1 Feb 2019

Equitana – Bringing The Great Outdoors Indoors


Equitana – Bringing The Great Outdoors Indoors

by Harry the Hirer’s Marcus Pugh.

Equitana Australia is Australia’s premier equine event, and it celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year in the 8000sqm Grand Pavilion at the Melbourne Showgrounds.  Equitana delivers Australia’s premier equine gathering culminating in ‘The Mane Event’ with trick riding, entertainment and world class horsemanship supported by a full scale production.

The Harry the Hirer Productions team was engaged to deliver all production requirements for this event, including lighting, rigging, audio, LED screens and control provided from HTH Production’s extensive inventory.


The ‘big top’ design of the pavilion provides very little infrastructure for production rigging.  The HTH Productions team were able to work with engineers to develop a bespoke rigging solution, not only to support the 2.5 tonne central four-sided LED screen but also adding lighting trusses along the length of the arena for the first time.

HTH Productions relied on Eurotruss HD44 truss and CM Loadstar hoists to suspend the production elements. The Eurotruss was also used to build a ground supported stage infrastructure which created a proscenium arch, as well as moving drapes and stage lighting positions. The Nivtec stage system was deployed to make a 43m by 4m stage and ramp suitable to support the horse performance as well as judging and control positions.

Main Arena lighting consisted of a mixture of Martin Quantum Wash, Martin Axiom, Martin Quantum Profiles, and Chauvet Maverick MK2s, along with a smattering of profiles and LED flood fixtures.

Deployed across the arena truss lines, the Quantum Wash fittings did the heavy lifting when it came to creating a bright and even wash across the 70m by 30m competition area as well as adding colour, movement and eye candy for the evening performances.

The framing shutter system and punch of the Maverick MK2s allowed Lighting Designer Cameron McKaige the flexibility to frame the stage lighting, and splash gobos and colours across the arena. While the Martin Axioms and Quantum Profiles provided the all-important beam looks. The curves of the big top’s white skin and large open floor space made a spectacular canvas for some of McKaige’s signature big lighting looks.

The event calls for a four-sided LED screen floating above the action on the main arena to provide information, statistics and special effects during the show and competitions.  Harry the hirer constructed this requirement using its 2.8mm pitch LED screen cabinets, run from the Nova control system, with signal being fed through fibre optic cabling and Thor Multiplex Fibre distribution. Vision control was via HTH Productions Analog Way Ascender 16-4K, allowing instant replays, multilayered display and some really creative outcomes with the Ascenders perspective layer features.

For the audio, Harry the Hirer Productions moved away from the traditional line array with delays, instead opting for a custom designed distributed Nexo system, not dissimilar to a standard catwalk audio rig, firing audio at audiences each side of the arena, except on a scale 10 times larger.

Driven by a Digico SD8 and some smaller remote sub-mixers, the room was time aligned and consistency and coverage was on the money with less than 6dB drop across all frequencies. An additional PA system was provided to fill the arena as foldback for both performers and competitors whilst on horseback.

The major challenges for the production of this event were both the Grand Pavilion’s lack of infrastructure, and the dust being kicked up from horses whilst on the arena. Dust mixed with technology can often produce undesired outcomes, so Harry the hirer Productions went someway to addressing the dust at front of house control by building a modular acrylic panel system including roof to create a clean area for consoles and technology within the operator position.

Credit must go to the key people: Lighting – Cam McKaige, Audio Design – Richard Whitty, Audio Operation – Tim Pulbrook, Vision Design – Arturs Landsbergs, Vision Operation – Mitch Hudson and Production Management – Ian Kirkwood.

From the December 2018 – January 2019 edition of CX MagazineCX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues – available in print and online. Read all editions for free or search our archive
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