Apparently, Elvis has not left the building. In fact, thanks in part to the wildly popular production, 'Elvis: The Concert', Elvis is very much alive… on stage, that is. The production, spanning a decade-plus, reunites Elvis' former TCB bandmates with a 16-piece orchestra—against a projected backdrop of Elvis' finest concert performances on film and video. Produced by world-class event designer Stig Edgren of SEG Events, in association with Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., the show also features Joe Guercio, Elvis' orchestra conductor for many of his Vegas performances as well as Elvis' backup singers The Imperials and The Sweet Inspirations.
The recent spate of shows in February and March 2010 that toured venues in the UK and Europe, featured a DiGiCo SD7 for show monitors with engineer Seamus Fenton at the controls. His involvement in the Elvis productions included tours in 2003 and 2005, as well as working with artists including The Fugees, Goldfrapp, Sarah Brightman and the Pet Shop Boys. Although not his first hands-on experience mixing on a DiGiCo system, it was his initial outing on a SD7.
"My first experiences on a DiGiCo would have been on D5's at various festivals and the like. And I have to confess I was not a fan of some aspects of the D5. Then last year we decided to do the whole Pet Shop Boys tour digitally. We chose an SD8 because it did MADI generically. When it came time to do the Elvis tour, I had initially asked for an SD8, but as none were available they offered me an SD7 instead… which I was very keen to have a go on."
The massive input/output requirements of the show were easily accommodated with the SD7. "Because the capabilities of the SD7 were immense, I took a 1-for-1 split, which was 72 channels coming to the board. In the past I have taken string sub-mixes from FOH because the channel count was so high, but I certainly didn't need to do that with the SD7. It was great having the full gig at my fingertips."â€¨â€¨
As for outputs, Fenton was managing a total of 21 mono and 3 stereo mixes for reverb and sub mixing, plus an additional 6 matrix mixes for spare mixes and PFL routing. The breakdown included 11 wedge mixes, 4 sub mixes to a little mixer for the conductor, a VT mix, 3 stereo hardwire IEM mixes to Shure P6HW beltpacks and 3 shout mixes to FOH, video and his own monitor position.
That initial mixing experience on the SD7 was nothing short of brilliant, Fenton recalled, and he found a lot to love about its inherent features. "I loved this console. It was even more user friendly than the SD8! Having the camera feeds and the Elvis footage right there on the screen on the meter bridge was brilliant. I also love that both my assistant and I could operate the board simultaneously. Seeing the gates and compressors up there on the meter bridge was excellent. Ganging together the graphics as you do the initial wedge EQ's saves a great deal of time as does ganging sections of the orchestra. I love having loads of channels available for duplicating certain channels for different things and even better having the ability to move them around and put them anywhere you want. Another great feature of the SD7 is the talkback routing and assignment. Most boards overlook this feature as it is normally associated with control rooms for broadcast or recording but with today's monitor requirements with IEM's, being able to talk quickly and efficiently to someone or their wedge mix is essential and speeds up soundcheck times. I love it for that!"
â€¨â€¨"Speaking as a monitor engineer the speed of getting to a graphic is very important. Both the SD7 and SD8 can get to a graphic quicker than anything else I have ever used. Using the 'Solo displays insert' function the GEQ immediately appears on the centre screen and then it is just a matter of touching the one you want and they appear on the faders in front of you… Genius!"â€¨â€¨
Fenton also found the SD7's sound quality was hands-down superior that other consoles he'd worked with in the past. "I really like the sound of the DiGiCo boards. They are very clean and precise sounding. I'm used to using PM1's and PM5's and they both lack a hi-fi edge that both the SD7 and SD8 have."â€¨â€¨