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Remote Audio Recording for Musicals: A “Theoretical” Approach

Clarence “Doc” Davis
Otterbein University
Department of Theatre and Dance
Columbus, OH

ABSTRACT:
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, theatrical producers worldwide were faced with the challenge of how to produce musical theatre while bringing the risk of infection down to acceptable levels. As Otterbein University Department of Theatre and Dance prepared to produce The Theory of Relativity on-stage (filmed to stream), it was clear that normal onstage singing was not feasible. Therefore, all dialog, singing, and most sound effects were pre-recorded 100% from the performers’ homes and living spaces. Final stereo files were created, with which the performers matched their actions onstage in order to reduce the aerosols exuded into the shared space. The video and audio recordings were then combined into a finished product for the audience to stream. The process of creating this recorded-to-stream staged piece led some among the cast and crew to re-evaluate their definitions of what does and does not constitute a live “Theatrical Performance.”

FULL PAPER:
Remote Audio Recording for Musicals: A “Theoretical” Approach
Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
March 8, 2021

PRESENTATION:
The 61st Annual USITT Conference
March 8, 2021


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Innovating the Design Process – Part 1

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:
This is the first in a series of four papers. The series builds on the premise that design is not a gift but instead are processes that can be learned by anyone. It uses a university class built around observing well known designers and artists to launch a journey to tease out various universal processes and demonstrates how they can be assembled together and applied to one’s own individual creative process no matter what one’s design specialization. The paper uses examples from my own design career and from my observation of other creatives along the way. At its heart, the paper advocates that as a creative person, one can also design one’s own creative process to meet different situation and to continually evolve one’s creative self. Part I deals with the adaptable role of prototyping in the design process.

FULL PAPER:
Innovating the Design Process – Part 1
Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
March 8, 2021


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The Art of Illusion and Distraction in Integrating Loudspeakers Within Themed Environments

Nathan McWilliams
Senior Audiovisual Consultant, Arup
nathan.mcwilliams@arup.com

Lisa Sun
Principal Show Set Designer, Resolution Design Inc.
Production Design Consultant, Meow Wolf Denver

Shawn Tuohey
Owner/Principal Show Set Designer, 2E Scenic Design Studio

Chris Hill
Senior Creative Director of Themed Portfolio, Adena Corporation

ABSTRACT:
Loudspeakers can be cumbersome objects to integrate into themed environments, and a sound designer’s desire to keep sound images on stage or aligned with a particular aural aesthetic can conflict with a scenic designer’s drive to shape the visual narrative. This paper explores techniques used to craft illusions for hiding loudspeakers in a wide variety of themed environments, but with a particular focus on methods for executing hides in diverse materials, diverting audience attention away from loudspeakers, balancing tradeoffs like cost or longevity, and team consensus building to ensure that themed speaker grilles are seamlessly integrated and sounding great.

FULL PAPER:
The Art of Illusion and Distraction in Integrating Loudspeakers Within Themed Environments
Publication: USITT Current Practices and Research in Sound
March 8, 2021

PRESENTATION:
The 61st Annual USITT Conference
March 8, 2021


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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