AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - June 12, 2019

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The PNW Section held its annual business meeting/election in June, and welcomed a presentation on theatrical sound "line mixing" by Northwest sound designer Lisa Finkral. 17 AES members out of 31 total persons attended the meeting, held at DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, WA.

Lisa Finkral is a practitioner of the sound mixing technique little known outside of musical theatre and playhouses called line mixing, or line-by-line mixing. Simply put, the sound person carefully follows the script and quickly moves faders up only when lines are performed, then just as swiftly pulls them fully down when not needed. Doing so greatly increases the clarity of the sound system as there are no unwanted open mics, but it can be a challenge with a fast-paced production, multiple performers all talking or singing, with musicians and sound effects. It seems that no gating, auto-mixers or atomic robots can do this task as well as a human (aided by a digital console with appropriate routing, DCAs and scene control). Some videos demonstrated the deft use of many fingers when "throwing a show."

Lisa has been a professional audio engineer since 2006 and has been sound designing since 2012. She regularly subs at the Triple Door and has designed for Village Theatre Kidstage, The Hi-Liners Musical Theatre, Sound Theatre Company, and Showtunes Theatre Company. Favorite past designs include Goblin Market (Sound Theatre Company), Les Miserables (Village Theatre Kidstage), and Bridges of Madison County (Showtunes Theatre Company). When Lisa is not doing sound, she is a practicing attorney.

While noting that line mixing does not seem to be taught anywhere except the school of hard knocks, she offered a plethora of tips and insights, from setting up the board to tech rehearsals, miking duets, and the orchestra. She covered common problems, such as missing cues or ad libbing actors, and even how to work with the cast and crew. The audience tossed out many questions during the presentation, evidently curious about this aspect of the audio business.

Afterwards, some door prizes and cookies were awarded.
-AES AVAR 2018 T-shirts with ditty bags, courtesy AES 2018 AVAR Committee: boB gudgeL, Robert Bristow Johnson
-mini pot tweaker/screwdriver sticks, courtesy Uneeda Audio: Greg Dixon, Nathan Hasbargen
-Phone popper knob: Steve Wilkins
-Pen-light: Lyle Corbin

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