OutBoard recently provided the Guildford School of Acting with a TiMax spatial delay-matrix, complete with TiMax Tracker, for students to experience the creation of a immersive sound design.
Technical theatre students at the school benefited from a hands-on experience from OutBoard, creating dynamic soundscapes and source-oriented vocal localisation for their stage musical production of 9 to 5.
After the student production, course tutor Sam Digny and guest mentor sound designer Justin Teasdale held a seminar insight day showcasing their experience and success with the immersive TiMax technology. The event had an audience of industry professionals comprised of local hire companies, production managers, sound engineers and students old and new.
OutBoard’s Robin Whittaker also hosted a morning session presenting TiMax alongside a discussion of the wider principles of sound. He posited: “Where do you go beyond the fidelity readily achieved by modern loudspeaker systems? Beyond fidelity, localisation is the obvious thing and a major part of this whole current immersion discussion. In a stage environment like this, it is multiple localisations that make it effective for an entire audience.”
In the afternoon, Teasdale presented the dynamism of the 9 to 5 soundscape, which included vocal localisation of the main cast and panoramic spatialisation of the band, which was positioned off-stage. The classic LCR-hung Optima 5 line array system in the school’s Bellaris theatre was augmented with a centre left and a centre right hang for the production. Loaned directly from Inspired Audio, these added extra resolution in the TiMax object-based spatial image definition rendering. The existing front-fill and surrounds were supported with two extra Inspired Audio MQ12 full range enclosures to boost front fill.
Teasdale claimed: “Sound is very difficult to explain, it’s not tangible. But that moment, flipping to the TiMax soundscape, was so powerful. The [audience in the seminar] room could hear the sound really open up, making it feel more real, like the musicians were in the space and for voices the action was so much easier to follow.”
Teasdale adds: “For today’s theatre-going audience, widely exposed to TV, cinema and personal mobile audio experiences, appreciation of stage action needs to be audibly exciting as well as visual. TiMax creates a listener experience that is individual and very personal through good coverage, localisation and image reinforcement. It’s a tool that will ultimately convert to more people attending.”
Regarding the TiMax StageSpace auto-calc workflow, which was used to tailor the object-based spatialisation to the Bellaris stage and auditorium, Teasdale described how much manual intervention had been necessary: “Pretty much nothing. Band spatial imaging worked fine from the first auto-calc result, with no tweaking required. Vocal imaging set up took only one extra re-calculation to change cross-stage level-shading by simply changing one adaptive parameter and hitting Calculate.”
The audience reacted very positively to the production. A guest production manager said: “The sound it puts onto a band in this venue is stunning, so hats off to TiMax, it just adds such definition and space.”