Colorado, USA –The Colorado school enlisted the help of Clair Solutions, which were tasked with designing and installing the audio, lighting and visual systems for the Valor Center for Culture and Influence - a new performing arts centre that is packed with state-of-the-art technology.
Since opening its doors to students in 2007, Valor Christian High School, which is based in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, USA, has strived to become an excellent foundation that provides its students with the opportunity to achieve the highest level of academic, artistic and athletic achievement possible. In a bid to take this a step further, plans were put in place by the school to create a premier, technologically-advanced performing arts centre unlike any other - this led to the Valor Center for Culture and Influence.
With the media and arts being a huge part of the school’s culture, Valor Christian went above and beyond to utilise the most state-of-the-art technology throughout the 94,000 sq ft building, with a particular focus on room acoustics and interconnectivity.
We decided to select the Clair Brothers system because the school specifically wanted a no-compromise loudspeaker solution. Clair Brothers offered a solution with custom asymmetrical waveguides built into one of their existing line array systems. This allowed for acoustical amplitude shading as well as consistent frequency coverage throughout the seating area. As a result, the system achieved incredible multipoint imaging.
Kurt Butler of Butler Engineering & Technology Group, served as the school’s representative for all aspects of technology on the project. Having successfully collaborated with Clair Solutions in the past, Kurt recommended Clair as the audio, video, lighting and acoustics integrator. Bill Simmons, the Senior Lighting Designer at Clair Solutions, was the Project Manager for the install at Valor Christian - he takes up the story: “Kurt asked us to take a look at design development drawings. I then gave Valor a list of questions about the project, which led to a series of meetings, phone conversations and brainstorming sessions. Clair Solutions then formed a design team made up of Bill, Justin Graybill as Acoustical Engineer and Seth Morth as Video System Designer.
“There was a great energy between the Valor staff and the technology design team and a wonderful synergy was formed. We were fully hired to be designers, which then turned into design and build, too. We approached it in the true spirit of working together as an owner and an integrator to provide the best possible solution for the school’s audio, video, lighting and acoustical needs.”
If the plans for Valor Center for Culture and Influence were to come to fruition, there was plenty of work to be completed. Clair Solutions was tasked with designing and installing audio, visual, lighting, rigging and automation systems throughout the venue, including a 750-seat performance hall, a recording studio, the main lobby, an event lobby, two dance studios, two rehearsal halls - one medium and one large - a black box theatre and a TV studio.
“In a nutshell, the aim was to make, within reason, everything as cutting edge as possible. That meant utilising a lot of the most current technologies across the board. We were trying to forward think the project as much as we could. They wanted the best for their students but also wanted a good value for the dollar,” said Bill. “This facility was to encompass theatre, film, music, animation, dancing, design, studio arts and photography. When going into building the Valor Center for Culture and Influence, the goal was to build a world-class facility.”
Clair Solutions got to work on the audio aspect of the install in the performance hall of the Valor Center for Culture and Influence, which includes a full-fly space, a mechanised pit-lift, along with high-end video and lighting systems. For the performance hall, Clair Solutions’ Justin Graybill worked diligently to create a variable acoustical system through the use of motorised curtains. The use of these curtains was the ideal fit for the venue that holds a diverse range of performances, as it allows the acoustical environment of the space to be fine tuned, depending on the requirements at the time.
In terms of the audio technology used at the Valor Center for Culture and Influence, Kurt explained the decisions made further: “We decided to select the Clair Brothers system because the school specifically wanted a no-compromise loudspeaker solution. Clair Brothers offered a solution with custom asymmetrical waveguides built into one of their existing line array systems. This allowed for acoustical amplitude shading as well as consistent frequency coverage throughout the seating area. As a result, the system achieved incredible multipoint imaging.”
Taking the audio requirements into consideration at Valor Christian, it was clear that a one-size-fits-all approach to the install simply would not work - everything had to be specific to the ever-changing needs of the venue, due to the wide range of performances. That is why the install features a one-of-a-kind L-C-R PA, which was custom designed by Clair Brothers, while the power for the system comes from Lab.gruppen D Series 80:4L amplifiers - offering a truly tailored sound system.
The design process involved careful study of the space’s architecture and acoustical design in order to first determine the length and position of the arrays that were to be installed. Following that, a 3D model of the space with the arrays spatially located was used to create a sculpted continuously variable waveguide.
“A project like this is very exciting to do from the perspective of array tuning by solving the fundamental acoustical challenges with acoustical solutions. The amount of DSP equalisation and amplitude shading was far less than what would be typical with a non continuously-variable dispersion array. We were very pleased with the results,”commented Josh Sadd of Clair Brothers, who designed the custom loudspeaker solution.
The custom PA for Valor Christian is augmented by Clair Brothers’ iS118-i flow sub arrays and CS218 subwoofers, along with kiT12 full range loudspeakers for sound effects and 12CX-75 coaxial loudspeakers for balcony delays.For control, a DiGiCo SD10 FOH console is used to communicate with multiple SD-Racks via DiGiCo’s Optocore protocol in order to allow for maximum speed, reliability and future expansion.
In the end, the final result was nothing short of remarkable. The system drastically decreased the amount of side wall reflections, while producing prominent stereo imaging throughout the room. A big benefit to the customised waveguide was that tuning the system involved very little in the way of gain shading or equalisation.
When it came to the lighting, much like the audio installation, versatility was seen as a key element, as well as the ability to expand even further in the future, if need be. “They wanted the versatility to be able to do virtually anything while also being able to play with some fun ‘toys’,” said Bill. “So, that meant providing an infrastructure that would have a base level of equipment that could be expanded upon as either budgets allow or a specific need arises but also provides that wow-factor for a wide variety of uses for the space.”
ETC’s Sensor3 48-module dimmer rack and Echo relay panels serve as the backbone of the performance hall’s theatrical lighting system, however, the lighting package for the Valor Center for Culture and Influence includes over 220 ETC fixtures in total. This complete package includes 142 Source Four fixtures, 20 Desire D60 Vivid LED luminaires, eight Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr fixtures, 12 ColorSource PAR LEDs and eight ColorSource Spot LED profiles, among others. The system also includes 10 Elation Platinum FLX three-in-one luminaires, which can be utilised as a beam, spot or wash fixture. Also, with plans to expand the video capabilities in the near future, Clair Solutions installed a Ross Video carbonite switcher, a Barco HDX-W20 centre projector, two Sony VPLFHZ700L/B side projectors and a Clear-Com HelixNet intercom system.
Discussing the overall project at Valor Christian, Kurt highlighted that it was a total success, though; it was not without its difficulties.
“As they were not able to fully fund the technology package they wanted when they broke ground, we prioritised and reprioritised the project scope throughout the entire build portion to work with the funds they had available,” Bill explained. “This meant that we had to be extremely fluid with the timeline and make a lot of changes on the fly. The project is still a work in progress as the school continues to fundraise. There was also a very aggressive construction schedule that we had to stay on top of.”
Despite the financial and time constraints of the project, Clair Solutions delivered a truly exceptional install to create the Valor Center for Culture and Influence - and that hasn’t gone unrecognised by Jody Goff, the Director of Finance & Operations at Valor Christian High School, who has expressed gratitude to the company.
“I know that the Clair Solutions team has constantly gone above and beyond in so many ways and we are truly grateful. It has been a pleasure working with such an outstanding group of professionals,” said Jody. “Sometimes, it seemed they worked miracles with our compressed and everchanging budget. As our Project Manager and Theatrical/Lighting Designer, Bill was just terrific. “It was so exciting to see the beauty of the lights and hear the amazing sound in the auditorium for our grand opening celebration. It was truly remarkable and the feedback we have recieved has been so positive. This building will be a blessing to our school and community for years to come.”
The final word on the Valor Christian High School Project goes to Bill: “At the end of the day, it was a highly successful project to the level that it is currently completed. The school was so thrilled by the collaborative process. We are continuing that collaboration today looking forward to fleshing out what is still remaining to be incorporated. Everybody who worked on it was incredibly proud of the work that we did.”