Total Production


November 2007

AMG's Leading venue chain grows with addition of another Carling Academy, the first of a number of new Carling venues across the UK, featuring installations by Marquee Audio and Utopium...

Academy Music Group has extended its already impressive portfolio of UK venues with the recent addition of Carling Academy Oxford, which opened on September 20 and is set to be one of the busiest in the Group, offering some 270 club nights and in excess of 320 gigs each year.

    Formerly the Zodiac on Cowley Road, AMG invested £2million into the refurbishment programme and increased the overall building capacity to 1,350, creating three, production-complete performance spaces.

    AMG’s long-term A/V system supplier, Marquee Audio, took an inventive approach to the sound installation. It carried out a site survey and identified where it could overhaul and upgrade some of the existing equipment, re-cabling each room to allow them to be used as part of a site-wide network, for which an advanced control system was designed.

    Marquee Audio’s project manager Scott Wakelin said that this installation was not only about what the integrators were able to achieve, but also the forward-thinking approach of Academy Music Group.

    “Aside from the quality of audio and control, Oxford has placed the company’s interest in video mixing to the fore and brought it right into vogue,” he said. “AMG wanted to make the art of the VJ part of the package and we have provided a pair of Pioneer DVJ1000s and an Edirol V4 vision mixer.”

    This allows the VJ to mix in DVDs and scratch, loop and cue both audio and video, sending the feeds to two 23" LCD screens behind each of the five bars and two 40" LCD displays midway down the main room of the Academy venue, with projection to the 4m drop-down screen on stage, as well as two further projection screens in the 220-capacity Bar Academy.

    John Northcote of Academy Music Group said: “First class production is paramount to AMG and Marquee Audio has consistently delivered a high standard of kit to suit our venue requirements over many years. In Oxford, we are working in a highly competitive market, therefore having a system to suit both the club mix as well as live shows is what we require from Marquee and they have come up with an outstanding package for both gigs and DJ and club trade.”

    In the second room — Zodiac (436 capacity) — Wakelin’s team reconditioned the existing Turbosound TFL760Ht Floodlight system, and TSW-718 subs, assigning MC2 amplification and optimised the system using Turbosound’s dedicated LMS-D24 system controllers. Marquee and AMG have also agreed on a new Soundcraft 32-channel MH2 multi-mode console for this room.

    As a result, the main venue, Carling Academy Oxford and the upstairs Zodiac room have all been placed on a new digital network with a touch screen front end.

    Wakelin explained that the system is based on Biamp Systems’ daVinci graphic control screen software. “While this is a building block system, enabling the designer to create his own scenario, we have been able to add additional IR and RS232 functionality.

    “In essence this means we have control over the audio and visual throughout the whole venue, and can route any signal source to any of the three zones. It means that Carling Academy Oxford, the Zodiac and Bar Academy can all operate stand-alone systems, or receive feeds from the other sources. The successful model we established for other Carling Academy venues has now simply evolved.”


After its successful work at AMG’s Newcastle, Bristol, Liverpool, Islington and Glasgow venues, Bristol-based lighting specialist, Utopium once again worked with AMG to introduce state-of-the-art facilities to the design at Carling Academy Oxford.

    Utopium’s Angus Chinn, who designed the stage and dance floor rigs to provide a versatile system for all rooms, said: “Lighting in all the spaces has to be as flexible and dynamic as possible. The rigs in the larger rooms are comprehensively specified so touring artists don’t have to bring in their own productions, although the systems can accommodate special formats.

    “Avolites and Robe were chosen because they are both well known, rock solid brands, very reliable and with good support — all the elements you need for a high profile installation.”

    The Avolites Pearl 2008 and Azure consoles were supplied direct from Avolites and the moving lights and Anolis LED fixtures from Robe UK.

    With Avolites at the front end, Chinn is confident that the console will be familiar to the vast majority of visiting LDs. “Avolites has invested so much time and resources into training over the years, that it’s safe to say that almost all lighting professionals can operate and programme a Pearl, and that’s part of its universal appeal,” he said.

    “Since I first started using Robe, their moving lights and brand has really grown in popularity, becoming an industry leader.”

    The project also includes an Anolis LED exterior lighting scheme illuminating the Academy’s frontage, which makes a statement and ensures the venue will become a well recognised local landmark.

    Richard Maides, AMG’s operations manager said: “As a group we invest heavily in both our PA and lighting equipment. We aim high in our production values so that all AMG properties offer the same excellent in-house production facilities for both international touring acts and the very best for upcoming talent looking to play top class, professional venues.”


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