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High Roller

Seaworld’s new Leviathan rollercoaster takes AV theming to the next level.

By

8 May 2023

Photos: ULA Group

Rollercoaster influencers: they’re a real thing and they were out in force when the Leviathan launched. Of course, they were actively invited in by owners Village Roadshow for the occasion of the unleashing of its new rollercoasting beast at Seaworld on the Gold Coast, in the hope they’d be wow’ed and spread the word. 

Turns out, they were impressed. This is a brand new wooden rollercoaster that not only provides the requisite on-ride thrills but amps up the anticipation via a full-blown immersive AV experience while you’re in the queue and boarding the ride.

NEXT LEVEL THEMING

The theming and AV is next-level. The biggest ticket items of the install is the VuePix Infiled display technology that does justice to the amazing animations, while the multi-channel QSC Audio loudspeaker system in the boarding zone takes care of the audio from the Pixera media server.

Cameron Crawford, Project Manager at Village Roadshow Theme Parks sets the scene:

“Leviathan is our new signature ride at The New Atlantis precinct, which opened in December 2022. We have many different rides throughout our parks. But this is something that has never been done before in terms of a timber roller coaster and an immersive precinct themed in such a big way.”

The Prestige Group and Run By Media were responsible for the AV integration. The Prestige Group, ably led by General Manager, Nathan Wright, is a highly credentialed Gold Coast-based integrator, which took care of the installation, while Run By Media (with Chris Jenkins running point) is somewhat of a theme park specialist, ensuring the content was running and triggering properly. It also took care of the themed lighting installation. Earthstory Productions imagined the theming while Cutting Edge created the content.

VISUALLY LED

There are eight VuePix Infiled MV series screens installed, all of them of 2.9mm pixel pitch, totalling over 12.3 million pixels. All of the displays are an irregular shape, with the largest one (11 x 3m) installed overhead in the main area of the rollercoaster load zone.

“The VuePix Infiled screens were mainly chosen for their superb reliability, great durability in this kind of environment and local product support,” comments Nathan Wright. “There has also been a high level of customisation involved in this project, due to the excess salt air in this location. A double coating of silicon has been applied to all the screens to help them withstand the harsh elements in this environment.”

The complex control solution is run by NovaStar H2 processor, with a Pixera media server triggering all the content via various motion sensors and ride controllers in certain parts of the coaster.

MONSTER SOUND

The audio is just as critical for taking patrons on the journey into the Leviathan’s lair or ‘load station’.

Run by Media’s Chris Jenkins explains: “There are 32 channels of audio coming out of the Pixera media server, routed to a loudspeaker setup in the load station comprising 25 speakers and five subwoofers. On the ceiling are a further 11 loudspeakers. We specified a combination of Martin Audio CDD5 surfacemount loudspeakers for their superior audio quality, the Martin Audio CX112 Ultra Compact subs and QSC Audio Acoustic Design 6ST surface mount speakers. They’re powered by QSC Audio CX-Q networked power amps.

“How’s it sound? It sounds incredible. Cutting Edge did a great job with the content and it all came together on site reasonably easily without too much fiddling around.”

UP IN LIGHTS

The lighting is the Leviathan coup de grace. It too was installed by Run by Media. Once night falls, the Leviathan lighting is spectacular. The entire rollercoaster is externally lit (with Show Technology Fusion Wash fixtures) and the lighting is also a programmed part of the ride (relying on Studio Due Terra L5 IP67-rated LED up/downlights). In fact, audio and lighting follows patrons up the main lift hill. Then, once the coaster goes over the top, a sensor triggers follow-lighting around the full extent of the track.

We Are Sabre took care of the initial lighting design. Clint Dulieu programmed the entire lighting show, while Toby Sewell provided the lighting production design. An MA Lighting GrandMA3 console was selected to control the lighting.

“We also provided the client with 10 preset colours to theme the rollercoaster for special events,” notes Chris Jenkins.

COMMAND & CONTROL

The park is a Q-SYS venue, and a non-negotiable aspect of the Leviathan’s AV design.

“The Q-SYS Core 510i processor is the brains of the operation and plugs into the larger network of the park. I generally try to stick with Q-SYS as much as we can just because the reliability and support we get from the Technical Audio Group is second to none. In this case, it helped me tie together the systems, including Pixera media server and the GrandMA3 lighting controller. Q-SYS takes the external I/O and relay triggers and ensures the timing of the content and lighting is spot on, every single time.”

LEVIATHAN

Leviathan is a huge investment. What’s more, it’s part of three new rides (collectively called New Atlantis), so the stakes for Village Roadshow are high. The philosophy around the AV implementation was simplicity of operation and for the programming and gear selection to be as off-the-peg as possible — no arcane programming or boutique items that are expensive to update or replace. Oh, and it had to be reliable… for obvious reasons. Downtime is a loss of revenue, and unplanned maintenance is expensive.

“The client made it very clear, they wanted a ‘drag ’n’ drop’ approach to new content, and not expensive updates. And when it comes to suppliers, the client didn’t want a cast of thousands. We’ve been very happy with what we’ve got from Technical Audio Group and Show Technology, while Prestige is clearly happy with the ULA VuePix product, as are we.”

UNIQUE THRILL

Rollercoasters and theme parks operate in an international market as well as a local one. If you’re a rollercoaster enthusiast, you’ll have your bucket list of must-experience rides across the globe. For Village Roadshow, it was important for the Leviathan to compete — it needed to be world class.

“There is no other load station for a timber rollercoaster like this in the world,” says Cameron Crawford, “and it has been very rewarding to watch people’s reactions and how they interact within the environment. Some of them are overwhelmed and it takes them a few goes on the ride to take it all in and to enjoy the unique thrill that this immersive experience provides.”

CONTACTS

Seaworld: seaworld.com.au
Earthstory Productions: www.earthstory.com.au
Cutting Edge: www.cuttingedge.com.au
ULA Group: ulagroup.com
Prestige Group: www.theprestigegroup.com.au
Run by Media: www.runbymedia.com.au
Show Technology (Pixera, MA Lighting): showtech.com.au
Technical Audio Group (Q-SYS, QSC, Martin Audio): tag.com.au

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