Hyde and Jekyll
Volksoper Wien
Vienna, Austria
by Brad Rembielak

As Jekyll whirls about the stage between the perfectly choreographed dancers, surreal lights bathe the scene, set pieces covered with patterns and projections flow on and off, and the original music drives the madness until the transformation into the mad Hyde is complete leaving the audience breathless.

Far from breathless, Martin Lukesch is the man responsible for ensuring that this chaos runs with total precision.  With dancers, lighting, video, set, and sound all counting on total accuracy with each other, Lukesch relied on his favorite tool: Stage Research's SFX software.
This expressive and technologically sophisticated dance performance is Hyde and Jekyll, choreographed by Catherine Guerin and Liz King and performed at Vienna's second large opera house, the Volksoper Wien.  A full repertory facility, the Volksoper Wien stages 18th, 19th, and 20th century operas as well as over 100 Viennese operettas a year. In addition, it hosts classical musicals, orchestra, and contemporary dance, such as Hyde and Jekyll.  One year can see as many as 300 performances divided among 35 different productions!  "Every day we have different shows and different rehearsals," said sound designer Lukesch. "We need a very flexible playback system.  That's why we chose SFX."
For Hyde and Jekyll, Lukesch and associate Hannes Schmitzberger used SFX as the main control mechanism for bringing the show to life.  Using SFX's time code generator, all the elements of the performance where synchronized together, including sound, lighting, video, and set:

SFX is tasked with generating MIDI Time Code with video, lighting, and stage management slaved to it.  Just as importantly, SFX is responsible for all the sound playback.  The music, created by Sebastian Schlachter and Stefan Strobl, is a remix of compositions by Chopin and original created compositions, and is a mixture of musical styles that reflect the radically differing personalities of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  These range from soulful tragic, to rhythmic techno, to darkly syncopated.  "The composers wanted a quadraphonic sound in the space," said Schmitzberger, "so we took the musical pieces and broke them into multi-waves."  Multi-waves, as they are called by Schmitzberger, are stereo wave files played simultaneously, but routed to different outputs, such as front speakers and back speakers.
While it's still one musical piece, it is actually divided into two separate Wave files, each playing at the same time, routed separately, creating an exciting sound image for the listener. The image to the rights shows how this is accomplished in SFX.  Q15 and Q16 are linked together by a Wait of 0 so that they will both play at the same time. Clicking on the Properties of each cue would show that Q15 is assigned to the first set of outputs and Q16 is routed to the second set of outputs.

There is another benefit of keeping the sound files separate.  Schmitzberger said, "As everybody that's done theatre knows, a lot of changes are made right up until the last minute, and keeping the stereo files separate makes them easier to handle."  Files that are easier to handle, make changes go more quickly.

The below image displays how several of Hyde and Jekyll's sounds are triggered through time code.  Notice that many Wave files start at identical times to produce the mutli-wave effect.  Q12 features a built-in Fade cue, and in Q15, SFX halts its own time code.
For set movement, a stage manager backstage monitored a display with the time code values and cued the operators of the machinery.  For safety requirements, a human operator had to control the mechanisms that brought the two ton curtain in and the large set pieces on.

Three DVD players were also slaved to the time code that was generated by SFX.  Each player projected video on the stage and moving set.  The time code synchronization made it possible to display the correct video at the correct times on the correct locations.

In addition, SFX sent out RS-232 commands to a backup minidisc, and MIDI commands to a Yamaha O3D that controlled the monitor mix.

For the operator, execution of the show couldn't be simpler.  While SFX contained two cue lists full of sound effects and MIDI commands, these cue lists were minimized on the workspace.  All the operator saw was the desktop displayed here:
Clicking the GO button started the ball rolling for each different section.  Since SFX has cues that control aspects of the time code, these cues ensured that the time code clock was set to the proper values, started, and then stopped -- all automatically.
Dancers, lighting, set, video, and sound all came together to present a sophisticated performance.  An intrinsic element, just as sophisticated, yet simple to use, was Stage Research's SFX software.  Lukesch said, "Without SFX, this would not have been possible.  We are very happy with SFX!"