Monthly Archives: February 2009

Sound in Theatre

I’ve been doing sound work in theatres since high school, and I’ve run into some pretty interesting software over the years.  I’ve used audio editing tools like Sound Forge, Audacity, Audition, SoundBooth, etc.  I’ve composed music in Cubase, Sony ACID Pro, FruityLoops, Apple Logic Express.  The list goes on.

But once the music is composed, and the sounds are all edited, how do you play them back during a performance?

The old way was to play them through a CD player; you’d burn all your sounds and music to disc, and then track through.  God help you if you had to do a cross-fade on an actor cue though, because that would mean having two CD players, cuing them up simultaneously, and doing a manual cross-fade on the mixer.

There are better ways to do this.

In fact (and my boss, UCDP Tech Director Peter Freund would agree with me on this), there seems to be a trend nowadays to put more emphasis in programming and preparation, and to make playback mostly automated.  It’s true for lights (lighting boards are pre-programmed with cues, and then the lighting operator just hits the ‘GO’ button to go through each transition), and it’s now true for sound.

Check out this piece of software. It’s called QLab.  And it’s free!  This is what we use at the UCDP.

But there’s a small problem:  it’s only for Macs.  Which blows.

Actually, it really blows.  As a modern web-developer, I take cross-platform applications for granted.  Sure, IE may quirk out, but we can usually work around that (thanks jQuery!  Prototype!).  QLab, however, is Mac software, and that’s all she wrote.  It’s really kind of heartbreaking.

If I had the time, and if someone would pay me, I’d look into writing an open-source cross-platform QLab clone.  In Java, maybe.  There’s probably a ton of issues doing cross-platform sound work, but Audacity did it – why can’t I?

Just a thought.

Oh, and yes, there is a free piece of playback software for Windows called Multiplay that’s alright, but I find QLab a bit more flexible.

Everything is amazing, and nobody is happy…

I want you all to know that I don’t plan on becoming one of those bloggers that just posts funny videos that they found on Digg.

But I found this funny video on Digg.

And it’s not just funny – it’s completely true.  I’m absolutely guilty of what this guy is talking about.  My generation is totally spoiled.

Here’s a link to the video.

Maybe, every now and then, we should stop complaining about technology, and marvel at just how incredible its existence really is.  Stop begging for the flying car, and be thankful that your cellphone communicates with satellites in space.

Really.  Hm.

Hilarious / Embarrassing Student Protest at NYU

Thanks to Ian Malone for showing me this.

So, there was a time when I was a naive, idealistic university student.  I thought big, greedy, evil corporations were driving the state of the planet into a tailspin.  I also thought that the University of Toronto was an unfeeling people destroyer.

Maybe some of this is true, but I think I’ve mellowed out.

Anyhow, here’s some video footage of an embarrassing student protest at NYU.  I think these guys were looking for some kind of revolution, but it just makes me cringe and giggle at the hilarity of it.  I’m all for the protest of worthy causes, but this video is a great guide on how not to cause an uprising.

To quote the article that I found this video on,

“You may not come in here. This is student’s free space,” says the cameraman, as a security guard pulls apart the flimsy barricade that the administration had chosen to leave in place for the past two days. As soon as the guard sets foot in the food court: “Excuse me, brutality here. You are on camera…Do not use brutality. You may not detain us, you are on camera!” This, as two security guard were moving away from him. “We deserve to be explained what is going on,” he says to several bored-looking cops. Here’s what’s going on dude: you’re not actually allowed to take over buildings. Believe it or not.


Bonus:  Here’s a link to the protest group’s website, where they seem to have claimed victory.

The Girl Next Door

So, if you didn’t already know, I worked on a show here at the UCDP called Attempts on Her Life, by Martin Crimp, directed by Dr. Michelle Newman. I was the sound designer for the show, and I had the opportunity to write some original music that the actors had to sing along with.

I’ve finally started recording and mixing the songs.

There are two of them, and I’ve got the first mix finished. I’m not sure if I’ll ever finish recording the second one (scheduling is a nightmare…busy busy busy), but I thought I’d post what I had.

So here it is: Scene 14 – The Girl Next Door (Right-click and choose Save As).  Tara Gerami sings lead vocals, with Chantelle Hedden and Yev Falkovich on backups.

Hopefully this doesn’t stretch my bandwidth limit…

Attention GSS Students Auditioning for the UCDP!

Quick note here while I’m in between classes:

If you’re planning on auditioning for the University College Drama Program at UofT for next year, you must follow these instructions before March 13, 2009.

Tell everyone you know who is interested, because if you don’t get the forms in before that date, it gets a lot more complicated to be considered.  A lot.