National Theatre boosts MADI capacity for David Byrne’s Here Lies Love15 October 2014
Following a review of its playback systems, the Royal National Theatre on the South Bank, London, has purchased six Optocore DD4MR-FX converters from dealer HD Pro Audio.
The converters, acquired after the arts venue recognised a need for higher-capacity MADI streams, have been deployed as MADI interfaces for its DiGiCo SD7T and SD10T consoles.
Commissioned by project engineer Tim Middleton and senior sound technician Alex Caplen, the Optocore devices are distributed in pairs between the three theatres that make up the complex: the Lyttelton, the Olivier and the newly-named Dorfman (formerly Cottesloe) Theatres. These are linked to the DiGiCo front of house consoles (SD7Ts in the Olivier and Lyttelton, an SD10T in the Dorfman) with a roaming SD10T, which can be used as a rehearsal console or designer’s remote.
After providing a redundant optical loop (via multimode fibre) at the 450-capacity Dorfman Theatre for its inauguration galas, the DD4MR-FX’s first high-profile outing has been on the new David Byrne and Fatboy Slim musical Here Lies Love (with sound design by ML Dogg and Cody Spencer), which has transferred from the Public Theater in New York City. (Pictured is Natalie Mendoza as Imelda Marcos.) The National Theatre derives its sound playback from a pair of new Mac Pro computers, which provide 64 channels each of audio playback in a tracking main/backup configuration. Alongside this is a pair of Mac Minis that act as convolution reverb and MADI recorder machines, all appearing on the Optocore network.
“Everything we do must have redundancy, and 64 channels from each of the four computers appear on the Optocore network,” explains Caplen (pictured, right, with the Optocore rack in the Dorfman). “With a simple macro push we can seamlessly re-patch our entire playback and effects system to backup machines.”
Although the National Theatre had switched to MADI some time ago, it had previously been limited to the local I/O on the console. “By the time you have added your two computers, you have used your two local MADI streams on an SD10T,” Caplan comments.
He concludes: “This optical network is giving designers as much flexibility as possible, and allows us to not limit their creativity by the technology available to them. At the same time, I can access anything anywhere via the Optocore network, making multiple console networks much easier.
“Optocore is a very flexible system – with dual power supply, it’s clear someone has really thought about the design.”