Clarity was delighted to have been selected to install sound, lighting, projection and recording systems into the Uxbridge High School’s very impressive and newly built drama and music studios. The most challenging aspect of this design, from Clarity’s perspective, was that the drama studio includes both indoor and outdoor performance areas and our equipment was required to switch between the two.
The Drama Studio
Our drama studio design focused on the need for the room to be used in numerous ways; small and large performances, exam work or general day-to-day class activities. We arranged for the indoor space to be configured flexibly using a 360° ceiling mounted perimeter track with black drapes set slightly away from the walls to allow performers and crew to move unseen during performances. Multiple drapes with easy separation for entry and exit points enable many styles of event. A collapsible white drape hung from the same track acts either as a video screen or a backdrop for the LED colour washing lights.
Glass sliding doors on one wall of the studio create a large opening that becomes the stage for the outdoor performance area. An overhang above the glass doors and a protective canopy above the audience facilitated safe equipment installation. Ingress protected (IP) connectors were mounted under the canopy and overhang for sound and lighting usage.
The drama studio sound equipment we provided is built on Clarity’s robust portable sound trolley and includes Sennheiser Evolution radio microphones and receivers, CD/media player with USB, SD plus connectivity for computers, MP3, smart phone, tablets and Bluetooth. All inputs are easily controlled through an eight input mixer. To suit different performance types and sizes, connection panels were fitted front and rear of the studio. The same trolley can be used for outside performances via external connectors housed in weather resistant enclosures and connected back to the studio. In the outdoor configuration two of the four Martin Audio CDD loudspeakers normally resident indoors, can be moved outside and mounted on the lighting bar fixed under the front of stage overhang.
The indoor studio has four lighting bars in a rectangular formation supporting a mix of LED lantern types, including Selecon PL1 colour changing LEDs. Lanterns from these bars can be moved to the two outdoor undercover lighting bars when required. There are two levels of lighting control. Firstly, a push button control panel with pre-set scenarios for smaller events and secondly, via a Zero 88 FLX (DMX) control desk where trained personnel have the freedom to program and replay their own settings, as required by larger scale theatrical productions.
Completing the range of visual effects is a high-power projector with a remotely operated 4m wide screen, plus as previously mentioned a full height white drape, used either for projection or LED colour-wash backdrop effects. We installed two connection points for the projection system each with HDMI inputs. These are located with the sound and lighting control connection points so that a single operator can conveniently manage all systems.
The projector accepts multiple video inputs via a video-scaler or other similar control equipment, mounted within the sound system trolley.
The Recording Studio
The music department’s recording studio consists of a large/group practice space, music rooms, a keyboard lab, music practice rooms and a central control room hosting the main audio recording system. Audio links were fitted between the recording studio and the control room.
Clarity provided the level of expertise necessary to define a recording system and made certain recommendations for the use of acoustically friendly materials in the construction of the rooms.
The recording platform that Clarity supplied consisted of an Apple Mac running the ‘Pro Tools’ recording and dynamic processing software system that supports a multitude of sound effects. This was paired with the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 audio interface that provides 18 inputs of various types (analogue and digital) and 20 outputs. Microphones, musical instruments, voice etc., are fed into the Scarlett unit allowing users to adjust levels, latency and create further sound effects.
Also included were a pair of high-quality active monitor loudspeakers, managed from the studio control system. A line splitter allows a ‘monitor send’ to be split to various locations either within one area or across multiple areas. A multi-way standalone headphone amplifier was included for multi-user scenarios like choirs.
Training and Ease of Use
Clarity’s ongoing role is to make technology your friend, consequently we always endeavour to provide equipment that is easy to use. Where the client requires more sophisticated programmable equipment we assist in two ways.
- comprehensive training with on-going technical support from Clarity engineers.
- a “simple to use” mode for the general user, that circumvents many of the programmable features but gets the job done.