Technical theatre students at the Guildford School of Acting recently benefited from hands-on experience creating dynamic soundscapes and source-oriented vocal localisation for their stage musical production of 9 to 5.
Cambridge-based immersive audio innovator, OutBoard, provided the school with a TiMax spatial delay-matrix, complete with TiMax Tracker, for students to experience the next generation of sound design.
After the student production, course tutor Sam Digny and guest mentor sound designer Justin Teasdale held a seminar insight day showcasing their experience and success with the immersive TiMax technology. A wider audience of invited industry professionals comprised local hire companies, production managers, sound engineers and students old and new.
OutBoard’s Robin Whittaker hosted a morning session presenting TiMax alongside a discussion of the wider principles of sound. He discussed: “Where do you go beyond the fidelity readily achieved by modern loudspeaker systems? Beyond fidelity, localisation is the obvious thing and a major part of this whole current immersion discussion, in a stage environment like this, is multiple localisations made effective for an entire audience.”
In the afternoon Teasdale presented the dynamism of the 9 to 5 soundscape, which included vocal localisation of the main cast and panoramic spatialisation of the band, which was positioned off-stage.
Regarding the TiMax StageSpace auto-calc workflow which was used to tailor the object-based spatialisation to the Bellaris stage and auditorium, Teasdale was asked how much manual intervention had subsequently been necessary. His answer: “Pretty much nothing. Band spatial imaging worked fine from the first auto-calc result, with no tweaking required. Vocal imaging setup took only one extra re-calc to change cross-stage level-shading by simply changing one adaptive parameter and hitting Calculate.” This echoed the experience of leading TiMax sound designers’ appreciation of the StageSpace intelligent adaptive rendering, who also value the system’s flexibility to subjectively apply manual precision tweaks to its results.
The audience reacted very positively to the production. A guest production manager said: “The sound it puts onto a band in this venue is stunning so hats off to TiMax, it just adds such definition and space.” Another revealing comment was, “You can hear the difference and the layers in it, and what sounds to me like attention to the details. It feels so integral to what you are watching that it helps you immerse.”