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Liverpool Catholic Club’s presentation theatre is something else.


14 April 2020

There are some big clubs out west. Few are bigger than the Liverpool Catholic Club.

The club has completed some significant renovations and a new build. Part of that work is an extraordinary theatre/cinema space. The 275-cap raked room functions as a cinema once or twice a week. At other times it’s used as a theatre/presentation space.

Umow Lai designed the AV system from the ground up in consultation with the project manager, Joe Pirrello from Census Advisory, the club’s admin/IT manager, Gary Parisi, and the Architects, Trevor Hugh from Altis Architecture. Exact Technologies won the Security and AV section of the project and they subcontracted Justin Baker and IPG to install the AV.


The AV for the cinema theatre is an unusual beast. Rather than attempting to install an audio system that caters to both cinema and other live production and presentation applications, Umow Lai spec’ed two systems.

Taking care of the main PA requirements is a pair of Martin Audio WPM line arrays. There are five compact two-way passive WPM line arrays elements aside supplemented by dual-18-inch WPM subs. For live performances, 12-inch, low-profile Martin Audio foldback monitors are provided.

Meanwhile, the cinema audio system is taken care of by QSC’s cinema loudspeaker range, with left/centre/right SC-412C loudspeakers ranged across the top of the LED screen, SR-8200 speakers taking care of the surrounds, and SB5218 dual-18-inch subwoofers for the rumble.

Some 20 years ago, Umow Lai’s Mal Barnes ran a cinema install business, in fact, thousands of cinemas across the region still have his technical fingerprints all over them. “I was very pleasantly surprised by the performance of the QSC cinema range. It sounds great. I had the Dolby guy commissioning the surround system and he was hugely impressed by the QSC PA as well. In my opinion, this space is like the best ‘gold class’ cinema in the country.”

Umow Lai: (02) 9431 9431 or www.umowlai.com.au
TAG (Martin Audio, A&H, QSC): (02) 9519 0909 or www.tag.com.au
Show Technology (Martin, MA Lighting): (03) 9681 7511 or www.showtech.com.au
Epson: www.epson.com.au
Lectrum: (02) 9914 0900 or www.lectrum.com.au


Gary Parisi called Umow Lai in (with Mal Barnes running point) after being dissatisfied with the original AV consultant’s proposal. Mal Barnes was able to tap into his considerable experience to design an audio system that not only cost his client less than the original design but also gave the club two systems.

“The Martin WPM PA sounds great,” commented Mal Barnes. “I recently spec’ed a WPM system into a Shire christian school and the results were spectacular. I looked at this space and I immediately knew it would sound just as good. The best thing about WPM, due to its scalable resolution, is the even coverage. Every seat in the house is getting the same sound.”

Powering the cinema system and the Martin Audio PA is a rack of QSC CXD four-channel amplifiers. The WPM elements are passive boxes, with only one CXD amp channel per box required.

“I now use the four-channel QSC amps everywhere. They’re absolutely bulletproof. I can connect them into the Q-Sys network and my client loves it. Gary is an IT guy and Q-Sys is a no-brainer for him — they speak the same language. We run the Q-Sys network on the enterprise network on its own VLAN. It doesn’t miss a beat.”


The bio both features an Allen&Heath SQ6 digital mixing console, a MA Lighting Dot 2 console, a Crestron touchpanel to select the system settings, a Panasonic PTZ camera controller, and a rack with a Marantz cinema receiver, and Shure wireless receivers, but no projector.

The choice of using LED in the cinema was made early on. Considering the theatre space is more about corporate presentations and events, than it is about popcorn and movies, the LED display provides the ideal dynamic presentation backdrop without the shadowing you would naturally get from front projection. The hi-def screen uses a 3.9mm pixel pitch, which might seem a little coarse for cinema but as always, it’s down to viewing distance — in this case, the front row is a good 5m away, ensuring a smooth viewing experience. The screen is dialled right down in brightness to ensure no one’s retinas are burnt out.


Not to say, there aren’t any projectors in the theatre. Six Epson Lightscene projectors paint the side walls. Notably, during the annual thanksgiving service and mass, the Lightscene projectors will light the walls with stained glass window motifs. It’s a delightful way of using this product, which has found a more regular digital signage home in retail showroom environments. But apart from helping to transform the theatre into a house of worship, the Epson Lightscene projectors were selected for more prosaic reasons, according to admin/IT manager, Gary Parisi: “The original plan was to install moving head lights with custom gobos, to help brand the theatre for corporate events. But it can take weeks to organise custom gobos, while we can use the Epson Lightscene projectors to display corporate branding and theming in minutes.”

The lighting fixture form factor of the Lightscene projectors help the product to blend in seamlessly into the interior design.

Martin lighting is supplied to accommodate presentations as well as some basics for live production. It’s easy to supplement the lighting rig for larger productions thanks to two motorised lighting bars — no ladders or cherry pickers required.

Last but not least, an Australian-made Lectrum Aero lectern cuts a fine on-stage silhouette, making any presenter feel like a million bucks.


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