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4Wall Entertainment Part of the Hawaiian Journey

By on Jan 25, 2016
Posted in Press Releases

The work of the 4Wall System & Design team on the Polynesian Cultural Center was recently featured in Lighting & Sound America.  Below is an excerpt from the story. Check out the full article in the November issue of Lighting & Sound America.

Approaching their 50th anniversary, it was time for the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) to make some major upgrades to their performance venues with the assistance of the 4Wall System & Design Team. Opening their doors in 1963 in Oahu, one of Hawaii's top tourist destinations required a replacement of old gear with modern solutions, and began work to update their technology in 2008. 4Wall provided not only equipment and system integrations, but also lighting design.  Brent Pritchett, National Manager of Business Development for 4Wall Systems has had a long-standing relationship with PCC and was invited to assist in this project.

From Horizons to Ha:

One of the major shows at the PCC is Ha: Breath of Life which began in 2009 and has run steadily six nights a week. Pritchett notes the near-seamless transition that was made from the previous show Horizons, without missing a performance. "Horizons ran 15 years and the show went on no matter what. They simply do not go dark at the PCC. The final performance of Horizons was on a Thursday and Ha: Breath of Life opened on the following Friday night," said Pritchett.

Lighting and Stage Transitions

Promoted as a Pacific isle saga of birth and death, love and family," Ha features more than 100 performers, plus special effects, animations, and surround sound. Acting as a backdrop to the stage is a five-story volcano with smoke effects and a built-in waterfall that contains walkways and stairways for actors to exit and enter. The theatre holds 2,700 people in a 180 degree seating format.

Horizons was running on mostly 15 year-old equipment that was corroded and required constant maintenance. Getting replacement parts was difficult for its well-worn dimming system. There were six dimmer racks, a main lighting control booth and main lighting catwalk, fountain lighting racks, and a Strand Lighting console that stayed for the opening of the new shows. "The Strand equipment-not the original, but an upgrade about five years old- did a great job running the new shows and handling the transition from old cues to new cues with phenomenal programming from Bobby Harrell, Strand Controls Manager," says Pritchett. 

Almost three years into running the new show, the control system was replaced with an ETC Gio system with a backup Eos Remote Processor Unit. Two years prior, the dimming systems had been upgraded in a methodical process. "There were six racks and it was our challenge to replace them while not letting the show go dark," says Pritchett.

With the new capacity, twenty-two Philips*Vari Lite VL3000 moving light fixtures were added along the main catwalk, and another nineteen on a back light truss suspended between two of the catwalk positions. Those were used for a few years, and then 4Wall assisted again to replace nineteen VL3000's with twelve SGM G-Spot LED IP65 moving light fixtures. "All the optics are sealed and they are wet rated," says Pritchett. "You just clean the front lens and that's it." 4Wall also specified and installed High End Systems DL.3 digital lights stacked on top of each other to create a portrait format, then panning over and projecting onto the side sails. In addition, they also doubled the moving lights for fire, water, and lightning effects.

The Theatre

PCC unveiled its new Hawaiian Journey Theater in March 2013, converting a 1991- era, 463- seat, and giant screen film theatre to a 10,000 sq. ft., 4-D digital multimedia experience with a preshow and 14- minute main show.

Much of the lighting is architectural but there are special color- changing effects to simulate molten lava, various theatrical accents, and atmospheric effects, especially in the preshow queue. The dimming and control systems are an ETC Paradigm architectural control system with a Mosaic MSC4 for lighting effects.

Building Exterior and Preshow

In-grade uplights in the walkways provide general illumination and some theming to the building exterior, using MR gen3 units from Philips Color Kinetics programmed to change color and flicker, Color Kinetics C-Splash brass underwater LED fixtures that are RGB controllable, provide water feature effects and blue-green contrast to the fire colors, giving the area extra appeal at night.

Inside the Volcano

Inside the theatre about a dozen Wildfire UV fixtures (250W floods) with louvers interact with flat acoustical tile walls painted with special Wildfire UV paint to stimulate textured lava rock. The fixtures are four Wildfire Long Throw 150W head lights and four Wildfire Long-Throw 250W spotlights hung from the catwalk. Low-level lighting from Philips Color Kinetics built into the seating at floor level helps visitors orient themselves without breaking the atmosphere, and its placement minimizes cross bounce so that screen and stage are not immediately visible. The stairs are likewise gently illuminated with a combination of Color Kinetics fixtures with louvers and Source Fours with shutter cuts.  

The stadium seat theatre is the largest indoor venue at PCC and is in demand for in-house gatherings and special events in addition to its regular show. To facilitate multiple uses, 4Wall added stage wash lighting with twenty-four ETC Desire D40 tungsten fixtures for front lighting, and twelve D40 Vivids that act as top lighting over the platform area. There is no rigging, as the wooden truss ceiling won't allow for additional weight, but one position was added for the top lighting. 

Central Lighting Control System in the Works

Each individual upgrade has included an ETC lighting control system capable of being integrated into a center wide control system running on PCC's new fiber-optic network. The finished system will have remote management capability via VPN. 4Wall Senior Project Manager, Buddy Pope is overseeing the design and stitching together this enterprise system as it comes together with support from ETC and working closely with PCC's Richard Sidal, the Theatrical Computer systems Analyst. They will be using the ETC Paradigm system with central control server at the core.

Not having any intentions of putting everything in one control system originally, Pope realized that it could all run remotely from a maintenance building at the PCC since he had worked on a similar network at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. The circuits will run within a VPN on the same network at a future point. Each system can stand-alone but also brought back to the master control system. The center had just finished putting in a fiber backbone throughout the facility and once it is tied in together they were ready to pull the trigger.

"Some parks and centers have been slow to pick up on this kind of enterprise approach,"says Pope, "some operators are the forefront, and others recognize it but haven't yet moved to embrace it. We've been working ETC to develop this for quite some time now. This is a barrier that is starting to come down in themed entertainment."

 After almost eight years of consistent upgrades and changes, the PCC's entertainment spaces are a sight to behold, the building of which Pritchett is thrilled to be a part of.

"Anytime we can help a venue completely re-invent itself, either in a short timeframe or over an extended period of time, it's very exciting for us," he said.  "Our goal at 4Wall Systems is always to not only give the customer what they are looking for, but also come up with solutions they may not have considered. We've been able to do that with the great team at PCC and we look forward to continuing the relationship with them for a very long time."

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