Creating a natural and immersive sound environment for Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo in Broadway’s American Airlines theatre, associate sound designer Bradlee Ward used a TiMax SoundHub 2 audio spatialization engine to localise the actors’ voices as they moved around the multimedia-adorned set. TiMax was also used to spatialize the evocative music and redolent sound effects created by sound designer Fitz Patton.

The Rose Tattoo in Broadway’s American Airlines theatre‘I knew I needed some kind of movement tracking for the actors,’ Ward says. ‘I’ve always wanted to use TiMax on one of my shows and based on prior work with Robin [Whittaker, director of TiMax developer, Out Board] I felt this was the perfect solution.’

The audio creative team included Sun Hee Kil, also associate sound designer, working with sound designer and composer Fitz Patton. This same sound team, incidentally, won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Sound for a Play, for Choir Boy on Broadway.

The set design created a stage that was wide and deep, surrounded by animated video scenography. It included a hanamachi – a bridge that extends out into a segment of the audience area that formed an important part of the staging and direction.

The Rose Tattoo in Broadway’s American Airlines theatreA primary role of TiMax was to accommodate this additional area of stage, naturally localising sound in real time without the need for complicated programming. With the aid of a speaker placed at the far end of the hanamachi deep in the audience, TiMax simply facilitated the morphing of localised vocals from the main stage speaker image to the hanamichi image, as the actors walked across the bridge. Both speaker images made use of almost all of the 80 loudspeakers in the system varying the level and delay to each loudspeaker in real time as the actors moved from one image to the next.

‘I now can’t imagine doing a play that requires movement like this without TiMax,’ Ward reflects. ‘I really like the fact that TiMax makes use of both level and delay matrixing to achieve natural sounding movement of sound. I also love the ‘Auto Calculate’ function that calculates the delay time for each loudspeaker. This meant we were able to focus on things other than setting delay times during our very limited system tuning time.’

Using TiMax, we positioned the primarily Meyer sound system for localisation but were partly limited to hanging locations available and aesthetics that worked with the play as a whole. ‘The resulting audio,’ Ward enthuses, ‘was extremely natural which is always my goal. I love it when people say, ‘I didn’t realise the actors were wearing mics.’

‘Without TiMax, the sound would have been coming from fixed locations or very simple fades which would not have precisely followed the actor location,’ sound designer Fitz Patton adds.

More: www.outboard.co.uk

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