More than 5,000 people turned out for the occasion from Lesotho's Price Seeiso Bereng Seeiso and New York's First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson to entertainment royalty like Madonna and LL Cool J. The day began with a champagne welcome from Moet Hennessy to a formal VIP luncheon, flag procession, polo match, halftime divot stomp and prize ceremony.
"When our show manager Andy Muller first asked me to design an audio system for a polo match on Governors Island I have to admit I was perplexed having never designed nor attended such an event," says SWI director of audio David Lynd. "What approach should I take? Do I use line arrays or a distributed system?"
His first pass was to implement two large lines of d&b speakers but after several revisions of the field and spectator layouts by the client it became apparent that the line arrays would not work due to numerous tents lining the field, including a 120x40-foot VIP tent along one side. He then plotted a distributed system with six zones, which delivered crystal clear sound to all without being too loud for some and not loud enough for others.
The system Lynd devised consisted of more than 30 loudspeakers, including the DJ monitors. Zones 1 and 2 featured three Meyer UPA-1P speakers each; in the VIP tent Zone 3 comprised six Meyer UPJ-1Ps inside and Zone 4 eight Apogee SSMs outside; Zone 5 sported six Apogee AE-5s; and Zone 6 had four d&b Q10s.
"We put our long history with wireless technology to good use to send audio 400 feet from the main control to the other side of the field to two zones of speakers where spectators lined the 800-foot boundary for the players," Lynd adds. "With design help from our staff RF engineer Cliff Pospisil this was achieved flawlessly; although it was our backup it was solid enough to be used as a primary feed should our copper run fail."
The RF system included two Telex BTR800 communication packages; a Shure UR4 receiver and emcee and commentator mics; a Sennheiser 3532 receiver with a custom Sennheiser transmitter for line level transmission; six Sennheiser 3532 receivers with six handheld and four lav mics for VIP speeches by the Moet Hennessy USA president and CEO, Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso; two PWS helical antennas; two Sennheiser A5000CP passive helical antennas; and fouractive paddles.
Control was furnished by one each Yamaha DM2000 and DM1000 consoles and a Mackie 1402 system.
"The challenge in this job was the physics of audio vs. event design," notes Bruce Patron, vice president of Overland Entertainment, which planned, produced, managed and coordinated the logistics for the Polo Classic. "Like most other high-end, design-driven events you don't want to see speakers all over the place. Scharff Weisberg is good at addressing that. The logical solution for the field audio was to place speakers on the sidelines facing the audience. However, that plan would have caused major site-line problems. Instead they devised a plan that allowed all speakers to be located behind the audience. They didn't necessarily do what was easiest for the engineers or what was most conventional."
"In addition, we had a separate audio system in the VIP tent. Sometimes we wanted a general feed to it and sometimes we needed a dedicated feed," Patron continues. "Scharff Weisberg had to organize all that audio which was, at times, counter-intuitive - something most audio guys don't want to do. They really understand the technical and creative challenges facing event production."
Despite the technical challenges Lynd says, "the day's perfect weather and the New York City skyline as backdrop reminded me why I love what I do!"
At the event Lynd manned the master Yamaha DM2000 console while staff engineer John Panama was at the controls of the Yamaha DM1000 inside the VIP tent. Russell Cowans served as staff systems technician and Mike Kacunel was second systems technician in the VIP tent.
Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications, firms with extensive histories in the presentation and staging markets, recently announced a co-ownership agreement. While continuing to operate independently the two companies work together strategically to provide clients with state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting equipment and services. With a strong presence on both coasts Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications are able to deliver a large array of cost-effective services on a national level. For more information, call 212-582-2345 or visit our website at www.scharffweisberg.com. For more information on Video Applications, visit www.videoapps.com.