L-ISA Spatial Audio Immerses Audiences in Terhal
Terhal, the most recent creation by Dragone, is an original, immersive theatrical show that celebrates the rich culture of Saudi Arabia. This spectacle honors the country’s vibrant culture, exploring the vital role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s people and heritage in shaping the future. Terhal features acrobatics, stunts, aerial performance, and dazzling special effects alongside traditional Saudi art and dance. To accompany and enhance this production, Dragone chose L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology by L-Acoustics to create an immersive sound experience to complement the enchanting visuals.
While the show run is temporary, the venue housing the show was purpose-built—designed explicitly for Terhal. Delivering the large-scale production in the venue within the allotted timeframe created a great challenge for the sound team, which consisted of Sebastian Hammond, sound designer; L-ISA engineer Adriaan van der Walt; and mix engineer Andy Tsang.
Having crafted immersive sound experiences with L-ISA for high-profile projects like the opening and closing Ceremonies of Expo 2020 Dubai and Dragone’s La Perle, Hammond explained that Dragone shows are known for pushing the limits of audience experiences.
“Although this was a temporary show, I wanted to deliver the complete residential theatre experience for the audience via the immersive sound design’s detail and live sound technology,” he said. Maximizing the design possibilities of the performance space during the initial design and collaboration was crucial. Hammond continued, “L-Acoustics and L-ISA were part of my plan from the beginning, providing the tools I needed to immerse the audience in the performance and deliver exceptional clarity, depth, and dynamics.”
Hammond knew that the show would undergo numerous iterations during the pre-production and creative process. Therefore, it required a sound design that could easily adapt. “My mission again was to create the best design possible for the venue and performance space. Knowing the type of productions Dragone delivers and building on my experience—I had to ensure the design is as flexible as possible both technically and creatively,” he explained.
“When I shared my sound design for Terhal, the team at L-Acoustics asked if we’d like to trial the upcoming L-ISA 3.0. I said yes because the new release gave us remarkably updated features, such as the FX Engine, which enables reactive movements and trajectories, and customizable controls for organic interactions between objects,” said Hammond. “The FX Engine can create dynamic soundscapes that move with the action on stage, creating an atmosphere of suspense and excitement to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Additionally, it adds subtle details and spatial effects that help bring the world of Dragone’s immersive shows to life. These enhancements significantly improve the immersive audio experience at Terhal, allowing us to elevate the creative concept even further.”
L-Acoustics’ Der Walt concurred: “The one thing that stood out for me was how well the room engine transformed the sonic landscape beyond the venue’s actual acoustics. It brought another dimension into the mix, creating so much more depth, which, with the help of the new FX Engine, could be automated to follow trajectories. Each object would then follow its path, as programmed from scene to scene.“
He added: “Andy Tsang and I quickly established a workflow between the Quantum7 and L-ISA, which streamlined the programming of this complex show. The DeskLink feature, which enables L-ISA control on the DiGiCo, helped us identify objects or groups which we wanted to map around the audience. Once placed in the correct space, Andy could then easily adjust the depth of each object, which in turn would push it into the Room Engine, either to blend in or be used to great effect.”
Weight restrictions were an important consideration, leading Hammond to choose a combination of L-Acoustics K2, Kara II, and Kiva II. The main system, which needed to cover an audience area that extended almost 360° around the central performance area, was provided by ten main arrays of Kiva II, complemented by two arrays of K2 and four arrays of Kara II. Twenty-eight KS28 supplied low-end extension and extra power for sound effects. Eighteen 5XT placed around the stage-lip provided spatial front-fill while twenty Syva were placed around the walls for surround.
The system was provided and installed by local L-Acoustics Certified Partner Clair Global. “We all worked together to bring this project to life, and it was crucial to have the support of a reliable and experienced team,” said Hammond. “We were very fortunate to have Clair Global handling the delivery and operations of the immersive sound and communications design.”
“One of the most impactful moments of Terhal is a massive and intense sandstorm scene, which was a sensory overload in all the right ways,” recalled Hammond. “Music, sound effects, lights, and video all coming together created an impactful, unforgettable moment, and having L-ISA helped us raise the bar. This was a thrilling deployment of L-ISA technology, which gave us numerous imaging possibilities.”
Hammond further described how he used L-ISA to make the show more impactful: “I focused on creating a spatial experience that incorporates both sound effects and musical elements. The team and I were able to fully utilize the room engine, imaging, and movement capabilities of L-ISA 3.0 within the surround system.”
Dragone consistently pushes technological boundaries, and Terhal is no exception. The entire creative team united to craft unforgettable scenes. Hammond feels that having L-ISA technology was crucial in bringing the immersive experience to life. “I am very proud of this sound design. The dynamic fusion of the system’s adaptability, coupled with the innovative application of sound, lighting, and video, perfectly captured the exhilaration of the story, resulting in a profoundly impactful and immersive performance. The final result was a transformative and breath-taking experience that is a testament to the creative potential of collaborations between pioneers in their respective fields,” he concluded.