This how-to based article explores the use of the niche composition software as a complete mixdown and playback solution for theatrical production.

The techniques explored represent the core of the Trans/Act show control system and provide a low-cost fully digital and flexible solution to creating very complex and rich sonic material.

Now in its final stages, information on the publication of the article will be posted in the news.


from the introduction of the article:

Thank goodness the days of razor blades and splicing tape are behind us. I remember spending hours and hours lining up reel to reel decks and marking heads and tails with white china markers. The advent of the personal computer and digital audio workstation software has saved us sound designers an immeasurable amount of time and given us flexibility that only a few years ago would have been impossible. The DAW, in all of its forms, has become ubiquitous. Performance control, on the other hand is still kind of stuck in the mid-80’s, hampered by the limitations of old dedicated hardware. Even newer computer based theatrical sound performance solutions are limited due to their insistence on creating an analogy to decks and play buttons, or worse, lighting consoles and “Go” buttons. It’s time to put the mixing consoles and reverb units in mothballs. Put the theatre specific computer applications aside for a while. Ableton LIVE has you covered.

The concept is simple. Personal computer hardware and software has arrived. For years, I dismissed computer based playback as unreliable and flaky. Modern operating systems, like Apple’s Mac OS and Windows XP or (let’s forget about Vista for a little while), not to mention some rock solid Linux options, have made reliability almost a non-issue. Computers and software now runs continuously and flawlessly for days and months; certainly more than enough time to get your two hour show up and running without a hitch.

The benefits are impossible to ignore. Replacing analog playback components, such as CD players, mixing consoles and signal processors, means that you keep your signal digital until it hits the amps. This alone can remove a world of hurt in the form of grounding problems, bad cables and dirty potentiometers. Mixing in software usually means significantly increased signal routing capabilities, including the ability to soft-patch on the fly. Hundreds of quality software signal processors become available and completely configurable at the click of the mouse button. And of course, there is the matter of cost. Setting up a software-based system will cost you much less in capital layout than a component system with much more limited options.

Perhaps most importantly, performances can be fully automated, allowing for extremely complicated and compelling mixes. Soundscapes and compositions can remain multitracked, making it very easy to make on-the-fly adjustments and tweaks. And with a little MIDI routing, outboard devices can be synchronized, triggered and controlled. While the variables can be many and the organization of all these elements may be tedious at times, creating this automation is not difficult with a bit of pre-planning.


technology, design and education for theatre arts