Job Description

Arena Theatre Wolverhampton

Technical Upgrade: AV Cinema Infrastructure

We were approached by the University of Wolverhampton’s Arena Theatre to facilitate upgrading the theatres Audio Visual infrastructure to support high definition Cinematic projection and 7.1 Dolby digital surround sound. The upgrade completely transforms the venues ability to provide projected content from a venue that had previously only supported presentations and in performance projected content to one with the ability to provide a high-quality stand-alone cinema experience that not only enhances the theatre's programme versatility but also empowers the delivery of more creative performance content.   

This brilliant and intimate professional theatre has been a vital part of the Wolverhampton cultural scene since 1967. The Arena Theatre was the vision of the University’s first Drama lecturer who believed that providing a dedicated professional theatre venue open to both the public and professional companies benefited both arts students and the community alike.

Having outgrown its original home the theatre moved to new premises in 1999. Funded by the University of Wolverhampton and a National Lottery grant the new venue was extensively remodelled with a well-equipped purpose-built theatre, studio space, seminar room and hospitality area allowing the theatre to continue to grow and provide an even more exciting, ambitious and diverse programme than ever. 

Since moving into their new home this intimate, innovative and dynamic theatre has continued to thrive, hosting a full and growing programme of prestigious professional touring companies, school and University performances as well as much loved and well attended local arts and community productions. 

Upgrading the Theatre’s AV capability to deliver high-quality cinema provision saw us specify and install an upgraded the existing untensioned screen that was hung behind black drape along the back wall with a 16:9 ratio motorised Extensa screen almost six meters across. The Extensa’s high contrast HD progressive material provides a seamless projection surface of 0.6 gain. We supplied the screen with a custom black header to allow the viewing surface to descend further ensuring any ceiling obstructions are cleared and that the best view is obtained even if seated at the very top-back of the seating rake.

We had previously installed a Panasonic PT-RZ970 Laser Projector, quite literally a cool bit of kit. With 10,000 lumens brightness and pin-sharp HD resolution, unlike projectors with more standard lamp power the Panasonics Solid Shine laser packs some powerful projection whilst staying cooler. This allows the projector to produce less noise and need less airflow so it’s incredibly quiet too. To ensure the projector was perfectly optimised for the new screen format.

The existing audio system within the theatre was comprehensively upgraded to provide exceptional 7.1 Dolby digital surround sound through the installation of a Datasat AP25, 8 channel 7.1 audio processor as the heart of the new system. Recognized as the reference standard for cinemas around the world the Datasat’s superb HDMI Video audio processing, delivers stunningly accurate sonic clarity and truly immersive sound distribution that puts the audience right at the heart of the cinematic experience. 

Speakers and amplification are provided through the installation of 6 JBL 8320 Cinema Surround Speaker, with adjustable wall mounts and a pair of 2 channel Crown DSi1000 amplifiers, with inbuilt DSP and preset tunings, ideal for the 8320 speakers. Mounting the new speakers along the evenly spaced supporting columns provide both good audio distribution as well as a discrete aesthetic footprint.

To ensure that the new audio distribution and projection had the very best playback input we installed the brilliant Audiophile UDP-205, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player for its Best-in-Class audio performance and incredible, high-resolution video capability.

The UDP-205 players audio decoding is second to none, supporting lossless high-resolution audio such as AIFF, WAV, ALAC, APE and FLAC. It also directly plays Direct-Stream Digital (DSD) audio files in stereo or multi-channel. With internal decoding of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio and bitstream output for object-based immersive audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the UDP-205 delivers great sound for both movie soundtracks and music.

Video Playback Packs a resolution of up to 3840 x 2160 pixels with UHD Blu-ray delivering four times the pixels of Full HD Blu-ray. The UDP-205 is also capable of playing 4K media files and user-generated content. Support for decoding the HEVC, H.264, VP9 4K, and Hi10P video codecs provides increased compatibility with user-generated media.

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