Director: Rebecca Meyer-Larson
Company: Moorhead High Theatre
Role: Sound Designer
Time: October - November, 2017
Aida was one of my favorite projects of 2017. My first work with Moorhead High's program, it featured 32 mic'ed actors (w/ 2 backups on Aida and Radames), 24 channels from the pit, and 319 QLab automation and sound cues.
One unique feature of this production was the double-hung front-of-house system. The venue contains an installed LCRS+Delay system
comprised of Community speakers. This system, while adequate for most shows, was lacking in dynamic range and frequency response for a show with a driving soundtrack like Aida. To help, a second system comprised of JBL PRX series mains, subs, and NEXO front fills was deployed to augment the installed system. The Communities were fed vocals-only, while the JBL's and NEXO's were fed pit and chorus content only. The venue's installed delay fills were also re-tuned to blend much more smoothly with the mains.
The physical separation between the acoustic sources of vocals and instruments helped to create an incredibly intelligible system while still maintaining the ability to push higher sound pressure levels during the more intense numbers (Dance of the Robe; The Gods Love Nubia, etc.) without hitting limiters or distortion of either system.
Wireless mics comprised of 31 Sennheiser EW-100 G3 systems using Sennheiser MKE2GOLD capsules and 4 Shure PGX systems with Shure WL93 elements. Several main characters utilized ear-rigs to increase gain-before-feedback. Aida and Radames featured redundant backup packs (in different frequency bands) and double-capsule ear-rigs. Main/backup switching was handled through a custom-built 4-in 2-out XLR switching box that provided seamless (and silent!) switching of input sources. This system was used with great sucess several times throughout the run. Incredibly, no microphone elements were broken during the entire rehearsal process and three-week run!
Two main consoles mixed the show. Vocals were handled through a Behringer X32 Compact with an XTOUCH fader expander and MIDAS DL16 stagebox, while the orchestra was routed through an Allen and Heath Qu24. An A&H MizWizard WZ3 16 submixed overhead chorus mics into the X32. Automation for the pit console was handled through built-in scene recall which restored base mixes for each musical number. Several scenes with mixes of transitional music were cued via MIDI over TCP/IP through QLab controlled from the main vocal console.
Automation for the main console was controlled via OSC and MIDI commands from QLab to allow maximum flexibility. Default cues for song-starts and song-ends widened and narrowed the panning of the vocal bus during songs to give them a "larger" feel than dialogue-only scenes. Each scene and song also contained initializing cues to recall channel routings and DCA assignments on a per-scene/song basis. QLab GO's were triggered via a MIDI TX softkey on the X32. House music was supplied from Spotify controlled through Applescripts through QLab. These scripts selected and played the playlist as well as faded out and paused the music.
Aida had few sound effect cues indicated in the script - in fact
the only two instances of recorded sound effects were during
the river scenes (sounds of a gurgling river) and during the
finale as the vault came to a close (a large and impacting *thud*.) Rice was dropped from the catwalks to simulate sand filling in the cavern and heavy reverbs washed through the house during this final moment to give the feel of a large and enclosed stone room.
Main speakers include the venue's Community CP- and SB- series speakers augmented by JBL PRX series cabs.
View from the far rear house-right seats.
Dual JBL PRX718s subwoofers and NEXO PS8 front fills round out the main system.
Vocal mix position included an X32 Compact, XTOUCH fader expander, MacBook Pro running Qlab, and a custom Main/Backup switch box.
Behringer X32 Compact and XTOUCH fader expander.
Custom switch box allows swapping between main and backup mics for two inputs silently. A and B inputs on each channel have their shields tied together to ensure switching inputs is as quiet as possible.
Pit was mixed using an Allen and Heath Qu24. Overhead choir mics were submixed through an Allen and Heath MizWizard 16.
Close-up of the Allen and Heath Qu24 used for the pit.
Photo: Stage, Aida
Moorhead High Theatre, 2017