Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Technically a Picnic

William Inge's Picnic, that is. This gem from the 50s is our second show of the season. I know I have not written anything about the process, but at this point we've survived tech and are moving into the final dress rehearsal before having a preview on Thursday night.

I've had quite a bit of work to do for sound effects, but it's been easier this time around. Probably because I have a new sound control application.

For the past, what, maybe two seasons, we've been using a laptop running Soundplant to control sound and music cues. It has been very useful, but it is limited (at least from a theater perspective). It can only play or loop a loaded sound file. Fades and volume changes had to be done manually using individual sound system controls. And if I needed a timed fade or to combine tracks, I had to manipulate the necessary sounds in a different application (usually Audacity) and export them to the appropriate format as part of preproduction. This meant that changes were fairly time-consuming because I had to compile the sound files all over again.

That is all in the past now.

Last week, I downloaded a demo copy of Sound Cue System. I was so impressed, I purchased a professional license. I can now build sound cues and control their playback from within the application. The only thing I cannot do at this time is automatically change speaker selection
for the sound FX. What I can do is just amazing: build cues, specify the start and stop time of a cue, select part of a sound to loop, build a playlist for pre-show or intermission, specify volume changes, auto-trigger sounds, shift from sound FX speaker to the House Mains, etc. For a full list of features, I refer to the features page on the SCS website.

Here is what SCS looks like in run mode [Update (4/18/08): I have replaced the "demo" image with a screenshot of my actual show design in SCS; click image to view full size]:

My next task: Well, aside from finishing this show, is get an external sound card of some sort so I can control the speakers from within the application.

So far, SCS is -- as my Dad would say -- worth every every nickel .

Remebmer: Picnic opens this Friday at Montgomery Theater. Come check it out!

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