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Eleni Grammatikaki

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Travel & Tourism

About half way there, just before you reach Krios camping site, you will find the remains of an arched edifice measuring 23 meters in length and 8.40 metres in width, the façade of which has collapsed. On the eastern side of the building you can discern a sort of a stage comprising nine marble seats that come from the ancient voting assembly of Paros. The building was probably used as a conservatory or nymphaeum (a sanctuary consecrated to the nymphs) in antiquity or otherwise was a villa during Roman times.

On top of the hill situated directly above Krios lie the remains of a temple dedicated to Delios Apollon and Artemis which was erected in the 9th-8th centuries BC. Inside the temple the faithful would make votive offerings to the statues of Artemis and Apollon. Today the statue of Artemis is on display in the archaeological museum of Parikia. It is one of the few statues of its kind that have been passed down to us from antiquity. The statue (an archaic kore) is 3.10 metres tall (together with its base) and consists of 41 marble pieces. It dates from 490-480 BC. Unfortunately the statue of her brother Apollo has not been recovered.

In order to reach the top of this hill you can go up the asphalt road leading to Kalami, taking a left at the sign “Temple of Delion Apollon”. Otherwise you can go up the road that leads to Krios camping site. Once you have reached the main road going to Parikia you take a right turn followed immediately afterwards by a left turn and continue going up the hill (at some point the road becomes a dirt road) until you reach the top of the hill from where you can enjoy the view of the bay that lies beneath your feet.

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Time-saving is a good reason to have a motorbike rather than rent a car during your holidays on Paros, as you can easily skip through traffic at the main towns of Parikia and Naoussa, especially during the days of local celebrations. The biggest celebration of the island takes place in Parikia on August 15th, the day of the Ascension of Virgin Mary, a time when the town is bursting with visitors and worshipers from all over Greece. At night fireworks adorn the sky and underneath the Venetian Castle music and dance shows stir up the party mood until late. On August 23rd, during the celebration of Mother Mary’s Novena, Naoussa hosts the day of the Pirates –a reenactment of the 16th century invasion of the village by the pirates of Captain Barbarossa and the locals’ fight for their freedom.On that evening, the Venetian port and surrounding streets are full of people, dance, music, fake pirate fights and of course souma –the local alcoholic drink.

From the port of Naoussa, mount your scooter or ATV and take the seaside road starting from Limnes area. With the Aegean breeze accompanying you all along the way, you pass by the ancient Mycenaean acropolis, the beach of Kolimbithres with its unique rock formations that look like modern sculptures,and end up at Paros Park, a natural area with a variety of beaches, water sports centers and an open-air amphitheater where you can attend various music and theatrical events with the moon rise in the background.

For magical sunsets, one of the best spots on the island is the temple of Apollo at Delion hill in Parikia,offering panoramic views to the whole town, the port and the open sea. If you drive up here well before dusk, you can follow the dirt road going down the north side of the hill and arrive at the secluded beach of Chochlakas – a route that’s best to do on a quad.

Paros has an efficient road network that connects all the villages of the island so it’s fast and easy to get to various destinations, without being bound to the municipal bus schedule. It’s worth visiting the mountainous village of Lefkes,the impressive old capital of the island, as well as the traditional villages of Prodromos and Marpissa where the 3-day festival “Routes in Marpissa” takes place at the end of August. This festival is organized by the people of the village and hosts original cultural events, including open-air concerts that can go on until late at night. Vehicles are not allowed inside the traditional settlements, but you can easily park your motorbike at the entrance of every village, even when the municipal parking areas are totally full of cars.

A few kilometers south of Marpissa, after Drios, drive off the main road and follow the sign to Pirgaki bay.It is said that pieces from broken amphorae coming from an ancient shipwreck of the area are embedded in the rock on the south end of this bay. So, get off your bike, put on your mask & snorkel and start exploring the underwater wonders of Paros…

Coming back to the main road, heading south, you’ll drive by some beautiful spots where you can hop-on and off your motorbike or buggy at any time and take selfies with the open sea in the background and the islands of Heraklia and Ios in the horizon.Moving on further south, you reach Aliki area for more underwater exploration at the beaches of Pisso Aliki and Voutakos –and some tasty fish at the local restaurants. Driving a motorbike on Paros makes it easy to stop anywhere you feel like for swimming or dining at any moment.

Following the road to the west of Aliki, you arrive at the small port of Pounta. If you are in the mood for some island hopping, board one of the ferry boats that can transfer you and your bike to Antiparos in a mere 5 minutes! Antiparos is a rather small island but has countless natural beauties to explore, accessible only by car or motorbike. The most popular attraction here is the large Cave of Antiparos with impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations, and the signature of Lord Byron carved on one of the rocks! If you want to combine swimming with a nice meal, visit the cosmopolitan beach bars at Apadema and Soros beaches, but if you are in the mood for some quiet time by the sea, find the hidden beach of Feneromeni or follow the road signs to Livadi –a long, sandy beach where you can enjoy riding the waves with a small board on days with north winds. If you feel like exploring more secret spots, the seaside road towards Agios Georgios has numerous tiny beaches to enjoy swimming with privacy. At the fishing port of Agios Georgios you can leave your motorbike or buggy under the tamarisk trees and hop on the small boat that takes you to the desert islet of Despotiko – with some beautiful natural sceneries and the excavation of the ancient temple of Apollo.

Our suggestions above cover just a small part of what you can do and see on Paros and Antiparos. To discover even more, ride a motorbike, put on a helmet, wear some sunscreen and loose yourselves in the magical atmosphere of the Cyclades. Follow your instinct and take any road that inspires you. It will surely lead you to an amazing destination!

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Then head upwards to Evinos, an alternative rock bar where you can chill out with a cool drink, inside you can dance your heart out, taking breaks to cool off outside on the large terrace with a view of the whole bay. Pebbles offers similar views accompanied by Jazz music and often live music from great musicians. You can hear a wide and diverse range of music at the classic Pirate bar which also organizes good live shows, while at Yiannis with its unique décor and art music you might be lucky enough to experience some famous Parian singers accompanying the pianist.

In the narrow, picturesque streets there are several hidden bars that play a variety of music including ethnic, electro and Heavy Metal, such as Mama said no (formerly “House”) who organize various types of music nights with DJ’s or live guests.

On the left side of the seafront (as you look towards the sea) visit the cool ethnic Selini or next to it Booze’n’Tales with jazz, blues and rock’n’roll sounds. Just beyond is the bar-club Alga with baroque décor and with an upbeat sound.

If, after all that, you want to continue…. congratulations on your endurance, you can continue on to Parikia’s river bed where there are other clubs with uplifting Greek and international music, the old classic Dubliner with at least three different bars and two stages, from which there is no guarantee at what time and in what kind of state you will leave. Or you could head backwards towards the port along the seafront, where up a side street you will come across Island and experience the Greek Cult situation (with ‘flying’ paper napkins etc.)

Why not spend your day in one of Paros’ beach bars, such as the ethnic Magaya at Souvlia beach, or Marcos at Parasporos or the more upmarket Tango Mar in Livadia. Later, enjoy a meal in one of the many diverse restaurants, whatever appeals to your taste, in Parikia. You could have a siesta (optional, depending on age and stamina!) and then continue your evening in one of the aforementioned establishments.

You’ll no doubt soon understand why Paros can fairly be considered to be the leader in Cycladic nightlife in the Greek Islands.

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At Anna’s Restaurant you can enjoy freshly made Greek dishes and local specialities that she prepares as a surprise.

All her fresh products are local, actually as local as you can get, since all fruits and grocery come from her family farm straight to your table. At Anna’s restaurant you can enjoy not only her family’s fruits and vegetables, but also their excellent wine and delicious cheese.

In addition, Anna gets all the meat locally and the fish or sea-food she serves comes from the catches of a long-standing friend who’s a local fisherman.

Anna’s restaurant is also an excellent choice for vegetarians who can choose from a variety of Greek dishes.

Anna makes sure that her guests are happy and she treats all her diners to complementary fresh made desert and fruit.

In the summer season the restaurant is open every day from 8am to 1am. Guests at the Efi Studios & Apartments can have their breakfast there, between 8:30 to 10am (extra charge).

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Sports & Nature

A magical summer stroll through nature is the ascent of Kavouropotamos river, which begins at Pyrgaki and ends at the mountainous agricultural region of Lagada.

In an 18th century publication, says that the Turkish fleet was often anchored in Drios Bay (like many others throughout the centuries, because of the protection it provided from the north wind). At one of the water sources, the Turks built tanks to wash and the remaining water that came from ditches lead to the sea to replenish the ships through the so called “hoses”.
The region’s fertile soil is due to the groundwater, rather than rainwater. 15th century testimony states “It rains a little, and the cotton, vines and fig trees will wither without the abundant dew”.

Perhaps it was the running water, rather than the natural anchorage, which made the region habitable from the Bronze Age, from 2800 BC. Today, few remains of prehistoric settlements can be found in Pirgaki, next to the modern day Port of Drios and on Drionisi overlooking the bay.

*Source: Aliprantis, Nikos Ch “Drios Paros: From Prehistory to Modern Times”, Publication Society of Friends of Drios, 2005>/span>
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The first wind surf station in Golden Beach – which was also the first one in Paros – opened in 1984. Since then, many RSX champions have been training here, including the Olympic champion Nikos Kaklamanakis and the Greek National Windsurf Team which practises in the area for some time every year. Golden Beach hosts various International wind surf races and Slalom events throughout the summer.

Due to the Mediterranean climate, you can surf here all year round, while the windsurf stations are open from April to October. In extreme weather conditions, it is always easier to windsurf in the bay area, making winter surf accessible to less advanced athletes. The surf stations at Golden Beach area offer in total 4 rescue boats, advanced material available for rent, highly skilled & multi-language instructors.

Side activities include catamaran, kayak & SUP (stand-up-paddling) rentals, tubing, beach volleyball, open-air dance lessons and massage. There is also a renown scuba diving center – the “Aegean Diving College”

New Golden Beach (Tserdakia)

The area of New Golden Beach (or Tserdakia), located at 3km from Flora & Agelos accommodation, has the largest wind-surf club in Paros, with 50 boards & 50 rigs, incl. Wave material for rent. New Golden Beach bay has a little reef, swell and waves. The wind here is rather constant, sideshore – between 6-8Bft. Wind surfing can be enjoyed throughout the year. The area is ideal for more advanced surfers.

Along with the surf station, there is also a scuba diving center in New Golden Beach.

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Some of the diving & snorkeling sites of the area include:

• Paros-Naxos Channel Wreck: An unforgettable scenic dive on this impressive sunken cargo shipwreck of the ’80s, teaming with a wide variety of marine life.

• Underwater Cave: A truly amazing experience as you enter this large karstic formation between 3.5m below the waterline and ~12m, surface in the cave, remove regulator, mask and marvel at the overhanging stalactites in this outlandish blue light!

• Shoal of Wrecks: A very special group of rocks, a few meters below the waves surrounded by wreck remains of several historical periods.

• Nearby island: A hidden and sheltered cove for snorkelers and some very interesting and varied diving on the reefs off the south side of this island.

• Long Island: Scuba & snorkel where seabirds dive for fish and morays peek out of their lairs for octopus!

• Round island drift-dive: An exciting but relaxed dive around an islet observing marine life assisted by the currents.

• A little cove in use for thousands of years: Excellent choice for snorkeling and diving over cultural and biological treasures.

• WWII German airplane and exploration dive: A longer sea-adventure (day-trip) about forty minutes away. Dive and snorkel over this war relic lying on a Posidonia sea-grass carpet in a protected cove.

… there are still more unique diving and snorkeling sites – apt for various levels of experience.

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The Park offers a variety of beaches and swimming spots: Katholiko is the central beach, where you can enjoy swimming in clear, shallow waters. There are beach umbrellas and sun beds for rent and also tall trees for shade. The chill-out beach bar of the Park serves drinks and snacks throughout the day and a beach volleyball net awaits visitors in athletic mood. Katholiko Beach is ideal for families with kids.

For an even more quiet swim at Paros Park, you may choose the small Ai Yiannis beach, located just underneath the old monastery near the entrance of the Park. For those who want to combine a short walk and an isolated swim, the sandy beach of Tourkou Ammos , reached only on foot, is an an idyllic place for quiet times – to get there, follow walking trail no. 3.

Other activities at the Environmental & Cultural Park of Paros include a 7km footpath network around the whole peninsula ideal for easy hiking, a historical light-house, a traditional shipyard, an amphitheater that hosts various concerts by local up to internationally known artists, theatrical plays and other cultural activities, periodical exhibitions, athletic events like the Paros Triathlon and more!

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Geological Wealth of Paros and Nearby Islands

The geological incidents and formations of these islands are of scientific significance to geologists as well as of interest to visitors. Some examples mentioned by Peter: the sea level has risen 130 meters since the last ice age which has caused many differentiations on the earth’s surface, like the separation of large pieces of land from the mainland, presently islands. Why is this important? Similar ‘separations’ that have occurred on some islands south of Keros have separated animals of the same species who used to live in the same region. In the case of lizards, for example, the separated groups then started to develop differently. Through observation important information is gathered on the different development of their DNA and their immune systems.

Glaronissi and Keros islands are a ‘bio-geology lab’ according to Peter, as the evolution of geological formations on which different biological entities grow may be observed there.
Other interesting facts: in an underwater cave in the Aliki area there are stalactites and stalagmites. In the bay of Tripiti, in a former cavern, there is a continuous fresh water flow – also the case in various underwater spots in the sea around Paros. The church of Aghios Antonios, in the Archilochos area, lies on top of a 7 million year-old volcano.

Many of these geological ‘miracles’ need to be protected, however, in order to remain intact and care must be taken to ensure they are not destroyed by the taking of souvenirs, for example.

Marine Biological Diversity of Paros

“Sea-shells are more beautiful underwater than in our apartment,” says Sara, biologist and diving instructor at the Aegean Diving College. In the sea surrounding Paros and the nearby islands there are plenty of marine biological treasures, some more rare than others. Human activities like fishing, sailing, construction, etc, greatly damage the underwater world. Peter Nicolaides, along with the staff of the Aegean Institute and other like-minded people, have helped in creating a rich sea-bed at the Golden Beach area by actively diving in the area and, by doing so, discouraging fishermen from casting their nets there. Surprisingly, the amount of windsurfing at Golden Beach has also contributed to its protection for the same reason. To further protect marine life, Peter proposed implementing small mooring buoys for private yachts to anchor.

All aquatic life, no matter how annoying it may seem to many summer visitors, plays an important role. The Posidonia sea grass, for example, is a higher plant belonging to the same family as the palm tree. Inside the Posidonia meadows live between 2,500 and 3,000 sea creatures and plants, many of which are of commercial value to fishermen. Each square meter of the Posidonia meadows creates 15-20 litres of oxygen per day. (See Peter’s article on this subject in the May 2000 issue of Paros Life at www.paroslife.com).

As Peter makes clear, it is vital not to destroy any kind of aquatic life or take it away with us as a souvenir or for decorating our homes.

Historical Findings

“The best way to save sub-sea level ancient findings is to allow diving for scientific, educational or recreational purposes”, Peter told us. He also referred to countless historical findings underwater, ranging from pre-historic times to the 1940s. This long list includes: Mesolithic tools in the Drios area, an ancient wreck at Pirgaki, Roman and 1850s wrecks between Paros and Naxos, a Second World War German hydroplane in Heraklia, an ancient underwater well in Aghios Georgios in Antiparos where there is still drinkable running water, an ancient quarry at the Panteronisia islets opposite Aliki, various Roman pots on reefs that can now be found at a depth of 3.5 metres, and of course the famous trapezoid-shaped wall that united Paros and Antiparos: this was 5.5 metres long and was used to transfer animals and to sit on and fish – note that the fishing hook is a 9,000 year-old device!

After conducting some aerial research into the area, Peter, along with other archaeologists, noticed long lines of rocks connecting various parts of the island, as well as islands between them. They form canals up to 700 metres long and about 1 metre wide, where tree trunks can easily be rolled to move them. They were more likely used to transfer pieces of marble to boats or to nearby regions, like from Paros to Despotiko. This is a new finding which needs closer examination.

Concluding, Peter pointed out that ‘recreational’ tourism is declining in Paros, and Greece in general, and is also destroying the island. The emerging forms of tourism are ‘academic’ and ‘cultural’ tourism which can offer year-round profits and a higher quality of tourism.

Article for Paros Life newspaper

The process goes something like this: First of all a route is suggested and a meeting point and time is set. As we walk, route notes and scenery photos are taken, and the route is tracked via a GPS or a smart phone. At key points (turns, crossroads, etc.), a simple sign is made – for example, a sprayed white arrow or a pile of stones. At the end of the walk, all the data is collected and uploaded online. So, potential walkers of the routes, have a full map via Google Earth, plus a short description and photos as well as some on-track signaling.

Once a few walking routes have been tracked down, then an effort could be made to publish a small printed map (eventually sponsored) which could then be given to local bookstores and travel agencies. The online routes could be promoted online. Finally, proper wooden signs showing the different routes could be placed in the countryside. Perhaps someone artistic would like to volunteer to make some of these signs?
The Paros walking routes mapping project is informal, an initiative by those of us on the island who simply like walking. Anyone is welcome to join us. If you want to participate, see planned walks, propose your own route or share your walking experiences, sign up at the Paros Community social forum and join the Walkers Group.

There are currently three walking groups on Paros – the informal walkers, the Folkdance Group of Naoussa (XON) and the Women’s Group of Naoussa who often organize hikes. The Paros Athletic Association (GASP) also plans to organize a hiking and a cycling group.

Short article/call to action for Paros Life newspaper

Audio Visual Design

Just working in such a secure environment presents extraordinary complications. The project presented myriad challenges, some of which we were accustomed to and some of which were completely novel. These projects are always difficult because of the security and space restrictions. Not all of our contractors are cleared and some require an escort. Coordinating that can prove tricky, especially on larger projects requiring the customer to free up resources that may have responsibilities that need to be met during the work day.

Working in a classified environment limits things we take for granted, such as laptops and mobile phones. You come to realize how dependent we are on reaching out for help or simply coordinating deliveries or getting status updates. Standard troubleshooting or issues with equipment can be maddeningly slow to diagnose and resolve for all parties involved because of the security situation.

This project was further complicated by having a very short window of time in which to take the legacy system offline. Because this is an auxiliary site and there are various global events in which our DoD may have involvement or interest in, the reality is that the room may have been needed at any given time were something of interest to occur. The pressure was extensive, to say the least.

The project itself involved an analog to digital upgrade (both HDBaseT and multimode fiber) of the video infrastructure with a large-scale video distribution system. The DoD demanded a mission-critical system that could flawlessly distribute content locally (26 operators) and to 46 overflow offices. Content included classified and unclassified PC content from all 26 operator stations, hard and soft codec content, and content from a number of miscellaneous pieces of hardware such as cable tuners and Blu-ray players.

Because this was an upgrade and expansion to an existing system, the primary objective was to upgrade the current system to a digital solution with the additional capability to push content to 46 overflow offices. Integrating a soft codec solution into the system while implementing a simple and user-friendly control interface were also essential objectives.

During the design process, Chris and I had various sessions collaborating with the client in order to survey the facility and discuss objectives and limitations. Because of funding and the nature of how that funding is released, we ended up with a fairly mercurial project that kept growing in budget and in scope. Initially, we were simply doing a VTC room with voice lift and a videowall, and support for a handful of PCs to be displayed on that videowall.

Fast forward several months and the requirements had grown: We had soft-VTC integration with an SX80, USB PC audio and a large amount of fiber outputs that would feed remote offices for passive viewing of DoD briefings, plus closed circuit cams that needed to be integrated.

Using Vectorworks fitted with the connectCAD plugin as our primary design tools, we proceeded to develop a system design, bill of materials and quote. In a project like this where goals and scope change as the project evolves, software flexibility plays an important role. Once the design process was complete, system drawings, riser drawings, pathway drawings, pull lists and a number of other documents were passed to the customer for review and approval. Vectorworks with connectCAD facilitated the entire design and installation process. The impact of a sound design increased the time and monetary savings exponentially as the project rolled out.

System design documentation was updated continuously throughout the building process as a contingency effort to maintain sufficient records in case the system had to be put in use, and to expedite the sign off process.

Due to the condensed nature of the project, it was critical that we reuse what was already in place to save time and manage cost. Some of the audio infrastructure and the displays were kept. However, DSPs, codecs and fiber switches/infrastructure were all upgraded. We chose a Crestron automation system based on the current onsite support staff’s ability to support Crestron.

We selected cabling infrastructure and other hardware based on security needs, hardware reliability and manufacturer ability to provide support for their products should they fail. We transitioned from copper to fiber in terms of our topology for most video inputs, and encountered a host of requirements that the DoD has in terms of proprietary connectors, termination standards and so on, that we were previously unfamiliar with. Many, many meetings went into ensuring compliance. The last thing we wanted was to have to rip out cabling and equipment and cause more headaches. I think that one of our largest setbacks was waiting for Corning to fabricate the specific keyed LC connectors to separate certain fiber transmissions from others. We also found out that no dark fiber would be permitted, so we had to terminate a large amount of fiber that would not actively be connected to our system in any way.

There was some existing infrastructure that saved us a decent amount of time, mainly with regard to audio. The mic lines were already run and we literally pulled the phoenix blocks from the old DSP and put them on the new Biamp TesiraFORTÉ units. The same applies for the speaker reinforcement. Those lines were run and the speakers from the legacy system were performing adequately, so we essentially just swapped out their older amps for newer Lab.gruppen E series amplifiers to save on rack space and increase energy efficiency. We replaced the existing videowall processor with the Crestron DM receivers, which were easier to program and configure, and met the client’s needs in terms of arranging the videowall into different settings.

Because of the nature of the large Crestron fiber switch, which didn’t have a discrete analog audio output or input, we encountered some obstacles, such as embedding the audio feed with both the near- and far-end audio of a VTC call for the fiber feeds because this was an add-on. We quickly discovered that, although we could send pictures to the remote offices of a near- and far-end videoconference, we didn’t have the local participants mixed into their feed. Fortunately, we were able to mix this in the Cisco Telepresence SX80 TC software and avoid any embarrassing shortcomings.

The old system was purely analog and consisted of PC stations with dual output, variable classifications, gooseneck mics, multi-classification Cisco C40 TelePresence codecs and a videowall processor. They had no ability to share slides or content outside of the SCIF, and had a fairly old, noisy DSP system.

Our system upgrade includes classified VTC communications with various DoD branches and agencies, and supports integrating WebEx and various flavors of that into the DoD network, while leveraging the components of the AV system: gooseneck mics and sound reinforcement, as well as being able to push that content to a host of offices via a fiberoptic network. We went from a hybrid IP/ISDN VTC system to one that is now exclusively IP.

Between the time constraints, functional requirements and facility restrictions, these types of projects are extremely challenging. It was a one-of-a-kind install in the realm of our DoD clientele, which we hope to extend to new and existing customers in the future.

Case study published in Sound & Communications magazine

The way I work
“When the phone goes you never know what it will be – it could be a TV show, it could be a film, music tour, you never know. It’s constantly changing. It’s an interesting business to work in and I’m lucky that I like what I do”. “We use Vectorworks, which is a kind of an industry standard program for the set-design people as well, so they send set drawings over and I put it straight into connectCAD, ” he continues.
“We produce a connectCAD data plan which shows pretty much what we’re doing in every show. In this way we always have something laid out within the drawing file and people can use Vectorworks to reference the original file without having to print it out in pdf, and can see exactly how the system was put together.

“The reason why I use connectCAD here is to make it very clear – because when we come back in a year or six months from the show it helps us to see exactly how we laid things out and also helps with preplanning on system design as well. Obviously there’s flow-charting software you could do the same thing with, but with connectCAD we’re producing a data plan which is always in the drawing file so there’s always a good point of reference for the people who have not set up the system before and it just saves a lot of problems and a lot of time.”

What’s the key to successful lighting design?
For Max, successful lighting design is always trying to do something original and different.
“People’s expectations when going to a concert are so much higher than before as far as sound and general quality of the design. It’s a challenge to always try to do something original and different”
“Certainly with music artists it’s to stretch the expectations people have of the artist and create an environment for the audience and for the artist as well.  I think this is as important, probably more important these days, to have a good production design. People’s expectations when going to a concert are so much higher than before as far as sound and general quality of the design. It’s a challenge to always try to do something original and different. People do have very high standards and you’ve always got to try raising the bar of expectations, also doing what is right for the artist.

“When on tour, most artists will do a tour of a similar size of venue, so you plan the production around it, ” he advises. “But obviously there are curve balls every day so you play around with the design within the venue and in cases like Morrissey who’ll play a 2,000 capacity then the next day he’ll play an 8,000 capacity you may have to adapt the same system. So it’s always a matter of designing something which is flexible enough and good enough to work in both these venues and that happens with a lot of artists you know.”

Things that help – a design story
“During an architectural job for Under the Bridge, a music venue at Chelsea football club in London where I did the lighting, stage lighting, architectural lighting and video design, there was a lot going on and I was looking for a Mac-based sort of flowing chart software, ” he recalls.
“I wasn’t expecting anything that actually worked within Vectorworks and that was the first time I came across connectCAD – which was a real bonus for me. From a ‘pick-it up and using it straight away’ point of view, it’s pretty intuitive, easy to make device and its easy to link devices. It’s pretty much straight out of the box and obviously beyond there you can put in your own connector types and signal types and expand from there.

“I like it because it’s very simple to use, very quick to get a drawing together even without a huge amount of experience. I enjoy the support and also the fact that it is constantly evolving. Any questions or comments are sorted out straight away from connectCAD’s support team, which also welcomes new ideas. Last year for example, I asked: ‘will you do a jump over feature for connecting devices?’ and the said: ‘yes, like a hop-over command, it’s easy!’ and then in connectCAD 2015 it came in, and it’s one of the little things that make everything a little bit clearer and it’s great!

What’s exciting about being a lighting designer?

“It’s the unexpected, ” he says. “When the phone goes you never know what it will be – it could be a TV show, it could be a film, music tour, you never know. It’s constantly changing. It’s an interesting business to work in and I’m lucky that I like what I do. It’s the unexpected that I like the most I think, although sometimes the unexpected is bad! But for the most part the unexpected is good and that’s what I like about being a lighting designer. ”

Max Conwell is an established lighting designer with long experience in architectural lighting, stage / concert lighting, events, fashion shows, television and DVD productions. He works with internationally known artists like Morrissey, Paul Weller, and Manic Street Preachers. His portfolio also includes fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Ralph Lauren, TV shows Catchphrase and The Link, and major corporate presentations for companies like Audi and HBOS. His work stands out for its original creative ideas, practical solutions, advanced technological knowledge, team collaboration and client satisfaction.

Article published in Essential Install magazine

Jennifer Zika, Kraftwerk Corporate Communications manager, says: “The goal that everyone involved in the project aimed for, was to create a new attraction that sweeps its visitors off their feet, with an exciting story, incredible content and visuals, and a ‘never-before experienced’ feeling of flying through state-of-the art technical solutions.”

Kraftwerk LT has worked with Europa-Park before in 2013/14, realizing the breathtaking themed ride ARTHUR through the Minimoys Kingdom.

Thomas Gellermann, Head of Research & Development at Kraftwerk LT, comments: “We were incredibly excited to be working on this amazing attraction for one of the best entertainment parks in the world – planning to create a high-quality experience with the latest technologies in place. As an expert in the AV integration of exactly such installations and previous giant screen and immersive dome projection installations, we knew we were the right partner. Being able to work on such a great project and for one of the best entertainment parks in the world, was extremely exciting and a great reference for us! This certainly led to a special excitement about this order.”

The construction work for the Voletarium started in September 2016 and had to be completed in just 9 months, before the next season opening of the park. “As the AV system integrator, we were involved from the very beginning. There was certainly a clear plan in place of what the attraction will be. Generally, there was a long decision process with many meetings when looking back. To allow for the latest technology to be installed, the selection was made rather late in the planning process, resulting in a quite tight schedule for the AV installation”, says Gellermann. “One of the challenges was to work with the 3D model data that we received from the architects as they were extremely complex. We pretty much reached the limitations and system boundaries in the planning.

The Voletarium is built around the story of two fictional pioneering aviators, the Eulenstein brothers, who hypothetically managed the very first manned flight in 1825. Visitors are first immersed in the inventors’ story while waiting in the queue line, which is actually an attraction itself. Then they reach the flying theatres where they glide through the air in chairlift-style gondolas and fly over 15 European metropolis and landscapes: the Matterhorn Mountain, the three peaks of Lavaredo , Venice, the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and more. Other effects such as scent, wind and water, intensify the flying experience. Housing the two domed screen theatres, as well as the extensive queue line, the Voletarium has a footprint of 39x 63 meters.

Each dome is 16-meter-high and each flying theatre has a 70-seat ride and an overall capacity of 1,400 people per hour. Each screen measures 21.5 m in diameter and a total screen size of 425 m². Projection onto the concave screen is by multiple 3D stereoscopic projectors with 4K resolution each, engineered for the ultimate viewing experience. The proximity of the visitors to the screen and thus the visuals is a key aspect of what makes this attraction special.

There is also a state-of-the art 3D audio system with several discrete channels and the use of an uncompressed video server cluster with 120 fps uncompressed video playback ensuring incredibly sharp and brilliant images without any motion blur. The integrated, camera-based alignment system, the show control system and the individually designed touch panels all contribute to an unforgettable visitor experience.

Kraftwerk LT used connectCAD to during the design process. “We are working in an industry that is in constant change. At the same time, tight schedules always demand a very quick output,” says Hannes Reisinger, AV Systems Engineer at Kraftwerk LT. “When there is a lot at risk already, the plans can’t be another bottleneck, so we rely on the connectCAD design tool which has proven to be a tool fit for the job. The Voletarium consists of two (nearly) identical Flying Theaters. After drawing up the first one, we simply saved the file under a new name and ran a Search-And-Replace function over the Device Report. Voilá, a second Flying Theater in under two minutes… During the planning phase, we used Vectorworks with connectCAD so our schematics have become the hub of information for every project… we’re not only using it for Single Line Diagrams and Rack Layouts, but also extensively rely on its database functionality for the management of the entire installation process.”

racks for flying theatre

Technology-wise, each Flying Theater system included:
» 1x concave spherical screen segment with 21.5 m diameter, 14 m in height and a total screen area of 425 m²
» Barco IOSONO 3D audio system with a total of 30 discrete audio channels
» Total audio power: approx. 16,000 W
» Screen surfacing with a total of three Christie Mirage D4K35, each with 35,0000 center lumens and 4K resolution.
» Uncompressed (RAW) video server system by Brainsalt and 4-channel 120fps uncompressed video playback and built-in Auto-Alignment (camera-based).

One of the technical highlights “is the projection geometry itself with the complex positioning of the 3 projectors on the spherically curved screen. This special form of the display allows for a much more immersive integration of the audience through the extended field of view, with much less distortion in the edge area. Visitors to the Voletarium sit directly in the action and thus virtually in the screen – not outside or in front of, but in the screen,” Thomas Gellermann describes.

The audio system had to match the high quality of the projection system and images. The surround sound system is much more immersive than in a normal cinema with more speakers and more audio channels. 3D audio processing lets sound and tones to be controllable and steerable to the images. This allows for a flight, similar to a simulator experience.

For the design and project management team, the realisation was the end of a journey. “As everything had been assembled on site, it was only when completed that you received a first impression of the experience. It was certainly a special moment to see pictures from the film on the screen for the very first time – especially with the stunning film content,” Gellerman says. “Your personal feeling when seeing everything come together is one thing – what’s more is guests’ reactions. Hearing and experiencing guests scream when being on the ride – screams of joy – are moments that are unique and special. These are the moments you know the decisions in the planning, the choice of technologies in place, the one or other extra step paid off!”

The new building to house the Voletarium was placed at one of the busiest spots, right at the park’s main gate. To do that, there were various landscape and architectural changes, like the route of the EP Express monorail which now passes through the show building. The attraction has become one of the most popular attractions at Europa-Park. It has won first awards in the industry and the equipment is running stably without interruptions.

About Europa-Park
Attracting more than 5.6 million visitors each season, Europa-Park is Germany’s second most popular tourist destination and the country’s largest theme park, with more than 100 attractions and international shows throughout 15 carefully designed European-themed areas for young and old, on a site measuring 95 hectares. Europa-Park is now under the operation and direction of the 7th and 8th generation of the family Mack. Since its foundation in 1975, the owners have always followed the great ambition to achieve highest quality. The traditional family business strives to reach even greater heights and tries to expand what it has to offer at all times. Therefore, Europa-Park is continuously in search for innovations, novelties and unique attractions.
Here at connectCAD we are proud to have aided in such a project.

About Kraftwerk Living Technologies
Kraftwerk Living Technologies, headquartered in Wels, Austria, is one of the leading companies in the field of professional audio-visual system integration. Kraftwerk Living Technologies realizes individually tailored, state-of-the-art concepts and solutions for various applications, including immersive multimedia attractions for theme parks and entertainment venues, virtual reality projects for industry and science, audio-visual equipment for various event locations and more. The company has executed numerous projects all over the world and has defined the standards for state-of-the-art system integration since its founding in 1992.

Case study published in Live Design Online

Justin says: “The original architectural plan was basically a big rectangular box for a worship space. To make this more acoustically stable we needed to change the architecture a bit and add some features. The main worship center has a seating allocation of about 2500 people. This venue has some unique requirements and some particular ways this church likes to do things like distributing remote audio and video feeds in different parts of the building and pipe the live service audio out to the parking lot for the greeters who stand out there.”

“Numerous AV things happen throughout the building: there’s this main worship space, a recording suite behind the stage, a youth room with worship bands, lots of classrooms and overflow spaces, fellowship hall areas and ancillary rooms, all of which require AV integration and need to be tied together on a central system so primarily audio but also some video interaction to happen bi-directionally between any of these spaces and the existing building next door.”

“Since the early design work, we decided that the whole system of Richmond Creek Community Church would be built on a Dante network, so we’ve done really robust Dante connections throughout the entire facility: all of our main infrastructures are built around Dante to get audio in and out at various locations. There’s a lot of the design that looks very similar to network topology, because the project is so versatile, so we planned all components really meticulously.“

“Among other elements we had to consider was, for instance, that the worship center is actually a multi-purpose space. At the end of services on Sunday, they’ll take up all of the stackable chairs and use this room for school classes, sports and all kinds of activities. So the front of house audio position is actually on a rolling portable platform and there are two locations on the main floor with floor boxes where that rolling platform can go and plugin and then have that platform stored away safely.”

“There are many different elements here – like a massive speaker reinforcement system that covers this whole room, personal monitor mixing on stage for the bands and we get distributed audio through all those paths. We had do a lot of thinking and work-arounds, and navigate all options to make it all interact the way they want it to interact. To facilitate the design in this massive system we have here, we started working with the connectCAD plugin for Vectorworks, where I can take for example a 40 mic line input module and do a Multi-Connect and get all 40 of my connections in about 2 seconds, taking a lot of the guess work out. We’ve already got a labelling system call out where I throw the label onto each end of the cable that matches what’s on the schematic and so simplify and streamline communication.”

“Because of the way the project evolved over time, the AV infrastructure has also evolved over time and also the various industry offerings. After visiting this year’s Infocomm, we decided to use the Roland M5000 OHRCA system, the full size M5000 console and also 3 of the S4000 IO devices, so as to configure the input/output ratio however we want. Two of these are fully loaded with 40 mic line pre-amps and we also have an additional 24 analogue outputs, planned to grow up to 40 analogue outputs if we need to in the future. We’re using the M48 personal monitoring system, and all this is built on its proprietary REAC digital protocol.”

“We were discussing the best ways to map out that infrastructure and make it work with all the different contingencies, to maintain all the functionalities we need while reducing the budget – Roland has been really helpful in all that. Their console also interacts with the Dante network, so we could bring them online with the rest of the building – even without the presence of the console at the front of the room. “

“We installed Symmetrix processors because it’s at its core a Dante-based system, so we can take signals in, route them all over the place and then we have some different IO devices that attach to that Dante network. So we have something as simple as taking a typical hand-held microphone, plugging it into a wall plate and the wall plate itself is a Dante conversion device that takes that analogue mic input and converts it into a Dante stream which is then sent though a processor and subsequently sends out through the system speaker.”

“We’ve recently completed Phase #1 of the project, where the main focus was on audio, and the plan is to grow the video element over time, for the sake of budget allocation and resources.”

Case study published in RavePubs magazine

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