Updated: Nov 4, 2019
If you have been to several school presentations, assemblies, or performances, you would likely have seen people running around with cables, adjusting microphones, and fiddling with projectors. They are the tech theatre crew that handles all the sound, lighting, and stage, managing of all school-related events. The team always makes sure every event runs without any issues.
On October 23, the Heritage Woods Music Department hosted the Fall Concert with the assistance of several tech members. The fall concert, like all other events, began with planning and preparation. Since a lack of proper testing and organization leaves for large margins of error, it is good practice to make sure that everything works correctly. Unlike many events, the Fall Concert required extra preparation. This year, in coordination with Ms. Fester, Ms. Gay, and the music department, sound techs made several additions to their arsenal to improve their sound system.
One of the most promising contributions was the installation of the snake. The snake (a.k.a. multicore cable) is a bundle of many lesser wires. Each tiny cable corresponds to a single channel, therefore multiple channels can be carried, moved, and used elsewhere through a single, larger cable. By using the snake, techs were able to access the sound system from the centre of the stage instead of bringing long and messy cables to the patch board located at a wall.
Another important installment was the music department’s monitors. Monitors are types of speakers that allow performers to hear themselves during a performance. The musical department has graciously donated their monitors to be used inside the theatre. Replacing existing monitors with the larger ones helped the theatre produce a larger, consistent sound that allowed the ensembles to better shape their sound.
Additionally, Ms. Fester has acquired several DI boxes to use for the concert, as well as all future concerts. DI boxes are small electrical boxes that convert select audio sources to be compatible with the sound system. They are typically used to connect electrical instruments and audio players to the theatre.
Over the course of a few weeks, the techs ran multiple rehearsals with both the musical and vocal ensembles. During each rehearsal, the techs, ensembles, and music teachers worked to learn and plan out the sound setups. Sadly, the choirs did not have enough time to practice with the microphones. However, Ms. Gay plans to have both ensembles ready by the next concert.
During the concert, the tech crew set up 7 DI boxes and 2 microphones. The DI boxes were used to connect the piano, guitars, and basses to the sound system. Using the sound system to amplify the instruments allowed the audience, as well as the performers, to better hear them play. The two microphones, one dynamic and one condenser, were used to amplify the soloists. Dynamic microphones are the most commonly used mics. They can be seen almost everywhere due to their diverse applications. They are also unidirectional, meaning that they will only detect sounds from one side. On the other hand, condenser microphones are omnidirectional and more sensitive than a typical mic. They are comparatively small and require additional power for them to work. These features make condenser mics useful for picking up sounds quieter instruments such as the clarinet or flute.
If you are interested in helping out with school-related events, it may be a good idea to apply for technical theatre. Not only will you gain skills in theatre production, but you will also gain other transferable skills that can be used throughout your whole life. It is good to keep in mind however, that tech theatre is a class, and there will be certain expectations. The easiest way to join tech theatre is by attending one of the tech classes and speaking to Ms. Walters, the teacher and head supervisor of the class. Classes are held every Tuesday at lunch and typically involve signing up for events, technical training, and discussions about the equipment.
Written by Harper Kim