Posts Tagged ‘Playback’

Catch Up Pt3 The Hurley Burley Show

Friday, August 26th, 2011

What a whirlwind the last couple of months have been here we are Mid August 2011 here’s another of a couple of posts about projects that I have been involved with since October 2010,

So it was towards the end of the Christophe Willem shows last year Mr Steve Anderson approached me and asked if I would be interested in being involved with a little show that he was involved with in the west end, that show turned out to be The Hurley Burley Show a burlesque performance staring the increasable Miss Polly Rae and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang.  My initial remit was to provide a playback system, come the fitup I’d got Mr Alex Bryson involved as we were now effectively occupying the role of Sound Designer and Production Sound Engineer on top of the playback stuff.

It became a fairly full on couple of weeks getting it all together we tuned to Phil Hurley at Stage Sound Services to supply the Digico SD8, Aviom A16 Mixing system for the band, Meyer UPJ’s for onstage foldback, Yamah DME as a system matrix and AXYS Duran Audio Scope T-2115, T-2112, U-12 and U-14 loud speakers.  A full write up of that fantastic experience and help from Andy, Nick and Chris Full at Duran Audio is a available here, in short it was probably one of the most difficult decisions i had to make in a long time, given a clean sheet which loudspeakers would you chose?  The Scope system along with it’s onboard DSP was fantastic and I would not hesitate to use them again.

The run of the Hurley Burley Show was a great success in it’s fixed 8 week run and I don’t think it will be long before Miss Polly Rae is back on the west end stage.

Catch up Pt1 – The War of the Worlds and Katherine Jenkins

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

What a whirlwind the last couple of months have been here we are Mid August 2011 here’s the first of a couple of posts about projects that I have been involved with since October 2010,

The Autumn drew to a close with some fantastic shows with Christophe Willem and the team, I had to leave the last few dates of the tour to Mr Tim Speight as Production Audio Solutions was about to have the busiest time in it’s short history to date, we had Katherine Jenkins about to head out on tour to Germany, Australia, New Zealand and America, the spec was our full playback solution in a air freight friendly package. The result was a three way balancing act between flexibility, redundancy and size. The end product was a huge success with Alex heading out on those long hall flights he so loves to look after it all, i’m pleased to say from our end it all went without a glitch, and that was with late load-in’s tight connecting flights and all that Jazz.

While Alex was off around the world again I had a small corporate job with Delta Sound to do a London’s Excell Centre my main responsibility being flying the PA to facilitate the various different space combinations. Straight off the bounce of this I was in to the garage to put the finishing touches to the playback package for Jeff Wayne’s musical version of the War of the Worlds, Alive on Stage. As you’ll know I have been involved in this project since the first tour in 2006, this time round Production Audio Solutions were chosen to supply the redundant 48 track playback system based around Fostex D2424LV’s. Along side this in a major upgrade to the communication solutions used on previous tours we implemented a Riedel Artist Matrix the intension here was to join all the departments discreet comms systems together in order to allow improved cross department communication and remove the necessity for people to carry a maybe a couple of Motorola’s, a duplex comms pack and perhaps a set of IEM’s, which was my experience on the last tour. The Riedel system I designed integrated the Production Motorola’s, LX, Video and Stage commms along with links to the monitor desk allowing the Stage manager to talk directly to the guest artist with out them having to take their IEM’s (In Ear Monitors) out. Although we had a few interesting moments in rehearsals finessing how the system was to operate the net result was a great success

With Alex off with Katherine Jenkins I turned to my good friend PJ (Paul Johnson) to look after the String section and help with this comms package, this all worked out fantastically and was a great improvement on how the show had operated on previous tours. I look forward to the next tour of The War of the Worlds whenever that may be….

To Mr Simon Honywill thank you for the rouse we managed to have with the wheel from your incredibly expensive mixing chair.

Christophe Willem – Coffee Tour and Festivals

Friday, October 8th, 2010

So it was back in May when I got a email from Miss Sarah DeCourcey MD for the last couple of Kylie Minogue Tours her latest project was as Musical Director for French pop sensation Christophe Willem who first appeared in Nouvelle Star in 2006. Sarah was working with Steve Anderson on Christophe’s Coffee Tour, this was intended to be the biggest tour Christophe had undertaken to date encompassing lights sound and video in a fantastic live show. However he and the team had been let down both on the hardware that had been implemented and the people who were there to operate it. Sarah got my details from Kevin Hopgood, Jeff Waynes’The War of the Worlds Production Manager and Kylie Minogue Production Manger where Sarah has been Musical director for the last couple of tours. So I was asked to get involved with the Christope Willem show as the present tech had decided to leave and there had been a number of problems with the tracks not starting on time finishing early and there been problems with the lip sync of the video.
So after a few phone calls and a number of emails I was on a early morning flight from Gatwick to Montpellier to be honest not really knowing what I was letting my self in for or what I was going to encounter at the other end oh and becoming acutely reminded of my poor communication skills as far as speaking French was concerend. If you could just bare in mind my less than poor ability to communicate in French. First off lets talk about the video lip sync it wasn’t really lip sync it was more along the lines of being hidiously out of time because previous to my arrival the video was been triggered by the stage manager watching the ABS time on the front of the play back machines and calling a ‘GO’ into his comms the video operator was then pressing ‘Play’ on the video system, not in sync inconsistent. Oh my word right then, talk about Time Code 101! So thanks to Mr Nick Whitehouse stepping onboard just ahead of me and already pointing out the error of their ways, a sort piece of XLR had been added between the audio play back machines and the video system and the video system was put into ‘chase incoming LTC’ and would you believe it, it was in sync.

Well sort of there was a bit more work to be done at our end, the Playback machines being used were the Alesis HD2424 now I’m sure these machines were revolutionary and feature packed when the were released but Oh My WORD life has moved on in some dramatic ways since. Top of my list of failings is their ability to clock to anything other than 30fps yes we could rework all the video to accommodate this but my french still isn’t that good also all the audio tracks were created to 25fps. So this the fact that the hard drives will fall out of the front of the machine if you look at in the right way and their inability to chaise incoming code. Fundamentally make them a hugely inappropriate piece of equipment for this use. The work around was to create a LTC track in Logic and then simply send this straight to video world. Having the LTC printed on a audio track is nothing new but it is frustrating that the ABS time of the machine has no correlation what so ever to that of the LTC. On to their inability to clock to anything, so in order to layback the Logic sessions to the Alesis it’s like making a mix cassette years ago, with Logic lined up at the top of the song hit record on the Alesis then play in logic as quickly as possible. Oh and you have to lay the show back in show order as you cannot insert a song project only create one at the end. So reordering the set list is not possible unless the gap between songs is sufficient to navigate all the way up and down the set list.

So with the audio laid back for the show Sarah has a button that has been bodged into the remotes for the Alesis machines “Chough (MMC)” anyone? at the end of the song I have to stop both machines navigate to the next song in the set list then give a thumbs up to Sarah showing she is clear to start the song. In hindsight it is amusing to know that what six months ago I was describing how we achieved the playback on the Nolans with a much less error prone system is this progression or just a matter of doing it differently?

So system fudged and my second day on the project we did the first show where the video was in sync throughout and there was as little waiting for the playback to start as possible. Now the road has gone on and on from there, I continued the rest of the Coffee Tour and then onto a summer season of festivals, I had to dep two of the shows out to a good friend of mine PJ his first time on a playback show for me. Unfortunately it was by far one of the hottest now if you get the Alesis HD2424 too hot it just stops outputting audio the gig was so hot the machines were too hot to touch. One of the few positive things about this rack from Future Acoustics france’s premier supplier of playback packages so I’m told is the large amount of ventilation meaning it was a fairly simple fix to just get a couple of pedal fans and point them at the kit.
Summer season finished, we’ve now just finished a week of Band Rehearsals for the fourth coming Autumn / Fall Theatre tour. Unfortunately we are still on the Alesis machines not a package supplied by Production Audio Solutions mainly because Sarah and I have made it work so frustratingly production do not see it as a problem also I’ve noticed all of the pricing for this project seems to be on a per performance price from rental of equipment through to wages, I think this is not uncommon in France, all of my other touring and any other work for that matter has been based on number of days or weeks. Future Acoustics hired the play back package for 15 shows, the fact that this was across best part of 3 months doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Ludicrous but i’m the guest so how ever you normally do it.

Rant over, Christophe Willem is a fantastic artist he is really passionate about his work and works very hard for it. Sarah, Steve and the Band are a fantastic bunch of musicians and it is a real honour to be working along side them. I have also made some good friends and am working on my french thanks to the high level of english speaking amongst the french people on the team. Now headed back into the UK on the Eurostar, I so wish I’d been able to collect the points for all the train journeys I’ve completed. Special thanks to PJ for the summer festivals and to Mr Tim Speight who started this weeks rehearsals off in my absence and who is poised to look after the end half of the tour as I am already committed with The War of the Worlds.

October Already

Friday, October 8th, 2010

So it’s mid October nearly where did the last six months go?

After completing the Katherine Jenkins tour I was off to LIPA for what has now become my annual appearance with the final year Advanced Live Sound Module, where I discus various methods of show control and the current range of digital multicore systems.  It was only a brief two day trip this year but it was long enough for me to catch up with some old friends over a curry.

Grumpy Old Women – West End

Next stop was another project for Stage Sound Services, Grumpy Old Women 2 transferring into the Novello West End, Sound Design by Nick Manning. A fairly straight forward fit-up thanks to it having been on tour.

Christophe Willem – Coffee Tour

Now was time for a well earned holiday with the in-laws at their place in France best part of a nice two week break, apart from having to fly on Ryian air.  It is such a crime that they have managed to price proper carriers out of the market on a lot of routes.  So it was towards the end of this break that I got an email from a rather flustered Miss Sarah deCourcy along with Steve Anderson on the Christophe Willem Coffee Tour, in short things not going quite as they should I was asked to come in as Keys and Play Back tech starting as soon as possible.  So Volcanic Ash cloud letting us through we returned to the UK and I headed straight back out to France.

I arrived in Montpellier and discovered the reasons for the short comings.  See Separate post.

Production Audio Solutions

One of the main reasons for my absence of blog posts has been the amount of time I have devoted of late to getting Production Audio Solutions up and running a joint venture between Alex Bryson and my self.

I’ve also done other posts on Ghost Stories at the Duke of YorksCarmen at the O2, BBC Question Time at Dance East

Katherine Jenkins UK Believe Tour

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Now I’ve not previously been a big fan of the opera it’s never done anything to excite me but this show Kathrine Jenkins Show is Brilliant! Kathiene is such a talant and the band are fantastic, but what do you expect from such a group of pro’s.  I’m here looking after PlayBack, Keyboards and Wireless Comms and Motorolas.

This the first project Production Audio Solutions has supplied hardware for the Playback system comprises of two Mackie SDR’s with the control coming from G-type, along with the tried and tested green button on the MD’s keyboard.  For the production period I had the use of Mr Ali Viles ProTools HD Accel system to run the Logic and ProTools session from, there were a lot of changes happening all the time constantly adding or moving bits around the place it was great not to be waiting for the old progress bar for a change.  I think at one point I had the band rehearsing off the Mackie’s editing some overdubs on the ProTools system and making some sound effects on my laptop, it was great to be so busy I got such a kick out of it all.  One thing to remember though, you can’t play stereo interleaved files out of Digidesign hardware, so it’s less than ideal for Logic.

As mentioned in addition to my previous responsibilitys on similar tours Production Audio Solutions supplied the motorolas for back to back comunication during the day and tied into the comms on a half duplex channel for the show.  To compliment this there are 4 sets of Riedel’s Actobat digital full duplex dual channel wireless comms for the stage carpenters again this was all linked togerther and tied to the PRG provided ClearCom system.  Every one is able to talk to whom ever the need when ever the want, brilliant.  I’ve had really great feed back from the team regarding the equipment Producion Audio Soloutions have provided so I hope we will be doing the same again soon.

The team on this have been really great, it’s a few faces from old and a few new ones, we’ve been really lucky as we’ve been two shows on and one show off repeated for three weeks, so we’ve had some good R&R between shows.  The tour has only been on the road 3 weeks it’s been a bit shorter than average, but who know hopefully it will rear its head again soon.