Publications

  • The Inclusion of Bone-Conduction Headphones in Theatre and Sound Design

    Kelly Murphey
    Texas Tech University 
    School of Theatre & Dance
    krmurphey@icloud.com

    ABSTRACT:
    This paper is an extension of ongoing research into bone conduction headphones and binaural recordings as used in theatrical settings. The objective of the research is to quantify and qualify the uses of bone conduction headphones in theatrical applications as an approach to theatre and sound design innovation. This will be achieved through a discussion of the background of bone- conduction technology, its current mainstream uses, and a presentation of current areas of theatre and sound design where application of bone-conduction technology can increase safety and present new possibilities in the realm of performance.

    FULL PAPER:
    The Inclusion of Bone-Conduction Headphones in Theatre and Sound Design
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    April 16, 2020

    PRESENTATION:
    The 60th Annual USITT Conference
    “Forum@Four” USITT Webinar Series
    April 16, 2020


  • Sounds from a Dream Place: Selective Listening and Its Implications for Sound Design

    Abra Clawson
    Freelance Sound Designer/Engineer
    abraclawson@gmail.com

    ABSTRACT:
    This project explores the ways sound simultaneously amplifies and silences contemporary issues surrounding politics, religion, and tourism in Kagbeni, Nepal. In this project, I curated a series of four compositions along with written analysis, bringing attention to how sound claims space and reshapes communities based on anthropological observations of listening practices in Kagbeni. These compositions draw attention to how different listening practices impact perceptions of a place or community, specifically Kagbeni. This project hopes to shed light on the consequences of selective listening, and how analysis of listening practices can inform sound design. Based on this work, I provide generative questions to consider when creating a design, which take into consideration forms of friction between people that push us forward.

    Compositions can be heard here: https://blog.uvm.edu/aclawson-thesis/sound-library/

    FULL PAPER:
    Sounds from a Dream Place: Selective Listening and Its Implications for Sound Design
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    April 16, 2020

    PRESENTATION:
    The 60th Annual USITT Conference
    “Forum@Four” USITT Webinar Series
    April 16, 2020


  • Transforming the Creative Practices of Composers and Sound Designers with VirDAW, the Virtual Reality Digital Audio Workstation

    Theresa Jean Tanenbaum and Vincent Olivieri
    University of California Irvine
    Irvine, CA, USA
    ttanen@uci.edu
    olivieri@uci.edu

    ABSTRACT:
    The Virtual Reality Digital Audio Workstation, or VirDAW, is a research project with the ultimate goal of developing a fully-functional Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for the Virtual Reality (VR) environment. This paper outlines the early stages and current status of the production of the project, including preliminary conceptual research, initial software development, conceptual reassessment, and current prototyping targets. It also identifies key goals for the next few phases of the research.  

    FULL PAPER:
    Transforming the Creative Practices of Composers and Sound Designers with VirDAW, the Virtual Reality Digital Audio Workstation
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    April 16, 2020

    PRESENTATION:
    The 59th Annual USITT Conference (Remote Session)
    “Forum@Four” USITT Webinar Series
    April 16, 2020


  • Affordable Sound Field Panning in Theatre

    Christopher Plummer
    Department of Visual & Performing Arts
    Michigan Technological University
    Houghton, MI
    cplummer@mtu.edu

    ABSTRACT:
    This paper will evaluate an affordable software that allows theatre designers to work in a virtual 3D space, a sound field, instead of worrying about setting volumes on individual loudspeakers. We will evaluate the software in our production of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice in a black box theatre with 20-30 loudspeakers above, below and around the audience. Through this production we will evaluate the transparency of actors’ reinforced voices statically positioned in the system as well as static and moving sound effects and ambisonic ambiances played back in Q-Lab.

    FULL PAPER:
    Affordable Sound Field Panning in Theatre
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    April 16, 2020


  • Self/Scape: An Exploration of Belonging and Wayfaring

    Miguel Angel Paredes
    Fullerton College & University of Cape Town
    Los Angeles, CA
    miguelparedes413@gmail.com

    ABSTRACT:
    Self/Scape is a theatrical autoethnographic sonic exploration of searching, belonging, and meditating the socio-cultural conditions and the lived experiences of a globalized Latino in a moment of anti-immigrant sentiment around the world. Following the framework of Practice as Research (PaR), this piece is the culmination of Miguel’s research at University of Cape Town in which a theatrical production is transformed into a curated space that is made to coexist with(in) a digital soundscape. This piece has been created to be experienced through the use of headphones and QR codes. Each QR code will be specifically placed in relation to the content of the code which documents the journey of self-discovery through a multitude of global spaces, especially in Los Angeles, Massachusetts, and Cape Town.

    FULL PAPER:
    Self/Scape: An Exploration of Belonging and Wayfaring
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    April 16, 2020


  • The Artistic Concept of Abstraction as Applied to Theatrical Sound Design

    David E. Smith
    Founding Director of the Theatre Sound Design Program
    School of Design & Production
    University of North Carolina School of the Arts
    Winston-Salem, NC
    smithd@uncsa.edu

    ABSTRACT:
    The paper seeks to uncover the conceptual process of abstraction and apply it to theatre sound design. The Author first examines the process of abstraction undertaken by Piet Mondrian in the world of fine art. Then it reveals how the concept was practiced in the scenic design by Jo Mielziner in the 1955 production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. Next the Author proposes a new conceptual framework for abstraction specifically for use in theatre design highlighting examples from sound design. Lastly the paper presents an example of how this new conceptual process of abstraction was implemented by the author in the sound design for a production of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.

    FULL PAPER:
    The Artistic Concept of Abstraction as Applied to Theatrical Sound Design
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    April 16, 2020


  • Creating MIDI Instruments for use in Theatre Sound Design

    Stewart Blackwood
    Sound Design MFA Candidate 
    University of California San Diego
    blackwoodsounddesign@gmail.com

    ABSTRACT:
    A sound designer’s job is to craft an aural landscape that feels organic to the world of the production. There are many different tactics and avenues to explore while doing this, but one way to encourage this feeling is to create show-specific MIDI instruments. This paper explores the process of making these instruments and examines three productions that I have designed as case studies for possible applications. While these instruments are not applicable to all productions, creating them can provide improvements in collaboration, improvisation, and performance.

    FULL PAPER:
    Creating MIDI Instruments for use in Theatre Sound Design
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    April 16, 2020


  • The Influences of Theatrical Sets on Acoustics

    Zachery L’Italien
    McKay Conant Hoover, Inc.
    zlitalien@mchinc.com

    ABSTRACT:
    Successful and cohesive theatercraft must engage and accommodate the needs of multiple disciplines, not the least of which is carefully considered set design. The way that sound interacts with a set influences the life of the performance. This paper is an exploratory article aimed at encouraging the design team to consider how best to avoid often-repeated acoustical mis-steps and optimize set design elements to help ensure acoustical success for every production, especially in acoustic (unamplified) environments. The author will draw on his recollection of various performances, and commenting on the experiences of others regarding set shaping, reverberation, and performer blocking.

    FULL PAPER:
    The Influences of Theatrical Sets on Acoustics
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    March 21, 2019


  • FMOD, an Audio Engine for Video Games, Adapted for Theater

    Stephen Swift

    ABSTRACT:
    FMOD is an audio integration tool for video games. It is used to build, process, mix, and route game controlled sound events. Since video games need to be able to react to player choices, FMOD is designed to make it easy to modify audio parameters in real-time. Although it is designed for video game production, it can be adapted for use in theatrical playback and offers many unique capabilities not currently widely employed in theater. This case study will examine how the FMOD audio engine was used to create a responsive score and sound design for the production of Wood Boy Dog Fish.

    FULL PAPER:
    FMOD, an Audio Engine for Video Games, Adapted for Theater
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    March 21, 2019

    PRESENTATION:
    The 59th Annual USITT Conference
    Louisville, KY, USA
    March 21, 2019


  • Noise Floor: Merging Theatrical and Themed Entertainment Design to Create an Immersive, Interactive Multimedia Gallery Exhibit (On the Cheap!)

    Josh Loar
    Professor of Practice-Sound Design
    Michigan Technological University
    jloar@mtu.edu

    ABSTRACT:
    The worlds of gallery art, theatrical design, and themed entertainment design are often thought of as distinct practices that do not overlap. However, as a professional who has worked in all of these fields, I see them as points on a continuum, and feel that experiences in one can inform work in another. In 2016, I set out to create an immersive, interactive, multimedia gallery installation that drew from my work in all of these fields, both to demonstrate that they are not as separate as sometimes imagined, and to create a project that would (however temporarily) shatter the barriers between art and audience.

    FULL PAPER:
    Noise Floor: Merging Theatrical and Themed Entertainment Design to Create an Immersive, Interactive Multimedia Gallery Exhibit (On the Cheap!)
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    March 21, 2019

    PRESENTATION:
    The 59th Annual USITT Conference
    Louisville, KY, USA
    March 21, 2019


  • Aesthetic Bandwidth

    David E. Smith
    Founding Director of the Theatre Sound Design Program
    School of Design & Production
    University of North Carolina School of the Arts
    Winston-Salem, NC
    smithd@uncsa.edu

    ABSTRACT:
    Designing to engage an audience in time-based art requires an additional set of tools than those that are traditionally used for objects and paintings etc. Aesthetic Bandwidth is one of these additional tools that I have developed as a professional sound designer to help me design sound for theatre. Since we can usually only ‘see’ what we are looking for, this paper opens our eyes to the concept of Aesthetic Bandwidth and how it can be used to help design sound cues to fit into all time-based arts.

    FULL PAPER:
    Aesthetic Bandwidth
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    March 21, 2019

    PRESENTATION:
    The 59th Annual USITT Conference
    Louisville, KY, USA
    March 21, 2019


  • Experimental Audio Tours: Activating the Archive

    Seth Warren-Crow with Heather Warren-Crow
    Seth.Warren-Crow@ttu.edu

    ABSTRACT:
    Last June my collaborator Heather Warren-Crow and I completed an artist residency at The Museum of Performance + Design in San Francisco, CA where we launched an experimental audio tour called Earmark: Performance Alive that engages with the museum’s 3.5 million-item collection. I will discuss the challenges and successes of Earmark, its relation to other forms of headphone theatre, and argue that this format of an experimental audio tour provides rich terrain for theatre practitioners to interface with museum archives and the public. The experimental audio tour has the potential to create interesting pathways of community engagement with the arts and is conducive to initiating interest in historical as well as and new, interdisciplinary modes of performance.

    FULL PAPER:
    Experimental Audio Tours: Activating the Archive
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    March 15, 2018

    PRESENTATION:
    The 58th Annual USITT Conference
    Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
    March 15, 2018


  • Seven Steps to a Theatrical Sound System Design

    Josh Loar
    Professor of Practice-Sound Design
    Michigan Technological University
    jloar@mtu.edu

    ABSTRACT:
    Texts exploring the discipline of sound system design are too often aimed at the advanced practitioner, detailing techniques that are logical and useful if the reader has already designed, installed, and operated many systems, but that are often over the head of inexperienced designers trying to learn the discipline. There is a gap in the literature, and this article presents a logical, orderly process for analyzing a production’s sound needs, selecting appropriate equipment, and creating an operating plan. By breaking the process down into manageable and clear tasks, this guide demystifies the essentials of theatrical sound system design.

    FULL PAPER:
    Seven Steps to a Theatrical Sound System Design
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    March 15, 2018

    PRESENTATION:
    The 58th Annual USITT Conference
    Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
    March 15, 2018


  • Sound Design for Video Games: An Interdisciplinary Course for Computer Science and Art Students

    Vincent Olivieri
    Claire Trevor School of the Arts
    University of California, Irvine
    olivieri@uci.edu

    Richert Wang
    College of Engineering & College of Creative Studies
    University of California, Santa Barbara
    richert@ucsb.edu

    ABSTRACT:
    This paper describes our experience and observations in creating an experimental interdisciplinary course focusing on sound design and its implementation in computer games. This paper provides a model for others that may want to develop similar courses that focus on interdisciplinary collaboration in this genre. The course was targeted to motivated computer science and sound design / art students, and was not designed as an introduction to computer science. Rather, it was designed as a project course where students can apply topics in sound design by creating a video game within a diverse team, enabling a collaborative learning opportunity. Students applied both creative sound design principles and technical implementation using industry-standard tools such as QLab, Wwise, and Unity.

    FULL PAPER:
    Sound Design for Video Games: An Interdisciplinary Course for Computer Science and Art Students
    Publication: Association for Computing Machinery, 2018 Proceedings
    February, 2018

    PRESENTATION:
    The 49th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science EducationNew York, NY, USAFebruary, 2018 The 58th Annual

    USITT Conference
    Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
    March 15, 2018

  • Alternative Methods for Cost Effective Diffusion

    Zachery L’Italien
    McKay Conant Hoover, Inc.
    Westlake Village, CA,USA
    zlitalien@mchinc.com

    ABSTRACT:
    Acoustic diffusion is a necessary element in the realm of room acoustics; with its high commercial cost, it can be hard for a sound designer to afford a sufficient amount to treat their personal studio. This paper addresses this situation for the DIY community to offer alternative methods to effectively and efficiently create diffusors with a much smaller overall cost.

    The methods that are examined throughout this paper will revolve around the use of 3D printing, an increasingly more common mode of production in households, as well as the use of closed cell and spray foam to mold around/inside of the 3D printed diffusor segments. This paper will analyze the cost, time, and overall diffusive efficacy of the production methods mentioned.

    FULL PAPER:
    Alternative Methods for Cost Effective Diffusion
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    March 8, 2017

    PRESENTATION:
    The 57th Annual USITT Conference
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    March 8, 2017


  • To The People: Community Engagement With Multimedia Performing Arts Through Portability And Interactivity

    Dr. Robin Cox and Dr. Benjamin Smith
    Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
    robcox@iupui.edu

    ABSTRACT:
    Observations are drawn from numerous events of two portable and experiential community participation multi-media environments, Big Tent and Hourglass. These concepts, created and realized by the co-authors, focus upon broadening active public engagement with cross-disciplinary arts. Approaches to venue design and artistic content seek to diversify event location possibilities and encourage community involvement. Specific advantages are noted for both Hourglass, a community dance participation event of immersive live acoustic/electronic music and interactive video, and Big Tent, a portable large scale 360-degree sound and video performing arts venue for audience interactivity.

    FULL PAPER:
    To The People: Community Engagement With Multimedia Performing Arts Through Portability And Interactivity
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    March 8, 2017


  • A Methodology for Developing Descriptive SPL Standards in Theatre

    Christopher Plummer
    Department of Visual & Performing Arts
    Michigan Technological University
    Houghton, MI
    cplummer@mtu.edu

    ABSTRACT:
    This paper defines a protocol and equipment requirements for measuring SPL during theatre shows in order to build a library of comparable data. This library of data will allow designers and consultants to better specify sound systems for theatrical usage, reducing over specifying equipment. Live concerts often have considerably higher SPL requirements than theatre but often form the SPL standards for specified equipment. In addition, a well-defined SPL understanding would allow better calibration of content creation studios to match performance venues as is the standard in cinema.

    FULL PAPER:
    A Methodology for Developing Descriptive SPL Standards in Theatre
    Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
    March 8, 2017

    PRESENTATION:
    The 57th Annual USITT Conference
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    March 8, 2017