The Image Mill Part III-Sound and Show Control

This is Part III of a series; Part II is here.

The 6.1 surround soundtrack for the show was beautifully done by composer/sound designer René Lussier, and is played back from a Pro Tools rig in the main control booth.  The challenge of delivering the sound to such a massive space fell to head of sound Jacques Boucher.The space is so wide and the audience so far away that it would have taken like 10 massive rock and roll sound systems to cover the throw appropriately.  Instead, the team decided to broadcast the sound on FM radio for those far away, put up three large speaker towers near the mill for localization of major effects, and then provide a full surround system for those in the prime viewing areas on the dock on the south side of the marina. 


The three towers each contained a four-box Vertec array, and then the two outside towers included Meyer Sound Beams (5 degree dispersion parabolic speakers--I've always wanted an excuse to play with a sound beam, and given the massive throw on this show, these are a good solution). to cover the edges of the site via a very long throw. The throw is so long, in fact (around 500m), that for the towers near the mill the sound is delivered to the speakers a full two seconds before the image.  In most sound systems, remote speakers are delayed back to the main sound source (like the stage); in the case, because it's all pre-recorded content, it's possible to get sound before image so that it all lines up in the prime viewing areas (and it's a bit late when viewing from like a mile away, of course).

These prime areas are very well covered in full surround by over 300 loudspeakers. These are mostly Bose speakers that provide basic L/R surround, with the main localization sounds coming from the three towers, and a large number of subs installed underneath the docks.

SMPTE Time Code is generated from the Onlyview video playback software, and is distributed over fiber back up to the main control booth where it is sent to the Pro Tools audio playback rig and the GrandMA lighting console.  The show is actually stage managed each night by Mr. Brien.

Click here for Part IV of this report.