Total Production

Britannia Row Productions Presents Spectre World Premiere

December 2015

The newest James Bond film premiered at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 26 October with help from L-Acoustics and Britannia Row.

Sony Pictures Releasing (UK), the film's distributors hired event specialists Andy Peat Associates to manage the auditorium transformation and Nibbs Events to produce the red carpet, press and VIP arrivals on the South Steps. These two companies, that worked together successfully on the previous Bond films, had a very tight time frame in which to work, given the fact that Bob Dylan performed in the Hall the night before. 


Technical Director Andy Peat explained: “The films’ producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Brocolli are very clear and precise in what they want so we all know exactly what’s expected of us.”


Inevitably this was more than just installing projectors and a screen. “The screen was 20 metres wide by 8.9 metres high, a 2:39 scope ratio. A high gain Perlux 140 perforated screen was commissioned and custom built by Harkness at their factory in France especially for the premiere. An air-conditioned booth in Grand Tier Boxes 21 / 22 and 23 was built to house the projection and playback systems. Primary projection was from a pair of Sony SRX-R320 projectors with a DoReMi IMB and Showvault to run the film in 4K. “The picture quality was simply stunning,” concluded Peat.  


“It’s not until you get into the realms of sound reproduction that things become a little trickier. Britannia Row Productions provided the audio infrastructure for us and there is history here. We’ve worked together on all the premieres I’ve done at the hall and all with the sadly missed Derrick Zieba. It was he and Britannia Row’s Bryan Grant that came up with the audio designs for the ideal 5:1 and 7:1 systems for this Auditorium and refined them over the years. Bryan Grant suggested Colin Pink as the ideal man to fill Derrick’s shoes and so it proved; he and Richard Sharratt, who he brought in to engineer the system, did a really great job.”


Pink addressed the audio issues head on. “The first thing to say is staging this in the Royal Albert Hall and being in the round, presents its own set of problems: timing being the main one. So we spent a lot of time and attention setting that to retain clarity. The thing is the distances involved are so much greater than most typical cinemas.” The fundamentals of the system were the L-Acoustics K1 and K2 hung L/C/R upstage of the screen, with a large contingent of L-Acoustics coaxial MTD 108P for surround sound distributed throughout the auditorium.


“Of course the film is not recorded in 7:1,” continued Pink. “That sound track is created by, in this instance, Sound Director Scott Millan. He and the film’s sound editor Per Hallberg (seven Oscars between them) came down to the Royal Albert Hall mid-morning to check how we had the system set-up and how it sounded. With my background in the theatre (Pink worked at the National for 10 years) I always set up in rehearsal not to make it sound good, rather I try and anticipate what will happen with a full auditorium. Scott understood that absolutely.”


Pink added: “The first thing he did upon arrival was to say, ‘I just want to sit and acclimatise for ten minutes’. Scott and Per were both very pleased, their only notes were to soften a bit of EQ on one part of the system, and reduce the level slightly in one element of the surround.”


Peat revealed that he was very pleased with the set-up: “One week prior to the event Colin and Richard went to see a technical screening so they could have some experience of what the sound would be, the explosions, the music, the drama and dynamic of the sound track; the intimacy and stillness of Bond.”


Peat added: “Colin had that in his head and between him, Richard Sharratt and the Britrow team they then took the Zieba template, updated it accordingly and produced outstanding results. The team at Britannia Row are simply in a different league.”


Photos by Sam Peat
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