Running from 12th July to 14th September, the festival attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world. As long as the weather is clement, which is mostly the case during the summer months in Vienna, this atmospheric area is bustling with visitors from the morning to late at night. This truly is music for everyone and, with Vienna-based ACS Akustik installing a temporary induction loop system, those with hearing impairment can gain just as much enjoyment from the entertainment as the rest of the late night revellers.
Behind the scenes, there is a complex technical structure to the event. Giving the appearance of a giant flat screen TV, a 120m2 projection screen sits between two large line arrays hidden behind scrims, a sophisticated double HD-beam 30,000 lumen projector delivering a sharp, bright image. As well as having to cope with the wide angle of the audience (approximately 140°), the PA also has to take into account reflections from the Burgtheatre opposite the Rathaus that cause up to a two second delay, so the line array is augmented with a number of delay cabinets to cope with this.
The most unusual part of the audio system, however, is the installation of a temporary induction loop system to ensure that it is not only those with perfect hearing that are catered for.
“As far as I know, this is the only one open air festival in the world that delivers this service to disabled people,” says ACS Akustik’s Alfred Sturma. “In general, accessibility for all is very important for the managers of this event. For example, as well as the loop system for the hearing impaired, programs are also printed in Braille for the blind and seeing impaired.
“But back to the induction loops... A substantial area directly in front of the screen is covered by the loop system, with a large, floor mounted perimeter loop installed to cover a space for around 300 visitors. But the control centre is around 100m away from the loop itself, which poses special challenges regarding the feeder cables.”
There is a minimum and maximum length of cable of a particular wire gauge that can be used with specific Ampetronic loop drivers and Alfred had to take this into account in his design to compensate for the long distance from loop to amplifier, ensuring that both the correct type of cable and a sufficiently powerful amplifier are used.
“The induction loop system is adjusted according the international standard IEC60118-4 to ensure best performance for all hearing aid users,” continues Alfred. “Previously, we used an Ampetronic ILD9 amplifier, with very good results. This year, we’re using the new ILD1000G to cope with the additional requirements of the long cable length. The signal feed comes from a large digital mixing console, which produces a signal similar to the signal H/I from Dolby processors in cinemas.”
The programme at the Festival is a musical melting pot, catering for all ages and tastes and includes a special children’s version of The Magic Flute, Gershwin conducting Gershwin, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Peter and the Wolf, The three Tenors from the Caracallas Baths in Rome 1990, We love Ella – a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, a programme by Louis Armstrong, The Vienna New Years Concert 2008 and much, much more with this year’s special focus being the 100th anniversary of Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan.
Throughout the day, music is provided by Radio Wien, Vienna’s regional station from the Austrian broadcast company and behind the seating area for the festival, large enough for around 3,000 people, are a multitude of stands from top restaurants, offering best international cuisine and sending out aromas to entice guests on a culinary, as well as a musical journey.
“The Film Festival is an impressive experience for everyone who loves this very special place and good music performances paired with culinary delicacies,” concludes Alfred. “We’re very proud to be a part of enabling all comers to get the maximum amount of pleasure out of the experience.”