Australian Outback Spectacular opens a new chapter

Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009


The Australian Outback Spectacular on the Gold Coast has begun a new chapter with the opening of an exciting new dinner show ‘Heroes of the Light Horse’ on September 22nd. 

Since opening its doors in April 2006, Australian Outback Spectacular has entertained over a million people from all over the world, with its celebration of Australian stock men and women at work and play. The audience learns of their history, marvels at demonstrations of their riding skills, laughs at the gags and enjoys the songs and poems that are not only theirs but ours. 

The new show ‘Heroes of the Light Horse’ retains all the fun, charm and skill of the original but with an important difference, this time it celebrates the link between our stockmen and the legendary Australian Light Horse.

The new show has been directed by one of Australia’s most celebrated film and television directors, Simon Wincer, who is best known for movies, ‘The Man from Snowy River’, ‘The Lighthorsemen’, ‘Phar Lap’ and ‘Free Willy’.  In Heroes of the Light Horse, Wincer adds a new element to the show by blending extracts from his movie with the live light horse action in the foreground, further enhancing the show and introducing high definition movie vision to all scenes.

Aided by clips from the film, ‘The Lighthorsemen’, the audience follows Australian troops on the long, dry march to the outskirts of Beersheba in Palestine. Following the march, the audience witnesses the famous charge against entrenched artillery, machine guns and infantry, to take and secure the precious wells of Beersheba.

Back in present day, the Spectacular ends on a lighter note celebrating stockmen’s skills, but always aware of the debt all Australians owe to those heroes of the Light Horse. 

Many technical upgrades have taken place in particular a new projection system. With the show changing, management took the opportunity to replace the aging PIGI technology projectors and go to a full high definition digital solution. After conducting tests in the venue, four Barco FLM 20 HD projectors were installed in two-double stacks to cover the massive 35m x 8.5m screen. The projectors are mounted inside custom built environmental enclosures which protect them from the harsh environment of the venue with its sand arena surface.

“After meeting with Show Technology’s Emmanuel Ziino and Vince Haddad we looked at the Coolux Pandoras Box system for our playback needs,” said Clint Dulieu, lighting designer. “The system does everything we need it to and at around half the price of anything comparable. One media Player Pro outputs to each projector stack with a third for backup. The Standard server acts as an audio server playing back any audio or music associated with the video output over Ethersound. A Media Manager ties the entire system together.

”We had all the systems built in the same robust server enclosures by Show Technology’s James Moore. The video is routed to the projectors via a Barco 8×8 DVI Matrix Switcher and transmitted over fibre. Each of the media Player Pro’s is fitted with a Decklink capture card and fed with SDI from an Image Pro HD to handle any unexpected live input requirements (or movie nights).”

For control Clint decided to upgrade the existing Avolites D4 console with the new MA Lighting MA2 in line with bringing in the new projection system and new show. Clint comments that whilst the old console had worked for them it was felt that it was really at its’ capacity and that they needed to take the next step to incorporate video control.

”There was no other consideration made but to go with MA and with the 2 series coming out, it was the perfect time for us to buy,” remarked Clint. “A major consideration was how well the MA consoles ‘play well with others’ in terms of integrating them with the other show control systems. The big thing for me was the ability to highly automate the console to make the show very friendly to operate for our techs. Something we had not been able to do in the past.”

The Coolux system is being controlled by both SMPTE timecode and DMX over Artnet from the MA, as well as utilising both internal timelines. This gives a lot of flexibility, especially when using sensors on the set to trigger projection masks via the MAs remote inputs.

Six Martin Atomic Strobes were added to the lighting rig to ‘plus up’ storm sequences and the JEM ZR33s are introducing the ability to do standard smoke as well as their existing low fog. The MA2 is controlling around fifty moving lights and a staggering 300 colour scrollers.

”The ELC Node 3 allowed us to change our feed to the dimmer room over to Artnet whilst also providing an OnPC connection for testing purposes in our workshop,” added Clint. “A rackmount PC running OnPC is our show backup which is fitted with an ELO touch screen, as is the console.

“Show Technology have been kind enough to supply us with an eight port ELC node during our changeover process – as we are still running the old show whilst installing for the new one – to allow our old console to continue to run the existing show over Artnet until we changeover to the MA2.”