Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando, a Nick-themed family hotel located a mile from Walt Disney World, proudly promises guests “the slime of their lives.” But things are never sticky when Drew Dalzell uses Stage Research SFX to control a slate of live Studio Nick productions offered in the resort’s 200-seat theater.
“SFX is the brains of everything,” he reports. “The resort has been running SFX 5.6 for about five years, and we’ve just upgraded to 6.2.” Three to seven Studio Nick shows are presented each day, including “Slime Time Live!” an interactive game show; “Who Knows Best?” a generational challenge between kids and adults; the “Dora and Diego Animal Jam” game-snack-dance party; “Family Improv,” a late-night show where almost anything goes; and the new “SpongeBob’s Krabby Patty Celebration.”
SFX controls the shows from activating the ‘go’ button to sending serial commands to a Crestron system that controls a video matrix switcher to providing MIDI control to a digital mix console. SFX is especially well suited for Nickelodeon’s game-style shows, notes Dalzell. “We can actually write a script to keep score and have the video displays double as scoreboards. There are even subcues for lighting so, depending on whether the red or blue team wins, the lighting will change to reflect the team’s color.”
Dalzell, who owns Pasadena, California’s Diablo Sound where he offers sound, show control, design and installation, has been busy migrating the current roster of Studio Nick shows to SFX 6.2. “The reprogramming is going well,” he says. “It’s been a great opportunity to brush up on everything. I’ve been able to take advantage of all the scripting and add additional video control.”
He finds that SFX’s scripting language is particularly easy to work with. “It’s very complete, and I prefer it to the scripting language found in other programs which is often terribly convoluted. I need rs232 control, which is not always offered in other software, and the SMPTE control in SFX is very robust. I can also see the SMPTE clock and tell when it fires cues – that’s a huge deal and a very convenient feature. All in all, SFX does a significantly better job that many of the high-end programming tools.”
Dalzell is a long-time fan of SFX, which he has used for one of the Disney ships and many other projects. “Although I can program and edit in most major programs, SFX is one of my favorites,” he declares.
SFX is found at all levels of theater from academics to the pros. Professional theaters use the software to create reliable and enriched soundscapes and it has been employed in many award-winning shows, including several Tony Award winners. The academic stage (elementary education through college) and amateur theater appreciate SFX for the high quality of shows it can create and because it can be easily run by novice operators. Students using SFX get the added benefit of learning the software they will most likely work with when they enter the theatrical job market.
SFX 6 provides features that no other product can. It enables designers to refine and create effects on-site rather than having to shuttle back and forth between a studio and performance space. This affords the freedom to optimize sound designs for the acoustics of the space and other components of the performance. SFX 6’s newly rewritten audio engine frees the need for an OS playback engine for hassle-free mixing and placement of audio. SFX 6 features an intuitive user-interface and can be programmed to run complex events with little or no user input.
About Stage Research
Stage Research is the developer of SFX, Soft Plot, Light Factory, ShowBuilder: Sound Design and other audio and lighting software. For more information, visit