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Author Topic: Amateur theater/musicals  (Read 2724 times)

Kevin Maxwell

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Amateur theater/musicals
« on: October 02, 2014, 05:47:36 pm »

Who here does amateur theater/musicals sound. I was going to try and do a poll but I realized it would have to be too complicated to get an idea what people are doing.

I am curious what gear you use in particular what mixer do you use? How many wireless mics do you usually use in a show and what brands and models do you use, and what other mics do you use.

Do you use a digital console and how do you handle cues?

How many shows do you do a year? It seems like in my area all the school shows happen at the same time so itís hard to do too many shows due to scheduling conflicts.

I have my way of doing things and it is constantly changing as I learn new things and I would like to know how you do it.   
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Eric Simna

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Re: Amateur theater/musicals
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2014, 10:54:59 pm »

Who here does amateur theater/musicals sound. I was going to try and do a poll but I realized it would have to be too complicated to get an idea what people are doing.

I am curious what gear you use in particular what mixer do you use? How many wireless mics do you usually use in a show and what brands and models do you use, and what other mics do you use.

Do you use a digital console and how do you handle cues?

How many shows do you do a year? It seems like in my area all the school shows happen at the same time so itís hard to do too many shows due to scheduling conflicts.

I have my way of doing things and it is constantly changing as I learn new things and I would like to know how you do it.

I have steadily done more and more shows every year.  I was averaging 10-12 until this year.  Things blew up and I've got I think 19 shows on the calendar year.  (My hair line has run even further away this year)

I own an A&H GL2000-432, Mackie 1604, and X32.  The theatres I work with have various consoles as well.  LXii 24ch, GL2400-432, etc.  I'll use whatever is going to make the show easiest. 

RF count is anywhere from 12-20.  I own 16ch of my own RF because I got tried of watching all that money go away to rentals.  I was also tired of never knowing the maintenance of the gear.  MiPro ACT747 receivers and the 7T transmitters with Microphone Maddness PSM-L elements.  For wired mics, I have the standard 4 PCC160s, and 3- AT ES933c Hanging Choir Mics. 

While I have the X32, I haven't done much with scenes yet.  My house gig has an M7 and I've done mute scenes.  Beyond that, for actual sound effects, I'm a ShowCueSystem user.  I don't own a mac, so I have no experience with QLab. 

I'm lucky to have gotten in with a few local theatres that produce full seasons.  Thankfully, their schedules work out for the most part.  One of the companies have an op that has picked up on my tendencies, which makes tech easy because he's making a change as I'm approaching him. 

Hopefully some of this is helpful.  If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.  I'm really interested in hearing more about that project you were working on with the X32 and Palladium. 
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jasonfinnigan

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Re: Amateur theater/musicals
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2014, 11:18:03 pm »

I don't to theater work but I hear from lots of folks that if you are looking to to a bunch of wireless earset mics the OSP HS-09 at less than $200 sounds close to the CountryMan E6 which is $400 per mic.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 01:27:15 am by jasonfinnigan »
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Steve M Smith

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Re: Amateur theater/musicals
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2014, 01:12:39 am »

I haven't done theatre work for many years - and when I did, it was usually lighting rather than sound (sorry!).


Steve.
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Bob Main

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Re: Amateur theater/musicals
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2014, 04:41:31 am »

Who here does amateur theater/musicals sound. I was going to try and do a poll but I realized it would have to be too complicated to get an idea what people are doing.

I am curious what gear you use in particular what mixer do you use? How many wireless mics do you usually use in a show and what brands and models do you use, and what other mics do you use.

Do you use a digital console and how do you handle cues?

How many shows do you do a year? It seems like in my area all the school shows happen at the same time so itís hard to do too many shows due to scheduling conflicts.

I have my way of doing things and it is constantly changing as I learn new things and I would like to know how you do it.

Have been doing this type of work for the past 10 years and now total about 25 - 30 shows per year.

Mixer wise - I started out with a Yamaha DM1000 then moved on to a Presonus 24.4.2 and am now awaiting delivery (hopefully in the next 2 weeks !) of a Midas M32.  Also own (and have used on some shows) an A&H PA28 (analogue but very nice sound) and a Mackie DL1608.  The Mackie has actually proved very versatile where the need arises to mic the orchestra pit for some shows.  We recently did a youth production of "Phantom of the Opera" in a theatre where audio lines from the stage to FOH were at a premium.  The Mackie sat in the orchestra pit with all orchestra mics connected to it and I sub-mixed them using an iPad at FOH.  That meant we only needed to use 2 audio lines (L and R) from the pit instead of the 16 we would have needed if we didn't have the Mackie.  Have also done work in some places where we have used the house system and have worked with a Digico SD8 and a Yamaha PM5000

Wireless mic wise it's 20 channels of Sennheiser EW 100 or 300 G3's with an additional 4 EW100 or 300 G2's which still work really well.  When I started, the "normal" wireless mic use for a show was about 10 to 12 although this generally gave rise to some very interesting - and speedy - mic swaps between cast members!  Now we routinely use at least 16 radio mics on a show with 20 just about becoming the norm.  Our biggest usage was youth productions of "Cats" and "Les Mis" which both needed all 24 mics to be used.  A lot of mic channels to handle but it really worked very well.

For general stage coverage, mics are either the industry standard Crown PCC160's (which I believe are no longer available) or Sennheiser ME66 shotguns hung overhead or at the stage apron.

Cue wise - if you are talking about audio scene cues then I tend not to bother too much other than creating some mute scenes in order to ensure that unwanted mics aren't live.  If you are talking about sfx cues, then QLab on my MacBook Pro is the best option we have.  If you have access to an iPad, Black Cat do a nice piece of software called Sound Byte - looks and acts very much in the way that the old radio station cart machines did (if you are old enough to remember them !!) and active response time is very fast.

The last 10 years has been a brilliant experience and I've thoroughly enjoyed working with all the various bits of gear along the way.  Having said that, the equipment we use isn't what gets us the work.  As far as our customers are concerned they generally don't want to know - and in reality, don't need to know - that we are using "X" console, "Y" mics and "Z" P.A.  They simply want us to turn up on time, provide a good service with clear audibility for their performances and at a price they can afford.  We are happy to meet all these aspects but there is one additional "service" that we provide which consistently gets very favourable comment from the people we deal with.  Having worked in a previous occupation where pre-planning was almost second nature, when I started doing theatre work I made the conscious decision to pop along and sit-in on 2 or 3 pre-show rehearsals for every job we took on.  The principal reason for that was to make my life easier when it came to show week in terms of knowing what was happening on stage before we even loaded in!  What I hadn't realised was the significant degree of comfort that it provided to cast members and directors alike.  Without a doubt the simple fact of me being there ahead of show week makes everyone's life an awful lot simpler and whilst it can often be tough to try and fit such visits into a tight schedule, believe me it is well worth its weight in gold.

The other really important ingredient is the personal relationship you bring to the business.  I know that you are probably concerned about trying to meet all the show demands that you could be doing but my strong advice to you is to do a smaller number really well rather than be tempted to cover more than one show at a time and do neither well!  There have been a couple of occasions when I've taken on double bookings (primarily to satisfy requests from long-standing clients) but I'm very fortunate in having family members who can find their way around a theatre audio system once I set it up for them.  On those occasions when that has happened the clients have been happy enough to know that they would be getting (and did in actual fact receive) the same level of service that they would normally get if I was running the desk. Without doubt, the personal relationship that has been established over the last 10 years has been, and continues to be, vital to the success of the business.

Sorry to have gone on at some length but hopefully you might find something of use in what I've said.
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jasonfinnigan

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Re: Amateur theater/musicals
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2014, 02:34:06 pm »

Crown PCC160's

I don't do this kind of work but, I have heard many other people's setups with those. I was less than pleased. It might be their operators though but, I tend to hear more foot/stage noise and echo out of those than anything else Seems like it would be hard to get a direct sound out of them given they are on the floor but, like I said I've never used one myself.
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g'bye, Dick Rees

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Re: Amateur theater/musicals
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2014, 02:40:51 pm »

I don't do this kind of work but, I have heard many other people's setups with those. I was less than pleased. It might be their operators though but, I tend to hear more foot/stage noise and echo out of those than anything else Seems like it would be hard to get a direct sound out of them given they are on the floor but, like I said I've never used one myself.

Since you don't do this kind of work I suggest you refrain from posting on a topic you admittedly know nothing about.  Your opinions don't matter.  Those of us who DO  theater will take care of the OP just fine.

In re the 160's, I find the Bartletts as good or better and more rugged.  I have and use both and in the right circumstances they are just the ticket.
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David Kaiser

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Re: Amateur theater/musicals
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2014, 05:01:26 pm »

I have used the Crown PCC160 in a theater setting. I use it for miking a group of very young children(sub 5 yr olds) in a static setting.  It works well for that. The PCC160 and the Bartlett TM125 were designed by Bruce Bartlett, The TM125 could be considered an upgrade to the PCC160.

I have one theater gig each year. It is a number of skits by a group of Sunday school classes. No tech rehearsal, and I get into town the night before.
I had 10 channels of Audio Technica 3000 with various model headsets. I run a Mackie 1604vlz3 mixer into a pair of Anchor AN1000X. Voice only, no effects. I had to sell some of my wireless, so I will have to rent some wireless next time I am in Ohio.
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Amateur theater/musicals
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2014, 05:22:38 pm »

Very long reply.

Thank you for the responses so far.

I have been doing sound for a long time but thatís another story. I have been doing musical theater sound for a shorter period of time.

For the last 8 years I have gotten to the point where I always use a digital console for these shows. We rent them. I have used Yamaha PM5Drh, M7-48, A&H I-Live, Roland M400, Digidesign/Avid Profile/Mixrack, SC48. And I get the feeling that there is another make/model that I have used but I am drawing a blank.

I have been using the cue/snapshots built into the consoles and of all of them I like the way the avid handles it best. It isnít perfect but it is close for the way I like to work. I have been playing around with a show control software called Palladium and it is really nice if the console you are using has the capability to talk MIDI back and forth to a computer. With Palladium I feel like I could do a musical with an X32/M32 because of the scene management would be all external and much more powerful.

Lately we use 18 to 24 wireless mics. Most of them (usually 18) are Shure UR4D with a few Sennheiser G3 EW100 to round out the number needed. We usually use Countryman E6 mics sometimes some Sennheiser MKE2 mics (but not on the EW100s) and some other models also.

The places we have been doing these shows for have hanging mics from 4 Ė 5 on one electric. We have hung more (usually on a 2nd electric) when needed. And we use apron or thrust mics, sometimes apron and thrust mics. All of these I refer to as area mics. I only use them for chorus numbers to pick up the un-miced ensemble players. 

Sometimes we have some backstage mics for additional chorus support. I donít usually mic the pit when it is a full pit orchestra. I might just mic the piano. And sometimes that is only used to feed a monitor if there are backstage singers. When it is a smaller pit usually about 8 musicians and a drummer. Sorry I couldnít resist a drummer joke.

I am many times right at 32 inputs or a bit over 32. I have been thinking of sub mixing the pit with a small analog mixer for when I have to mic them so I can fit it all in a 32 channel board.
 
Some of the other things I have done that are show specific. For Chorus line Zackís mic was a hardwired Shure Beta57 with him sitting at the back of the auditorium for those parts of the show. For Little Shop of Horrors I buried a speaker in the set that was near where the plant was so it sounded like it was the plant actually speaking and then a little bit of that also in the house system. The actor was in a booth at the back of the auditorium with a hardwired mic. For Will Rodgers Follies the voice of Ziegfeld was supposed to be coming from a booth at the back of the auditorium so I hung a speaker in the back of the room and routed that playback thru that speaker. The voice of Ziegfeld was recorded by a friend of mine that has done professional voice over work. For 2 of the shows that we did we had some actors that are friends of some people in the school record the Voice Over parts for us. You would probably know them if I were to tell you their names but I donít know if I am at liberty to divulged that on a public forum. It was a favor for the school.   

For sound effects playback I use a Roland sampler I currently have the SP-404sx and it works great. It is like a poor mans 360 Systems Instant Replay. 

I also use automixers for the dialog only parts of the show. I take the post fader direct outputs of the wireless mics into the Shure SCM810 (I have a bunch of them) and I am only limited by how many outputs the console has. And then return that into the console. So I have a Singing subgroup and a Talking subgroup.

I keep learning new things as I do this work and I love learning new things.   

Lately I have been doing about 6 weeks of shows a year.

If anyone wants anymore details about anything I have written please feel free to ask.

And please keep the answers coming you donít have to give the kind of detail that I have given so please donít let that intimidate you. I really just want to know what people are doing out there.
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Amateur theater/musicals
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2014, 07:40:38 pm »

I have been pleasantly surprised with the quality, reliability and battery life of the MiPro units (I have come in many times the next night to find a unit left on, still with usable battery life.)  I don't know the headset models we use, since it is a rental-but even a rental unit has proven reliable once we get through the damaged cables the rental company should find.  Along side our E6 they do well-though the E6 is still easily the better mic.  I would like to by  some MiProsif the funds become available.

Depending on the number of vocalists, we often use handheld wireless.  In some cases it may detract from the theater-but it does "advertise" that the singing is live, so not all bad.

One unusual thing we do is virtually all of our spoken dialogue is pre-recorded (though we do use live occasionally), so we only have to deal with singing and one or two instrumental mics.  But the production I do is a church production we have been doing for 40 years (only once a year!) and refining as we go.
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Steve Swaffer

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Re: Amateur theater/musicals
¬ę Reply #9 on: October 03, 2014, 07:40:38 pm ¬Ľ


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