Category Archives: News

How Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert took a different approach to broadcasting live musical theatre

Courtesy of Lighting & Sound America, view the full PDF article here.

The still relatively new genre of live Broadway musicals on television got a shot in the arm on April 1—Easter Sunday—when NBC presented Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. The production benefited from the fact that the piece is through-composed, allowing the cast to leap from one hit tune to the next, and the presence of a live audience kept the energy level pumping. And a sizzling cast, led by John Legend as Christ, Broadway’s Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, and Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdelene—not to mention a scene-stealing cameo by Alice Cooper as Herod—delivered the numbers with brio. Adding to the excitement was a powerful production design aided by sterling audio and perfectly calibrated camerawork; everyone collaborated to deliver a show that filled social media
with favorable comments.

Part of the show’s success lay in the fact that, in many ways, the design team took a markedly different, more unabashedly theatrical approach. In preserving what makes Jesus Christ Superstar exciting theatre, they guaranteed an electric television experience. It also restored the feeling of provocation associated with the piece when composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice released it as a concept album in 1970.

Read the full PDF article here.

SSL Live Wins Praise from Lorde Tour

Courtesy of Entertainment Technology Now 

New Zealand – Singer, songwriter, and record producer Lorde has been out on her international Melodrama tour, which accompanies the new album of the same name. The show is also set to visit some of this Summer’s biggest festivals, and front of house engineer Philip J Harvey has been along for the ride, with the special honour of engineering on the first international tour on the road with the new L-Acoustics L-ISA Live multichannel immersive technology. To complement this, Harvey needed a console that could do justice to the band and L-ISA, so he chose SSL Live.

The stage set-up is relatively simple. An acoustic drum kit, guitar amp, and vocals are the main analogue sources, with two keyboard stations and triggered drum samples making up the rest. “It’s a nice, quiet stage,” says Harvey. “As the majority of the inputs are the keyboards, software synths, and playback, I have 34 inputs from stage, plus clicks, guides, and so on.”

The L-Acoustics L-ISA Live uses multi-array ‘scene’ technology to distribute up to 96 objects (console channels) across the full width of the performance space in either ‘wide’ or ‘focused’ deployments, depending on the show requirements. Object panning is taken care of by the L-ISA system, as is spatial configuration and 3D processing using the L-ISA Room Engine. “The L-ISA goal is to widen the venue sweet spot by expanding the mix over the entire floor, using multiple hangs,” explains Harvey. “Each input is sent post-processing, post-fader into the L-ISA processor and each one shows up on the L-ISA controller as a dot that you can position as you want – like mixing via co-ordinates.

“The clarity you get with single source coming out of single point across the front of the stage is amazing.”

The SSL L500 Plus that Harvey uses at FOH was supplied by Firehouse Productions based in Las Vegas and New York. “I love the sound of that desk so much,” he says. “I went with the SSL because I knew that was where I’d be happiest with the fidelity.”

Harvey uses the SuperAnalogue preamps in the SSL stageboxes, shared between FOH and monitors to bring pristine audio back to the console input channels. Much of the processing is done in-line in those channels using the SSL’s internal FX rack and a Waves MultiRack system, with the addition of a few stem groups for specific FX. He then balances the mix on the console, sending the post-fader channel and stem outputs directly to the L-ISA system processor, which takes care of panning, depth, and associated processing. Harvey: “There’s no bussing at the console, which has turned my 23 years of knowledge on its head!”

Harvey has been constantly experimenting with the system and the SSL console combination since the tour began, and notes that working this way has focussed a lot of attention on the sheer quality of the sources, the signal path, and the processing – rather than architectural and operational details. “The clarity I’m getting is magnificent,” he says. “Early on we did a show at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles with lots of invited audience. After the show, everybody asked how we’d got such an amazing sound in the Staples Centre.”

Lorde has a relatively straight forward vocal chain because, as Harvey explains: “She is a strong singer and delivers a lot to work with.” After the SSL Stageboxes, she has the channel EQ and dynamics, including the SSL De-esser, then onto a couple of choice Waves plug-ins, before returning to the console ready for direct output to the L-ISA processor.

Harvey also makes use of console delays for instruments, drums, and vocals: “Really, the most important thing about the console is the way it sounds. The pre-amps, the dynamics, the EQ. I particularly love the tube emulation on the compressor, especially with drums. Using the slow attack and fast release with the tube button in really makes the drums sing.”

Melodrama, without Drama

Courtesy of Lighting & Sound America, view the full PDF article here.

A highly creative team brings technical innovations to Lorde’s latest tour

The genesis of Lorde’s Melodrama Tour began in 2017, at the Coachella Valley Music and  Arts Festival. “It was her first show back after several years; she was keen to make an impact and was not quite sure how it was going to go,” admits Richard Young, the tour’s production director. He contacted production designers Es Devlin and Rob Sinclair; Devlin came up with a concept that included a tank. “It was within Ella’s [the singer’s given name] wheelhouse in terms of look and feel,” Young says. “The Coachella show was built with the concept of having a Perspex tank that was going to act as a terrarium or a place to focus the action.” The tank also filled the large Coachella stage, giving Lorde a presence, Young notes: “Realistically, Ella is not an artist who uses tons of dancers, pyro, or set pieces. The idea of containing everything within this 20′-wide Perspex box was appealing.” The tank, as it is known, was a hit with fans and garnered great reviews.

Read the full PDF article here.

L-Acoustics Lorde Melodrama Tour North America

Courtesy of L-ISA, view the full interactive article here.

The new L-ISA technology created a kind of multidimensional sonic field Wednesday night — a nuanced but impressive display that served up the best-sounding show we’ve heard yet at Detroit’s young arena.
Detroit Free Press

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

New Zealand native Lorde captivated the international music scene in 2013 with her debut single “Royals” and album “Pure Heroine” which topped charts around the world. In 2014, she curated the soundtrack for “The HungerGames: Mockingjay- Part 1” and provided the song “Yellow Flicker Beat” as its lead single.

In 2017, her sophomore album “Melodrama” was released to universal praise and she launched a worldwide tour to support it in September of the same year, Throughout 2017 the tour crossed Europe and Oceania with an L-Acoustics K2 sound system.

For the North American leg of the tour, “Melodrama” became the first international production to deploy L-ISA technology, using it on all dates.

SOUND DESIGN SOLUTION

L-Acoustics Certified Provider Firehouse Productions would typically have used a classic design with a left-right configuration of 14 K1 plus four K2 per side along with 12 ground-stacked KS28 subwoofers.

For all North American dates, an L-ISA Focus (patent pending) configuration comprised of a Scene system made of three hangs of 16 K2 and two hangs of 21 Kara were spaced above the performing zone, providing source separation and localization.

An additional Extension system of four hangs of 15 Kara provided an extended panorama extending the span of the system to 60 meters. While for even distribution of low frequency across the entire venue, two centrally flown arrays of eight KS28 were deployed in an end-fire configuration.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

Type Arena
Venue 100m wide x 100m deep
Stage 19.5m wide x 1.83m high
FOH 40m from D.S.E

Constraints
Min trim height 12.2m (above floor)
Rear video wall 9.7m
Truss trim 12.2m

SOUND DESIGN TARGET

Program type Electropop
SPL max average >= 105 dBA
SPL distribution 6 – 9 dB
Frequency contour 12 – 14 dB (@ 100hz)
Frequency contour 14 – 16 dB (@ 40hz)

The 2018 Grammy Awards were powered by a JBL VTX Series audio system

Courtesy of Murray Stassen via Audio Media International 

A complete JBL VTX Series audio system delivers world-class sound at Madison Square Garden for Music’s Biggest Night.

Firehouse Productions recently deployed a complete HARMAN Professional Solutions audio system at the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards ceremony at Madison Square Garden. Held on 28 January 28, 2018, this year marked the first time the ceremony was held outside of Los Angeles since 2003. Firehouse Productions was hired to provide sound reinforcement for the event, which included live performances by Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Kesha, Bruno Mars and Cardi B, SZA, Childish Gambino and more.

Firehouse designed a complete HARMAN Professional audio system centered upon JBL VTX Series loudspeakers and Crown amplification. “When it comes to sound quality at the GRAMMY Awards ceremony, we have incredibly high standards,” said Michael Abbott, Aaudio coordinator for the 2018 GRAMMY Awards.

“The HARMAN VTX system delivered incredible results, and in my opinion Madison Square Garden has never sounded better. It was one of the best-sounding shows we’ve ever produced.” Firehouse Productions vice president Mark Dittmar and systems tech Jamie Pollock began working on the design three months before the ceremony, which involved coordinating with the art and lighting departments to optimize the system configuration for the elaborate stage and lighting designs. Another primary goal was ensuring that the energy of the system stayed extremely focused to avoid any roomy or washed-out sounds for the TV broadcast. Using a combination of VTX V25-II loudspeakers and the new VTX A12 loudspeakers for the main arrays, the Firehouse team created a system that delivered incredible clarity and precision, even at the lower volumes required for the television broadcast. “The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences takes this show very seriously, and front-of-house sound is a top priority,” said Ron Reaves, front of house music mixer, 2018 GRAMMY Awards.

“The JBL VTX system was one of the best PA systems I’ve ever mixed on, it just translated so well to the room. I can’t say enough about the design and tuning of the VTX rig, because it was spectacular. The audience is made up of producers, engineers, and the world’s biggest artists—people who make their living listening critically to music. A lot of those same people came back and commented about how good the system sounded, more than I can ever remember. It was a huge win for Firehouse and JBL Professional.” The HARMAN Professional audio system included two main hangs of 16 VTX V25-II loudspeakers per side, 14 VTX A12 loudspeakers per side, and nine VTX S28 subwoofers per side flown in a cardioid configuration. In addition, ten VTX G28 subwoofers were deployed in five ground stacks, 24 VTX V20 loudspeakers were deployed in six delay clusters, and 36 VT4886 loudspeakers were used for front fills. The entire system was powered by Crown I-Tech 1200HD and 4x3500HD power amplifiers in custom-built Firehouse racks. “I’ve been designing PA systems for television shows for 18 years and this is probably the most successful design we’ve ever had,” said Dittmar.

“The A12 loudspeakers performed great, and I’m a huge fan of the V25-IIs. We always go for an incredibly high level of intelligibility, but this pushed it to a level we’ve never heard before. It was a great-sounding show and it had impact, but it was several dB quieter than anything I’ve experienced in a long time. There was no need for it to be any louder because you could hear every S and every T, the diction was absolutely flawless. It was a perfect storm of things coming together to create an awesome experience.”