TEA Connect Blog

09 September 2021

TEA In-Person Mixer at the Mine - Vancouver HUBS Edition

by Kelly Sall (Board Member, Western Division)


On August 28th, Part 2 of the TEA series on BOOM!, was held at The Britannia Museum in British Columbia. This was the in-person component to the fantastic and very insightful Part 1 which was held as a Webinar Wednesday event on August 18. TEA Western Division board member, Stefan Lawrence detailed this event in his excellent summary here.


The same panel of speakers from Part 1 was re-convened for Part 2:

Nancy Holmes, Echo West Developments

Randal Ormston, Vista Collaborative Arts

Deron Johnston, Britannia Mine Museum

David Lo, Dynamic Attractions


And they were joined by

Scott Weber, Vista Collaborative Arts

Tim Archer, Masters Digital

Douglas Welch, Eos Lightmedia


This rounded out the creative team that worked on the attraction from inception to installation. All were representative of companies local to the lower mainland of British Columbia and showed how a collaborative team that had often worked together in the past could come together once again to build a world-class attraction for this historic site.

The event was planned and hosted by Kelly Sall and Darren Brown of the Western Division Board with generous sponsorship from Altec Integrated Solutions, Dynamic Attractions and WhiteWater West. Additional assistance was provided by Donelly Willams of Altec.

Rather than repeating the webinar presentation, the panelists each highlighted a memorable story or lesson learned from their time on the project. There were some fun tales of the unique challenges of working on  a site stuck to a mountainside. The aging building itself presented challenges as did the weather, and various remnants of mill machinery. Working within budget was challenging as well, but many of the team offered their services at a reduced rate to help bring this beloved local attraction to life.

After the panel, participants were invited to take the underground mine train tour.  This is the museum’s other signature attraction. Here the group was loaded onto an old mine train and taken deep into the mountainside via one of the many tunnels once used to mine copper. Deep in the depths of the mountain the group was treated to stories about the history of the mine, the miners and some of the equipment they used.

Coming out the other side of the mountain, the group gathered near a solemn steam whistle that was used to sound the all-clear if all the miners emerged unscathed or sound the alarm if someone did not.

After that, it was past the coring sheds which still hold thousands of core samples taken during the mine’s life of production. These cores provided guidance for the geologists tasked with picking the directions the tunnels would travel, trying to extract the highest concentrations of copper compounds.

Then it was on to Mill No3. This giant structure was home to the equipment that would take the rough rock pulled out of the mine, extract the mineral, and reduce it down to a fine powder that was shipped off to be smelted into pure copper.

Upon entering the cavernous space the group was met with the stunning silence of the void, the cool presence of the exposed granite wall running up the height of the building, and the sunset rays of the sun filtering in through the fourteen thousand windows stretching up 20 stories. This was the perfect time of day to be entering this space and the group took some time to take it all in and the requisite selfies.

Next, we were treated to the BOOM! Show.  Our “host” Jack proceeded to tell us about the mine operations and how all the rock eventually becomes pure copper. The show cleverly uses sound and lighting to make the entire building come alive. Real steam erupts from machinery long decommissioned and the sounds echoing off the various levels suggests that people are hard at work, up above and out of sight. The skip cart, a train used to haul material to the top of the mill, is front and center during the show and figures in the final scene. The audio is immersive and visceral, and you literally feel the mill machinery churning as low frequencies fill the air and rumble the stage.

After the show, the panelists re-emerged to take some final questions. Tim Archer and Domingo Vergoossen from Masters Digital took to the stage to give an in-depth presentation of the audio design for the show. They discussed how actual machines in another mill were used as audio samples in BOOM! and how sounds of water drips were recorded in a corner of Mill No3 to serve as ambient sounds that serve as pre and post show audio loops.

The audio wizards also explained how the 30+(!) main speakers were placed throughout the building to bring the mill to life during the show. They described their experience mixing the show live in real-time during late winter nights when their fingers would freeze. Finally they touched on how they balanced the budget with an equipment set that best served the show, but did not break the bank.

Afterwards, the guests were invited to explore the stage area and continue with the Q&A looking up-close at many of the set elements that were recreated for the show. Some of these props looked like they had resided at the mill all their life, but were in fact clever replicas. Some of them housing speakers, screens and other modern technical equipment.

After the formal sections of the event were complete, a small contingent of panelists, planners and participants gathered at Locavore Bar and Grill a few miles up the road in Squamish, BC for some refreshments and more stories.

A very special thanks to The Britannia Mine Museum for allowing the TEA to use their spaces for the event. And a big thank you to Deron Johnston and Cheryl Hendrickson from the museum for their tremendous support and assistance. This was an exciting and engaging way to kick-off the return of in-person events to the Pacific NorthWest Hub. Look for more fun ways to connect again in the near future.


See more event pics on or Facebook page.

Posted by Josephine Gilmore



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