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…With Audio By Autograph
An icon indeed!
Following a decade-long restoration, the official opening of the fully restored and repurposed Battersea Power Station complex took place in October 2022. Autograph’s Special Events team were tasked with providing complete audio and show control packages in three separate locations to support the festivities.
In a city overflowing with instantly-recognisable landmarks, the imposing profile of Battersea Power Station is perhaps one of the most familiar, its vast brick-built profile and four chimneys (arising from the fact that it once housed two coal-fired power plants) having dominated the skyline of that part of London since the building was completed in 1955. Power generation ceased in 1983, however, and the building gradually decayed as various development plans came and went unrealised. In 2012 it was sold to a Malaysian consortium and in 2022, ten years and £9bn later, it has fully reopened as a mixed development of retail, housing, leisure and entertainment.
The Power Station itself includes 254 apartments and there is extensive accommodation elsewhere on the 42-acre site. The art deco structure has been completely renovated both internally and externally, the famous chimneys have been reconstructed as have the historic cranes and jetty which is now a river taxi stop. The retail area is similarly vast and opulent, creating a mall that features pretty much every luxury brand one can imagine.
Autograph’s Events Team were approached by London-based Bearded Kitten, the brand activation and experiential agency, to deliver audio infrastructures for the events marking the grand opening. Working closely with their Production Manager Simon Jones, Autograph delivered a complete package of sound design, show control, equipment, crew and operators for three separate events (the VIP Opening Spectacular Private Event, Outdoor Countdown Show and Public Evening Spectacular with Arcadia) taking place across two days.
The Autograph team on site at Battersea
The private VIP occasion, attended by the King and Queen of Malaysia among numerous other notables, took place in the cavernous Turbine Hall A. It featured a ‘deep fake’ intro by the building’s original architect Giles Gilbert Scott, a circus show, a timeline journey through the life of the building, sets from many of the films in which Battersea has been used as a location, Batman on a motorbike and even Superman flying through the audience.
Two more events were staged later the same week as part of the opening celebrations: the Countdown Show took place on Malaysia Square and included the Battersea Power Station Community Choir and Setia Harmony Drummers performing to an outdoor audience of around 3000 people. Later in the day, the Public Evening Spectacular featured Arcadia’s ‘Lords Of Lightning’ show, in which performers manipulate lightning bolts to dramatic effect.
Big crowds and great excitement as an icon of London’s skyline is reborn
The Autograph team was led by their Head Of Events, Andrew Hedges:
“The main VIP event in Turbine Hall A was effectively a sequence of staged performances so we designed a system that could handle them all within the space – it had to provide the necessary punch but still be reasonably unobtrusive and fit within the aesthetic of the location as far as possible. It’s a big room, the back wall was around 100m from the stage, so we went with a d&b audiotechnik L/R line-array system to give us the throw and vertical coverage we needed, as we also had to reach two floors up. We used some delays to make it seamless throughout the area but the design overall gave the impression of a single source focused on the stage. A new DiGiCo Quantum 338 was at FOH to handle all the various inputs.”
“Beyond the sound system itself we designed and supplied a site-wide comms network that was vital given the number of crew we had on site and the nature of the events. We also provided a dual-redundant show control setup that fired off timecode which synchronised lighting, projection, pyro and the show caller with the audio. For an event such as this, where various disciplines and technologies have to be in perfect sync to deliver the right overall impact, operating from a centralised show-control command point really is key to making it work in terms of delivering the client’s vision for the audio-visual content.”
The main sound system in Turbine Hall A
Autograph’s Adam Taylor handled the overall sound design and show control operation for all three systems and locations: “The VIP event was a great example of what’s possible now, in terms of bringing disparate systems together to turn a special event into a genuine occasion, one that has real impact and will remain in the minds of visitors for years.”
Filling a space this size with great sound is always a challenge, but it’s what we do!
“Once that was done we moved outside for the Countdown Show in Malaysia Square, which although smaller in scale was still all about delivering a memorable event through good sound design and centralised show control. Again the PA was designed to cover a large crowd, this time outdoors and it worked really well with both the choir and the drummers – this was another d&b system, ground-stacked with outfills and delays to create a coherent sound field for the audience area, with a DiGiCo Quantum 338 at FOH. As with the VIP event though, key to the ‘WOW!’ factor was the show-control synchronisation which gave us push-button instantaneous triggering of playback and the pyros at exactly the right moment.”
Arcadia’s Lords Of Lightning Show – WOW!
He concludes, “Arcadia’s ‘Lords Of Lightning’ show that evening was really something. We deployed a simpler though no less capable sound system for their playback but I’m sure it’s the first time I’ve ever sent a MIDI command out to trigger a Tesla coil which generates artificial lightning!”
You can find full details of everything the Power Station has to offer via their website HERE.
Creative Direction and Event Production: @beardedkitten
Photography: Graham Chrimes / twobytwo event photography