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DiGiCo in total control of Ghost musical

A DiGiCo SD7T console is functioning as a complete production hub on Ghost the Musical which has been running in London’s West End since June, writes Paul Watson.

Based on the 1990 feature film starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, Ghost the Musical has been running in London’s Piccadilly Theatre for more than three months. Sound designer, Bobby Aitken, specified a DiGiCo SD7T console for FOH requirements, which has allowed the team to stretch its remit to handling more than just the audio. “The SD7T does so much; of course it mixes the band, the vocals and the audio streams from various playback machines, but it also serves as the timing and synchronisaiton hub for the entire production,” Aitken explains. Due to the show being so technically complex, with video forming many of the set elements, the band, the video and the lighting have to be locked together. Aitken uses Ableton Live software “as a kind of master lock”. “It is started at the beginning of every song and produces a click track that the band plays with,” he reveals. “It also provides additional audio playback and, importantly, SMPTE and MIDI time code, which we then put out to the video and lighting guys for synchronising parts of their production with the show. Everything basically comes out through the SD7T; we also use the code to start many of the ‘non-orchestral’ audio files.” The show features plenty of programming: 110 stereo inputs, 28 stereo aux busses and 32 matrix outs are used in total, and 170 snapshots are used during the show. A DiGiCo DS-00 is also located sub-stage to feed a personal monitor mixer to each musician, allowing each of them to handle their own 16-channel mix. Approximately 60 cues are fired from the DS-00 via MIDI commands from the SD7-T. Despite all the automation and technology, it remains a live show with a 25-strong cast, so the SD7T has a significant number of mic inputs. “All the cast wear radio mics; a lot of them wear two. We mic them in the traditional theatre way, with miniature mics in the hairline so they are invisible to the audience,” says Aitken. “Multi-channel radio installations are still a complex beast, especially in the West End, where there must be well over 100 channels operating within a square mile. If we hear an RF issue with somebody’s mic we can confirm the problem by auditioning the currently live transmitters, identifying the channel and swopping it out when they come off stage.”