The creative forces of Blue Man Group (BMG) have been working for two years to bring an all-new production to the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. This international entertainment phenomenon—one of many adaptations around the globe from Berlin to Boston—comprises a trio of blue men and an electrifying combination of music and inventive technology celebrating the more
Archive for February 5th, 2013
Portable Audio Equipment Holds Up to the Harsh Rigors of Field Production
BOCA GRANDE, FL, FEBRUARY 5, 2013 — Specializing in providing professional audio content for film, television, commercials and video games, Watson Wu Studios has come to rely heavily on Sound Devices portable mixers, recorders and interface gear for field recording, voice-over and music recording session projects.
Composer/Sound Designer/Field Recordist Watson Wu has worked on several projects that utilize Sound Devices gear. Most recently, his company completed a project for Korean video game Metro Conflict by Red Duck, which is slated to be released next year. Sound Devices 788T, 552, 442, 744T and MixPre-D were all used on location in order to capture several firearms recordings. Watson Wu Studios also recently completed work on the AAA video game Assassin’s Creed 3, where Wu was contracted to find, arrange and record the sounds of full-scale cannons being deployed. With an abundance of microphones placed strategically around the cannons and in the background, Wu and his team captured more than 24 channels of audio using various Sound Devices 744T and 722 Recorders, 302 Mixers and a 702 Recorder.
“Many years ago, I had the opportunity to listen to various unedited firearms recordings from colleagues who used Sound Devices recorders,” says Wu. “I was extremely impressed with how the microphone brands sounded so different from each other. Before that, most of the guns sounded like popcorn, and this was true from one brand of microphone to the other. My experiences and observations in the field prompted me to rent, and then eventually buy, my first Sound Devices field recorder, the 702. Now I’m using several Sound Devices products regularly, including the 442 Mixers, the USBPre 2 Audio Interface and the 788T-SSD Recorder.”
During the production for Dodge’s Guts, Glory, Ram TV commercials, Wu relied on his Sound Devices 442 Mixer to maintain control of beefy truck sounds. Wu has also worked on projects for the NBA, NHL and Lexus, where he composed and recorded music utilizing various microphones connected to the Sound Devices USBPre 2 Audio Interface.
“Sound Devices has always been the most reliable recording gear I’ve used,” adds Wu. “Since I often carry my entire rig on location, the lightness and thinness of Sound Devices gear is essential. Most of my recordings are done in super hot weather. Rarely do I encounter freezing temperatures, but the few cold-weather sessions I have been in have proven the reliability of the Sound Devices systems. Sound Devices also records true high-resolution sample rates, which is important, since most of my clients need 96 kHz and sometimes up to 192 kHz. There are other brands to choose from, but I really need the features and the robustness provided by Sound Devices.
During a few projects, Wu worked particularly long days at outdoor sessions, where the temperature rapidly rose by 30 degrees. “At the peak of the super hot day, the non-Sound Devices brands started to fail,” he recalls. “They either stopped responding or we had to keep adjusting the uncontrollable recording gains. During all of this, the Sound Devices gear we had just kept going without any problems.”
For current undisclosed projects, Wu is using his Sound Devices 442 Mixers, along with a 552 Production Mixer, to go in front of his 778T-SSD Recorder, as well as a 702 Recorder. This setup is being used to record full automatic weapons and exotic vehicles.
Wu incorporates Sound Devices gear into his portable setup for vehicle engine recordings by rigging DPA, Rode and other lavalier mics inside the engine compartment. He then routes the mic cables to 442 Mixers and sometimes a rented 552 Production Mixer. In addition, he also places various Sennheiser, Rode and Shure dynamic mics onto the body of the vehicle to capture exhaust sounds. The Sound Devices mixers’ incredibly fast responding limiters allow the recorders to capture these controlled extreme sounds. For external pass-by shots, Wu either uses Sennheiser MKH-418s or Neumann RSM-191s stereo shotgun mics connected to a Sound Devices 702 recorder.
“What I really like about all Sound Devices recorders is that I can use both external as well as the attached Sony L rechargeable batteries,” concludes Wu. “There were a few crucial takes where the 788T-SSD alerted me that the external battery was running extremely low. With an always-attached Sony L battery (while the recording was still going), I removed the external battery and plugged in fresh new one. You can do this same process again and again without interrupting the recordings. This is absolutely fantastic for my long session days. You just can’t match this feature. In addition, I’ve also had two CompactFlash memory cards fail on me where the internal SSD in my 788T-SSD retained the sound files. It’s a blessing to have this redundancy. Another great feature of the 788T is that it can record all eight channels at 24/96 on to single poly wave files. After a session, I can simply drag and drop a poly wave file into my editor, and all eight channels are perfectly lined up, ready for playback and editing.”
Sound Devices, LLC designs and manufactures portable audio mixers, digital audio recorders, and digital video recorders and related equipment for feature film, episodic television, documentary, news-gathering, and acoustical test and measurement applications. The fourteen-year old company designs and manufactures from their Reedsburg, Wisconsin headquarters with additional offices in Madison, WI and Highland Park, IL. For more information, visit the Sound Devices website, www.sounddevices.com.
A fixture in Washington DC live entertainment since the Second World War, George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium has hosted an eclectic mix of performers from Ingrid Bergman to Pink Floyd, along with leading world music artists, local opera and symphony companies and celebrated political dignitaries over the years.
The university recently decided to upgrade the venerable auditorium with special emphasis on the sound and lighting systems. MHA Audio, a successful local production company and integrator based in Hagerstown, MD, was tasked with installing the new audio system.
Discussing why he got involved with the project, MHA owner Mike Scarfe said, “We don’t normally do much installation work, but we have an outstanding relationship with Lisner and George Washington University based on doing live shows there for over 20 years, so this project made a lot of sense.
“It was also a perfect opportunity in terms of timing to bring Martin Audio’s new MLA Compact system into play and it all came together really well. The 1500-seat venue was the perfect size for the system. We put eight MLA Compacts per side with a center array of six DSX subs under the stage. The system was a natural choice because we’d had such a great experience with Martin Audio’s MLA touring system and this technology is definitely state-of-the-art.”
Discussing the University’s decision to modernize the sound and lighting systems, Executive Director of Lisner Auditorium and Partnership Development at GWU Maryann Lombardi explains, “We haven’t had a significant upgrade since the early forties and we needed to make the venue more competitive in terms of attracting high-profile talent.
“The environment for entertainment venues in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia has changed dramatically in the last 20 years with more venues offering increasingly sophisticated capabilities. Our job is to become more competitive within that market. We’ve held a very prominent place in the past, but we really wanted to branch into other genres and better support our world artists.”
“In addition to a new sound and lighting package,” continues Lombardi, “the facility upgrade included a complete physical upgrade in terms of a new interior, seats, painting, carpet, stage floor, hanging points in the ceiling for lighting and sound, and a new heating and cooling system.”
Since the upgrade, Lisner has presented a series of popular and well-attended world music concerts by artists such as the Brazilian singer-songwriter Gilberto Gil and Acoustic Africa, as well as the sold-out debate between Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart.
Asked about her impressions of the sound system since the MLA Compact system was installed, Lombardi enthuses, “I’m thrilled. It really has made an enormous difference in the sound quality. We’ve also gotten very good reactions from legacy clients such as the Air Force Band, Gilberto Gil, the Heritage Awards and artists using the equipment for the first time.
“We are now vetting performers and looking through their contract riders as we venture into new genres and it’s really cool to say we now have this sophisticated sound system in place that they can put to good use.”
Eric Annis, Production Manager and Technical Director for Lisner, is also enthusiastic about the new MLA Compact, “We think it’s fantastic and so do all the users who have come in since the installation.
“We’ve had several televised events in a row and maintaining the sightlines within the auditorium is wonderful,” adds Annis. “The shows have run the gamut from loud electrical music to a single mic bluegrass band, and the MLA Compact system has proved to be equally articulate and clear.”
For more about Martin Audio, please click to www.martin-audio.com.
About MLA™ (Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array)
The result of many years of intensive R&D, MLA’s methodology replaces trial-and-error array design with intelligent numerical optimization of the array’s output based on a highly accurate acoustic model. The multi-cellular format has six individual cells in each enclosure, each with its own DSP and amplification.
With up to 24 enclosures, each MLA array has up to 144 cells — too great a number to optimize manually, or by ear. Instead, Martin Audio’s proprietary Display2™ system design software automatically calculates FIR DSP filters for each cell and a redundant-ring audio network (U-NET™) downloads the settings into each array enclosure. Martin Audio’s VU-NET™ software provides real-time control and monitoring of the system.
MLA delivers a frequency response and SPL consistency never before achievable; a very high system output (140dB peak, per cabinet @1m); Automatic optimization of the array, both physically (splay angles) and electronically (DSP); Computer control and monitoring of the entire system, and total control of sound system balance for engineers and sound technicians.
MLA is fully integrated, with Class D amplification, DSP and U-NET digital audio
network built into each enclosure. MLA complete systems are ready-to-use, with MLA, MLD and MLX enclosures, flying hardware, software, cabling and training all supplied. Everything needed is included. All ancillary items — from tablet PC and Merlin™ controller to network interconnects and mains distro — are also included in the complete system package. This ensures full compatibility worldwide, down to cabling and accessories.
Additional features include 90° x 7.5° dispersion; a compact size (1136mm wide x 372mm high x 675mm deep), one-box-fits-all (festivals to theaters) application range and a global voltage, power factor corrected power supply.
MLA’s compact size and very high output allows it to be shipped using smaller trucks, offering considerable savings and reduced carbon footprint. The system also includes the MLX powered, flyable subwoofer capable of an unprecedented measured peak output of 150dB @ 1m; MLD downfill cabinet, and Merlin 4-in/10-out system controller and network hub. Audio input is via analog, AES3 or U-NET.
By adopting these principles and system components MLA is optimized for every member of the audience — from a 2,000 capacity theater, to a 20,000-seat arena, to a 100,000-person festival site. It will deliver the engineer’s exact mix to every seat (up to over 150 meters) with precision, exceptional power and clarity.
About Martin Audio®
Founded by audio engineer David Martin in 1971, Martin Audio pioneered the use of all-horn-loaded bass designs in world-class touring loudspeaker systems for groups such as Pink Floyd, ELP and Supertramp. Located outside of London, Martin Audio now embodies a sophisticated mix of acoustic design, research, mathematical modeling and software engineering for a wide range of products in the installation, cinema and touring sound markets.
BUENA PARK, Calif.—Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, New Jersey is a unique institution in that it has a long reputation of fine service to students providing many opportunities to further their performing arts interests. Founded in 1892, the school recently upgraded the audio system in its 250-seat intimate Little Theatre. Boulevard Professional (Ridgefield Park, NJ) was hired to design and install the new system that includes two NEXO GEO S1210 line arrays, one GEO S1230 for downfill, a NEXO 4×1 NXAMP, and a Yamaha LS9-32 digital audio console.
“Boulevard was contacted by Tim Whiting, a local resident and volunteer consultant to the New Players Company (NPC) Association, to review a system upgrade specification,” states James Cioffi, co-owner, Boulevard Pro. “After our first meeting, we were given the go ahead to design a solution for their space. Our goal was to provide a turnkey system upgrade that could cover the varied events held in the theatre.”
The new system was funded primarily through the tireless efforts of the NPC Association, the non-profit support arm of the New Players Company. NPC is dedicated to offering students the highest caliber of all aspects of theatre education, providing a wide range of experiences to students during their high school years. In continuous production for eleven months out of the year, New Players exposes students to plays and musicals of all genres and styles with a repertoire comprised of contemporary and classical that include challenging, complex works by artists ranging from Shakespeare to Sondheim.
Boulevard project manager, Bob Potanka, provided the NEXO system’s custom hanging solution and cable runs, interfacing with existing audio hardware. The company added eight 8-channel Shure SLX124/58 combo wireless mic systems for a total of sixteen Shure wireless units, and recycled the original line array as stage monitors flown left/right above the stage. “We used NEXO NS-1 software to model the sound system with assistance from Joe Rimstidt at Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems. The system was installed as predicted through the NS-1 software and sounds fantastic,” says Cioffi. In addition to the NEXO system and Yamaha LS9-32, a Middle Atlantic DWR 12-17 hanging wall rack was also installed.
At the completion of the installation, Boulevard conducted system training for staff and students. “The New Players Company at Ridgewood High School has already been enjoying sold-out shows, and response to the new sound system has been overwhelmingly positive,” notes Cioffi.
“Upgrading the sound system was one of a number of major improvements funded through the generous community support of our Capital Campaign,” added Meg Schaefer, Artistic Director of The New Players Company Association. “Both Boulevard and Yamaha did a phenomenal job to dramatically improve our venue.”
For more information on Boulevard Professional, visit www.blvdpro.com.
For more information on Yamaha and NEXO products, visit www.yamahaca.com.
About Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc.:
Celebrating 125 years of Passion and Performance, and 25 years in the manufacturer of high quality digital audio consoles, Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. (YCAS) provides a full line of integrated professional audio products offering complete systems solutions for the broadcast, sound reinforcement/installed sound, touring, commercial recording, and post production markets. With the addition of NEXO to the product line, the company remains the official U.S. and Canadian distributor for all NEXO speaker models. YCAS offers comprehensive in-house and field product training for its customers, a dedicated dealer network, and 24/7 technical support.