PRG Chooses VUE Line Array For Famed Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center

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VUE al-4 line array at the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony (Click for full size)

The annual tree lighting ceremony at New York’s Rockefeller Center in early December is a spectacle that marks the official beginning to the holiday season for countless people across the country. Today the event has expanded well beyond its humble beginning in 1931 to include a two-hour televised broadcast with performances by some of today’s most recognizable talents.

Producing an event of this scope demands the careful orchestration of production personnel and a sophisticated network of broadcast and sound reinforcement systems spread across multiple stages and shooting locations.

This year, as they have for the past 20 years, Production Resource Group (PRG) was charged with deploying multiple sound reinforcement systems to cover the massive crowds that fill Rockefeller Center and the adjacent streets during the festivities. Making its debut in PRG’s audio arsenal for 2013 was an al-4 Subcompact Line Array System from VUE Audiotechnik.

While line arrays have long been PRG’s system of choice for events such as this, Dave Chessman, who served as PRG’s project manager at the ceremony last week, admits that the al-4’s compact size and versatility prompted a switch from previous systems.

“Sight lines are always a big concern when setting up a broadcast events,” Chessman explains. “In addition, Rockefeller Center has very strict noise guidelines, so getting ample volume for the gathered crowd, while preventing the sound from spilling outside the desired listening areas is absolutely critical.”

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PRG system designer, Dave Chessman, served as project manager for the event (Click for full size)

Chessman continued, “The VUE al-4 is extremely compact and delivers a tremendous amount of output for its size. Most importantly, the VUE line array has excellent pattern control. We were able to quickly assemble the al-4 system and easily dial-in exactly the perfect coverage. I was extremely impressed.”

PRG set up the VUE systems directly adjacent to the 76-foot Spruce that headlined the evening’s festivities. Dual al-4 arrays included eight elements each, while a pair of VUE V4 Systems Engines provided all power and processing for the line arrays. An additional pair of VUE a-8 two-way point source systems delivered supplemental under-tree fill. A trio of Yamaha PM5-D systems handled FOH and monitor duties throughout the event.

“We started using VUE systems late last year and have been consistently impressed with the company’s products and commitment to service,” added PRG’s Vice President, Bob Rendon. “The al-4 performed exceptionally well in New York, but I was also pleased that VUE’s Executive Vice President, Jim Sides, flew out personally to support our team. That’s a rare and welcome level of commitment.”

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al-4 line array deployed by PRG at Rockefeller Center (click for full size)

While auditioning new products is a sure way to excite a dedicated group of pro audio enthusiasts like the team from PRG, the tone of this years event was more somber due to the tragic loss of PRG’s audio technician Jim Lovell. Lovell, who was among the victims of the Metro-North train derailment in the Bronx on December 1st, lost his life while traveling into the city to assist the setup team.

“Jim was a part of this festival for nearly 20 years, and we were deeply saddened by the news of his passing,” said Rendon. “I believe that he would be pleased that our team pulled together and the show ultimately ‘went on.’ I cannot think of a better way to honor his memory than NBC choosing to dedicate the show to him.”

A community fund has been established in Jim Lovell’s memory with proceeds going to his wife and four children.

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