The latest production from Space Productions tells ‘a story never really told’, against a dynamic and eye-opening immersive sound design by the company’s Keri Chesser, who brought realism and intense drama to Spitfire Sisters with TiMax.

Spitfire SistersThe in-house company at off West End performance venue The Space, Space Productions’ Spitfire Sisters is the tale of the British and American women in the British Air Transport Auxiliary who, at the height of World War II, were trained to use just a map and a compass to fly planes from the manufacturers to where they were needed in the action.

Through TiMax object-based spatial rendering, Chesser was able to depict action such as the intimate internal voices of the women’s thoughts while flying, by both isolating them for clarity while slightly diffusing them for dramatic impact: ‘We were able to make the sound of the aeroplane fill the room from a position overhead, but voices still came through clearly and separately. I had a few speakers rigged above the hearing level of the audience so, using TiMax I added some EQ to a voice while directing the aircraft sounds overhead.’

TiMax PanSpace was also invaluable for creating multiple panning effects for the sounds of a dogfight taking place above the cast sitting out an air-raid in a shelter.

Two speakers secreted on the stage’s balcony level anchored the aircraft sounds above the heads of the audience, while the main house PA provided left and right wide imaging, plus a sub for low end. All speakers were connected to TiMax via its onboard analogue I/O, while Chesser’s QLab MacBook was hooked up directly to TiMax via Dante.

A further two surrounds placed under and behind the audience seats served to diffuse aircraft taxiing sounds and explosions, whilst a couple more compact speakers were positioned on-stage behind a sofa to help anchor spot effects. With TiMax spatialisation triggered from QLab by OSC commands, a telephone ring and the music from both a wireless radio and a turntable were realistically localised to tables either side of the sofa. Later, during an air raid, the same speakers were used to support the effects of bombs dropping and explosions behind the actors.

The TiMax PanSpace feature saved a significant amount of programming time on-site. A jpeg plan of the room based on the CAD drawing of the performance space was loaded into TiMax and as she explains: ‘all I had to do was drop in the speakers where they actually wound up and create the imaging. It was pretty much instant! It was so easy to get the whole place working.’

TiMax greatly simplified the process of Chesser’s relatively complex immersive sound design: ‘I could have tried to do the localisation and imaging all in QLab but it would have taken about seven or eight more hours than I had to programme.’

More: www.outboard.co.uk

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