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Coordinating Audio for Live Events, Part 2

Sep 23, 2010 11:59 AM, With Bennett Liles

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I understand that there were some, or potentially at least, were some RF problems created by a big LED wall. What was that about?
Chapman: Well, yes, as we said earlier, with the size of the LED wall that we had onsite and the fact that it was a dynamic LED wall in that it was moving and we had heard that there would be a few issues certainly with antenna placement and things like that. So we had to sit down and work out quite a plan of where we were going to put antennas and what antennas we were going to use. We were considering originally using helical antennas, the reason being [that they’re] very directional, but the stage ended up being quite deep, and we couldn’t quite get the coverage we wanted. So we had a group of standard directional paddle-type antennas crisscrossing across the stage trying to keep away from the LED wall, but in the end, it didn’t cause us a problem at all. I don’t know whether that was because we had good antenna placement or if someone was just a little over cautious in there for the issues that they had before, but no, it was all right for us in the end. [Timestamp: 6:40]

Chapman: Yeah.

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Coordinating Audio for Live Events, Part 1
When one of the world’s biggest companies threw its annual party for employee’s this year, the company rented out Wembley Arena and hired Sound By Design to handle all sound systems and communications. ...

Yeah with RF set ups you never know. I don’t think any two are the same even if you try to make them be the same.
Chapman: No, absolutely yes.

So how’s the power amp and speaker management done there?
Chapman: Well, we used a Meyer Sound system, so nearly everything in sight was self-powered, so we don’t have any racks around so to speak. But all the boxes in the PA, the main PA at least and the delays, were linked up with Meyers Remote Monitoring system, which gives us realtime monitoring of each boxes and voltages, limiters, power outputs, temperatures, fan speeds, and things, and flashes up a any warnings if anything’s amiss, which is very useful especially when you have multiple drivers in each box in a big line array situation. And then the whole system was driven with the multiple Meyer Galileo management processors. And you had three of them didn’t you? [Timestamp: 7:37]

Chapman: Each one is 6 in 16 out, and it’s very useful in terms of allow; they’ve got quite a lot of power in-line driving. Obviously it’s got the usual like EQ and everything, but then it also includes Meyer’s air-absorption compensation and line array presets for all their different line array boxes, and that’s linked to the air temperature and humidity, so as the place warms up, we can correct for anything that may be doing to the overall EQ of the system. [Timestamp: 8:10]

And of course a lot of communication going on too behind the scenes, a lot of intercoms and walkies and things like that. How was the communication handled between FOH, stage monitoring, performers, and all that? Did you have people specially designated just to be communication people or relay the word here and there?
Shepherd: We actually had a standard shout system between FOH and monitors because we also supply all the coms for the show as well, the whole production coms as well, which was partly RTX dual-channel wire system but also using the HME wireless. We had the added benefit of I could issue four wireless HMEs to my sound crew, the stage techs, and people who not only could be involved in the production side or the production ring of the coms, it also allows us to input an audio signal into it separate to the production ring and take an audio feed out on a separate ring as well. So all the guys on HMEs actually were involved part of the FOH monitoring and shout system as well. So it was very easy for one of our guys to be on stage with a set of wireless coms on and talk to FOH quite happily. [Timestamp: 9:25]

And a lot of sound sources and lots of places for those signals to go. How was the mic line distribution done?
Shepherd: Well the core of it is DiGiCo’s optical system, an optical MADI loop, full loop, with full redundancy on it. So the monitor, engineer techs, all the gains set what could be adjusted by both desks, but it’s just one rack and both desks seek access to it all. [Timestamp: 9:50]

And I know all of this was a big live event. Did the company require any recording of this?
Shepherd: It was a fairly basic recording of the show, just the four tracks of separating of speech and any use of playback content. All the bands were on separate feed as well just so they can mix it, and then a separate feed of ambient mics as well. But it’s all very much a bore tape. It’s taken really just as a reference and was very quickly cut down to a small 9-minute thing that they put up on YouTube; it was to show the whole event. It’s a fairly basic recording of the show. [Timestamp: 10:24]

Yeah, I would guess that with this kind of event the whole thing is in the live deal.
Shepherd: So it’s streamed live to the Internet as well during the show, but we mixed that live from FOH as well. [Timestamp: 10:35]

OK, I think we were talking earlier about one of the little impromptu things with no rehearsal, a Grenadier Guards act. What exactly did they do when they came out? What did you have to do with them?
Shepherd: Well we weren’t really sure until actually a couple of days before the event what they were going to do. At one point they were going to be marching around the stage. It came very quickly apparently it was going to end up being a static event due to their commitments as well. They couldn’t make any rehearsal slots, so it was just a case of a conversation with them backstage before they went on to tell them roughly how they were going to line up on the stage, and this is where we use the wireless condenser mics; the mixtures of four and fours and AKG 480s as well. The team or the crew of the sound guys and using of the backstage helped as well. We could walk on with stereo pads of these mics and place them as they walked out on stage playing and just as they stood still, they got a mic clamped front to them and the FOH guys mixed it on the fly. [Timestamp: 11:38]

Chapman: It was about 30 seconds stage change wasn’t it? [Timestamp: 11:41]

Shepherd: Yeah.

Well that sounds like it was fun for everybody on stage and back there on the mixers.
Shepherd: Yeah, it was a bit of excitement. [Timestamp: 11:47]

What other kinds of projects do you have coming up? Anything special you’ve been looking forward to?
Chapman: We’re in the middle of one at the moment; our current largest project of the year usually is the BBC Proms, which is an annual eight-week classical music festival based predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall and a few other venues around London. It’s slightly smaller this year than it has been in the past, and the amount of our involvement is dictated by the theme of the season. Every year is themed slightly differently, and they don’t all require PA. Then we’ve also just started planning for another annual show that we do at Legoland Theme Park, which is their annual fireworks show which involves covering quite a fair chunk of the park in PA for music firework shows. So we always look forward to that one; it’s quite a headache thing. [Timestamp: 12:41]

Well thanks very much guys. Phill Chapman and Dave Shepherd of Sound By Design coming to us from London; wonderful having you on.
Chapman: Lovely, thank you.

Shepherd: It’s been a pleasure.

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