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Articles May-June 2021

Pursuing the Pro Audio Trail

In conversation with Caroline Moss and Sue Gould

PT got in touch with the Pro AVL Asia magazine core team of Editor - Caroline Moss and Sales Director - Sue Gould, who between them boast of over three decades of experience in the pro audio industry..... read more

NJSM Marks a Milestone in the Business of Sound

From Rental Company to manufacturer and innovator, Nixon Johnny has guided and grown NJSM from a two-person company to a fifty-person company, continuing to expand into virtual events with NJSM Virtual Studio..... read more

Tech Savvy Environment for T-Systems

Eyte Technologies installs high-tech AV Solution at T-System’s Experience Center facilitating brand value and delivering superior customer experience..... read more

Conversations with SudeepAudio

Sudeep Audio, one of India’s first pro audio web store selling studio software and equipment online commenced its YouTube Channel, ConverSAtions, in 2011 to share the journey of Indian Sound Engineers..... read more

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New Technologies that are Re-Shaping Stage Performances

- By PALM Expo Team

American Actor Brian Stokes Mitchell once spoke about the magic of theatre, “It has the power to transform an audience, an individual, or en masse, to transform them and give them an epiphanal experience that changes their life, opens their hearts and their minds and the way they think”.

Although technology plays an essential role in the content of theatre, it also revolutionizes the way productions are created and how they are created. From sound design, sound effects, lighting, music, costumes, and performance, technology is at the heart of everything and has become an integral part of theatre. Technology is giving sound designers the tools to set up and create exceptional sounding acoustics for better performance.

Digital transformation is changing the theatre, not only in terms of performance, but also in terms of the design and production of the theatre. While technology has remained true to its core, it has pushed the boundaries of the stage set world and created performances that take audiences back to stories from every time in history and create unforgettable moments. Like many other creative areas that run parallel to staged performances, technology is creating a new era of backdrops that transform the experience for the better.

The designers use a combination of lighting, and sound effects, as well as sound design, to connect with the performers, creating a stage that is evolving and alive. Technology has revolutionized the way directors and designers create productions, but it also influences how actors appear on stage.

The latest and best stage technology is useless if the designer does not fully understand it. However, the countless possibilities of the stage are created by new technologies such as virtual reality, 3D printing and more.

From theme parks to Broadway shows,theater productions are getting innovative with the latest technology to create immersive experiences such as automated scene changes and virtual reality.

From theme parks to Broadway shows, theater productions are getting innovative with the latest technology to create immersive experiences such as automated scene changes and virtual reality.

In the 1980s, modern technologies began to change the nature of the theatre industry forever, and although the theatre of the future is indistinguishable from its predecessors, the situation has improved dramatically.

Computer-generated effects began to come up, and digitized sounds amazed the masses with the clarity and complexity they produced. These technologies have literally transformed the stage from church productions to Broadway. Today, set designers and theater students need to learn how to use technology to improve final production.

The National Theatre in UK, pioneered the approach of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in 2016 by using virtual reality headsets to deliver experimental plays to theatre professionals, and encouraged them to think about how immersive technology could change the essence of history in a dramatic context. That same year, the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) brought motion capture technology to the stage for its rendition of “The Tempest.”

It has only recently become a viable option for stage and prop design, but scale models and sets have been built as part of the planning process. 3D printing is revolutionizing set design and stage performances. Designs and props are now being created using this technology to save time and costs. Set designers can now create prototypes online and send them to their customers within days or weeks, rather than months or years. This process saves a lot of time and effort and really helps to meet the tight deadlines that are very common in the industry.

Hologram stage interaction

Linking video and CGI in live-action performances gives directors endless opportunities to work with them, and artists invent new ways to use every component of a play in a theatrical setting to stimulate creativity.

Projection mapping allows designers to turn pretty much any object or shape on set into a display area with a video carrier image. Project mapping is nothing new, but the beauty of video projections is that they can be adapted to almost any kind of environment. Animated images and projection maps make it possible to make a performance unique, regardless of the location. Designers use this to blend the movements of the performers to create a stage that evolves and is alive.

Holographic performances are slowly taking the stage by storm, and in the years ahead, artificial intelligence could make them even more exciting. Holograms find their way onto the stage in a variety of forms, such as holographic sound effects, virtual reality and augmented reality.

Projection Mapping

Likewise, the digital information age has created a myriad of theatrical possibilities for producers of the performing arts. Automation and digital technological advances have become the standard for functioning theaters, and these tools lift the stage to create more opportunities for performances to influence culture beyond what we think. Today’s digital systems generate a continuous flow of information about performance, from lighting, sound and movement to sound and lighting effects.

Sound design means being part of the experience, and indeed, it can be argued that great sound design has been an important factor in the success of many films and TV shows over the years.

It used to take days to produce sound effects, but today directors and production teams can easily look up a sound effect, download it and upload it to a computer. Computer sound design packages can be stacked on top of each other to make every scene the director wants dramatic.

Today, sound recording devices such as microphones are now much easier to use than ever in the history of theatre. The sound of a production can be refined very easily and even a small microphone shift makes an enormous difference to the final production. After all, the goal of a theater is to immerse the audiences in the message, and improvements in sound engineering and microphones can only amplify this transformative experience.

Critics will argue for years, but it is important that artists experiment with these tools to advance their craft.

Ultimately, it is the passion that artists have for uncovering stories that drives the theater, and the instruments are there to enhance the experience.

Immersive Technology Theatre

Theatre is a great example of how technology can have both negative and positive effects, although that it is the way in which we use technology to broaden the possibilities for theatre that makes the difference.

It can be argued that theater and stage performances have always used the latest technology of the time to some extent. But the pace of technological change and its impact on theater performance is rapidly improving, and the theater’s future may no longer be apparent from that of those who preceded it.

A play that could not exist without the latest technology is the thrill of it all: the sword fight. Computer-generated avatars, which fight actors live with swords on stage, have been integrated into many modern productions, fusing elements of reality and technology in a way that has never been seen before in any other form of theater.

In the Jan-Feb 2021 issue of the magazine, Stage Sound & Tech will focus on the  Manufacturers who are reinventing the new-age stage.