ADLIB Audio is supplying a new L-Acoustics K1 audio system for BBC Worldwide, producers of "Doctor Who Live", an action-packed stage show based on the hit BBC One TV series, currently selling out UK arenas.
The show stars iconic Doctor Who monsters including The Daleks, Cybermen and features Nigel Planer as the "intergalactic showman", Vorgenson.
Sound is a complex element. On stage action is made up of a live 16 piece orchestra and dialogue from cast and choir vocals, this is all fully supported with additional Orchestral stems, VT playback character dialogue and special effects. So the pressure was on for all sonic components to deliver a system and a design that fuelled the excitement of a hair-raising voyage through a few centuries of time travel with the Doctor.
The tour's 270 degree sound system was specified by Richard Rowley, who is also the project manager for video production suppliers, XL Events and has worked on many previous projects for the BBC. On this one he collaborated closely with Richard Sillitto, ‘Doctor Who Lives creative sound designer, who produced all the dubs and built the playback system being utilised for the effects on tour.
Rowley was also instrumental in choosing ADLIB to supply the kit from all the bids on the table in response to the tender. He thought the new K1 system was perfect for the job and that ADLIB would provide the best service and crew as well as the latest technology. "ADLIB have been brilliant as always," he says, "They were definitely the right company for the job with the right attitude".
ADLIB's systems engineer is Tony Szabo, and the show is being mixed live by Chris Leckie, using a Soundcraft Vi6 console, taking a diversion from his usual client base of leading rock bands like the Kaiser Chiefs. He has over 80 inputs into the desk including stems from Fergus Mount who is also at FOH, operating a Vi1 console controlling the audio playback. This effectively runs the show and sends timecode to trigger the video play-ins
They are using 2 main hangs of 8 x K1s per side, with 3 x Kara downfills (the replacement for the dV-DOSC speaker), plus 2 side hangs of 9 x L-Acoustics Kudo a side, flown as high as possible 10 metres upstage of the main arrays. With a lot of full range music often at high SPLs, the substantial bass capacity of the system was ideal. The subs are 4 x SB28s per side stacked in cardioid pattern, complete with dV-DOSCs sitting on top as front fills. For lip fills across the front of the stage set are 4 x white ADLIB AA281s, which are contending well being surrounded by flame jets and pyro.
The whole system is powered by L-Acoustics LA8 amplifiers.
One of many audiological challenges faced by the ADLIB team was sculpting a beautifully rich and full sound that emphasised the orchestral base of the show and brought out the narrative - both live onstage and on VT - clearly over the top, along with all the sound effects, that needed their own distinct touches of sci-fi craziness.
They have achieved a real result with a combination of engineering skills and using the right kit in some style!
It's the first tour for ADLIB's K1 system, which has been used on festivals and one offs since it was delivered to the Liverpool, UK based company in the Summer and the first outing for the Kara downfills too .
Practical challenges for the sound design included keeping the hangs completely clear of the upstage projection screen, and that was one of the big benefits of using K1/Kara - in that fewer boxes are physically needed to get the coverage.
Everything is being processed using 4 of the new Lake LM26 DSP devices, and for this tour, ADLIB is also evaluating the Media Numerics RockNet returns system
Marc Peers is taking care of monitors, using another Vi6 console. Peers has not toured one before, but he needed a desk with a large input and output capacity, so it was a logical choice.
It's a completely clean stage, with 20 Sennheiser G3 IEM mixes - the band all have unique mixes, the cast share a mix and Nigel Planer has his own individual mix. The cast all use DPA headset mics with Sennheiser transmitters.
The biggest task here was the initial patching and configuring of the system and getting it integrated with the QLab playback, a busy few days at production rehearsals achieved with the help of ADLIB's other 2 crew members, Tommy Bradshaw and George Puttock, who co-ordinated all the RF elements.
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