Walking in the air

Getting truly into the Christmas spirit, dBS Solutions have been working on The Snowman Tour 2017, where The Snowman film is brought to life on the big screen with live orchestral accompaniment playing the original soundtrack.

Raymond Briggs’ charming Christmas story of the boy who builds a snowman who comes to life has become a children’s classic. Its popularity has been further enhanced by frequent television broadcasts at Christmas.

The beautiful score, composed by Howard Blake, which includes ‘Walking in the Air’, made famous by Aled Jones, delights audiences of all ages and well worth a visit to experience the magical Christmas journey.

When the shows producers Carrot Productions first approached dBS Solutions, it was to provide a full turn key solution for the show.  The production toured a variety of venues through out December moving daily, sometimes with three to four performances a day. “It was clear that preparation of the touring equipment would be the key to ensuring the shows were loaded in smoothly and ran trouble free” said director Chris Bogg.

We liaised closely with the team at Carrot to design an audio, lighting and AV projection system for the show. dBS project manager, Damian Breeze was involved from the outset to conduct site visits and ensure the team had what they needed from staging to each venues power requirements.

The audio system needed to cover the vast array of venues from theatres, community halls to the largest Cathedrals across the country. A lightly amplified chamber orchestra, soprano singer, narration and some audio from the productions video content, all needed to be delivered to our audience in some of the most challenging acoustic environments possible. The long stone Cathedrals with reflective walls and floors demanded lots of small high quality speaker sources. Cable routes in some of these spaces can be a challenge, so we chose a powered box with power links running separate signals to each speaker with some custom built looms for the tour. “Choosing to utilise the dB Technologies DVX D8 HP speaker system on the tour was an easy decision” Damian commented. “ with the right mics, console and speaker selection, mixing the show becomes much easier. We needed a box that was lightweight, compact yet powerful and transparent. I was really impressed with the dB Technologies units.”

With the audio in hand, video fell to dBS engineer Kieran Burton. If our theatre touring experience has taught us anything, it’s the importance of back ups and the use of redundant tracking systems. We supplied a fully redundant tracking qlab system for the tour showing several animation videos some with audio. The shows output was then distributed to a main 20ft screen, side projection screens in most venues or sometimes large TVs. The main screen was powered by a Panasonic 10k projector and back up unit.

In addition to the shows animated video content, dBS Solutions also provided a team of camera men and edit engineers to film sections of the orchestra on the first show and turned around the video content overnight to allow clips of the orchestras various instruments, to be shown as part of a musical piece introducing the orchestra. This now allows all sections to be shown on the large screen in detail during the price for future productions adding further to the interactive content of the show.

It’s been a great production to work on during the festive period and something different to the traditional Pantomime. Thanks to the team at Carrot for getting us involved, to Danny, Mark and Kieran for looking after video and to Damian for all things audio, along with managing the project. We are already looking forward to next year.

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