12 of these songs were made in the month of February because my friend and co-conspirator, Mark Winslett, was participating in RPMchallenge.com’s record production month. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. I play guitar on Sunny Day and sing lyrics stolen form Ric Williams on Fear. I guess really there’s only one thing anyone can say now: boom platinum.
Last weekend’s production of 10MinMax by Dance Umbrella at The George Washington Carver Museum And Cultrural Center gave me an opportunity to test out a networked Host-Remote Qlab setup. This years production included 24 works and over 80 artists. Two pieces included video plus I created a slideshow for intermission. There were a lot of first for me on this show. I had never run video cues, neworked Qlab playback, or had Production Manager duties.
Running video cues with Qlab turned out to be a snap because a lot of the details were automatic. It resizes to fit the screen, protects aspect ratio, and fills the background with black when you’re not playing. Creating a looping slideshow was kind of tricky because once a still image is played, it wants to play forever, so the next image might come up, but the other ones are still there. I solved this by putting stop cues for the previous image to automatically follow each new image. Then you just need a start cue at the end to take you back to the top.
Sending midi machine control over a network seemed complciated at first while using OSX’s built in Audio Midi Setup. Turns out that it was creating a feedback loop somehow and once I switched to ipMidi it worked fine. So much more simple than all of the challenges I faced while setting up Software Audio Workstation for the Route 66 tour. Thanks to Figure53 for their excellent customer support.
I had done some technical directing before, but never production management. It’s one of those all encompassing jobs. You are with the product from it’s inception to it’s delivery. In this case I basically filled in all of the management holes to make the production happen with our limited staff.
We had many performers this year compared to last year plus lots of lighting problems, but the show turned out well. I especially enjoyed Emily Shaw’s duet choreographed to spoken word and Verge Dance Company’s piece with live musicians onstage. After Saturday’s show I met Acia Gray who I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years. Sometimes I worry about Austin’s lack of high quality productions and forget about how special it really is. Did you know that Tapestry, Acia’s company, is the only professional tap company in the US?
More photos available on here.
I just received some big-time recommendations from Dance Umbrella in Austin, TX and Teatro Nacional Dona Maria in Lisbon, Portugal. Thanks!
“I have worked with Nathan on two productions for Dance Umbrella and I am very impressed with not only his sound engineering capabilities but also his organizational managment through all phases of a production. He is an excellent choice to have on any production team.” August 20, 2010
Top qualities: Personable, Expert, High Integrity
hired Nathan as a Production/Sound Designer in 2009, and hired Nathan more than once
Sound Engineer – Recording and FOH
National Theatre of Portugal Dona Maria II SA
“It has been a real pleasure working with Nathan at D. Maria II National Theatre. He quickly became part of the team as an extraordinary sound engineer and a dear friend. After having recorded with him and shared sound designing, stage and FOH operation, in many plays and concerts, I can surely say Nathan showed to be a great team mate, a flexible, sensitive, and skilled professional in studio and on stage. I sincerely hope someday we can work together again!” April 25, 2010
Sérgio Henriques, Sound Tech and Musician, D. Maria II National Theatre
worked directly with Nathan at National Theatre of Portugal Dona Maria II SA
This week I worked on a two day production of 12 new pieces of dance called 10 Minute Max. Most of the pieces were modern dance and were limited to 10 minutes. My responsibilities were all of 1) Push Play and 2) Watch good looking women dance. Sometimes you’re hanging sound systems in the heat for 12 hours and sometimes… Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. There were a few instances of actual sound reinforcement, but what was more notable about the whole event was this theatre. The Boyd Vance Theatre at The George Washington Carver Cultural Center is a proscenium stage with stadium seating to fit 134 patrons. Most interesting for me were two things that I had recently been suggesting for The Palace in Georgetown.
A center speaker for vocal clarity
When should a theatre use a stereo system (MainA+MainB)? I am always a little confused when I see people using stereo systems. And as you can imagine, I’m confused a lot, cause they are everywhere! I can’t stop having a conversation in my head with the person who installed it asking, “What were your goals with this setup?” It couldn’t have been to create a stereo field, because there is only a small triangle of people near the center that are in it. It couldn’t have been for coverage because one speaker is basically playing into the wall and then you have a whole balcony without coverage. Whoa, rant alert!
I’ve worked on plays where sound designers have wanted a stereo system for actor location (following them around stage) or stereo FX. Those were special cases. The focus on vocal clarity comes way before FX. Here is a photo of the central cluster at The Boyd Vance Theatre. You can’t really see anything. It is covered with some acoustically transparent fabric that blends in with the ceiling. I appreciate that they are covering the room from a central location, probably with a point-source array, and close to the audience. Stereo FX can be created by auxiliary speakers stacked on stage that the theatre keeps in reserve.
Acoustic absorption on the walls.
In the case of The Boyd Vance Theatre they have broad-band acoustic panels covering almost every wall. These make the space quiet, less reflective, and serve to hide lighting instruments. I don’t have a photo yet, but will update this post soon. One more amazing part of the the installation there that I need to report on is the fact that the entire sound system can be turned on with a single button at FOH. No system startup instructions or running around backstage to find amplifiers. There is a little micro-controller that turns everything on in the right order. Hurray!