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Dave’s Digidesign Baptism of “Full Flame” Fire
A spiritual event was probably the perfect setting for the type of ‘baptism of fire’ that awaited FOH engineer Dave Hopkinson at the NEC Arena, where Christ for all Nations (CfaN) held its two-day Full Flame Fire conference and UK launch of its new DVD series.
The evangelistic movement, founded by Reinhard Bonnke in 1974, generally stages events in Africa, where audiences ranging in size from 100,000-1.6 million gather.
A long-time live sound veteran, Hopkinson can generally be found behind an analogue mixing board.
But when CfaN’s technical manager Derek Murray suggested using one of Wigwam’s five Digidesign Venue systems, the FOH man needed to reshape his thinking.
“Christian events are not like a normal rock show when you know there’s a set list and set time. With something like this anything can happen — sometimes it’s entirely spontaneous, and the prospect of using a new sound desk was an additional concern,” he admits.
But the Wigwam support team kicked in, and inside an hour Dave Hopkinson experienced his own spiritual awakening, as he piloted the Digidesign Venue D-Show. While Wigwam’s Alex Hadjigeorgiou talked him through the mute groups, Billy Ellison demonstrated the ease of routing and patching via the central display; Nick Warren added further assistance.
“It was an obvious decision to use the Venue, since we were using Pro Tools and needed to arrange splits to the monitors and to God TV,” qualified Hadjigeorgiou.
With HDx cards installed in the FOH rack Dave Hopkinson was ready to go, hooking up the Venue to two Pro Tools|HDŽ 3 Accel systems, running timecode from the desk and sending the live mix to an L’Acoustics V-DOSC rig.
The event was supported by full broadcast cameras and the broadcast feed was mixed in the Total Audio ‘Tardis’ and God TV trucks.
Any worries immediately disappeared. “My first experience on D-Show was absolutely brilliant; I’d take it out tomorrow if I could and certainly don’t want to go back to an analogue board after this,” said the delighted engineer.
“Having the Sidecar meant I could run the fader banks separately, and could hold onto the kick and snare and still get the vocals over the top. Every single input was used and likewise my FX returns were coming back in full.”
Dave Hopkinson did have time to review the full library of plug-ins that came with the desk, deleting those not required and ending up with “a great blend of factory fit and plug-in compressors and reverbs. The inline FX proved a great starting point.”
However, because of the vagaries of the show he needed to assign all the FX returns onto one mute group “because in a show like this the performers can stop mid-song; so you need to be able to lean over and get to everything instantly. Also, on occasions where there was no soundcheck we had no indication of the range of dynamics that we were going to face; but with D-Show I was able to keep control of the dynamics not knowing what was coming next — essentially mixing on the fly.”
The sound engineer concluded: “Digidesign made my life so much easier and this system made the soundcheck really fast. Normally in the analogue domain you would be looking at the FX rack and messing around endlessly. With Venue you can load up preset programmes and make these adjustments — and be able to scroll through channels quickly and seamlessly.”
Alex Hadjigeorgiou confirms that with the growing trend towards live DVD recording, and uploading performances onto internet sites, Wigwam are progressively being asked to supply Digidesign Venues complete with Pro Tools HD rigs to their clients.
In picture: Dave Hopkinson with his D-Show.
26th June 2007
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