SLX Specify Luminex GigaCore Networking for Great Exhibition of the North’s Opening Ceremony

Luminex GigaCore network switches provided an ultra-reliable dual redundancy network for The Great Exhibition of the North’s Opening Ceremony along the Tyne River, which featured spectacular live music, fireworks, and an 80m-long fountain and drone display.

More than 18,000 people lined the Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside for the opening ceremony to launch the festival, which celebrates the scientific and artistic achievements of the North of England.

Equipment hire and events company, SLX provided the complete audio and lighting production package and crew for the event. Audio Hire Manager Rob Collett, who oversaw the event’s hugely ambitious audio & lighting production requirements, had been looking to invest in a high quality, easy to use network switch with Ethercon and rugged fibre connectors. After being impressed with SLX’s stock of Luminex’s Mk1 nodes, he decided to invest in ten of the brand’s GigaCore network switches.

He commented: “We chose Luminex GigaCores for several reasons. We wanted to invest in a network switch which we knew other people had, so we could sub-hire them in if we needed to, and use an industry brand which was widely recognised, with a reputation for high quality. Also, we needed a product that was simple for any of our freelancers to pick up in an instant – and they really did on this event. The software is great, so you can see if someone 1km away is plugging in the right socket.”

Rob utilised three GigaCore 16RFO primary switches featuring redundant power supplies, plus seven GigaCore 10 switches, to create a single lighting, audio and PoE network stretching 1km along the Newcastle quayside, and utilising almost 3km of MM Opticalcon Fibre to create a redundant loop.

SLX configured the GigaCores in groups, utilising the Dante audio protocol for primary and secondary feeds to the L-Acoustics amp racks connected to 140 speakers along both the Newcastle and Gateshead side of the Tyne.  LA-Net was used to monitor the status of all amps, plus Shure Wireless Workbench to monitor the RFL signal level on board a boat from which live music performances were relayed to the audio system. In addition, Art-Net was used to feed DMX lighting data over Ethernet between the lighting control console and the various fixtures.

The Ethernet network system delivered all audio and lighting requirements for the live event. Highlights included delivering the audio for various VTs, live performances by Maximo Park and poet Lemn Sissay, plus music accompanying the fireworks, fountain and drone displays. The system also provided lighting illumination of the Millennium Bridge and Baltic Flower Mill.

Summarising his experience, Rob commented: “The Luminex GigaCores and fibre networking system saved us a lot of production setup time. If we hadn’t used this Ethernet network, we wouldn’t have been able to have control of all the lighting and audio production from just a single front of house location as we’re limited to 100m of copper data. It also enabled us to have perfect synchronisation of the lighting and audio with the fireworks and fountain display using timecode. As far as we’re concerned, nothing is as simple and yet stable as the GigaCores.

“The service and assistance I received from Peter Loosemore at Luminex’s exclusive UK dealer, A.C. Entertainment Technologies, was great, and he kept me up to date with delivery times for my complete peace of mind.”

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