Case Study:
San Rock Art Centre goes High-Tech

The San Rock Art Interpretation Centre, a Kwazulu Natal Wildlife Trust project in the Drakensberg was opened in September. The new high-tech, multimedia tourist destination is built on a Heritage site in Didima and the interior designed to resemble a cave, the natural setting of San Rock Art.


Name San Rock Art Centre
Contact didima
Installation & Progamming Gearhouse System Solutions





DMX Machine

Show Control


Although installations are not the usual bread and butter for project manager Paul Newman of Lucidity Event Management, he was asked to oversee the audiovisual installation for the centre, working closely with design & installations specialists Sean Stewart and Stephen Woodroffe of Gearhouse System Solutions.

The team was given only six weeks for the production of the audiovisual presentation and installation, as they were approached near the end of August and the installation had to be finished on Heritage Day September 24th, in time for the official opening on the 26th.

The team was given only six weeks for the production of the audiovisual presentation and installation

Newman appointed a San Art specialist to advise on the production and ARC Studios were commissioned to edit the three-screen video presentation and create the surround sound production. The installation involved two particular areas, the Holding Area and the Auditorium, where a twenty minute audiovisual presentation of the history of the San people and their art takes place.

Holding Area

The Holding area is an anteroom with the capacity for thirty visitors to gather before proceeding to the Auditorium for the main presentation. The setting is a San cave dwelling with a still to be added fibre-optic night sky, the centerpiece is a fiberglass-molded charcoal fire place which is lit from beneath giving the appearance of glowing coals. This is further enhanced by the audio system which has night time sound effects together with a San story-telling narrative, which evokes the world of the San people.


The main focus in the Auditorium is a marvelous replica of the famous San art site in the Didima Gorge known as "Bothas Cave" The Auditorium seats an audience of a hundred people for the audio visual experience. 3 Sony VPL-PX 40 LCD Data projectors are installed to deliver the 180º panoramic presentation of replicated San rock paintings onto the artificial rock face at the front of the venue. The source for these projectors is three time-synchronised Alcorn McBride DVM-2 digital video machines. For the 5.1 surround sound system, Gearhouse Systems Solutions installed a high quality Nexo PS8 system with six Nexo PS8 mid/high loudspeaker cabinets and two Nexo LS 400 sub-bass loudspeakers. The front left, centre and right speaker clusters in front of the presentation area are placed on the floor inside specially designed rock housings. The lighting system for the auditorium show included a new concept in architectural & theatre lighting, LED lights. These were chosen for their incredible lamp life (± 50,000 hours) and for their amazing colour mixing capabilities. 8 Tryka LED Strip Lights were used on the floor to light up the cave as cyclorama lights, 6 Tryka 36 Module wash lights were used from the rear of the auditorium to wash the rock in colour. The show has call for large lightning effects and for this Woodroffe used 4 High End Systems AF1000 data flash and 2 Tryka MR16 white LED units which were concealed in a crevice on the rock face to create short lighting bursts. Selecon 90° Pacific with DHA effects wheel wash the entire cave with a leafy breakup gobo. 2 Selecon Pacific's 30° with fire gobos and DHA effects wheels project a realistic flame image over selected rock faces to enhance the video footage. Selecon Fresnels are use to great effect to wash the rock in a light amber colour and two additional Selecon Pacifics are to highlight a presenter for speech. To enhance the cave atmosphere further a High End Systems F-100 Fog Generator is used and during a rain sequence fine water sprays, circulated by fans produce a steamy mist over the audience. All lighting is controlled via an Alcorn McBride DMX Machine.

Show Control

The Alcorn McBride V16 show control unit is the heart of the system controlling all lighting, video and audio equipment! The entire system control is completely automated and comes down an easy to use control panel. A simple press of a button will run a whole series of events from the start up in the morning to the shut down sequence when the centre closes; from the routine daily events to the launching of the shows and the emergency evacuation system which will run completely unmanned in the event of an emergency. The entire sound reinforcement system for the complex including the auditorium & holding areas is controlled by an Allen and Heath iDR digital mixing processor. All sound sources originate from an Alcorn McBride 8 channel digital audio playback device. The balance of the audio system for general background music and emergency evacuation comprises 26 Quest 501 loudspeakers split over 10 discreet areas or zones. All loudspeakers are driven by Quest QA1000 & QA 2000 amplifiers.

Now that the centre is open, the task of system maintenance is also taken care of by System Solutions. This is facilitated by an annual maintenance schedule and includes digital dial up connection which allows daily remote surveillance of the installed systems at Didima, ensuring everything is in running order. Any system failure can be identified early and corrected speedily.

3300 S. Hiawassee Rd.
Bldg. 105
Orlando, FL 32835

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