Third-year students from Mountview, one of the UK’s leading drama schools, have recently performed BOY, an immersive and experiential performance where the audience free roams, intermingling with the set and actors. Challenged to create the sound design, student sound designer, John Guerrier, known as JP, had already been impressed by a TiMax training workshop and knew its leading-edge spatial reinforcement capabilities would perfectly support an immersive soundscape that every member of the audience would respond to no matter their location.
Mentored by sound supervisor, Dafyyd Gough, a visiting professional sound designer, JP established a 10.2 loudspeaker system, including a pair of overheads, distributed around the Mountview’s black box studio theatre space.
TiMax created live overhead train announcements, supermarket tannoy effects and also a preacher’s speaker box effect with the help of the onboard EQ. Gough describes some of the various immersive effects: “We used TiMax extensively to create the obvious effects such as car pass-bys, for pulling focus and for chase sequences. There was a moment in the play where the main character gets stoned and we slowly started to spin the music stems around the room to mimic the character’s experience.”
Having previously been in sound teams on productions where TiMax had been used, Gough was familiar with the technology, though he insists, “I obviously take no credit, it was all JP but [his sound design] obviously made a good impression.”
With Gough’s guidance, JP made sophisticated use of TiMax and its object-based static and dynamic imaging capabilities. Not only was TiMax pulling focus for anchored effects localisation, but also multichannel stems of soundscapes surrounded the audience to immerse them into the environment of each scene. In some instances, for added impact, JP used the TiMax object-based spatial rendering to expand the breadth of the music playback for more dramatic pause and impressive drops.
JP states, “Without TiMax, we wouldn’t have had time to manually programme all of the object movements in the show, even if we’d used custom QLab scripts. The TiMax workflow made a huge difference to the tech process. The transitions and soundscapes were incredibly immersive and hyper-realistic. Having such powerful imaging capabilities made the production a dream for me!”
Gough adds, “TiMax certainly lived up to its name and ‘maximised’ our time! Without it, controlling and directing the free-roaming audience would have been very challenging, if not almost impossible. Performers then would have had to focus on logistics rather than their performances.
“TiMax is invaluable if your show needs beautiful imaging, movement and actor tracking. There’s nothing else on the market that does the job as well or in the same way.”