Provided by Stage Sound Services, DiGiCo SD10T digital mixing console and SD-Rack ensures impeccable song/dialogue balance at new theatrical spectacular presented by Extraordinary Bodies and co-produced with Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Plymouth
Rose has had the pleasure of maintaining a professional partnership with Hazlewood for over 25 years and has worked together with the highly commended British conductor on numerous recordings and concerts of international acclaim.
“Charles and I discussed a potential project with Extraordinary Bodies about five years ago,” he recalls. “The project was going to be a grand production with a live band performance in a big circus tent that would tour the UK. Unfortunately, the project was put on hold due to the pandemic. It was restarted about a year ago, but by then, the theatre business had taken a significant hit and funding was limited. Nonetheless, Extraordinary Bodies still wanted to proceed with a scaled-down version of the show.”
When discussing the audio setup, there was no ambiguity about the console Rose would be using for the show. “A lot of the major projects I’ve done, such as the Olympics and various productions in the Middle East, always involved DiGiCo,” he says. “I know the system could do what I want it to and DiGiCo’s technical back-up, which is always available on the other end of a phone, is invaluable.” So, when it came to selecting a console for Waldo’s Circus of Magic & Terror musical, he had no doubt about choosing DiGiCo.
The SD10T was selected for its advanced features, particularly the Control Group Cues tool, which provides an easy and visual method of programming channel Control Group membership per cue. “The Theatre or ‘T’ in SD10T stands for the facilities it has above a standard desk,” continues Rose, who had configured the console prior to the production starting. “To facilitate the show’s singing and dialogue channels, I had the desk split into two sections. The singing channels were set up with a recall cue, allowing for the balance and FX sends to be set for each song. The dialogue, on the other hand, was pre-set manually and crossfaded via control groups at the end of each song. I think it’s a slightly unusual way of doing it, but it eliminates the need to change layers, streamlining the entire show,” he adds.
With the SD-Rack, Rose had the necessary 30 outputs, including 16 for the musician’s IEMs mix into their personal mixers, and praises the flexibility of the matrix, which enabled him to provide different feeds where required in different theatres.
Rose acknowledges that for this show, he does not have the dedicated technical backup that he would usually have on a big production. However, he expresses gratitude for the assistance he received from DiGiCo’s Dan Page who visited Rose and offered a demonstration on DiGiCo’s Theatre (T) extension to the standard SD software. “He’s been a great help. To be able to phone someone like that when you’re in a tight situation is invaluable and fantastic. He really got things going and we moved ahead quickly with his expertise,” explains Rose.
When asked about Hazlewood’s audio preferences, Rose explained that he likes to have his music “fairly loud and punchy to get the voice above the music.” This preference affects Rose’s workflow, as he needs to ensure that the music doesn’t overpower the vocals and that the balance between the two is just right.
“I’m very particular about compression and how things are routed to sub groups,” says Rose. “I prefer sending reverbs to a delay because it adds a richness and fatness that you don’t get when you send straight to reverb. Some people commented on how I set up the desk. Rupert [de Renzy-Martin, Audio Engineer] came on board quite late, so we were already in rehearsals when he joined us. I set up the voices, luckily there were less than 12 people singing, and split them into two sides of the desk, one for singing and the other for dialogue. Some people said this was unusual, but I’ve always done it for TV or live cinema. This way, when someone is singing and then starts talking, it’s very easy to manage. You can reset and recall the singing when you do your next music cue.”
“Although this was my first experience using a DiGiCo product, I’ve always been eager to learn and gain hands-on experience with their consoles,” de Renzy-Martin explains. “From the moment I began using the SD10, I was thoroughly impressed by its exceptional sound quality, remarkable versatility, and impressive range of functions. The ability to route any signal to any destination is insanely powerful!”
Despite having only two weeks of rehearsals left before the show’s opening, de Renzy-Martin was able to quickly learn how to operate the DiGiCo console thanks to the exceptional support of the team, particularly Rose, who proved to be an invaluable source of information and knowledge.
“Both Andy and Dan [Page, DiGiCo’s Brand and Product Ambassador] played a crucial role in providing extensive support and ensuring that I was fully comfortable using the console for the upcoming shows. As we are getting close to the end of the tour, I’m delighted to report that the console is performing exceedingly well. The ‘T’ function has been an indispensable asset, particularly during one of the shows where one of the actors was unable to perform so we had someone else stand in. The Players function on the ‘T’ software proved to be remarkably helpful in that scenario.”
By using a VCA to control the dialogue faders and a singing control group, Rose was able to set the levels and gain for the next singing performance in advance. This made it very easy for the operator, who had three banks of faders to choose from, with one set for sub mixing and FX, all on one layer. “This approach was particularly helpful when following a script and doing music balance recalls as it made it easy to stay organised and not get lost in the script or searching for faders,” adds Rose.
In addition, Rose also praises the selective storage feature in the DiGiCo’s T software, particularly for auto update purposes. He explains, “It was really useful because rather than updating everything on the desk you only really want to auto update various bits of the desk like compression, which can save time and prevent unnecessary changes. You can use it without it, but it made things really quick and easy to update and see where you are.”
The first leg of the UK tour for Waldo’s Circus of Magic & Terror, which was presented at Bristol Old Vic, concluded on the 1st of April. The next tour will begin on the 20th of April at The Lowry Salford Quays and will last for three days before moving to the Theatre Royal Plymouth from the 26th to the 29th of April. It will then continue at MAST Mayflower Studios in Southampton from the 4th to the 6th of May, followed by Lighthouse Poole on the 20th of May, and will conclude with the final performance at Bright Dome on the 7th of June.
“I am incredibly grateful for Dan’s involvement in the project, as he has been absolutely fantastic!” concludes Rose. “His vast knowledge as well as the seamless performance of the SD10T and SD-Rack made the whole process incredibly easy. The show has had an excellent start and has been praised as ‘moving and thought-provoking’ by reviewers. I am eagerly anticipating the production’s next venue at The Lowry Salford Quays and the opportunity to bring the powerful story of Waldo’s Circus of Magic & Terror to new audiences.”[ENDS]
Maria Fiorellino at DiGiCo
Tel: +44 1372 845600
Sarah James at Gasoline Media
Tel: +44 1483 223333
I was thoroughly impressed by its exceptional sound quality, remarkable versatility, and impressive range of functions
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