Archive for December, 2011

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Reid Farrington’s A Christmas Carol

December 6, 2011

John Forkner (left) interacts with Reginald Owen from the 1938 film version.

I just finished work on a really cool theater project.  It’s a multimedia version of A Christmas Carol.  Director Reid Farrington created a video collage of around 30 different screen versions of the famous Dickens story.  With the help of 5 performers, he delivers this collage in a staging that blurs the line between a theater performance and a multimedia installation.

He spent a couple of years studying these 30 something films, from early XX century silent film versions, to the Muppets, Mr. Magoo and Bill Murray versions.  He edited a 4 layer video collage in FinalCut Pro and refined and tweaked it with the performers for several months.  At the end of the summer he locked in the final version and gave me all the audio edits via OMF files.  I converted that into a ProTools session and began cleaning up all the material.

Once in the space, I created an 8 channel speaker system, linked to an 8 channel edit template in ProTools.  That allowed me to build a customized surround system that would make the sounds follow the blocking of the performers onstage.  As Reid and the actors created the very dynamic choreography, I was, at the same time, editing the sounds so that they would follow their movements.

Actors rehearsing and part of the 8 track mix using ProTools9 with an M-Audio Firewire 410 interface, for the 8 discrete outputs.

Whether it’s the actual piece of video appearing on a moving screen, or the stage actor lip-syncing the film performance, the sound always seems to emanate from where the visuals are happening.  I’m really happy with the result. It really pulls you in, into this crazy and very active storytelling that’s happening in front of you.

For this project I used an iPad app called V-Control, by Neyrinck, that gave me 8 virtual faders to control ProTools.  It was a crucial tool that allowed me to do volume rides on the fly as the rehearsal was happening.  I didn’t have the luxury of rewinding and revisiting moments like I would in a regular mix environment.  I had to keep up with what the actors where doing and with the limited rehearsal time we had.  Since I also had to compress and EQ each piece of audio as I was building this, I had my hands full.

iPad running the V-control app. I had 8 faders at a time for quick on the fly mixing.

It was a beautifully intense and difficult process that pulled many different skills out of me that i’ve brought in from different fields of my career.  I really loved working on this project.

The project made the cover of the December issue of American Theatre Magazine.  We’re mentioned in 2 different articles there.

Go check out the show.  It runs until Dec 18th 2011, at the Abrons Arts Center, in the Lower East Side, NYC.

2 live actors, 2 screen actors playing Marley's Ghost (one is actually from Jim Carrey's animation flick) and 2 Black Theatre 'ninjas'.

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