Staged in-the-round at the Young Vic theatre in London, director Joe Wright’s recent interpretation of Bertolt Brecht’s Life of Galileo draws on Galileo’s preoccupation with circles, ellipses and their spatial movement.

Life of GalileoCentral to the sound design by Tom Gibbons and associate sound designer Dan Balfour was a TiMax SoundHub processor, which provided the platform for rendering immersive 3D spatialisation of multi-layered sound effects and the high-energy music beds commissioned from Chemical Brother, Tom Rowlands.

‘In tech, we were able to add movement complementary to the action, responding to the theme of circular movement,’ Balfour reports. ‘It liberated the sound design from simply being playback and speakers.’

The action takes place as if within a planetarium. To support the soundtrack, additional loudspeakers around the stage area bolster the Young Vic’s in-house sound system. Above the central area, where actors play their parts among lounging members of the audience, a dome projected with lighting and video-mapping effects depicts areas of the solar system. A circular staged area surrounds the centre and further scaffolded staged areas, opposed across the central space, are brought into the action sporadically.

The dome is edged with 12 d&b audiotechnik Y7Ps with a further four positioned around its centre. Eight d&b Q7s are positioned around the rear of the stage area in a circle with 22 E0s for surround. In the grid sits a pair of d&b B2 subs, a further two subs on the first gallery are Studiospares and four REL Acoustics subwoofers are positioned on the floor behind the audience.

As the action moves and circulates, the dynamic soundscapes created using TiMax spatial Image Definition objects use the full auditorium space. ‘There’s an awesome close-up of the Sun projected onto the dome at one point, and as it moves and fills the space we mapped the sound with it, starting from one balcony speaker and out to the whole immersive system,’ Balfour explains. ‘It’s a subtle effect, but gives another dimension to the experience.’

‘Similarly, for the Jupiter and Moon sequences we began in the centre of the dome on the four Y7Ps, and as the planets get closer we added the 12 Y7Ps around the edge – until the image fills the entire screen and we’ve added in the balconies and the 22 E0 surrounds. It gave a real sense of depth.’

With so many possibilities at their disposal, Gibbons and Balfour kept the music bed static, assigning the mix to alternate close-field left and right front and rear pairs around the auditorium to create a spatial stereo effect wherever you sat. In Balfour’s words, ‘We had all the stems and we could have done all sorts, but when you apply too many spatial treatments you can sometimes lose the core of the mix. It has to be handled very carefully, and in this case keeping the music static made shifting the sound effects on top of it all the more effective. That was something we discovered during tech, especially with the finale.’

More: www.outboard.co.uk

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