularly the rigging and the closure of the retractable roof.  Installation of equipment requires building temporary roadways and paths and the use of a 20-tonne boom lift. Turf protection will be placed under staging, speaker arrays and the baptism area, all designed to minimise grass damage.

AV will work closely with a team of about 40 external contractors during the setup. A sound engineer, communications engineer, and lighting manager will be onsite throughout the convention.

As well as the main arena, plans for each of the language conventions have been finalised ready to implement during convention week. This includes room layout and seating as well as AV. 

Additional Functions

There are many and varied assignments that that are the responsibility of AV.

These include:

  • Front of house, Audio Video desk for each language convention
  • Stage and Platform management
  • Makeup for speakers
  • Streaming to the Hobart convention
  • Transmitting the programs through FM broadcast
  • Technical support and communications desk for all language conventions
  • Provisioning and management of radio communications for all departments
  • Inventory and logistics management
  • Contractor support

Much has already been accomplished and has been possible with the extensive support from the Branch office. This includes detailed Audio Video setup guidelines and policy documents for all the language conventions.

The AV team are delighted to have such a dignified and important role in contributing to the 2019 Melbourne International Convention and look forward to enjoying it with eager anticipation!