Echoing an almost identical but smaller installation at the Tgoso Sun’s Ridge Casino
in Witbank, Silverstar Casino in Mogale City on Johannesburg’s West Rand recently
erected a new 2 000 square metre outdoor domed events arena called “The Globe’.
Aimed at events such as stand-up comedy, musical events and exhibitions, The
Globe is a free-standing dome structure filled with cutting edge technology that
facilitates versatility and a quality experience for audiences and clients alike. Of
course, to get a project like this off the ground requires coordination and
cooperation between many parties, including the technical supplier and installers.
As one would expect, many of our leading names in the field were involved so
without further ado, let’s dig a little deeper.
The structure, the concept
The oblong structure dubbed “The Globe’ is an SP ’SUPA’ Dome, supplied by
In2Structures, a Gearhouse Group company, and was erected in a six-bay
configuration. Its sizeable internal dimensions are 68.7m (l) x 32.7m (w) x 16.23m
(h) and it can accommodate three tons of load per arch. This was perfect for its
purpose as the structure would have to support high-grade and heavy event
technology such as a line array, trussing and lighting fixtures comprising both show
lighting and house lights.
David Butcher, audio visual specialist at Tsogo Sun, brought in entertainment
technology design consultants Mtshali-Moss Projects Africa (MMPA) to manage the
technical specifications for the venue. The aim was to design a system that could be
used in three different orientations: two wide and one long. Therefore the trussing,
the stage, the FOH box and all other technical paraphernalia had to have the ability
to be moved quickly and easily by the house crew and adjusted depending on the
In terms of the overall system design, Butcher explains the motivation behind
installing various elements: “They (the directors) wanted to be able to host a
comedian and Trevor Noah’s spec was the blueprint that we expanded on a little bit.
For instance, the projectors are actually a bit bigger than what Trevor would want.
Originally we wanted to put in a bunch of moving lights but of course the costs soar
quite quickly when you go that route so we ended up with LED par cans, which I’m
actually quite happy with. The sound spec in terms of microphones is very basic
because, once again, we spec’d the venue from the point of view of a comedian’s
Butcher further explains that it was reasoned that it would be sensible to at least
offer customers a decent audio reinforcement system with microphone options for a
two-man band and speeches such as lectern, headset or handheld wireless mics and
a couple of industry standard instrument and vocal microphones. For a venue of this
size, it would help to bring rental costs down and keep the majority of work in-
“We’ve got a venue that’s functional for, I would say, 80% to 90% of everyday
events that they’re going to end up hosting here,’ says Butcher.
For larger events like music concerts the options are to either supplement the
existing system with additional equipment or to remove the in-house system
altogether and offer the venue as a dry hire. This was an important aspect to the
installation and crucial for The Globe to be utilised for as many potential scenarios
The audio reinforcement system for The Globe centres on a Coda AIRLINE LA8 line
array, supplied by local distributors Tadco, who were contacted by MMPA’s Steve
Moss. The system is configured in left, centre and right arrays with six elements
per hang while low end duties are handled by eight LA8-SUB subwoofers. Eight
Quest HPI5s are configured for front-fill. The system is powered by five Camco
Vortex 6 amplifiers and system processing is handled by three Coda DNC260
“We’ve gotten into the realm with line arrays in the past decade or so where it is
very difficult to look at two line arrays specification for specification and say “this
one is a better bang for buck,’’ says Butcher. “It really is difficult. As we all know,
shootouts are also a disaster and never really work out. The good old fashioned
way for measuring a PA’s efficiency used to be SPL at one watt at one metre but
manufacturers don’t even put that specification in their spec sheet. This makes
choosing a line array a very difficult and to compound the issue, the system
engineer brings a lot more flavour to an audio system than ever before. The system
tech is everything now.’
Speaking of system techs, Tadco’s head of operational support, Kyle Robson, was
on-site to oversee the audio installation and to configure the system.
“We spent a lot of time with Steve [Moss] going through plots, going through wave
guides and changing various elements until we were happy with how the system
worked,’ says Robson. “What Steve wanted to do, because of the dome, was to
keep the dispersion very narrow. So we installed 60 degree wave guides in the top
four boxes in each of the side hangs and 120 degree waveguides in the bottom two.
The centre hang is entirely 120 degrees.’
According to Robson, the biggest challenge was taming the reflections in the venue;
hence, the decision to utilise a combination of 60 and 120 degree waveguides in
order to keep reflections to a minimum. Also, because the initial setup was for an
event where the stage was orientated in the “wide’ position, getting the low end to
disperse evenly throughout the venue, particularly to the side extremes, was
challenging. However, Robson found a solution.
“In this setup – the wide setup – we’ve actually steered the subs, which has worked
out nicely. They’re configured in four stacks of two so we delayed the outside two,
which resulted in a wider bass dispersion. We’re using three Coda DNC260
controllers for this; one for each hang paired to a stack of subs. I’ve done custom
presets so when, for instance, they’re in the long configuration, you call up the long
venue preset and the system adjusts accordingly.’
The console installed into The Globe is a Midas PRO1, supplied by local distributors
“Tsogo Sun already own two PRO1s so the logical choice was another PRO1,’ says
Lee Thompson, technical sales consultant at Prosound. “The client is very impressed
with the sound quality and functionality of the console.’
Along with the PRO1, two 16 input, eight output Midas DL153s were supplied.
However, because of the extraordinarily long cable runs that were required, two
KlarkTeknik DN9620 CAT5e (AES50) to fibre optic converters were deployed along
with 150m of Midas fibre optic cable.
Prosound also supplied their bespoke comms system – the ubiquitous Prosound
“This is a two-wire cabled comms system that was developed locally by Prosound
about 30 years ago and is still the go-to choice for many rental companies and
venues today,’ remarks Thompson.
Stage lighting and trussing
The stage lighting and the trussing for The Globe, along with the stage structures,
was supplied by local lighting distributers DWR, overseen by their representative for
Africa, Johnny Scholtz. At the time of this interview Scholtz wasn’t available for
comment so in his absence director Bruce Riley stood in and supplied the
information on the installation from the DWR end.
“We were originally approached by David Butcher as he had a concept he wanted to
run with,’ says Riley. “So we started off doing drawings for the installation but it
proved to be quite difficult because the venue hadn’t been built yet. Johnny
[Scholtz] steered the project, which began at the Ridge Casino in Witbank, is a
smaller, almost identical venue with less equipment. From there it came to this
venue, which is bigger and more extensive.’
As mentioned, the venue was designed to be used in multiple orientations and DWR
had a big hand in that since they were involved in technical drawings, the rigging
and supplying the trussing from which everything hangs and is ultimately
orientated. Three trussing structures were supplied, including: one 15m back truss,
one 10m stage truss and one 24m FOH truss. Eight 500kg Prolyte motors were
deployed to hoist the trusses.
“All the points are in the roof and everything’s there, ready to be transferred over,’
explains Riley. “It’s just a matter of bringing in a cherry picker and clipping into the
points and they’ve got a completely new orientation.’
In terms of the lighting fixtures, David Butcher and MMPA wanted to go with a very
LED-driven system. This has the obvious advantages of saving on power and
maintenance costs as LED fixtures are generally more efficient and have extended
The lighting fixtures installed include:
• 24 x white LED par cans
• 48 x RGBW LED par cans
• 12 x Robin 600 washes
• 12 x Robin DLX spotlights
• 2 x LeMaitre MVS haze machines
An interesting part of the lighting installation which also lends itself to ease of
configurability is the inclusion of wireless CRMX technology from lumen radio. Each
truss received its own universe of Lumen Radio which negates the need for DMX
cabling to be run leaving only power as a necessary encumbrance. DWR also
supplied their in-house brand of hot power distribution on Socapex looms to the
trussing and to the rest of the venue where power was required.
The console of choice for The Globe is an Avolites Tiger Touch 2 running V.8
software. According to Riley the V.8 software: “includes the benefit of the newest
features currently on offer from Avolites’.
The staging and FOH box was also supplied by DWR and keeps with the mandate of
re-configurability and modularity. The largest possible incarnation of the stage is
20m x 10m, comprised of 100 2m x 1m Prolyte stage decks with telescopic legs
that can extend from 90cm to 140cm. All hand rails and steps were also supplied.
Apart from the stage, the FOH box was conceptualised by Butcher and DWR’s Keith
Pugin to be modular.
“FOH is custom built to David’s spec to what he wanted the surrounds to be. He
wanted it to be easily stripped and moved around the venue in different
configurations,’ says Riley.
The house lighting system was installed by Prosound under the auspices of general
manager of lighting, Ian Blair. The system, like the rest of the technical installation
at The Globe, is very similar to the one at the Ridge albeit scaled up a bit.
However, unlike the stage lighting, using effective LED fixtures for this purpose was
not possible despite being desirable.
“Gabby Olivier of CKR Consulting Engineers approached us for a house lighting
solution based on LED,’ says Blair. “However, LED comes at a price; you can’t just
install any LED fixture as low quality LED will give you a bad facial complexion. To
compound the problem Source Four LED fixtures are five to six times the cost. So,
what we decided to do was to go with reverse house lighting technology. This is
where your day-to-day cleaning lights are LED and your Tungsten-based house
lights become performance lights so they’re only used in performance mode, which
“Also, the Source Four on-board dimmer, which was migrated from the ETC Sensor
range, is dead silent and can operate a lamp at 115V or 230V. When you operate at
115V you get 40% more output and 3 000 hours of lamp life. When you set the
dimmer at a top-set of 92% you double the lamp life to 6 000 hours. Now, if you
amortise that into the cost of performances over a weekly, monthly or annual basis,
you can see that your next lamp change will occur in about four years. This makes
the non-LED ETC house system a very cost effective solution.’
ETC was the system of choice throughout, including processing, control and fixtures
and full schematics including system layouts and renderings were provided by
them. Two ETC DRd Unison racks, each fitted with 12 dual-channel relay modules,
were installed to power the system. An ETC Paradigm processor serves as the
system brain while ETC’s accompanying Echo control offers user-configurable
presets and custom looks while supporting energy-saving light and occupancy
sensors. A fully-customisable ETC wall-mount touchscreen was installed to allow the
user to use faders and buttons to trigger programmed presets or effects while two
five-button wall-mount stations allow five buttons to be programmed as per client
specifications, in this case solely to operate the cleaning lights.
“The touchscreen incorporates north, south, east and west zones along with a
middle zone that is broken up into four further zones. This way the operator can
select specific zones in the SP Dome that are used for each event while leaving the
others zoned off,’ says Blair.
In terms of fixtures, 91 ETC Source Four par cans and 30 ETC Source Four profiles
with on-board dimmers were rigged; linked with DMX for control. The result is a
system that incorporates the existing cleaning lights – eight per side (16 in total) –
into the system via a feed from Unison DRd racks, providing total control of the
entire system and the ability to be programmed according to the client’s specs.
A nod to flexibility in the house lighting system is the facility for visiting lighting
technicians to tap into and take control of the system via strategically placed DMX
“There are three points in the SP Dome,’ explains Blair. “There is one area where
they said they would never put the stage so the other three areas have DMX pickup
points where a technician can patch his console in and take full control over the
house lights. Also, he overrides the system completely so no one can tamper with
the system while it’s in show mode. When he takes his console away it reverts back
to day-to-day operation.’
The AV system at The Globe comprises two 6m x 3.3m screens mounted in truss
frames that flank either side of the stage supplied by Sound Stylists and two
BarcoHDX W18 projectors, supplied by local distributors Questek. A Roland V800HD
vision mixer was installed for scaling, switching, cropping and zooming of video
sources to any desired output resolution and aspect ratio. The projector cabling
accommodates 3G, HD and SDI over fibre.
For The Globe at Silverstar Casino, versatility is the name of the game. A venue
with an oblong shape such as the SP Dome facilitates a few different orientations
depending on the event so a system unified through manoeuvrability and re-
configurability is paramount for setup and show time to commence quickly and
smoothly. In light of this, once again it is evident that South Africa’s world class
distributors and installers came together to create a system to meet the client’s
specifications and installed a system that is easy to configure and delivers top shelf