London (June 5, 2006)–The 2-LP concept rock album, The War of the Worlds was released nearly 30 years ago, but it’s now the basis for a touring theater show in the UK. Making the mammoth production happen are three DiGiCo D5 Live mixing desks and a full surround Meyer Sound loudspeaker system.
The War of the Worlds engineers, Richard Sharratt (left) and Gary Langan, with one of the tour’s three DiGiCo D5 Live desks.Gary Langan is in charge of the master FOH console, while Richard Sharratt controls the the second FOH desk and Robin Fox sits at monitors, each with their own desk. “As a sound engineer, there’s no way I would have attempted this without some sort of digital help,” said Langan. Langan’s main D5 features 48 tracks of playback and 48 live band inputs, while Sharratt’s handles 48 string mics and eight vocal mics which then ‘subs’ into the master D5 and outputs through the matrix to the main loudspeaker system.
“The show demands that we mix certain elements in 5.1 surround but keep other parts just in the stereo domain,” said Ali Viles, system tech. “So on D5 we have the ability to route to the main left/right and also route to a multi channel buss, making it possible to move things in a 5.1 scenario around the arena. It sometimes feels like we are mixing two shows in multiple formats at the same time on one DiGiCo console. Meanwhile, The monitor D5 takes an analogue split of the inputs. Robin is taking full advantage of the D5’s power as well–he’s running 112 inputs and there’s loads of onboard effects stuff going on, so he’s pretty busy.”
One of the requirements for the tour was that a multitrack recording should be made of each show. At the end of the tour, Langan returned to the studio to mix a DVD of the tour and wanted to have a selection of different takes to choose from. Production had booked a sound mobile as part of the DVD shoot at Wembley, but Langan wanted even more options available to him.
The re-mastering of the original album, and all subsequent work on the project, has been done in Pro Tools, so that was the format they wanted the daily recordings to be supplied in. Viles reported, “We put together a Pro Tools HD system that enabled us to record 56 inputs direct from the D5’s MADI stream, whilst also recording another 16 buss outputs from the D5 Live via AES/EBU. The system slaved to the show’s time code and virtually ran itself each night, recording several hours of multi track audio per show. The Pro Tools recordings have dropped seamlessly back into our original session in a way that the material from the sound mobile did not.”