The highly anticipated production of â€˜West Side Story' recently opened at the Palace Theatre on Broadway with a Studer Vista 5 digital console providing outstanding audio quality and versatility to the production. The iconic production makes its return to Broadway after a 29-year absence and sound designer Dan Moses Schreier and his associates selected the Vista 5 for its extensive capabilities and outstanding audio quality.
Dan Moses Schreier has been using Studer products for many years and he has also been the sound designer for Broadway productions such as â€˜Julius Caesar' starring Denzel Washington as well as â€˜The Tempest' starring Patrick Stewart. Schreier initially intended mixing â€˜West Side Story' on an analog desk, however he immediately chose the Vista 5 after interacting with the board's capabilities.
Schreier comments on the decision to deploy the Studer console. “The Vistonicsâ„¢ interface was a huge factor in selecting the console. Many digital consoles feel like you are mixing off a computer monitor and what is terrific about the Vistonics interface is that it feels more like an analog console in the sense that you always see what you need to see at the channel strip.” Moses continues, “In the theater when things are happening fast and in the moment, this makes it easy to make corrections or find problems with great ease. But ultimately, it is the sound of the console that determined my decision.”
Schreier continues to discuss the benefits of the Vista 5 as well as the Vistonics and user interface. “The Vistonics interface has a very logical feel and enables engineers to build and construct a show, whether setting up input/output layouts, or dealing with auxes, and matrices. The ease of selecting EQ , compression, gates or panning makes the interface very easy for the operator to use. Once selected, controlling the parameters of the various functions is remarkably straightforward and â€˜analog' like. The contribute function is also extremely useful when troubleshooting issues on a very complex show.”
â€˜West Side Story' is an elaborate project for a production crew due to the size of the performance. There are 48 wireless microphones for the actors/dancers, 30 musicians in the orchestra with 62 microphones and 81 speakers. There is enormous pressure to recreate the popular songs of â€˜West Side Story' and the need to get all the balances right makes it very difficult. Moses comments, “It's like mixing The Beatles' Abbey Road live every night, with everyone expecting it to sound just like the album.”
“The Vista 5 handles the demands of the show with great transparency and ease. The compact size of the console and the clarity of its layout made the size of the show extremely manageable. But ultimately, it comes down to how the show sounds and this production of â€˜West Side Story' sounds fantastic,” concludes Schreier.
The enthusiasm for the Vista shown by Schreier and others has prompted Studer to develop further theater-specific features to help with the production workflow. A new software version for Vista, V4.2, was launched at the Pro Light & Sound show in Frankfurt and includes facilities for enhanced cue lists, character/actor libraries and events, VCA/Mute assignments and dynamic automation. Furthermore, Virtual Vista, a PC-based offline/online editor is now available which allows designers to check and setup the sound at any point within a venue, and even control the desk in parallel with the surface. Visit www.studer.ch for more information.