Sound Effects in Surround Sound

drawstuf99

Active Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2006
Hey,
Let me start off by saying that I am very rarely a sound person, with the exception of running a few basic shows (play, stop..etc.) and band gigs. I live over mostly in the lighting board.

Here's my question, and without lots of sound experience, I'm not so sure how complicated this is... Say I want to make some sound effects that seem to "fly" around the room. Our theatre has speakers in the front, mid area, and back, and then backstage that can all be handled independantly (to my knowledge).

For example, I think (just random idea here...) it would be neat to have a sound effect of a plane "flying" over the audience and then farther off (backstage). So, my question is how to create this effect, starting with the back speakers and then going all the way back to the backstage speakers? Does this really have to be done manually or can it be done in the editting/creation of the sound effect? I'd prefer the second method. If this is the case, what sorts of programs are available that can achieve this?

Thank you guys for your help, sorry for my newness to this subject. I just figured I'd start a basic, simple topic on the subject. Just how to get it done.

Thanks,
Andrew
 

Peter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2004
Location
MA, USA
Alot of this is going to boil down to what equipment you have to work with. From what I read you are talking about having 4 seperate channels of audio this means that idealy you would need a "source" like a computer/CD player that could output 4 channels. Many computers can do this and there are some systems like DVD audio that can have multi channel (usually 5.1) output. If you have some kind of system like this, then you could go in and make a sound effect that is saved in a multi track format, or just play the sound effect back in a program such as Cubase or Sonar that is made for multi-track recording/playback. Both of these programs have the ability to easly assign different tracks to different outputs on your sound card.

A similar, but possibly easier, option would be to have multiple CD/mp3/whatever players that you can hit play on simoltainously, however this leaves room for ALOT of human error. you may be able to cut down on this abit by making use of the right / left channels of each cd player to cut the number of players in half.

Yet another option is to setup a system of delays in between a single source and all your speakers. Depending on the sound being used, this may or may not work well.

Again, all of these options hinge on how easy it is for you to get the sources directly to each of these sets of speakers. I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that your system maybe has a main output that drives all the speakers in the house (with a built in delay system that makes all the speakers sound good together) and another output to power the on stage speakers. You may have to circumvent these existing systems inorder to directly input a signal to each set of speakers. Depending on if you need the speakers for stuff besides this effect, it may be tricky bypassing everything and then switching back to normal operation.

Again, this is all REALLY dependent on what your existing system is and I have NO clue what that is!

I personally would use my computer and Cubase to do something like this, but I know I would have an interesting time bypassing the existing delay module while leaving it ready to use again right away.
 

Chaos is Born

Active Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2006
Location
Cincinnati, Oh
There is a way to do this with only 4 outputs on your board set to the four different locations and a single imput to the board. Its a bit more complex however, and going to take some practice to get it right.

Set your sound to be able to play in all four channels (sub masters if you have them, monitors if you want to use those)

Your dexterity will be put to the test here when you work on fading up and down around the four sub masters to create the fading effect around the room.


Personally I can think of a million different ways of doing this... however i don't know what you have to work with so i can't really give you any insight on how you would be best suited to do this.
 

Foxinabox10

Active Member
Joined
May 1, 2004
Location
Boston, MA
I think the easiest would be to get a computer with 5.1 surround sound and feed the rear outputs of the computer to the rear speakers, the front to the front and so-on.
 

dbaxter

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2007
Location
Rochester, NY
Supporting Soundinabox10, some of the computer based sound players will support cues with control for front-to-back and/or left-to-right fading of a sound. Of course, I would have to recommend Cue Player Premium, but check the sticky note on the "Sound" forum for potential others.
 

Footer

Senior Team
Senior Team
Premium Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Location
Saratoga Springs, NY
Supporting Soundinabox10, some of the computer based sound players will support cues with control for front-to-back and/or left-to-right fading of a sound. Of course, I would have to recommend Cue Player Premium, but check the sticky note on the "Sound" forum for potential others.
If you have a digital board that can handle 5.1 output its as simple as moving a joystick... if not (and I assume you don't)....

go with the computer approach. Also... in a pinch if you can get 2 cd players that can handle the same remote or you are very good at hitting both play buttons at the same time its a quick way to get 4 channels. Mix it in a program like audition that can do more then 2 tracks then burn each track to a seperate track on a CD, and there ya go. I have done the 2 CD player thing with bells before, never done it with a flyover type cue. You could do the board thing, but its a bit harder to do.
 

jkowtko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2007
Location
Redwood City, CA
I do this type of stuff routinely with SCS (Sound Cue System) ... Professional license level, which gives you access to 8 devices defined for your audio program, and four devices per cue. For the single cue you can define your four devices to be stereo pairs, and the audio file cue (which starts the plane sound) would be followed by an auto-timed level change cue which will move the sound through the devices simply by level control. It's a poor man's way to automated surround pan (which I'd also like, but not absolutely necessary for now).

If you don't have an 8-channel sound cue player, another option is to daisy-chain (via direct outs) the four pairs of input channels together so they are all playing the same stereo track, then assign each pair of input channel faders to an output stereo pair, and use those faders to move the sound.

Of course, this is all assuming your board can handle 4 stereo pairs of output. However, even with 4 groups and 4 auxes you can do it.
 

mbenonis

Wireless Guy
Administrator
Premium Member
Joined
Sep 1, 2003
Location
Chicago, IL
Here's how I've done such effects in the past. The first step is to create the effect in Digital Performer or some other sound editing software. Export each pair of tracks as a stereo file (in your case, front and rear). Import these into QLab and create a sound group cue (or two regular cues if you don't have the enhanced audio license - just set the second one to follow with wait zero), and assign each file to the appropriate outputs and fire away. You can actually get away with an Enhanced audio license and a Griffin iMic if you have to - just create an Aggregate Device in Audio MIDI Setup and combine the internal audio and iMic outputs.
 

Hughesie

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2005
Location
Melbourne, Australia
ok, i don't know how they did it but i recently saw a performance of phantom of the opera and they were able to have LIVE audio circle the audience which i thought was cool, might have been a program they did it with, also Cirque Du Soleil's Varekai's introduction has a insect and "audio" rubber ball bounce around the tent which sounds really good also and adds depth

my 2cents, it's a lot of work if you do it properly and ask yourself whether it's really worth it

i think with a BSS soundweb system you can do it through it's software with only one input
 

jkowtko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2007
Location
Redwood City, CA
I think all of the good digital boards have surround panning features built into the board, so it's all taken care of. You still need discrete output channels to each speaker though.

Question -- is there an inexpensive surround panning unit out there anywhere that we can buy? I know the pros used a high-end unit on the Pink Floyd 1989 world tour, and ATI boards (also extremely high end) have them in channel strips, but is there anything in the < $1k range that will take 1+ inputs, have 4 outputs and a joystick?

Thanks. John
 

mixmaster

Active Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2007
Location
Iowa
ok, i don't know how they did it but i recently saw a performance of phantom of the opera and they were able to have LIVE audio circle the audience which i thought was cool, might have been a program they did it with, also Cirque Du Soleil's Varekai's introduction has a insect and "audio" rubber ball bounce around the tent which sounds really good also and adds depth
my 2cents, it's a lot of work if you do it properly and ask yourself whether it's really worth it
i think with a BSS soundweb system you can do it through it's software with only one input
years ago, I worked as a stagehand at a venue that hosted Phantom. We hung speakers from the ceiling all around the perimiter of the room. The signal from his source (CD if I remember right)went to a computer that had a joystick. he could move the sound all around the auditorium. I think I remember him saying there was something to do with phase things as well as volume.
 

museav

CBMod
CB Mods
Departed Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2007
Location
Marietta, GA
ok, i don't know how they did it but i recently saw a performance of phantom of the opera and they were able to have LIVE audio circle the audience which i thought was cool, might have been a program they did it with, also Cirque Du Soleil's Varekai's introduction has a insect and "audio" rubber ball bounce around the tent which sounds really good also and adds depth
Cirque du Soleil uses LCS (now part of Meyer Sound) systems extensively and when Varekai was here several years ago they were using an LCS Matrix system.

Many years ago I remember Rick Thomas talking about a production of Hamlet where I believe he used an analog joystick controlling VCAs the fed mutliple speakers around the room to allow the ghost 'fly' around the theatre.
 

fosstech

Active Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2004
Location
Tacoma, WA USA
Yeah LCS is great. Wish we had the money ;)

I've done 7.1 stuff with Richmond's Audio Box at a different venue. Here (since we only use LCR) we mainly use the audio box[es] for matrixing and occasionally cue playback.
 

Users who are viewing this thread