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"We had freedom not to accept the cheapest quote necessarily but the best value for money, and the correct suppliers."
John Farquhar Smith
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Oman National Day 2010

Client: Flux Events
Location: Muscat

Oman's National Day celebration is a large-scale stadium event with a cast - literally - of thousands and, of course, a world-class production team to make it all happen. Chris Henry reports from Muscat for LSi . . .

Where do you begin when you have to manage a system of 7,000 in-ears? Or how do you coordinate 482 buses, collecting 12,000 children from 52 schools? At the Oman National Day celebrations held in Muscat in December, the man at the helm of these logistical headaches is production director John Farquhar Smith of Flux Events, for production company Avantgarde. But the team he is surrounded by is far from apprenticeship level. A show of this scale requires experienced professionals, and includes 1000 staff from Oman's Ministry of Education (MoE) and 250 internationals. And as for the in-ear conundrum, he has hired communications experts, Riedel.

But the biggest feature by far in the stadium is the 697sq.m XL Video PixLED F-30 screen. XL, headed up by project manager Steve Greetham, also installed a more modest 112sq.m Barco MiTrix screen at the east end of the stadium, with XL's custom-built touring frames simplifying the rigging. On the west side, the team has tied into an in-house Daktronics screen. Three Catalysts (two active and a spare) play back the custom footage and broadcast feeds onto the screens, and an Encore system is used to manipulate the images. All equipment was sourced from XL's UK and Belgian bases.

Delta Sound's equipment travelled to site from much less far afield - the company's Dubai base, managed by Andy Jackson. Delta has supplied an L-Acoustics PA system including 30 V-DOSC and 12 dV-Dosc loudspeakers. The show is mixed on two DiGiCo SD8-24 desks which are new to the region, with Delta a distributor for DiGiCo.

Also heading out of Dubai was the gear from Unusual Rigging & Engineering. Head rigger Leon Ingram, ably assisted on site by Stuart Hale, chiefed a six-man team for the load-in. "All the information was in place before we arrived," says Ingram, "so we had a pretty good idea about what we needed to achieve. Like so many projects, 95% of the work is in the planning stages."

One of the challenges facing the rigging department was the Spidercam over the field of play, attached to wires rigged from the four 75m high in-house permanent lighting posts. Access is up an internal ladder - a long climb at any time, but in 30°C+? And, when you've completed one, there are three more to go. Hale and another rigger remained on standby throughout for the usual maintenance - and to give the lampies a run for their money in the Backgammon stakes.

Considering the scale and complexity of the production, it is perhaps surprising that production director Farquhar Smith was only approached at the end of 2009, but he attributes the smooth-running of the production period in large part to good working relations with familiar suppliers. "Fortunately, we were involved in the procurement process and were able to secure contractors that we know and trust. We had freedom not to accept the cheapest quote necessarily but the best value for money, and the correct suppliers. It's horses for courses - PRG, for example, are an obvious choice for such a big international show, and the same goes for Delta, Unusual and XL - all of whom we have worked with in foreign fields previously."

© PLASA Media Ltd / Chris Henry - 2011

This is an extract from an article which first appeared in the January 2011 issue of Lighting&Sound International magazine. Reproduced with kind permission of PLASA Media Ltd. Read the full story at

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