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Archive of the Case Studies Category

TDC announces partnership with NIDA – Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art

NIDA TDC social media image

Guiding Australia’s next generation of artists

TDC – Technical Direction Company is proud to announce a pioneering partnership with the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), which will see TDC provide invaluable expertise, guidance and support to the next generation of Australia’s artists, technical theatre designers and practitioners.

Through this partnership, TDC will give NIDA students access to expert training and the latest cutting-edge stage and live performance technology including LED screens, large-scale projections, videos and broadcast camera systems.

Michael Hassett, Managing Director, TDC, said: ”As one of Australia’s largest suppliers of video technology solutions the company is honoured to partner with NIDA and looks forward to working with the staff and students to provide technical knowledge and industry-readiness.”

The collaboration will see TDC provide specialist consultation and support on video technology, specifically the latest advances in projection, media servers, and LED technology and its dynamic use in live entertainment to NIDA for teaching and production purposes, as well as technical support for NIDA student productions.

We believe our investment in NIDA will achieve this and more as the students graduate and become the next generation of creative leaders in Australia and abroad.

Graham Henstock, Head of Technical Theatre and Stage Management at NIDA, believes the collaboration with TDC will help students in their career development by providing access to expert practitioners as well as hands-on experience with the best technology in the business.

In supplying assistance across classwork, assessable projects and NIDA’s full-scale student productions, TDC is giving students the opportunity to flex their creative muscles, experiment with high performance equipment and, importantly, gain vital industry experience.

This year marks the first year of the partnership, which promotes the creative potential of advanced technology in the performance space.

Some useful links:
Twitter: @TDC__
Facebook: @TechnicalDirectionCompany
Instagram & Pinterest: technicaldirectioncompany
LinkedIn: Technical Direction Company

Twitter: @NIDACommunity
Facebook: @NIDACommunity
Instagram: nidacommunity
LinkedIn: National Institute of Dramatic Art

About TDC – Technical Direction Company
Established in 1981, TDC’s expertise is in providing video technology solutions for major TV shows, theatre, corporate events, concert touring, exhibitions and outdoor events. Holding one of the largest stocks of high-end video equipment including LED, projection, displays and HD camera systems, TDC is the preferred provider of technical solutions for the top designers, producers, and production companies across the Asia Pacific region.

About NIDA – National Institute of Dramatic Art
The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) is Australia’s leading centre for education and training in the performing arts. Since 1958, NIDA has educated students in performance and production for theatre, film and television, and today is a powerhouse for Australia’s creative sector, recognised for its world-class approach to dramatic arts education and practical training philosophy.

Media contact:
Katinka Allender, Publicist, K-Communications & Associates, +44 203 371 9216, k.allender@k-communications.com

wysiwyg modernises West End theatre lighting design in Miss Saigon

Miss Saigon 2

READ THE STORY ONLINE: http://bit.ly/18CCdOS

wysiwyg R34 lighting design software previsualises Cameron Mackintosh’s latest production at the Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End.

Award-winning lighting designer Bruno Poet used CAST’s groundbreaking wysiwyg software to previsualise his technically innovative, trailblazing and epic stage lighting for the latest production of Cameron Mackintosh’s Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End.

Big West End shows have never used pre-visualisation software on a show of this scale before, making the use of wysiwyg on this production a real world first. The production team for the latest London production of Miss Saigon was new, while the set was inspired by the recent successful Miss Saigon tour of the Far East.

“As the script and score for the show were well established, the production period for the show was much shorter than other West End productions of a similar scale. Our team worked from scratch on the show’s lighting design using the pre-visualisation features on offer in wysiwyg,” explained Poet.

Specifically designed to help create groundbreaking lighting designs

Miss Saigon 4

“CAST designed wysiwyg specifically to help groundbreaking lighting designers such as Bruno Poet,” says Igor Silva, marketing director at CAST Software. “And anybody that’s been blown away by Cameron Mackintosh’s latest epic production of Miss Saigon in London will already see that the results speak for themselves.”

CAST’s wysiwyg enables lighting designers to layout their stage structure and have their lighting show pre-programmed before they even get to the venue. It is this particular feature that helped Bruno Poet to start the important work of the lighting design for Miss Saigon before even stepping foot into the new venue at the Prince Edward Theatre.

“Whether a stage director, set or lighting designer is creating an entirely new lighting design for any scale of production or event, or wanting to update and develop a current design, the wysiwyg design and previsualisation suite gives them a real edge, as well as cutting electricity and production costs and the time they need onsite” adds Silva.

“As Bruno Poet’s experience on Miss Saigon proves once more, CAST’s products are the industry standard for lighting design, programming and previsualisation.”

Set and lighting built and visualised virtually in wysiwyg

Miss Saigon 10

The latest set and lighting designs for the new production of Miss Saigon were initially built using wysiwyg, by lighting visualiser, James Simpson, with on-site support during pre-plotting by programmer, Warren Letton. Simpson’s brief was to re-build the scenery and add new set elements where necessary, in order to also create and patch the entire lighting rig.

“The reason visualisation was such a success on this production was because Bruno had the confidence to push it through the producers and get them to support it,” Simpson recalls. “Visualisation doesn’t have a future in the theatre unless lighting designers, programmers and producers want to support it, but if they do it can really save a lot of time and money.

Bruno Poet successfully sold the idea of using wysiwyg to Jerry Donaldson, production manager for Cameron Mackintosh, which, Simpson notes, “paid off, as not only did the production manager commit to the idea, they sung its praises afterwards and talk of that moment the realisation came when they understood how this is going to benefit their production.

“I sincerely hope that many more big productions take on what Miss Saigon learned from doing pre-vis and invest in it, because with more people using it we will have better productions and our industry – which is finding its profit margins harder to reach than ever before – gets a boost.”

Saving all-important plotting time on stage

Miss Saigon

Simpson used wysiwyg as an essential lighting tool for previsualising the set and lighting on Miss Saigon. CAST’s software enabled Bruno Poet to save that all-important plotting time on stage.

“Bruno wanted to hit the ground running when he got into the venue and have some building block cues and chases already programmed so he had something to show the director and producer on the first day,” Simpson recalls. “They started by creating focus positions for all of the lights so there were pallets built on the Eos Ti lighting control desk. This in itself was a useful exercise as it allowed Bruno the chance to establish what lights could make the shots and make design changes before the rig had even gone up.

“At this point in the process Bruno was still in rehearsals at Three Mills so the visualiser was set up in a nearby room so he could jump in and out of rehearsal and ask Warren to try out an idea he had just had and pop back to rehearsal with the confidence of knowing his ideas were working.

“Meanwhile, Warren was also making great use of wysiwyg, as it enabled him to set up his desk prior to the ‘get in’ happening for the show. Normally he would be in the venue checking things as they came in, but with the visualiser at his disposal he could do all of this work offline, so he was ready to get stuck into the real work with Bruno the first day they turned up at the venue.”

Time spent on perfecting the show and not sweating the small stuff!

Using wysiwyg enabled Bruno and Warren to put in a rough cue stack and load some basic looks into them so there was a working framework for them when they first got into the venue.

The all important pre-visualisation work using wysiwyg meant that Bruno and Warren could perfect the all-important big numbers in the show.

“They spent a lot of time working on certain well-known musical numbers like ‘The Heat Is On In Saigon’ and ‘American Dream’,” says Simpson, “which had fast paced cueing and took a lot of effort getting timings to work with the music.

“All of this was taken into the venue and although the design morphs and changes throughout the process, the results seen by audiences today have a lot of that pre-visualised work in it.”

Taking bold moves with the latest lighting tech

Bruno’s lighting rig was crammed full of moving fixtures to give him the flexibility he demanded for this project and one of the most notable uses of new technology was the use of LED with the Martin MAC Aura for strong backlight and creating epic colour washes.

“This decision paid off dividends for him as it suited the look he was trying to get for the show,” says Simpson. “The first time he felt sure that this bold move was going to work was when he saw them in wysiwyg; the bold colours and wide zoom looked epic! And he couldn’t wait to see them in real life to see if they could produce the same dramatic looks – which they did.”

Bruno also specified MAC Viper Performances, which did the majority of the lighting work for specials and keying, as well as ETC Revolutions to give tungsten where it was needed.

An evenly spaced LED wall using Martin Professional EvenLED™ technology was used for the cyclorama in the show and at the time the wysiwyg work was being carried out this was controlled by Warren and the lighting team.

“It was very impressive to see all of this working on wysiwyg,” adds Simpson. “Being able to play with transparencies on the sunset cycs in front of it meant we could match it very closely to how it was supposed to look in real life. We had great fun making sunsets and night-time scenes – and, yes, a psychedelic rainbow chase just for us!”

CAST helps producers save time, money and finesse their shows

Ultimately, the use of wysiwyg to pre-program the event, helped Bruno Poet to save the production time, money and to allow the producer and director more time to rehearse and finesse Miss Saigon.

“Bruno tells us that he was able to turn up at the venue with three days of vital plotting already done,” says CAST’s Igor Silva, “on top of the massive savings made in terms of time and money, perhaps the more important benefit is the fact that our software gave Bruno complete peace of mind and full confidence in his rig, allowing him to take control of his lighting sessions in the venue very early on.”

The bottom line is the fact that using wysiwyg meant that the rest of the production had more quality time on stage to do more rehearsing and finessing. Any director or producer knows that this time is invaluable – so the pre-visualisation and lighting design work is there in every aspect of this amazing show.

Some Useful Links:

Images: Previsualisation of Miss Saigon © James Simpson, Lighting Visualiser

See more on Bruno Poet’s lighting design on Miss Saigon at http://brunopoet.co.uk/miss-saigon-prince-edward-theatre

“Technically this new production is jaw droopingly good. Bruno Poet’s lighting design is epic throughout, but particularly during ‘American Dream’. I don’t often walk out of a theatre raving about a lighting design, but it’s impossible not to notice Poet’s magnificent work.” West End Frame link

Twitter: @CASTSoftware

CAST forum: http://forum.cast-soft.com

About CAST Software
Established in 1994, Toronto Canadian-based software and hardware developer, CAST Software celebrates its 20th year in business in 2014. CAST Software serves its core markets in entertainment production, special events and meetings. Its award winning flagship software products are wysiwyg design and previsualization suite, and Vivien — Event Designer. All products are designed and created in-house and supported by an established global distribution and reseller network.

CAST Software Ltd. is a member of the CAST Group of Companies Inc.


PRS for Music Installs PMC Speakers In New Listening Room

Steve3 (640x393)

PRS for Music, the organisation that represents over 100,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, has chosen PMC loudspeakers for the listening room in its new offices in Kings Cross, London.

PRS for Music relocated to Two Pancras Square at the end of 2014. Moving to this prestigious new building gave the organisation the opportunity to create a working environment that was ideally suited to its needs. Part of that process involved installing a dedicated listening room that could be used for any critical listening tasks, including judging entries for the annual Ivor Novello Awards, which celebrate the best British music writing.

PRS for Music director and Music Producers Guild Chairman Steve Levine was responsible for the listening room project and for the choice of PMC monitors. As a multi-platinum music producer, Levine has crafted hits for artists such as The Beach Boys, Culture Club, the Creatures, Gary Moore and Westworld and has won numerous awards including a BRIT Award for Producer of the Year, a Grammy for his work with Deneice Williams and a Sony Radio Award.

“When PRS asked me to oversee the design and build of its new listening room, I want to ensure that it was as good as it could possibly be,” Levine says. “For this reason I insisted that the architects installed a floating floor to prevent reverb issues and that it was as acoustically accurate as possible. The choice of monitors was easy because I already have PMC speakers in my own studio and am therefore familiar with the way they sound and the high quality audio they deliver. PMC speakers are renowned for being exceptionally accurate and that is what I really like about them – the fact that you can hear all the nuances of the music you are listening to and you don’t miss even the tiniest detail.”

As the PRS for Music listening room is compact, PMC recommended twotwo.5 active speakers that are specifically designed for situations where space is at a premium but quality must not be compromised. The smallest members of the twotwo family, these ultra-compact nearfield monitors feature the same technology as their larger siblings allowing them to perform way beyond expectation. Resolution and neutrality is provided by sophisticated DSP, dual power amplifiers, PMC’s new 27mm tweeter and a 140mm (5.5”) bass unit, all housed in an ATL™ labyrinth cabinet. The result is a monitor that delivers exceptional dynamics, musicality and depth of bass despite its small cabinet size.

About PMC
PMC is a UK-based, world-leading manufacturer of loudspeaker systems, the tools of choice in all ultra-critical professional monitoring applications, and also for the discerning audiophile at home, where they provide a transparent window into the recording artist’s original intentions. PMC products use the best available materials and design principles, including the company’s proprietary Advanced Transmission Line (ATL™) bass-loading technology, cutting-edge amplification and advanced DSP techniques to create loudspeakers that present sound and music exactly as it was when first created, with the highest possible resolution, and without coloration or distortion. For more information on our clients and products, see www.pmc-speakers.com.

DPA Delivers Pristine Audio During The Filming Of Taken 3

Stephane Bucher on Taken 3 set

Capturing high quality audio for a blockbuster film is always crucial as dialogue between the actors must be heard if the story is to be understood. But when the sound crew also has to contend with action-packed scenes featuring car chases and shoot outs, recording comprehensible audio becomes an even more complex challenge.

This was the situation French sound engineer Stéphane Bucher found himself in when he started working on Taken 3, the third and final instalment of the Taken film trilogy starring Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker and Maggie Grace.

“I knew we had a lot of dialogue taking place in difficult conditions where using a boom mic just wasn’t going to work, so there was only one thing for it,” he says. “I reached for my stock of DPA d:screet™ 4060 miniature microphones and asked the wardrobe team to help me figure out where we could hide them.”

Bucher is no stranger to the versatility and exceptional sound quality afforded by these tiny DPA mics as he used them to great effect last year on the Luc Besson film Lucy, which starred Scarlett Johansson. On that occasion they were sewn into the seams of Scarlett’s t-shirt and delivered great audio without any visibility issues.

“When we were filming Lucy, Luc Besson only used one camera so we did have the option of using a boom mic for some scenes,” Bucher says. “The big difference with Taken 3 was that Olivier Megaton [the director] used three cameras at the same time so that he could capture numerous different angles. In tight situations, such as inside the police station where Forest Whitaker had five pages of dialogue to record, we couldn’t use only a boom because of the wide and tight angles. That was when the DPA mics became so indispensable. Their sound matched perfectly when the boom couldn’t be used. We recorded fantastic audio that came across loud and clear in the mix. By the end of the film I’d say that 80% of the audio was recorded using these mics.”

Internationally acclaimed as a sound engineer, Bucher has worked with numerous famous actors and directors including Morgan Freeman, Pierce Brosnan and Kevin Costner. In recent years many of the projects he has undertaken have come via major feature film producers such as EuropaCorp. He also owns and manages the Paris-based rental company, A4Audio, which supplies audio equipment to film and TV clients.

Bucher believes that good preparation was key to the success of the audio in Taken 3. Before shooting started in the USA, he spent four days with wardrobe staff figuring out the best places to hide the DPA d:screet 4060 mics.

“Unlike Lucy where the action took place over a very short timeframe, this film spans a longer stretch of time so there were more costume changes to content with,” he explains. “Hiding microphones in clothing only works if you can avoid scratching or chaffing noises. We did pretty well with most of the costumes until we came up against a waterproof jacket that Liam wore in a few scenes. This was made from really noisy fabric, so the wardrobe department put a noiseless soft tissue into the jacket to prevent the mic from picking up the crackling of the cloth. Luckily the 4060 was sufficiently sensitive to be able to pick up the sound we did want without any problems.”

For scenes where the action took place within a car, Bucher used DPA d:dicate™ MMC4018-ES supercardioid microphones with MMP-ES active cables with side cable, which were supplied by DPA’s French distributor Audio2.

“They were great,” he says. “I used them for the first time and for one particular car chase where Liam Neeson is driving very fast on the highway. I needed a very small mic to put into the car’s sun visor. We bought two new sun visors, opened them up and put the 4018 mics inside. This was possible because the cable comes out of the side of the mic and it worked perfectly that way. We also tested them on a much simpler car scene, in which Forest Whitaker is driving and talking, and they worked great for that, too.”

Bucher adds that he is so impressed with the results he has achieved when using tiny DPA microphones that he now wants to use DPA mics on a boom.

“I’ve got some new film projects coming up and I think one of them will be ideal for this,” he says “It’s going to be shot in Denmark later this year, so what could be better than using Danish DPA mics? I have no doubt that I’ll get great audio quality if I do use them because this is what DPA is renowned for – really translucent, clear, natural sound.”


About DPA
DPA Microphones is the leading Danish Professional Audio manufacturer of high quality condenser microphone solutions for professional applications. DPA’s ultimate goal is to provide you – whether you’re in live sound, recording, theater or broadcast – with the absolute finest possible microphone solutions for your tasks. DPA takes no shortcuts in the design processes nor makes any compromises in manufacturing, which is all done at the DPA factory in Denmark. As a result, DPA’s products are globally praised for their exceptional clarity and transparency, unparalleled specifications, supreme reliability, and above all, pure, uncolored and undistorted sound.

For more information, please visit www.dpamicrophones.com

Audient ASP4816 Analogue Chic: Studio Bohemo

Bath, New Hampshire – “I suddenly knew what I had been missing,” said Wes Chapmon, describing his initial reaction after running a mix on his new ASP4816 that he’d previously been working on with his digital system. “The sound was alive, three dimensional, revealing and much easier to work with.” According to Wes, owner of Studio Bohemo in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, this intangible difference was one of two ‘game changers’ offered by the console from British manufacturer, Audient.

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RG Jones and Martin Audio MLA Win The War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds - The O2 Arena December 2014

Following a triumphant UK and European arena tour in 2012, Live Nation and SJM Concerts announced the ground-breaking tour of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds would return for the sixth and final time in late 2014 early 2015, with RG Jones Sound Engineering producing.

‘The New Generation’ as it is now known, played to packed arenas throughout the UK and Northern Europe this winter with the tried and trusted team of Simon Honywill, FOH engineer and Martin Audio’s full catalog of MLA (Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array) components once again on hand to create a superior soundscape.

War of the Worlds - The O2 Arena December 2014

Conducted by Jeff Wayne, the most ambitious production yet featured Liam Neeson in 3D holography, Jason Donovan as Parson Nathaniel, Westlife’s Brian McFadden as The Sung Thoughts of The Journalist, X Factor 2005 winner Shayne Ward as the Artilleryman, Les Miserables’ Carrie Hope Fletcher as Beth, Parson Nathaniel’s Wife, X Factor 2013’s Joseph Whelan, as The Voice of Humanity, the 36-piece ULLAdubULLA Strings and the 9-piece Black Smoke Band.

The show is mixed live in Surround Sound and features remarkable special effects such as the incredible 3-ton, 35-foot tall Martian Fighting Machine firing real flames into the Arena, a 100 foot wide “animation wall” with two hours of cutting edge CGI, the incineration of a cast member in front of the audience’s eyes, and a ground-breaking levitation effect.

Adding a new dimension in the spectacular finale, HG Wells, author of The War of The Worlds, was brought to life in three riveting scenes within the show – aged 33, 53 and 79 – spanning the end of the 19th century and two subsequent World Wars. Scottish actor Callum O’Neill played HG Wells, best known for his role as ‘Wee Dingwall’ in Disney Pixar’s 2012 summer blockbuster, Brave.

War of the Worlds - The O2 Arena December 2014
Simon Honywill believes this to be the most daring production so far, and was delighted that he once again had MLA under his control. “Frankly, in an ideal world it would be the only system I would ever work with. It’s the most intelligent touring system ever, that has been responsible for the dramatically increased level of performance and coverage consistency, and paints such a neutral canvas that the slightest adjustment I make on the desk delivers exactly what I want for the audience.”

The War of The Worlds has to be one of the most challenging pieces of music to portray accurately in a live setting. The musical elements, consisting of the band, the orchestra, the iconic narration, live acting and singing, playback and surround effects, occupy over 140 input channels, and the audiences rightly expect an unprecedented level of detail. The rest of the production is just as epic, and this makes for a very demanding daily task for the entire crew, working to a very tight schedule with 12 trucks of gear to load in and out. For the sound team, set-up times and system tuning opportunities are very limited, and with any system other than MLA it would have been virtually impossible to get the consistently amazing results across a wide range of venues.

Honywill, arguably one of the most seasoned practitioners of MLA in the world, clearly enjoyed himself with the Liverpool Echo quoting, “Wayne’s music has never sounded more commanding.”

For more about Martin Audio, please click to www.martin-audio.com.

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.

TNDV Provides Turnkey Mobile Production for Debut of “Skyville Live” Music Series

Multiple camera feeds, real-time social media integration and three live streams among the key production initiatives for the live music series

NASHVILLE, February 3, 2015 — Mobile production specialist TNDV lent its video and audio expertise to the debut of Skyville Live, a new monthly music series streamed exclusively online to audiences worldwide from Skyville Live studios located the heart of Nashville. The series provides music lovers with an unprecedented live music series, bringing together today’s hottest stars in a unique and interactive way in front of an intimate audience—usually around 100 attendees.

Skyville Live Master Control

Beyond bringing its Elevation truck to the event, TNDV provided crewing and streaming services for the premiere event, which featured performances from Gladys Knight, Martina McBride and R&B artist Estelle. TNDV’s turnkey services incorporated a significant, interactive social media element to the program, using Renewed Vision’s Pro Presenter 5 software to generate a real-time administered Twitter feed in full-screen and lower-third formats.

“The debut of Skyville Live required a turnkey mobile production service to support several live, broadcast-quality web streams, along with a full crew to capture multiple camera angles for future use in post-production,” said Nic Dugger, owner and president, TNDV. “This shoot required a great deal of creative skill to capture the intimacy of the performances, and utilized our technology, expertise and crewing to achieve the desired production results.”

The eight-camera shoot captured the event from three perspectives for the live webcast, which was supported using TNDV’s signal encoding infrastructure on board Elevation; and multiplatform streaming delivery from Blue Scout Media, a CDN based in Texas. Viewers could switch between the live performances, captured using six Hitachi HD1000 cameras; a robotic camera following the production team working on Elevation; and a separate robotic camera to capture the performances from the backstage vantage point. All HD streams delivered a live multichannel audio mix produced on board Elevation.

TNDV additionally employed its Aja KiPro video recorders and ProTools audio recording system to capture the feeds for post-production. All multi-camera, multi-tracked content was delivered to Skyville Live producers following the event, with the goal of distributing a program to media outlets in the near future.

TNDV’s mobile production experience with programs such as Bluegrass Underground, a live performance series seen on PBS, and CMT Backstage were among the key reasons the Skyville Live team selected TNDV to deliver a full range of services beyond a standard mobile production shoot.

“We needed a full-service company like TNDV to capture the true essence of what Skyville Live is about: bringing a mix of iconic acts, popular artists and emerging stars performing in an intimate setting to a worldwide audience using digital media platforms,” said Wally Wilson, Executive Producer, Skyville Live. “With music being at the forefront of the Skyville Live online experience, high-quality audio is one of the most important elements we looked for when considering production partners.”

ABOUT TNDV: Television

Formed in 2004, TNDV: Television represents the culmination of over 22 years of broadcast and live production for Nic Dugger, owner and president; and his staff of full time engineers. TNDV produces events from small single-camera productions all the way up to multi-million dollar international TV events, and takes pride in building custom solutions for challenging productions of any size, in any situation. Recent projects include the live concert productions at the NCAA Final Four, the Re/Max Long Drive Challenge on ESPN, and for the first time in broadcasting history TNDV produced the 2014 Hat Trick of Country Music Award show red carpet specials, including the CMA Awards, the CMT Awards, and the ACM Awards. Please call 615-585-6528 or visit www.tndv.com for more information.

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Sony PXW-X180 Is “Note Perfect” for Music Benefit Concert Film and Documentary

Notes for Notes®” has a unique mission:  designing, equipping, and staffing free after-school recording studios inside Boys & Girls Clubs. These “drop-in” recording studio environments give youth aged six to 18 the opportunity to explore, create and record music – from engineering and theory to instrumentals and songwriting. The non-profit organization recently held its annual benefit concert with Santa Barbara-based Seymour Duncan to support its efforts, assembling a power line-up of music greats, including Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Vivino & the Basic Cable Band, Laith Al-Saadi, Robben Ford, Rich Robinson, Peter Noone, Shari Puorto and Seymour Duncan.

Interview with Martin Gore (Depeche Mode) for Notes for Notes' This is Eleven documentary

Interview with Martin Gore (Depeche Mode) for Notes for Notes’ This is Eleven documentary

Notes for Notes also got some support of its own from Sony’s PXW-X180 pro camcorder, which was used to capture the concert for an upcoming promotional film about the benefit. Separately, Notes for Notes also used the Sony camcorder to shoot interviews with noted artists about their personal music –life moments for a documentary called “This is Eleven.” Here, N4N’s Philip Gilley, N4N CEO/co-founder; Seamus Frawley, Director; and Rocker Meadows, the DP for this project, talk about their experiences shooting both pieces with the Sony PXW-X180.


Shooting live events always presents a unique set of production challenges. What did you encounter on this project, and how did the X180 help?

Seamus Frawley (SF): We were shooting in a concert environment where we didn’t have any control over the lighting, where our subjects were going to be, or even where we could be positioned. First and foremost, this event was about raising money for the organization. The people that paid to see the show wanted to enjoy the show without having their experience interrupted by a film crew. It was really important that we didn’t negatively impact that experience.

Rocker Meadows (RM): The size of this camera and the length of the reach of the zoom were fantastic. The fact that it has focus stops was great. The image quality was great, the ability to turn the gain up and be able to get shots in low light – all that helped us do what we needed to do.


Did you evaluate other cameras before choosing the PXW-X180?  

RM: We looked at a range of cameras, including larger-format models. A camera is a tool. I’ve been doing this nearly 30 years as a cameraman and I would never pick any one camera for every job. A camera for me is always dictated by the parameters of the project.  For this project, the X180 was the perfect tool for what we were doing.   This camera is simple to operate, and very user-friendly. You can put a follow focus on it because it has the lens stops. It has all the right buttons in familiar places. You can put it on a tripod and get really good, balanced audio in. You can upload the content into a format that’s almost instantly digestible by the editing team.   When we started to evaluate cameras for this project, one question that came up [about the X180] was “why is Sony making a one-third inch camera. Isn’t everybody else going bigger?” That might be true, but in this case, for what we do, a one-third inch chip was a great choice. I would not have wanted a bigger chip because it makes everything related to grabbing images that you don’t have control over much more difficult. It requires you to have bigger lenses, it means focus is shallower – everything is much harder. So while the industry may be moving away from one-third, [Sony] is making a product that really fills the bill here.


What did you like about the camera?

RM: The images weren’t too “contrast-y.” You see deep enough into the shadows and the highlights held really nicely. We didn’t have to pump up the gain so much, which is great because eventually you end up losing detail in your shadows because you’re trying to get some kind of lighting control over the image. It worked out really well. I was able to get images that were very pleasing, especially in a situation where we didn’t have much control. That’s always a challenge and I think that this camera is great for that type of shooting.   The camera menus themselves are very well-designed. I could find where I wanted to go even though I wasn’t totally familiar with the layout. I could easily navigate my way toward where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.


Were you able to be flexible and inconspicuous, while still getting the shots you needed?  

RM: Yes, the cameras handled very well. Their size was great for this type of job where you have to be fast-moving and out of the way; a little non-descript. You don’t want to be there with a gigantic rig; you want to be incognito and still get amazing pictures. This is a great tool for that.


What type of footage were you shooting for these project?  

RM: We were shooting concert footage [for the promotional film] ; a lot of run-and-gun type of production; and interviews [for “This is Eleven]. For the concert, we used three X180’s: one each at stage left and right, and then one at the FOH soundboard basically centerstage in the middle of the venue.


Talk about the different shooting conditions.  

RM: The first night was a concert. It was all interior shooting. It was typical concert lighting so we had to deal with everything from the very bright highlights to areas with virtually no light at all. We had some musicians in the spotlight and others in varying intensities of other colored lights.   There was a lot of variable color temperature. The lights would go brighter and dimmer at any old time they felt like it. We could never depend on one constant lighting situation.  It was all tungsten lighting so all the lights started as tungsten at 3200 kelvin and they were colored with different gels. We balanced the cameras at 3200, and shot some of it in the median gain setting, but mostly with the iris a little bit closed down; not completely wide open.   The interview footage was shot inside a recording studio in Santa Barbara. For that we used LED lights that were balanced to 5600. That lighting was much more balanced and even because we had control over it.


How did the camera adapt to different lighting – bright lights, low lights. How did it perform under varying elements?  

RM: The camera performed great. The general rule is you protect for your highlights to keep things from clipping. So it was very easy to set the camera up for that. It handled the bright lights really well and it has good latitude going into the shadows. It handled the changing intensities and the colors very well. It makes a very pleasing picture.


It was compact, high quality, flexible – everything you wanted in one camera for this project?

RM: Absolutely. For this project, something that was small, compact, lightweight and made a great picture was the perfect combination. This camera delivered all that exceptionally well.   I found the ergonomics to be very good. Two of our cameras were on tripods for the concert, and I used one on a monopod. Because this camera is so nice and nimble, I was able to manage that easily. If it had been a larger format camera, I couldn’t have done it. But even on the monopod I could go all the way to the end of the lens. I could stabilize myself against a pillar or even just hold the camera on the monopod and it still worked really well. I don’t think you could do that with many other cameras.


Any final thoughts on the concert and using the Sony PXW-X180?  

Philip Gilley (PG): It’s very exciting for me and for us as an organization, to not only do what we do but to also have the opportunity to introduce an exciting new technology like this camcorder to our team and even to the youth we serve. We’ve always been focused on audio but video is an equally important component as well, and this project let us dance in both worlds and perhaps expand into making accompanying music videos.   This is the fourth year we’ve done this type of concert, and we’ve really raised our game each time, both in terms of what we’re able to raise financially, and also our level of production value.  A big part of putting together next year’s show is being able to show potential artists this year’s lineup, what we did and how well we’re able to showcase the artists’ talent. And then we can attract talent for the next show with a great-looking, visually exciting piece. Using such an advanced but easy-to-use camera like this is invaluable in that process.


What are your plans for the footage you shot?

PG: We’ll put together a few different pieces that we can use not only as a marketing tool, but as an archival piece for our organization. It’s just so rewarding to be able to highlight the stories of our youth. We sent one of them from Nashville out to California to be part of the concert’s opening, playing a set with Jimmy. It was his first time on a plane, and his mom’s first plane trip in 30 years! Now we have great footage of him at his very first concert performing with rock stars to a sold-out crowd. It was so crucial for us to have awesome footage to document that and we couldn’t have done that without Sony’s help and these cameras.


NOTE: With the initial phase of production on the documentary complete, Notes for Notes is gearing up to shoot more footage and is exploring using a crowdfunding campaign to help fund the remainder of the production. The team there says, the finished piece is sure to amaze and all that can be said at this point is that “it goes to 11!”  To learn more about Notes for Notes® and the upcoming documentary please visit notesfornotes.org.

High-Profile Polytechnic Institute Installs Dual Yamaha NUAGE Systems

Renssalaer NUAGE Studio 1

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York is the nation’s oldest technological research University. The private research University recently installed two Yamaha NUAGE Advanced Production DAW Systems provided by Parsons Audio LLC (Wellesley, MA).

The NUAGE systems are used primarily by RPI staff, students, and available to external clients. “We read a lot of press on the NUAGE System while researching alternatives to our recording and mix system,” states Todd Vos, Audio Systems Lead, The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at RPI. “Once we determined NUAGE might be the way to go, we were given two really great demos by Parsons Audio which closed the deal.”

Both Vos and fellow engineers Jeff Svatek and Steve Mclaughlin determined NUAGE had the tightest DAW to control surface integration. “We were attracted to the programming flexibility of VST architecture, and were basically sick of the DigiDesign workflow, exclusionary software/hardware model, master section functionality (or lack thereof), and sonic shortcomings, Vos says. It all came down to timing; we were ready to move on shortly after the NUAGE System had been released, it was garnering decent feedback from users, so we pursued it.”

“NUAGE presents Nuendo to the operating engineer in a manner reminiscent of a traditional audio console, no small feat, Vos continued, the line between controller and DAW is really blurred, this layout was incredibly attractive to us and the price point was amazing. But the biggest upside of our decision to move
recording and mixing operations onto the NUAGE/Nuendo platform was the bump in fidelity. The edge of our LAWO network has these fabulous LAWO mic pres; sadly the sonic bottleneck of the system was ProTools. Now that we are running Nuendo with NUAGE, I am hard pressed to identify where things are being mutilated (negatively speaking); it was immediately apparent to us, Nuendo is just a significantly better sounding DAW.”

Renssalaer NUAGE Studio 2

The first EMPAC NUAGE System is 32-faders plus a Master section with a JL Cooper Panner. The second NUAGE System has a 16 fader unit, Master section also with a JL Cooper Panner. Both systems are connected to a large LAWO NOVA 73 MADI network via PC-based DAWS running either 96 or 192 channel RME MADI cards with two UAD QUAD accelerators, SSD record drives and a Black Magic SDI link to the facility’s Harris router for post work.

While the two NUAGE Systems are used in support of all EMPAC productions, both internal and external to campus including video shoots, music production, film post, event documentation, media research, archival and restoration–Vos said “a music engineering curriculum will start next fall at RPI that I imagine will be using the NUAGE production spaces as well.”

Good news started rolling in over holiday break as music magazines, radio stations, blogs, and awards organizations selected a number of albums produced at EMPAC. Ben Frost’s AURORA, Vicky Chow and Tristan Perich’s Surface Image, David Brynjar Franzson’s The Negotiation of Context, and Michael Gordon’s Rushes were all commissioned by EMPAC, developed through the artist-in-residence program, and recorded either in full or in part at EMPAC. The highest honor was given to Frost, whose record was chosen as the No. 1 avant-garde album of the year by Rolling Stone.

For more information on NUAGE, visit www.yamahaca.com.


About Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc.:
Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. (YCAS) provides a full line of professional audio products offering complete systems solutions for the sound reinforcement, touring, broadcast, commercial recording, and post-production markets with a complete line of digital mixers, amplifiers, speakers, processors, networking capabilities, and NUAGE Advanced Production DAW System. YCAS is also the official North American distributor for NEXO speaker products. With the new CIS Series that includes ceiling and surface mount speakers, mixer and power amplifiers, and matrix processors, the Company furthers is commitment to their commercial installation solutions customers. All market sectors receive comprehensive in-house/field product training, a dedicated dealer network, and 24/7 technical support.

DPA Microphones Are The Perfect Accompaniment For Lamia

Lamia Bedioui with DPA dfacto  (1280x903)

Tunisian singer Lamia Bèdioui is renowned for her unique vocal style that combines extensive range with a huge amount of sensitivity and acoustic detail. Taking her influences for a variety of cultures and musical traditions, Lamia is highly respected on the World Music circuit and much in demand as a collaborator with other musicians.

In recent months, Lamia has been recording her second album, Athamra. For this project she switched entirely to DPA microphones because she and her sound engineer, Andreas Kamenidis, felt DPA was the only brand capable of delivering the clear, clean signal she wanted.

Currently based in Greece where she has lived since 1992, Lamia’s repertoire embraces ballads, opera-style singing, improvisation, acoustic music, storytelling, rhythm, dynamic range and rich harmonic variations. Capturing such diversity is an enormous challenge, but Kamenidis thinks DPA is easily up to the task.

“We have 12 DPA microphones in total – a wired d:facto™ Vocal Microphone for Lamia; five d:vote™ 4099 Instrument Microphones that are mainly used on acoustic guitar and traditional instruments such as the kanun, Cretan lyra, oud, mandolin and lute; a d:screet™ 4090 Omnidirectional Microphone for instruments, vocals and as overhead and a d:screet™ 4091 Omnidirectional Microphone for frame drums and various percussions. We have completed our line-up with four d:fine™ Directional Headset Microphones, which are used by Lamia when she is storytelling and by the rest of the band for backing vocals. These mics are also ideal for capturing small wind instruments that are in close proximity to the face, for example the kaval, flute, jaws harp and kazoo.”

Kamenidis adds that the DPA microphones have now been used to record vocals, instruments and percussion for Lamia’s new album and also to replace previous recordings that were not done with DPA and were therefore not up to the standard Lamia wanted.

“The signal is so clear now,” Lamia adds. “The sound is very focused, fresh and alive. I really like the accuracy and precision we are achieving with these microphones – even a rough recording made with DPA is potentially good enough to fit into the mix. Everyone in the band is enjoying the new recording sessions, especially me as now I can truly recognise my voice.”

Kamenidis is using DPA for both live and studio work, and says they are ideal for both situations.

“They allow us to capture the pure, analogue sound of the band’s instruments,” he says. “The d:vote 4099 Instrument and d:fine Headset Microphones are particularly versatile because they offer close miking, stable mounting, easy patching and dispatching and crystal-clear sound capture.”

Kamenidis adds that Lamia takes great interest in her sound and how it is technically achieved.

“When we first met, I realised her demands were very high and I was surprised to hear her describing in very clear detail exactly what she wanted,” he says. “At that stage she wasn’t happy with the sound she was getting. She was using different equipment in different environments, and this inevitably affected the end results. She couldn’t find the proper balance and was therefore unable to achieve her desired sound.”

Kamenidis created a technical rider for Lamia that addressed all of her touring and recording needs 100%. Investing in DPA microphones was key to getting her sound right.

“I explained that she should only invest in equipment that told the ‘truth’, equipment that could support and highlight her skills and ideas, equipment that she could trust. That is why I recommended DPA.”

As a singer, Lamia was particularly keen to have a vocal mic that didn’t colour the sound of her voice. Kamenidis recommended DPA’s d:facto Vocal Microphone because it offered an exceptionally natural sound, superior gain before feedback and high separation from nearby sound sources.

“Lamia also wanted the opportunity to move about and to give the audience a very clear view of what was happening on stage,” he adds. “DPA’s d:fine Headset Microphones allow her this freedom of movement and give the audience a nice sense of an unplugged show. And in real ‘unplugged’ conditions, we are able to use our DPA microphones to silently record the performance.”

Lamia’s new album will be released in April 2015. For more information about Lamia and her music please visit http://www.lamiabedioui.com/


About DPA
DPA Microphones is the leading Danish Professional Audio manufacturer of high quality condenser microphone solutions for professional applications. DPA’s ultimate goal is to provide you – whether you’re in live sound, recording, theater or broadcast – with the absolute finest possible microphone solutions for your tasks. DPA takes no shortcuts in the design processes nor makes any compromises in manufacturing, which is all done at the DPA factory in Denmark. As a result, DPA’s products are globally praised for their exceptional clarity and transparency, unparalleled specifications, supreme reliability, and above all, pure, uncolored and undistorted sound.
For more information, please visit www.dpamicrophones.com


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