WINSTON-SALEM, NC, SEPTEMBER 2, 2009— When the University of North Carolina School of the Arts' (UNCSA) School of Design and Production ran into a unique challenge for its recent performance of Sunday in the Park with George, it turned to Aviom's 6416Y2 A-Net® Interface Cards for a solution.
The School of Design and Production teaches students to manage all aspects of a theater production by giving them hands-on experience. The school's five theaters do not have permanent sound systems. Students design and install a custom system from the ground up for each production. To complete these builds, students rent items from the school's equipment shop, a process that mirrors that of professional audio rental shops. What made this production different from other musicals produced at UNCSA, however, was the unusual set design made up entirely of various-sized, rear projection screens. These screens, positioned along the rear of the stage, were placed exactly where the orchestra is typically located. As a result, the musicians played from a room in the basement of the building. This left the audio crew with the challenge of how to deliver the music to the theater. The Aviom 6416Y2 Cards were the best solution because of their affordability, ease of use and ability to transmit audio long distances over a single Cat-5 cable without signal loss.
"When planning the audio system design for Sunday In the Park With George, we decided to have the orchestra located in a room in the basement because we could envision a path that a cable might run between that room and the front of house mix position," says Jason Romney, sound design faculty member at UNCSA. "We realized pretty quickly, given the number of channels that we needed, that a traditional analog snake was not practical because of the thickness of the cables. So we decided to look into some sort of digital snake technology that would allow us to run Cat-5 cables. After doing some research and talking with colleagues, the Aviom equipment kept coming up. People were recommending it because they had good experiences with it."
Encouraged to find a cost-effective solution, the faculty and students at UNCSA decided to purchase two 6416Y2 Cards--one to be used in the Yamaha 48-channel M7CL console at front of house in the main theater, the other in the Yamaha 32-channel M7CL console which was placed in the orchestra room to create submixes. By running a Cat-5 cable through the ceiling and down the hall, the school was able to create a temporary solution for the production that still adhered to safety codes. The Cat-5 cable connected the two M7CL consoles via the Aviom cards, creating a cost-effective solution to interface the two consoles and network 32 channels of audio in a 16x16 configuration.
"We thought running audio to and from the orchestra was probably going to be the most complicated part, but once we got the Aviom system up and running, it was the least of our concerns," says Romney. "Since we didn't have to worry about the technology, it became the challenge you want the students to have, which is just mixing the show. This was a challenge in and of itself because the students didn't have any of the natural sound of the instruments in the performance space. With the Aviom solution they received a direct feed from each musician into the front of house console so they were able to just focus on getting the mix right."
The Aviom cards, which will now be used for future productions as well as lessons in sound design and engineering, are a permanent part of the university's equipment shop. Since the Aviom cards are now a permanent fixture at UNCSA, Romney, who teaches sound design and engineering courses, plans to include them in his lesson on digital consoles and interfacing.
"It's very difficult to predict where the sound industry is going, but it's becoming pretty clear that digital snake technology has wings; it's going somewhere," says Romney. "We're starting to see that being deployed all over, and so it's a technology our students are going to need to be familiar with."
As one of the 16 constituent campuses of the University of North Carolina, UNCSA produces as many as 30 shows each year and is a state supported performing arts conservatory school where students learn by doing. The School of Design and Production is responsible for providing all of the production support for the school's productions--including the scenery, lighting, costumes, makeup, sound and automation. Students benefit from a breadth of experience by working with production needs that span across the other Schools at UNCSA: Dance, Drama, Filmmaking and Music. The sound design program which developed the audio solution for Sunday in the Park with George has approximately 20 undergraduate BFA and graduate MFA students. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.
Aviom pioneered personal mixing with its Pro16® Monitor Mixing System and continues to break new ground with the revolutionary Pro64® Series of audio networking products. With tens of thousands of products in the field today, Aviom has set the standard for high performance, scalable digital solutions. All Aviom systems harness the power of A-Net®, Aviom's innovative digital audio technology that simplifies system design while enhancing flexibility and fidelity. All Aviom products are designed, tested, and manufactured in the USA.