After successful sold-out runs in Los Angeles and London, the multi-media celebration Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton held fort for a week long run at the Avery Fisher Music Hall in New York City.
Quite a unique event for an orchestra-oriented venue as composer Elfman and filmmaker Burton have teamed on over a dozen projects spanning some three decades, this event inviting attendees to clad in costumes of their favorite film characters, with the orchestra and chorus performing in concert with visuals of Tim Burton’s original sketches, drawings, story boards, and film clips on the big screen above.
For such an event, sound is a critical component of the presentation. For that, a RCF TTL line array system was selected comprised a left-right hang of 20 TTL33-A three-way line array modules with four TTS56-A double 21” subwoofers. Four TT052-A dual 5” cabinets were added for front of stage lip fill, and four TT08-A 8” two-way cabinets provided monitoring for the conductor and choir. The system was operated through RCF’s RDNet 2.2 software, which provided the house engineer both control and monitoring of the system in real time.
The concert featured a series of suites from 15 scores Elfman has composed in his collaborations with Burton including Beetlejuice, Mars Attacks, Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Sleepy Hollow, to name a few. The concert event explores the collaborative relationship between music and storytelling and the process and importance that this has in filmmaking. Elfman and Burton have created a unique concert experience, blending music and visuals to celebrate the three decades long partnership of two of Hollywood's top creators. The concert featured the Concert Chorale of New York with the Philharmonia Orchestra of New York lead by Grammy winning conductor John Mauceri. Renowned sound engineer Paul Bevan manned the front of house audio position.
One of the principal challenges for this production is maintaining a very natural orchestral sound at a slightly elevated level than a purely acoustic presentation. With the performance inclusive of a wide range of dynamics, incorporating a male and female chorus, vocal soloists, electronic sounds from keyboards and some pre-recorded tracks from original scores along with the orchestra places a requirement on a sound system that is capable of great clarity.
Bevan has been mixing the Danny Elfman: Music from the Films of Tim Burton project in a number of venues around the world. And having worked in the Avery Fisher Music Hall, Bevan acknowledges, “the Avery Fisher Hall is a world-class venue for orchestral music, although it presents many challenges for any kind of amplified show,” continuing, “When designing a suitable system for this project, RCF TTL line arrays were recommended to me by several people whose opinions I respect.”
“We had very little time for set-up and tuning the system,” notes Bevan. “The cabinets went up quickly and easily in a venue that had never seen them before. The prediction software the RCF support engineer Emanuele Moralini used gave an extremely even and natural sound throughout the venue, even before the small amount of tweaking that would be necessary in any venue with any system.
“The clarity and separation that I was able to achieve, given the many different textures, made mixing the show in an extremely reverberant hall much easier than I expected. The system integrated these various elements beautifully.”
The New York Times reported, “This event was a substantive, rich and revealing concert,” noting how, “Elfman’s music and Burton’s cinematic images are intricately enmeshed.”
And Bevan concludes, “A further validation was that one of the shows was filmed by PBS for an upcoming TV show. I been in the studio with Ken Hahn of Sync Sound, mixing the tracks that were recorded that night. The cleanliness of the recorded tracks is astonishing, with no sign of the PA spilling back into the microphones. Considering that there were approximately 90 microphones in use, throughout the orchestra and chorus, this is a testimony to the control that I was able to achieve, while maintaining a full and dynamic mix in the hall. I look forward to the next opportunity to use this system.”
The Avery Fisher Music Hall is a 2,700 seat venue located in New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and is home to the New York Philharmonic. RCF TT+ systems had already been used in the same venue in 2012, when the Philip Glass Ensemble along with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Collegiate Choir had performed Philip Glass’s soundtracks.