Located by its’ iconic spire, the Victorian Arts Centre is the flagship of the performing arts in Victoria, Australia. Comprising the Theatres Building, Hamer Hall (the State Theatre) and Melbourne’s infamous outdoor performance space, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the Arts Centre programs a diverse range of performances and events to deliver the best national and international performing arts experience.
The Spire at the Victorian Arts Centre
Such an important cultural centre requires a progressive sound system and so when the decision was taken to upgrade to digital sound consoles in the State Theatre and the Hamer Hall, Darren Golding, Manager for Production throughout the entire centre recommended DiGiCo.
The Lawn Stage at The Victorian Arts Centre
The Victorian Arts Centre Forecourt
“Everyone here is very impressed by the DiGiCo consoles and we couldn’t go back” commented Darren. “We have Yamaha digital consoles in some of the other venues, and they’re good for what they do, but they’re chalk and cheese. Other digital consoles are difficult to find your way around whilst with the DiGiCo consoles it’s all there in front of you – it’s a real console”.
DiGiCo D5-Live in action at The Victorian Arts Centre
The State Theatre is the major venue for the national-based Australian Ballet and Opera Australia when they are in Melbourne. It seats 2,085 and has one of the largest stages in the world. A DiGiCo D1 digital console has been installed and Ray Rogers, Sound Supervisor for the State Theatre, is totally rapt with his new acquisition.
“During the recent Melbourne International Arts Festival we staged George Orwell’s 1984 which had 97 sound cues and the D1 managed them so well, you just press a button and it’s done,” said Ray. “I can’t imagine doing that show on a normal console as I wouldn’t have had enough hands! It’s just beautiful and makes our previous console look so archaic. For this theatre it’s basically a big fold back job; I’ve got maybe ten sends of fold back in various locations around the stage and in the pit.”
The Sidney Myer Music Bowl
Of course, with the State Theatre frequently in rep the D1’s ability to store each show in the console, where it can be called up in a second, is a godsend for Ray who is using all of the onboard effects.
The State Theatre
The Hamer Hall hosts varied performances such as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, concerts, comedy and gala film events. It seats up to 2,600 over three levels and is now home to a DiGiCo D5 digital console.
The Melbourne Concert Hall
“It’s a fabulous console,” said Peter Ripon, Sound Supervisor for the Hamer Hall. “I use the onboard effects and I don’t use any outboard. The comps are good, good to read and work better than the ones in the rack. It’s easy to use and logical.
Peter Ripon Sound Supervisor for Hamer Hall looking over the DiGiCo D5-Live
“We had a brown out – which is almost a black out – in the State Theatre and the back up mini disc stopped playing, the computer turned off, various other things too but the D5 kept going and that’s what you need on a show. I’m very happy with the console!”
Promoters are also very happy with the D5 but for different reasons. Not only do they not have to hire in a console, most report that the D5 delivers much better sound than they expected. However the main thing that really puts a smile on a promoter’s face is that the previous sound console in the Hamer Hall took up the space of 37 seats whereas the D5 only requires the space of fifteen.
Darren Golding (L) Nick Carrol (R) from The Victorian Arts Centre
“At $100 a ticket, you could say that the console pays for itself indirectly,” added Darren Golding. “Also the old console was very labour-intensive to move from venue to venue, now with the D5 we’ve shaved off about an hour and a half on the bump in and again on the bump out.”
Darren reports that some of the touring sound engineers are a little hesitant to use the DiGiCo consoles if they have never encountered one before. However Darren guarantees that there will always be a member of the audio crew standing beside them and that in no time at all they will be comfortable using a DiGiCo console.
George Fairfax Studio
“Consequently I’ve had no problems with people using the console especially once they realise that the big advantage to this console is that they can get on it straightaway and it’s quick to pick up,” he said. “If they’ve used the online editing software, they’re in the flow as soon as they walk in the door. I haven’t seen anyone scratching their heads, they ask questions and there’s always an answer.
Ray Rogers – Sound Supervisor for The State Theatre looking over the DiGiCo D5-Live
“The more we can get sound engineers to use digital consoles, the better. Once they are comfortable using the DiGiCo console we then persuade them to use the inboard effects although the racks are still available as you have to give some touring sound guys their comfort zone!”
The Amcor Lounge
Those touring sound engineers who are used to using a DiGiCo console are overjoyed to find such a high quality console at their disposure.
“We had a touring show where I was mixing the audio and the tour manager just walked up and plugged his DiGiCo D1 USB MP3 watch into the D5 – he had the whole show on it just in case he encountered a DiGiCo console on the tour,” commented Peter.
All of the casual audio crew at the Centre has had training on the DiGiCo consoles at the Group Technologies Training Centre and Darren reports that it has been a remarkably smooth transition from analogue to digital for the staff.