"Tell Me More!  Tell Me More!"
SFX and CH Sound Designs Palladium Combine to Reinforce
a High School Production of Grease

By Seth Liames

Any designer who has volunteered their time for a short run amateur production or high school musical knows the numerous constraints including budget, rehearsal time and consistency. However, meshing both SFX and Palladium allows for a user to virtually walk into the house with a first draft of the show on a USB key ready to rehearse.

The work flow for Grease started with CH Sound Designs MicPlot program.  CH Sound Design provide a (growing) number of template files for various shows on their website, and fortunately for us, Grease was one of them. We were able to plug our cast list into the template file, and MicPlot then worked out when all the pack swaps needed to happen, and generated a wall chart showing the entire show and who had mics when, mic and pack labels, running orders for the back stage sound crew, and handouts for each cast member.

I also built my cues for SFX in MicPlot, however it can be done in Palladium just as easily. Its a simple as just inserting a cue where you need the effect to occur, and then importing the MicPlot file into Palladium.

At this point we needed to set up SFX for our playback during the show.  Admittedly, the cue sheet wasn't as impressive or elaborate as most of the other Stage Research showcases, however, it did satisfy the needs of a small high schools production.


 

Given the way in which Palladium and SFX communicate, it is virtually irrelevant what order your cues go into the SFX cue list. However to maintain proper housekeeping with my list, I ordered each file from pre-show announcements to sound clips as they appeared in the show.

With the pre-existing module written by Chris at CH, it made it that much easier to communicate with SFX through Palladium. We ran SFX in non-linear mode for the production, which meant I plugged the SFX Cue ID into Palladium for whatever scene I needed it, and once I hit the cue in Palladium it would fire the correct sound based on its ID.


This method was advantageous because we found ourselves using the same effect in a few scenes (example: the sputtering Greased Lightning), instead of loading that cue in two or three times we only needed to load it once, referencing that same ID each time.

Palladiums ability to fire multiple cues in a scene was exceptionally handy. By programming the corresponding ID number I could mesh a number of effects in a few simple clicks. From there I was able to tweak the mix of the effects inside of SFX to have the proper layering of the sounds.

We mixed the show on a Yamaha 01V96v2, and Palladium was able to control channel mutes and fader levels (although we turned this feature off for the wireless channels), plus also control the effects processors for those scenes which needed any special reverb. Unfortunately our production of Grease opened before the release of Palladium 3.0. This latest version includes Actor Tracking EQ where (as CH describes it) Mixer channel EQs follow actors as they change wireless packs or mixer channels. It can also be used for actors who have different EQ for different costumes (e.g. hats).

There was some debate by my director and I at the beginning on the best way to achieve what we wanted, which was being able to transition cue-by-cue in an easy user-friendly manner. We started just by running SFX and found that by adding Palladium it helped to really enhance our experience with both programs.

Palladium information at http://www.chsounddesign.com