The Master and Margarita

Described by critics as a fantastic technical achievement, the recent London Barbican Theatre stage production of The Master and Margarita brought live film and 3D animation (by Finn Ross and Luke Halls) to Mikhail Bulgakov’s challenging Russian novel.

Director Simon McBurney also had the benefit of sound design by West End veteran Gareth FryTiMax to call on, with SoundHub and TiMax Tracker automated vocal localisation embedded within it – a feature that was singled out for commendation in some of the show’s reviews.

The Out Board TiMax SoundHub accepted radio mics as direct outs from the FOH Yamaha PM5D mixing console and delay-matrixed them into the multichannel source-oriented reinforcement (SOR) vocal reinforcement system, which comprised three flown pairs of L-Acoustics Arcs, Meyer Sound MM4 front fills and UPM balcony delays. Upstage, Meyer Sound UPAs were flown above the heads of the actors to act as first wavefront reference anchors for the main SOR system.

The Master and MargaritaThe actors wore miniature radar frequency TiMax Tracker Tags, which sent location information to four TiMax Tracker Sensors as they moved around stage. This was used to instruct the TiMax SoundHub matrix to level pan their apparent location across the first-wavefront reference speakers, and simultaneously morph them between delay matrix Image Definitions relating to individual zones on the stage.

By maintaining acoustic precedence of the on-stage vocals and first-wavefront system over the main house vocal system, Gareth Fry enabled all audience members to continuously localise to the actors voices as they moved around the Barbican’s very wide stage. In a three-hour show with a number of parallel story threads, this helped greatly with intelligibility to ensure the audience’s involvement in the show’s complex plot lines.

The TiMax SoundHub-S32 and TiMax Tracker system were rented from TiMax developer Out Board by Barbican’s Head of Sound Steve Mayo, with Out Board’s Robin Whittaker assisting with on-site set-up. The show was mixed by Fergus Mount, and the associate sound designer was Kay Basson.

‘TiMax sounded wonderful,’ Gareth Fry reports. ‘I’m quite sure that, in coming years, SOR will be the most common way to do vocal reinforcement in drama.’

More: www.outboard.co.uk
More: www.l-acoustics.com
More: www.meyersound.com

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