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SUMMARY
Date: 09 Oct 2009
News Type: Theatres
Country: USA

Audience Engaged By Soundcraft Vi4™ While ‘Waiting For Godot’




To keep the dialogue intimate for this production of the stage classic, all the components of the sound system had to be invisible, and the Vi4’s ultra-quiet operation assured success.

The recent revival of the stage classic ‘Waiting For Godot’ was as brief as the play itself is famously cryptic, running only from April 3 through July 12. But in that time, the production won widespread critical acclaim and garnered Tony Award®, Drama Desk Award® and Outer Critics Circle Award® nominations for Best Revival of a Play for the as well as Tony Award nominations for Best Featured Actor, Best Costume Design, and for three of four of its cast members: two-time Tony Award winner Nathan Lane, Tony Award winner Bill Irwin and Tony Award winner John Glover, who joined Golden Globe winner John Goodman to round out the sparse but powerful production. The play is intensely intimate and dialogue-driven, making the quality of the audio critical to its success. That quality was assured by the 48-input Soundcraft Vi4™ digital live mixing console that was installed in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54 venue. The latest addition to Soundcraft’s highly successful Vi Series of digital live sound consoles, the Vi4’s compact frame offers tremendous processing power, amazing sound quality and, so crucially for ‘Waiting For Godot,’ incredibly quiet operation.

Tony Award-winning Director Anthony Page wanted to create a profoundly intimate ambience that would deeply engage the audience in the 1,500-seat theater. Thus, Sound Designer Dan Moses Schreier encouraged Page to use lavalier microphones hidden on the four actors, as well as strategically placed foot microphones.

“There was a lot of emphasis placed on the sound being as transparent as possible so that no one in the audience could tell the show was being amplified at all, so I needed a system that would keep a low profile--visually and aurally,” Schreier says.

“It’s unusual for a play in this sized venue to use lavalier microphones – it would usually go with just foot microphones or none at all,” explains David Gotwald, Production Audio Engineer, who mixed the play. “But Anthony Page wanted to be able to have the actors speak in a normal tone and the audience be able to catch all the nuances of the dialogue and their delivery.”

With the decision to use a PA system, the choice of mixing console became critical – it would be the hub of an entire sound system that would need to be reliable, flexible and most importantly, invisible to the audience’s ear. The Soundcraft Vi4 proved itself more than up to the challenge.

“The decision to use the Vi4 began with my use of a Studer Vista 5 console on two prior shows: the new Stephen Sondheim Road Show and the current revival of ‘West Side Story,’” Schreier says. “I had very positive experiences with that console, so when the time came for us to look for a console for ‘Waiting For Godot,’ I learned of the Vi4 and saw that it shared many of the same qualities as the Vista 5, particularly in how logically the board is laid out.”

“The Vi4’s digital operation was totally silent,” says Gotwald, who has also mixed Broadway legends including ‘The Producers’ and ‘Fosse.’ “The pre-amps are completely transparent – there is no color whatsoever to the sound. When the actors speak, you hear them and nothing else. The sound was completely natural and there was nothing to distract the audience. They never even knew a PA was there.” Gotwald listed the Vi4’s other advantages in this setting, including its compact size, high degree of flexibility – “The number of matrixed group and aux outputs is very useful,” he says -- and the fact that all DSP is done onboard and software-based. “I had access to excellent processing, like the highly consistent compression from the console, and all of that power didn’t add any noise to the system,” Gotwald says. “You could see the audience leaning forward in their seats, totally engrossed in the play, hearing the actors, not the system. That was a real success.”

In just under 1.5m/5 feet of length, the Soundcraft Vi4 digital live sound console offers access to 72 inputs on 24 faders, with a total of 35 output busses available for use as masters, groups, auxes or matrices. And the features of the larger Soundcraft Vi6, such as the highly acclaimed Vistonics™ II touch-screen user interface, Soundcraft FaderGlow™ fader function display and the unequalled audio quality, are all present on the Vi4.

“One of my many hesitations about digital consoles was the feel that you are mixing on a computer display and that you have to go through a number of screens to make changes,” Schreier says. “But the Vistonics surface provides a very successful emulation of an analog desk in a digital world.”



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