Based on the award-winning TV programme of the same name, Walking with Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular is a $20 million production featuring state-of-the-art technology. The 1hour 40 minute show has already been seen by over 9 million people in more than 250 cities around the world. The UK leg of its tour began in Newcastle before heading to cities across the country, including London, Liverpool and Glasgow.
South Wales-based Sonalyst was called upon to deliver the audio, lighting, blacktrax, coms & rigging for the production and, as Project Manager George Pakenham explains: “Being able to provide it all was exciting to us as generally we always supply the full production package on all our tours. Due to the length of this tour it needed to be a totally brand-new system, so it gave us the opportunity again to invest into the latest equipment available.” At this point, Sonalyst turned to VDC Trading. The two companies had previously worked together on several occasions, when VDC provided cabling system’s to facilitate productions like We Will Rock You, The Commitments London Musical & Monty Pythons O2 Reunion to name just a few.
Pakenham explains: “It was natural to go back to VDC. Audio Signal & System Data flows are increasingly digital based now so we didn’t need as much of the analogue based infrastructure, but we still sourced all our 12-way systems, XLR and MIDI requirements along with a large selection of bespoke panel work with passthrough connections, word-clock and data connectors from VDC.” As an arena tour, maintaining complete standardization against Sonalyst’s current stocks, touring redundancy and back up from VDC were critical requirements.
“There’s no other tour on a scale like this. It’s 24 trucks, provided by Transam Trucking – many arena shows can have the similar amount of trucks but they’re a proven entity, such as a music & theatre production.” With Walking with Dinosaurs there’s simply nothing like it and certainly nothing that’s had so much previous success.
“Arena tours are our forte and we understand the importance of support. Everything we purchased was planned to have enough redundancy. Similarly, when it comes to standardization, for us there wasn’t really an alternative to VDC – everything would match our current inventory and design as well as critically be manufactured to the great standards VDC provide.”
A show on the scale of Walking with Dinosaurs also presented an opportunity for Sonalyst to further invest in Fibre Optic infrastructures using the proven Van Damme Tourlight with Neutrik OpticalCON Quad, resulting in a full fibre backbone. Pakenham adds: “We’re running Yamaha consoles with Dante communicating seamlessly down the VDC fibre infrastructure alongside all the Clear-Com IP-based comms systems.”
VDC enabled this full integration of sound, communications & general IT remote monitoring, also providing all the local interconnecting cable, such as Cat 6, Cat 7 and Ethercon, to patch the coms beltpacks and providing all the cabling package to equipment such as the Clear-Com FreeSpeak antennas. In addition to this, the FOH multicore and cross-stage multi are handling all the links and the main infrastructure is using VDC Tourlight 150m lengths with redundancy. “We chose the Quad cabling because we can run two networks simultaneously down the cable, the second cable in each run provides a back-up and it’s all patched into Netgear switches utilizing pass through panel work from VDC.”
The show, which is booking until June 2019, has already proved to be a big hit with audiences. Pakenham concludes: “Working with VDC was a great experience, the finished product, service and support has been first class throughout.”
Photos provided by Sonalyst.