Meeting Topic: Live Sound for a Major Musical Show
Speaker Name: Alan Alford, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Meeting Location: Hilbert Circle Theater, Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis Symphony engineer Alan Alford hosted the Central Indiana Section on a walkthrough of the symphony's 34th annual Yuletide Celebration, featuring orchestra, pop rhythm section, guest host/artist Frankie Moreno, singers, dancers, and a host of holiday performers. Alan took attendees on an in-depth tour of the audio production for the show from planning and tech rehearsals through final production.
Beginning on stage, Alan provided an overview of sources for the 108-input show, including traditional pops orchestra micing, as well as drums and rhythm section elements with acoustical isolation built into the set. A further set of 30 wireless inputs included both headset and subminiature microphones for vocalists, speaking members of the orchestra, and microphones for reinforcement of tap dancers. In addition to the sources one might expect in such productions, some challenges were also present: namely keyboards that required complete mobility during performance, as they were incorporated in choreography and intricate stage moves! Battery "backup" power supplies and wireless bodypacks were used to facilitate freedom of movement without a loss of functionality.
The extensive use of wireless inputs saw the addition of a second A2 to the Yuletide's production team, freeing up one A2 to act almost exclusively as a wireless technician. The exclusive use of the Axient wireless system helped to reduce RF issues during the show, and the addition of an antenna system in the dressing room area below stage allowed for line checks before the talent arrived at stage level. The implementation of additional channels of ClearCom's FreeSpeak system also allowed for flexibility in the A2s' tasking throughout the show.
Alan also provided an overview of the show's new console, a Yamaha Rivage PM7, to replace past years' aging Venue surface. Alan discussed the changes required to move to a new console, as well as the considerable time required to build out new channel presets and general cues for the show, including two weeks of training and pre-production setup at the console provider's facility in preparation for tech rehearsals. Alan explained his surface setup, as well as the ability to lock DCAs to a bank of faders, with the underlying DCAs and channels instantly accessible once a particular master was selected.
The final stop of the production tour was the theater's video control room. While not greatly used for the Yuletide production, the video installation at the Hilbert Circle Theater was definitely worth discussion. The control room hosts remote controls for 12 HD pan-tilt-zoom cameras installed around the venue, allowing for preset shot creation during rehearsal, as well as full multi-camera video capture, live switching, and streaming capabilities.
Written By: Brett Leonard