AES Section Meeting Reports

Toronto - December 13, 2016

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Frank Lockwood introduced Earl McCluskie, the Toronto AES Executive Committee member responsible for this meeting. Earl gave the rasion d'etre for this meeting and then introduced Peter McBoyle. Mr. McBoyle is in high demand in Canada for theatre sound in musical theatre and themed entertainment.

The presentation, while having an outline, was free form, open for questions or alternate topics related to the meeting. Peter began by discussing his background: From 2000 to 2013 he was the Resident Sound Designer for the Stratford Festival designing over 60 productions. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Music, and a Master's degree in Music from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Currently, he is on the faculty of Humber College where he teaches theatre audio. He is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada and United Scenic Artists IATSE local 829.

One interesting point he made during his talk was that "theatre sound is absolute, in the sense the sound is meant for the venue and only for the venue. It doesn't need to translate anywhere else."

He continued with discussing the responsibilities of the sound designer, who works with the director and composer to develop the sonic vision for the show. The work involves knowing both the art and the science.

One notable development in this field is theatre specific technology such as consoles for theatre. Digital consoles took capabilities much further and had a smaller footprint. Other companies produced theatre specific software.

In response to an audience question he provided a demonstration of one such software called Q-Lab as used in one of the recent productions he was involved in called The Lark. In addition to Q-Lab Peter also uses Wild Tracks.

Peter discovers new developments primarily through word of mouth, and occasionally through written articles.

He continued by discussing actors' mic positions and the adjustments needed to be made and the challenges often faced.

Responding to a question concerning sound check times for the actors, he noted that everyplace is different. On average, most production rehearsals allow about 5-6 minutes to get each actor roughly adjusted. During the actual rehearsal the sounds are fine tuned.

Toward the end of the meeting, Peter discussed analysis software. After that, the talk involved stories (accompanied by slides) of various productions. A question and answer period followed.

Finally, Frank Lockwood presented Peter with a Toronto AES Certificate of Appreciation and AES coffee mug.

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