Hey sound guys, ever set up for theater-in-the-round?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Jupiter, Dec 14, 2019.

  1. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I’ve volunteered to do sound for our school’s musical production this year. I’m not experienced in this beyond recording my own stuff with a little cassette 4-track back in the pre-digital days, and VERY basic PA stuff, and reading posts on TDPRI.

    We have a smallish theater (maybe 200 people max) with proscenium speakers up on the ceiling. We also have some portable monitors, and some selection of mics. We have 12 wireless pin mics for the actors. We have a small orchestra that might need sound reinforcement, and we have a 16-track mixer and a couple smaller ones.

    For the production this year, we are doing a theater in the round thing, which puts the actors pretty much right under the speakers. Consequently, feedback is an issue. If we keep the volume down, we are able to avoid howling, but it’s not very loud. It worked all right for our first tech experiments today, but I’m worried that when the house is full, we’ll need more volume and we’re gonna have problems...

    For anybody who’s done sound for this kind of a set-up, how did you approach it? Did you need to do anything special to fight feedback?

    One thing I’m considering is placing some cardboard baffles in front of the speakers, just to deflect the sound away from the actors. Would that be likely to work? There’s a wire mesh false ceiling below the speakers that conceals all the goodies up there (ducting, lights, etc.), and I can lay some black cardboard on that just below the monitors and it’ll be totally invisible...
     
  2. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Man, that went nowhere...

    You know it’s bad when nobody even bothers to post nonsense. :(
     
  3. rolandson

    rolandson Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I'm afraid I didn't see your post until now.
    申し訳ありません

    When is your performance?

    I don't have any experience. My son however is an stage manager currently teaching technical theater at a university...

    I can ask him, but I'll be lucky if I hear back anytime soon.
     
  4. Togman

    Togman Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I have no experience of setting up a PA for this scenario, but given the size of the venue (200 people) and the cast being in the centre, surely you will not need much volume.

    I have played in bands/orchestras for many shows and on the odd occasion when the cast is performing in the round the band has been in a separate room and mic'd up.

    I'm not sure if this helps or not but it's all I can offer.

    I hope the show goes well.
     
  5. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    Trying to do theater in the round in a room that wasn’t designed for it is a one-way ticket to audio hell. You have two choices-

    A: redesign the PA layout (most likely bringing in additional PA)

    B: suffer
     
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  6. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Thanks guys. The show is mid-February.
     
  7. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    You'd be surprised. With amateur theater you have a mix of capable vocalists and unfortunately a majority of lesser capability. Those are going to be your problem. Someone mumbling into the wrong mic and blissfully unaware of how to use a microphone is going to give you problems.

    Ooh! I'll go for "A".

    Last time I did musical theater I improvised a system out of anything I could scrounge. I ended up with sixteen channels and sixteen microphones. I had two wireless mics to play with.

    If this case the borrowed gear would be a power amp and some speakers, less stuff if you borrow speakers with self- contained amps.

    Or you can struggle with the house array blowing right into the mics.

    Even if the hall was "engineered" to begin with it's often engineered for 85db spl for a string quartet or the like.

    You have some decent tools if you have sixteen channels and a dozen wireless mics. You can daisy chain mixers for more channels.

    I figure it's better to be too loud and to be able to turn it down...
     
  8. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Got a diagram of the layout?

    I’d scrounge stuff and probably have some fill speakers among / beside the audience.. If the stage is raised, powered monitors facing out could help.
     
  9. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Friend of Leo's

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    Theater sound is different than concert sound. Try some theater boards, explain what you are trying to do. They will want a plot and exactly what gear you have . This may be a bit much to talk thr.. if there is a community college or other theater company, that could be hands on it would be worth reaching out, it may cost you a few bones, but may save a lot of hassle.
     
  10. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Yeah, it's just me and 5 HS/MS students trying to figure this out. We have a few hundred dollars to throw at it, but whatever we buy has to be justifiable in the long run and not just for this show.

    The pin mics will be attached to the actors and there won't be much they can do with em after that point besides turning them on and off.
     
  11. G&Lplayer

    G&Lplayer Tele-Meister

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    Post the layout or PM it to me. I do this as part of my job. I can give you some help.
     
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  12. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I tried to draw it, but it's incomprehensible lol. I just took a few pics of the space and will upload them after I tweak em a bit.
     
  13. Viejo

    Viejo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Would one of those Bose PAs with cylindrical speakers work?
     
  14. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    This is the space, currently set up for strings class. We’ll clear out the moveable seats and in the middle of that flat space will be an “island” of low risers, maybe 3mx3m, and half a meter high. There will be seats around the walls and the front of the stage. There are some powerful proscenium speakers up in the ceiling, pointing basically right at the sender of that open space. The orchestra will be tucked behind the black curtain in the wing stage left. 0240D122-7F93-477C-9A88-8B6F2CD4B05B.jpeg

    The view from the back of the stage.
    0EBFA874-5135-4083-B85E-7AF6B1467894.jpeg

    539669AF-4C9D-449B-B427-D3BD6CCE9986.jpeg

    Proscenium speakers. If you stand on the north end of the island and face the stage, your pin mic is basically bullseyed by those horns...
    CA94F81D-6218-46C9-BAE2-27281347ADF0.jpeg

    We’ve already figured out that we’ll need to run the orchestra though the proscenium speakers. There’ll be a little mixer back there for the conductor to set and we’ll run a line from that to the main board. One channel for that, one for the sound effects, 10-12 for pin/clip mics, and I have two-four more lines in to work with. I have a couple portable monitors, a wedge for the conductor and maybe a few more random speakers. We’ll use a few mics for the orchestra, and there might be a few more goodies floating around.
     
  15. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    Wait... you’re gonna have seating ON THE STAGE, in front of the orchestra? My professional recommendation is to find whoever came up with this idea and punch them in the face.

    I may come up with some slightly more practical advice later, but this is my first pass from the bar.
     
  16. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    yeah okay, I'll stand by for the more practical advice lol
     
  17. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Friend of Leo's

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    Can the actors wear sombreros made from sound absorbing material? Sorry that's the best I got :eek:
     
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  18. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Well, it’s a calypso version of Romeo and Juliet, kinda, so...maybe!
     
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  19. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    The lame bar I was at closed early, so I have returned to my hotel room to type out some slightly (only slightly) less questionable advice for your predicament.


    -How many actors are gonna be on that puny 3m x 3m island at a time? How many are there total?

    -How are they going to get on/off the island, and where will they be when they're offstage?

    -I can't get emphasize enough what a bad idea it is to put chairs on the real stage. They're gonna get the orchestra blasting at them from behind and they're gonna be higher than the main stage "island". Those will be terrible seats that make the room look awful. I stand by my earlier advice on this.

    -Could you maybe talk them into having a "thrust" stage built out from the main stage for the actors, with the orchestra on stage behind them and audience on three sides of the thrust? Kinda like a fashion show runway. That would at least allow you a fighting chance to get some PA coverage in the room.

    -What kind of mic elements are on your "pin mics"? Are they the lavalier clip on type? If so, check these out- they're only $15 USD, but they really work (I see you're in Japan- sorry, I have no idea how to find them where you are, but I'm sure they exist).


    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003D2U08E/?tag=tdpri-20

    http://www.pyleaudio.com/sku/PMHMS20/Wired-Headset-Boom-Mini-XLR-Omni-Directional--Microphone

    The idea is that the element sits right at the corner of the mouth, so you don't need as much gain on the mic that leads to picking up up ambient sound (like the PA blasting at them). They reist feedback better than a lav, but it's not a silver bullet.

    -I'd reconfigure your PA this way-

    Put "lip fills" (small speakers, maybe wedge monitors) facing from the island towards the three "short sides" of the audience (stage left, right, and upstage sides).

    Put two "main speakers" on sticks parallell to the downstage edge of the island, against the side walls, facing the large section of the audience downstage.

    I'd start routing it this way:

    LIP FILLS- Mics only
    MAIN SPEAKERS- Mics and SFX
    PROSCENIUM SPEAKERS-SFX and orchestra as needed (don't let anybody submix from backstage- you need to hear your levels at FOH)

    Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 11.44.10 PM.png

    -I have no idea what the PA rental market is like in your area, but if you can swing it, try to rent an Allen & Heath QU16 mixing board. These have an automix feature onboard- the cool thing about that is, it'll automatically duck mics that aren't being spoken into. The Dugan automixer is better, but the A&H one works, and I'm guessing you don't have the budget for a QL5. If you can find a PA or AV rental outfit, ask them what they have with automixing capability. You probably can't afford it, but you may get lucky and find someone with an LS9 equipped with a Dugan card gathering dust that they'll rent you cheap.
     
  20. rolandson

    rolandson Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Quite common for "black box" theater and "theater in the round".
     
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