sound design for miss saigon

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dungeonsound615
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sound design for miss saigon

Post by dungeonsound615 » Sun Apr 02, 2006 12:54 pm

Im hoping someone here has seen this musical. I have landed myself a gig with a volunteer theater group in my area as a sound designer. I figured this would be some great experience and a great thing to put on a resume when looking for work.

I have read over the script and am finding that sound design for a play or musical seems much different than say for a movie for short film.

Was Just wondering what advice any of you may have, The first meeting is on april 11 and i want to look as professional as possible

Mike

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JGriffin
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Re: sound design for miss saigon

Post by JGriffin » Sun Apr 02, 2006 6:48 pm

dungeonsound615 wrote:Im hoping someone here has seen this musical. I have landed myself a gig with a volunteer theater group in my area as a sound designer. I figured this would be some great experience and a great thing to put on a resume when looking for work.

I have read over the script and am finding that sound design for a play or musical seems much different than say for a movie for short film.

Was Just wondering what advice any of you may have, The first meeting is on april 11 and i want to look as professional as possible

Mike
Hey, Mike. I haven't seen the show but I've done some sound design for theatre...drop me an email and let's talk sometime this week. I'd be hapy to sit down with you about it.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

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kayagum
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Post by kayagum » Sun Apr 02, 2006 6:59 pm

I think you'll have a blast with the project. A ton of work, but between the variety of music and the foley/sound effect design, you'll have a blast!

Couple of key things to keep in mind:

* Director is king/queen- offer options, but the final call is the director's.
* Make sure your design is background- don't compete with the actors' dialogue- it's a complement to the stage action. We're talking EQ, diffusion (don't aim the speakers at the crowd if you can help it- aim it around the house (audience).
* If you're doing Miss Saigon- make sure you get a kick ass helicopter sound. :D

Best of luck, and keep us posted on your progress!
"Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't." ~ Erica Jong

"No one wants advice ? only corroboration." ~ John Steinbeck

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theistheman
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Post by theistheman » Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:12 pm

kayagum wrote:I think you'll have a blast with the project. A ton of work, but between the variety of music and the foley/sound effect design, you'll have a blast!

Couple of key things to keep in mind:

* Director is king/queen- offer options, but the final call is the director's.
* Make sure your design is background- don't compete with the actors' dialogue- it's a complement to the stage action. We're talking EQ, diffusion (don't aim the speakers at the crowd if you can help it- aim it around the house (audience).
* If you're doing Miss Saigon- make sure you get a kick ass helicopter sound. :D

Best of luck, and keep us posted on your progress!
Yes, exactly-the dialogue is most important, kick ass helicopter sound is necessary.

However, I've found that the director isn't the one you have to worry about. Usually I get along great with the director...it's the producer and the stage manager that are a pain in the ass. Get on their good side asap. Creative types are pretty open-minded and cool...it's the anal-retentive producer types that can make tech week/the show miserable.

But maybe that's just the shows that I've done.

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Post by JGriffin » Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:31 pm

theistheman wrote:
kayagum wrote:I think you'll have a blast with the project. A ton of work, but between the variety of music and the foley/sound effect design, you'll have a blast!

Couple of key things to keep in mind:

* Director is king/queen- offer options, but the final call is the director's.
* Make sure your design is background- don't compete with the actors' dialogue- it's a complement to the stage action. We're talking EQ, diffusion (don't aim the speakers at the crowd if you can help it- aim it around the house (audience).
* If you're doing Miss Saigon- make sure you get a kick ass helicopter sound. :D

Best of luck, and keep us posted on your progress!
Yes, exactly-the dialogue is most important, kick ass helicopter sound is necessary.

However, I've found that the director isn't the one you have to worry about. Usually I get along great with the director...it's the producer and the stage manager that are a pain in the ass. Get on their good side asap. Creative types are pretty open-minded and cool...it's the anal-retentive producer types that can make tech week/the show miserable.

But maybe that's just the shows that I've done.
SMs can be your best friend or your worst nightmare...most of the SMs I've worked with are very cool, but keep in mind at a volunteer community theatre that if you're not running the sound for all the perfrmances, the SM will be. And s/he will also likely be running lights at the same time. So one of your primary jobs on a show like that is to make sure the sound can be accomplished by someone who is a) not neccesarily audio-savvy and 2) has his/her hands full with the light board as well. If you make it impossible for them, they will make things very tough for you.

Also, know that for the most part, sound is the thing that theatre folks know the least about, and it's the thing that scares them most. Carry yourself with confidence--though don't be a prick--and make sure they know you've got them well in hand, and you'll be fine.

Before you walk into that meeting, have some idea what you want to do for your design. Go through the script and look for any obvious, scripted sounds--phones etc. Then look for opportunities to provide ambience, or sounds that are more evocative. If there's a battle, do you want to make it naturalistic or abstract? What would sell the moment more? When you meet with the director s/he can let you know how much of the scripted stuff he actually wants, how much offstage/representative stuff...are you responsible for the orchestra as well, not as a conductor, but as a sound designer: your purview can be "anything during the show that makes a sound" and that can extend to miking singers, amplifying solo instrumentalists...get an idea of the full scope of your job. That said, make sure that if someone else is miking actors and mixing the music you don't step on toes.



Be on top of stuff when you actually pull the sounds--I was at a show Friday where a phone rang onstage, and an audience member next to me leaned over to her friend and said, "this play is set in England...English phones don't sound like that!" She was right and she was taken right out of the moment.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

All the DWLB music is at http://dwlb.bandcamp.com/

kayagum
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Post by kayagum » Mon Apr 03, 2006 7:19 am

Agreed on getting along with the stage managers.

Before you go ragging on SMs (which is very easy to do, I know), remember they have the hardest job in a theater production. Herding theater types is worse than herding cats. (BTW: If you want to horrify yourself, rent the movie "Waiting for Guffman"- far closer to reality than many theater types would like to admit.)

What I have found in my theater work is that being very up front (and early) with the stage manager and house manager is crucial. Make sure you know every piece of equipment you will be needing from the theater, and let them know up front.

And let them know exactly what you're bringing in. In my last show, I literally brought every piece of equipment in except for some extra power cord extensions. They still want to know what you're bringing in, and where it was going to live.

Essential theater sound design gear: patch cords, mic cords (snakes are better yet), gaffers tape, Leatherman tool, good ratchet screwdriver, Maglite flashlight or headlamp.
"Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't." ~ Erica Jong

"No one wants advice ? only corroboration." ~ John Steinbeck

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