Umeda Arts Theater production of Inspire Onmyoji

Although limited by the Japanese Government’s Covid restriction, the 1,300-capacity Nissei Theatre in Tokyo staged a Umeda Arts Theater production of Inspire Onmyoji, starring Japanese actor Takao Osawa at the start of the year.

The show was scripted by Brazily Anne Yamada, Takaya Okamoto and Natsu Teranishi, and directed by Junya Yamada. It was staged using Martin Audio’s Wavefront Precision platform (WPM) and Sound Adventures immersive 3D with all outputs controlled by the Sara II Premium Rendering Engine, alongside next-generation video and lighting effects.

The Umeda Arts Theater production of Inspire OnmyojiWith Osawa in the role of ancient Japanese wizard Onmyoji, Ssow producer Yamada had wanted to use unprecedented special effects with the sound system in a unique work, and had contacted MSI Japan President Iwao Tsurusawa, Martin Audio’s rental partner. He explained that he wished to create a live show using the Sound Adventures 3D sound system he had experienced previously – and Tsurusawa’s response could not have been more positive.

The main PA system comprised a pair of groundstacked line array enclosures (eight WPM arrays and two SX118 subs per side) and five stage front fills (all WPM). In addition, seven XD12 were pole-mounted in front of the audience area.

The theatre’s installed proscenium LCR, along with wall speakers on the upper floor and second floor, those aimed at balcony seats, and a temporary installation of Martin Audio Adorn A55 loudspeakers were set up in the rear row of the second using mic stands. In total, 31 outputs were controlled by a Sara II processor, the heartbeat of the Sound Adventures system.

Martin Audio iK42 amplifiers were used to drive the WPM and XD12 systems, with Lake LM44 processors assigned to control virtually all systems from a single interface – all connected by a Dante digital audio network. Counting the recording feeds and a backup Pro Tools system, the set-up required upwards of 200 of Dante patch points.

As well as providing the ‘immersive sound engineer’ and engineers at three Yamaha mixing consoles – mics, music and sound effects – MSI Japan’s subsidiary Audiobrains took care of integrated of the smart control.

Sara II 3D sound controlThe playback system was Ableton Live, which used Midi Machine Control (MMC) protocol while another application converted it to the Open Sound Control (OSC) external control protocol required to control the Sara II system. With this configuration, sound effects could be placed and located everywhere simultaneously, and the event streamed binaurally for live internet viewing. Control of the Sara II and Klang:fabric monitor processors were achieved via a single MMC and OSC simultaneously.

At the heart of this sophisticated sound design was Audiobrains Director, Sam Yamashita: ‘All three consoles sent MMC when engineers hit the snapshot change; those signals were then fed to an external MacBook Pro, from where they were converted into OSC in order to control the Sara II and Klang, using a special application.

‘With so much going on, you can see why we needed a separate “immersive engineer”,’ he adds. ‘In fact, I believe this will be essential for the next generation of shows.’

Audiences were also able to see numerous special effects, including scenery on a large LED screen – which is rarely seen in traditional Nissei theatre – and a movable circular LED screen suspended above the stage the moved up and down with each scene of the play. In addition, a new type of fibre-optic beam (harmless to the eyes) was directed into the audience area, adding further excitement to the production.

‘When sound becomes 3D it means nothing unless all elements are linked – artist, direction, stage, lighting, video and the live environment,’ says Tsurusawa Thanks to cooperation between each department and a loudspeaker design that covered the entire audience seating, we were able to create a unique atmosphere for Inspire Onmyoji. I am happy that we were able to provide inspiration, and create an immersive feeling for the [online] audience, just as if they were present.’

More: https://martin-audio.com

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