Sound at The Studio, Part 2

Steve Foster at The Studio at Hamilton Place, Ontario. 10/05/2011 11:38 AM Eastern

Sound at The Studio, Part 2

Oct 5, 2011 3:38 PM, with Bennett Liles

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The Studio at Hamilton Place, Ontario is a popular venue with a huge variety of acts from boxing to acoustic solos to hard rock. Steve Foster is back to wrap up his talk about the studio on mixing and lighting control. That's coming right up on the SVC podcast.
Steve, thanks for being back with me for Part 2 on The Studio at Hamilton Place in Ontario, Canada—a nice little place seating about 900 with a huge variety of performances. In Part 1 we were talking about the stage monitoring in your wireless mic system and the coming 700 MHz changes in Canada. We didn't talk a whole lot about the mixing consoles, so what FOH mixer do you have there?

Well we've got the new Innovason Eclipse, it's a 48-channel, 16 outs as well on the stage rack on that, and then it's also got the Mars recording system built in. So essentially there's a computer for the live side, a computer for the recording side, but I had the Innovason SY-48 at FOH and I liked it and when I tried this one. They'd made a lot of improvements especially adding encoders to the control surface. It makes it a lot faster and a touch screen and a lot of big upgrades and the recording side of it—it's dual purpose, it's a virtual sound check system where I can have the band play one or two songs and then they can go for coffee and I can do the tweaks and then if they want to come back great, if not we're all ready to go. [Timestamp: 2:04]

Do you have multi-track recording and use that pretty much?
I haven't used virtual sound check. I did use it on one show where we had a real time crunch on a TV thing—where I had back-to-back stuff—but we're starting...the house is looking at offering it as a service too because it'll do a 64 track and essentially you just put your hard drive in the back and arm your tracks and it's already pre-patched one to one and it's a lot of preferences where you can have all the labeling follow it so it's very easy to use. I did do a recording for a Jeff Martin show. He's a singer for a band called Tea Party. He's got a band out of Australia now called 777 and it came off really well. I'm actually going to ship everything off to them—I don't know I guess they're going to take it in the studio and see what they can do from there. [Timestamp: 2:57]

I would think that a multi-track situation would be a big selling point for the place. A house with about 500 seats or so would be just about the right size for a really good recording of lots of different types of music.
The Philharmonic orchestra will rehearse in there too and I would like to get a chance to mic them up for a rehearsal too just to try the other side. I've done quite a few rock and blues acts on it so far but I think the idea's working on something where they can offer a package to the client to walk away with a multi-track at the end of the day. [Timestamp: 3:29]

Absolutely. So what sort of effects do you use? With that size of house are effects a little more sparingly used?
Yeah I use the onboard VB audio plug ins on the Innovason, and your pretty run-of-the-mill reverbs and delays but yeah, it's a smaller room and having that more intimate vibe, you can't be too heavy-handed with it for sure. So generally every channel's got a comp on it on both consoles and a gate too, so I mean, occasionally I'll patch in some out board gear for some of the road guys and...which is really easy because both consoles have 16 in and out that are XLR to D-sub. Basically I just patch them in and you go into one of the direct I/O page and hit "I" and you insert the thing and it's ready to go. So it's really fast. [Timestamp: 4:24]

And what kind of a crew do you have during the performances? Does that vary or is it always just you or a couple of people?
From just me on up. Occasionally if there's a band and maybe they've got an acoustic opener or duo or something I'll do the gig by myself and I'll have to run both consoles. I could re-patch and mix from FOH but a lot times because the consoles are linked I can make the pre-amp on a monitor desk the master and I'll just run through the line check quickly and the Eclipse has a digital trim as well so I can live with setting the pres at the monitor desk and if I need to attenuate at FOH I can just do it with the digital trim. [Timestamp: 5:04]

Yeah, that's an interesting concept in a house that small with everything mobile and reconfigurable on where you might put the monitor mixer.
It pretty much lives at stage left all the time, and I would say most of the time it's me and a monitor engineer because we'll give the client depending on if they don't want to have an extra technician for lighting we can just put a wash up and we'll leave the wash up for the night. Or they have the option to bring a guy in and we'll run a proper light show. But for the most part it's me and another guy but I do occasionally run into that where it'll just be me. I find that once everybody's happy in sound check with monitors they tend not to want changes and by keeping those gains a bit separate, so to speak, their mix is solid throughout the night. [Timestamp: 4:48]

Sound at The Studio, Part 2

Oct 5, 2011 3:38 PM, with Bennett Liles

Does anybody do any video recording in there at all?
Yeah we get a lot of that. We've actually done some movie shoots with Paramount in there and we've done a lot of TV—the occasional artist will bring two or three cameras in and do a shoot for the show as well. Well now having the Eclipse, if they want I can just have them bring a hard drive if they want the audio or I can send it to track out but we also have the three-way mic split as well. If we get a TV truck I can give them their own split. [Timestamp: 6:17]

Now on the power situation sometimes lighting and audio can have problems with each other—how has that situation sort of evolved at your place?
It's not bad. I don't have...I have a whole separate for the lighting because there are 96 dimmers and they're separate from audio. Now as far as audio goes, I'm only running it off of 100 amps because the L-Acoustic amps—two LA4's are only 30 amps—they're less than 30 amps actually because they're entirely separate feeds too. I've never really run into too many problems that way. [Timestamp: 6:51]

OK you've got main house and a separate monitor mixer. Where do you put the lighting control?
There's actually a lighting booth up in the balcony. Most of the time there or else we'll set up...there's enough room up at FOH. If they prefer to do it from the floor then we'll set them up right next to FOH too. I can patch in downstairs. There's a DMX patch on the first floor in the balcony and in the booth. [Timestamp: 7:13]

Well, it sounds like a pretty easy place to handle everything without any huge challenges.
Most of the problem is it's a 32x16 stage so the biggest challenge really is when I get a really large number of people on that stage and then we're trying to wire everything and keep it clean and give everybody a little bit of space. That's the biggest challenge I've ever really come up with. We had an awards show where I had 12 bands and video and podium mics, and that's when the digital console really started to shine for me because I soundchecked 12 bands in the morning in any order they could show up and then just sequenced it inside the play list and sequenced all my MC mics and my video playback and everything, so by the time rehearsal was over with I just pressed "next" for the entire show. [Timestamp: 8:06]

Do you have any really fast turnarounds in that place where you have to do a substantial reconfiguration just right away?
Yeah a couple of times—we've even had a university convocation. The local university's outgrown their local theater and I had a show where we loaded out convocation by 4:30 and we're doing load in by six o'clock and that was with the FOH and monitor mix positions they had to be restored—the stage had to be restored. So I've had a couple days like that and generally we throw more labor at it to make it possible. [Timestamp: 8:41]

Well it's great that you can be flexible on that. Do you send audio feeds anywhere in the place, say in a separate sound environment?
We do through the paging system. The paging system on both theaters will talk to each other. It's the original system that when they built the house and the patch bay in the theater next door will also talk to a patch bay that I have too so I can send program sound to any dressing room in either theater and occasionally we've had to do that from the opposite theater. We'll use my theater as rehearsal and staging area kind of thing so we'll have the Com and paging system all patched together. [Timestamp: 9:21]

Well, it sounds like it would be great working in a place about that size with as many different performers. It would be just enough to keep things interesting.
Oh yeah for sure, for sure. I'm really enjoying it. Some days are a lot of work but it's a rewarding job and I've got to work with...up close with some really great artists. [Timestamp: 9:39]

All right. Steve Foster with The Studio at Hamilton Place, Ontario thanks for taking the time out to tell us about how you do things there.

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