SFX Gets Bewitched

With the Halloween season upon us, what better way to showcase the haunting powers of SFX than with a good old fashioned witch hunt?

No, we're not talking about the Salem, MA kind of witch hunt, but the Middlebury College production of The Bewitched, a show featuring witches, warlocks and all things spooky. Sound Designer, Chris O'Connell has implemented SFX into every one of Middlebury's productions, with much success.

This month, Mr. O' Connell describes the use of SFX on The Bewitched and how it has helped the College in creating a terrifyingly wonderful production.

In His Own Words:
Christopher O' Connell, Middlebury College

The theater department at Middlebury College uses SFX for all of our productions now, including our recent American College Theater Festival National Finalist, Peter Barnes' "The Bewitched."

SFX greatly simplified the 100+ individual effects and more than 70 cues in our show. Furthermore, the software mixer in SFX coupled with a digital board allowed extremely simple integration of even the most complex effects, and SFX's ability to support multiple channels allowed us to create extremely complex surround sound scapes including an "Auto de Fae" (burning at the stake), a fight between celestial beings, and the voice of God.

From an audio engineer's standpoint, one of the nicest features of SFX is the ability to trigger cues and cue lists via serial and MIDI commands. With a digital sound board, and a bit of simple custom circuitry, this allowed us to run two computers in parallel to create a two point of failure system. Especially in a production like "The Bewitched," which had to travel, it was very compforting to have a second backup system running in parallel the entire time. Indeed in one instance, one of the PC's had a problem in the middle of a complex sound cue, and we were able to switch over with almost no perceptible interruption in the sound.

Finally, SFX gives us the unique ability to easily modify effects on the fly during rehearsals to respond to frequent requests for minor changes which would have been extremely difficult without such a program.