AN UNDERGRADUATE COURSE IN SOUND DESIGN FOR THEATRE
Lawrence Randolph Haines
BS Music University cf Colorado Denver, 2002
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Masters of Science
2009 by L. Randolph Haines
All rights reserved.
This thesis for the Masters of Science Degree
Lawrence Randolph Haines
has been approved
Haines, Lawrence Randolph (M.S Recording Arts)
An Undergraduate Curriculum in Sound Design for Theatre
Thesis Directed by Leslie Gaston
Sound has been used in theatre for thousands of years since the days of Grecian
Theatre. Over the years, especially in the latter part of the 20th century, it has become a
much more prominent and recognized part of the theatrical experience. The need has
never been greater for organized training for this, both in theatre curriculums, and in the
audio disciplines to ensure the positive growth of the medium. Modern playwrights now
routinely include audio cues in scripts; even the smalier production houses now
encourage sound design along with lighting to create the production environment. Many
theatre programs across the world are incorporating classes in sound design,
recognizing the need and importance of this booming segment of theatrical design.
The purpose of this class is to provide an interdisciplinary learning experience
that will allow for an understanding of, and capacity for. actual design work for audio in
theatre. It will encompass both lecture and lab work. The student will gain an
understanding of the history and how, in the last 40 years, developing Spatial,
Psychological, and Sensory immersive technology, has opened opportunities that were
just not possible before, in theatrical production. Sound design has become an integral
part of the entire theatrical production. Sound design is part of the creative palette
allowing for immersion into the world of the production. Given the heightened exposure
to sound in modern audiences through computers and personal audio devices, there is
a greater demand for training in the use of sound. The design starts as the audience
enters the theater, and is held through until they leave. It is a total immersion concept.
The process for a successful sound design will be taken from cueing a script, proposing
a design through meetings with production staff including the director, to coordinate with
designers and the vision of the playwright, and implementing the design in an actual
theatre space for an opening production. Through this class the student will learn basic
recording techniques to enable execution of the necessary cues needed for the
production. In addition, this course will cover how to develop a portfolio and how to
enter the business.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
I would like to dedicate this work to my wife Karen, who has steadfastly stood by me all
through my college experience providing unwavering support and encouragement with
every facet of my educational experience. I could not have attempted this work without
her love and encouragement.
I would like to acknowledge first Revels, Inc. for giving me my first chance at real
theatre design and for letting me repeat that experience a number of times. And of
course all the other productions I have been involved with since. Also to UCD theater
Department Chair Daniel Koetting and Co-chair Laura Cuetara for allowing and
encouraging me to design a production for school and then nominating it for a Kennedy
Center Merit Award; I ended up winning that award. They provided an opportunity for
me to work as a professional in an academic format, allowing me to show what is
possible to other students as well. Mentoring younger students has probably been my
greatest joy in my educational experience.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2. COURSE MATERIALS
a. Course Syllabus..........................................14
3. WEEKLY LECTURES.............................................20
a. Week 1 Lecture 1: Introduction of class, instructor, students
b. Week 1 Lecture 2: Class overview, what is expected, questions
c. Week 2 lecture 1: History of sound design early years
d. Week 2 Lecture 2: History of sound design to now
e. Week 3 Lecture 1: Audio gear
f. Week 3 Lecture 2: Audio gear
g. Week 4 Lecture 1: Theatre basics and use
h. Week 4 Lecture 2: Theatre basics and use
i. Week 5 Lecture 1: Elements of design
j. Week 5 Lecture 2: Elements of design
k. Week 6: Review Part 1 review and exam prep
l. Week 6: Exam
m. Week 7 Project 1: Discussion
n. Week 7 Project 1: Start
o. Week 8 Lecture 1: Aesthetics and realization of design
p. Week 8 Lecture 2: Working with other departments
q. Week 9 Project 1: Presentations all week
r. Week 9 Project 1: Finish presentations and class discussions
s. Week 10 Project 2: Start, discussions and goals
t. Week 10 Project 2: Class production meeting(s) with staff and design criteria
u. Week 11 Project 2: Recording
v. Week 11 Project 2: Progress reports
w. Week 12 Project 2: Recording, finalizing cues and music
x. Week 12 Project 2: Progress reports
y. Week 13 Project 2: Making the theatre ready
z. Week 13 Project 2: Setting up the production and rehearsals
aa.Week 14 Project 2: Rehearsals
bb. Week 14 Project 2: Production run, last minute fixes
cc. Week 15 Project 2: Finishes run papers and notebooks due
dd. Week 15 Project 2 Class discussion, were goals met..?
ee. Week 16 Lecture 1: Creating a Portfolio
ff. Week 16 Lecture 2: Business of sound design
1. Image logs
3. List of schools offering classes in sound design for theatre currently in North
The class, Sound Design for Theatre, is an interdisciplinary approach to the
subject. This class is relevant to a theatre curriculum to support the demand for sound
designs for productions, along with music technology/recording arts programs to teach
skills used in live events, specifically corporate events which are structured like theatre
productions. Many performances by visual and performance artists also use the
structured context of a theatrical production, along with most pop music shows.
The growth of theatrical sound design has been huge in the last 40 years,
mirroring the growth in live audio reinforcement and the need to accommodate
accompanying venue sizes. Theatrical companies are now seeing the value and
appropriateness of a good sound design for any production. Modern technologies have
now brought this to a place where even a small theatre company can afford to use
audio and realize how much it contributes to the overall ambience and even tone and
direction of the presentation. Students will also learn what reinforcement actually is,
theatre hierarchy, the concept of aesthetics as applied in design, and applying these
concepts in actual designs.
Rock and roll music started a revolution in audio reinforcement and design that
has also been pushed by elements such as performance art, and other advanced
theatrical productions transforming cumbersome facilities into working rooms. Sound
design is now significantly important in almost every facet of entertainment.
The trends all point to the use of sound to sculpt space. Soundscape design is
emerging as an interdisciplinary field within design education, and one that not only
challenges the ocular-centric nature of most design education, but one that could
provide a useful mode through which to investigate the coincidences between different
design disciplines. While design students are visually astute, their listening skills and
general awareness of the acoustic environment is often underdeveloped. However, their
ability to imagine spaces in three dimensions and consider the motion of an observer
through space is an important skill that can be harnessed when researching actual, or
designing a virtual soundscape. (The Aural Eye: Soundscape Practice and Pedagogy
in Design Education Lawrence Harvey, SIAL Sound Studios, RMIT University, Australia)
The entertainment industry is so interlinked now, theatrical design is not limited to
theatre; it can also be about corporate meetings, presentations, and events. These can
be structured like theatrical events with the different departments and having a show
producer functioning in the same role as a play director. There is a stage manager,
technical director, and the various working departments: scenery, electrics, audio, and
video. Perhaps a production will have special needs such as pyrotechnics and/or lasers,
as well as the need for audio reinforcement. These elements can apply to any type of
production. In this course students learn aspects of the actual placement of sound
elements as well as some basic recording and mixing skills, equipment knowledge, and
design elements with a foundation in theory and a hands on approach. The theory is
reinforced and enhanced by the hands-on lab work making it an integral part of the
course. This practical work reinforces the points made, and provides experience to
allow the student to develop problem solving skills within a real working environment.
This course will also give Recording Arts students a more diverse awareness of the
options in todays workplace, and acquire skills to assure a successful career.
To define reinforcement is to find the elements of sound still rooted in the
exchange of information, and the naturalization of sound. The truth is that sound is
clearly a major production element in theatre now from high school on. Touring a high
school in the Seattle Washington area, the findings were a high level of sophistication in
the gear available for productions. This means that students are being exposed to audio
earlier, showing the need for courses such as this, refining the basics students learn in
the earlier stages of their education. Every theatre production virtually in every college,
university and professional setting has a significant audio component.
Since 2002, Live Design has been sponsoring Broadway Sound Master Classes
(BSMC) for professionals, union members and students with an innovative curriculum to
advance the art and knowledge in the field. USITT is also providing more and more
training, available to all who take the initiative to learn.
As shown by the list in the appendix, more universities and colleges are offering
classes in sound design. By interviewing professors and instructors whenever possible,
I was told repeatedly that the needs of the current market are not being recognized in
most curriculum. My research has not uncovered any courses aimed at both the
theatrical departments and technology recording arts departments. These departments
have segregated and limited the scope of their offering to their own majors, and
Recording Arts programs still do not recognize the need for theatrical design. Most of
those recording arts classes are now updated to include modern digital technology, but
they apply them mainly to just learning digital workstations in recording studios, and
gaming design. The audio industry with the masters level and beyond classes being
offered, has clearly signaled that instruction in audio design must be implemented at a
students level, not just in a theatre curriculum, but in recording arts and other audio
studies, or fall out of relevancy. Design is now so permeating the industry that it must be
considered a basic skill for any student considering a career in the entertainment
technical field. Theatre design has led this charge, but now the gauntlet must be picked
up by all genres.
Gaming design is another hot property in the field using some of the same
elements in audio design and is good to be addressed, but the immediacy of live
performance will never be superseded by prerecorded tracks. Both have their place and
can interact if used appropriately. Digital technology has also found its way into live
reinforcement, another part of theatrical sound design, but no schools have yet
combined these design processes in one class. The students build on all of this to
provide a background useful to many disciplines.
By the end of this course students will have gained valuable experiential working
knowledge in both theatre and recording arts and learn how to market themselves in the
workplace to start a successful career in design: in other words, be ready, willing, and
able to enter the world with a basic skill-set to build on.
2a. Sound Design for Theatre
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Janek Schaefer, Audio & Image
Course Description and Objectives
This course is designed to be an upper tier elective class and will provide an interdisciplinary over-
view of the history of sound design for theatre. The course w ill build on the audio and theatrical skills
students have acquired in basic prep classes for their declared major previously, enabling them to
design and implement the audio requirements for a production in a theatrical setting. Students will
receive a theoretical Ivackground and hands-on experience in theatrical sound design and will develop
a design |M>rtfolio. The students will learn about nav igating the business of professional design per-
taining to sound design for theatre. This course will help develop skills in both the music industiy and
theater industiy. Students will achieve a basis of understanding to competently work in the industry.
Using the aforementioned knowledge and experience acquired in this course, students will be able to
enter the working world with a basil- skill-set in place enabling them to understand and perform work
duties using the theory and mechanisms of design in a modem format. They gain experiential knowl-
edge and leave prepared to be useful in the real world.
For theatre majors: Technical theatre production basics, theatre appreciation
For music industry majors: Basic ami intermediate audio production classes
Instructor: Randy Haines
Office: Art and Media 121 S
Office hours: 8-9 am M \V or by appointment
Technical Theater for Nontechnical People 2nd ed. Drew Gampliell
Theatre Sound John A. Leonard
Sound and Music for Theatre 2nd ed. Deena Kaye & James LeBrecht
Sound Design for Theatre Fall 2009
2a. Sound Design lorThealre
The Fundamentals of Sonic Art & Sound Design Tony Gibbs
Developing and Maintaining a Design-tech Portfolio Rafael Jaen
YAMAHA Sound Reinforcement Handbook Gary Davis & Ralph Jones
This is a university. Attendance is not a strict requirement, but will certainly show in your work per-
formance and skills acquired. Think of this as real life: if you don't show up. you dont get the job,
your reputation is mined, you lose your house, dont get to eat. and eventually fade away, never to be
bean! from again. Make your choice, live or die. Glass participation will affect your grade, however.
All students are ex|>ected to abide by the Ethics Policy found in the University ( Catalog. Plagiarism and
other ethics violations may result in a failing grade and/or suspension.
Students with a disability must register with the Disability Resources and Serv ices and should notify
their professor within the first week of class regarding their disability status and and special requests
for accommodations. Although disabled students may complete course requirements under condi-
tions that are made in consideration of their disability, they are still held accountable to the same
ov erall standards and ov erall course requirements.
All assignments are due at the beginning of the class period for w hich they have been assigned. Late
work will not be accepted, even if the student is absent on the day of submission. Any exceptions
need to be made PRIOR to the start of class.
All students are required to follow all ndes of conduct and policy for food and drink in any facility
used in this course.
Grading 1st section exam 20%
1st Project 20%
2nd Project 50%
Remember; if you choose not to participate, youll already l>e lowering your grade by one letter.
92 100% A
82 91% B
Sound Design for Theatre Fall 2009
2a. Sound Design for Theatre
72 81% C
62 71% D
Below this is failing.
There w ill he two projects required for successful completion of this course. The first project w ill he a
basic in-class project. The second project will involve the entire class creating and implementing a
design for a school production. There will also Ik* a paper as part of the second project. The project
requirements are as follows:
This project will Ik* to huild cues and structure music to fit a play. Students may list* available sound
effects libraries to either make or employ what is needed. These projects involve two students, each
functioning as the director for one design and the designer for the other. Each student selects a play,
any play, then functions as the director of that play. The director provides tin* interpretation of both
director anil playwright to create a successful design and imparts this to the designer, who will plan a
successful design from start to finish. The first project will involve a presentation and critique in class.
Both designer and director will give their pers|K*ctives on how the design should be and how the
design turned out. A rudimentary huild of cues that are placed in order, as well as music (if desired), is
required as well as a discussion of placement of gear and w here cues emanate. Does this work for the
production? Each designer is required to turn in cue sheets, a disc with cues, and a short synopsis of
the process. The timeline for this project will be listed in the schedule. Students will complete a 1-3
page paper outlining your experience in this project and what you learned anti are ready to bring for-
ward to Project 2. More specific information will he given at the start of the project.
The second project w ill involve the class, and 1m* part of a working production in school. The class will
designate attendees to meetings, w ill go over details with the director, and will caucus to share the
director's desires for the production. The students will take the design from conception to fruition,
including recording and mixing any cues, setting all music needed (including writing if it's possible),
and setting all gear needed in the theater including all ancillary needs such as intercom, paging and
listener assist. They will also designate an operator, hopefully more than one depending on the run, to
give as much experience all around as possible. The final part of the project will be a w ritten pa]M*r
describing the entire project, their experiences, what they learned, and what they will take forward
into life. This will he a minimum 5 pages to maximum 10 pages, double spaced. The paper will serve as
the capstone of this project and w ill weigh 60% of the project grade. The remaining 40% w ill Ik* a
notebook containing notes from meetings and about the design, plus class participation. (Note: This
Sound Design for Theatre Fall 2009
2a. Sound Design lorTliralre
project will also be 50% of the final grade for the class.) All preliminary work is encompassed in the
Week 1 Introductions, syllabus, and class overview
Week 2 History of sound design
Week 3 Audio gear
Week 4 Theater basics and use
Week 5 Elements of design. Start discussion about project 1
Week 6 Review and exam
Week 7 Project 1 discussion and work
Week 8 Aesthetics and realization of design including working with other departments
Week 9 Project 1 presentations
Week 10 Term break
W eek 11 Project 2 start class meetings with production staff & design criteria
Week 12 Project 2 contd recording and progress reports
Week 13 Project 2 recording, finalizing cues and music and progress reports
Week 14 Project 2 setting up the production and rehearsals
Week 15 Project 2 production runs and closes
Week 16 Project 2 finishes and papers and notebooks due
Week 17 Creating a portfolio and business of sound design
This schedule is always subject to change as needs may change.
Sound Design for Theatre Fall 2009
2a. Sound Design for Theatre
This is a contract. Contracts will be a part of your professional life. You should take this seriously and
know that this is a binding agreement.
I,___________________________________________, certify that I have read and understood each part
of this syllabus and agree to abide with each section and requirement. Any and all questions of con-
tent have been cleared.
W elcome to the rest of your life.
Sound Design for Theatre Fall 2009
3a. WEEK ONE
This is a class setting out the basics needed to be a successful working sound designer
in theatre. This class is aimed at an interdisciplinary (recording arts and theatrical
production) audience, covering the basics of each segment and allowing the student
hands on experience in design. It will also give the student a scope of the look of a
production, which can also be applied to other avenues in the professional audio field
such as corporate events and meetings. In this first week we introduce ourselves, talk
about expectations, both student and instructor, and start to learn about the history of
this art, for it is an art.
Introductions The class starting with the instructor introduces themselves, talking
about their background, expectations, so forth.
Syllabus.... The instructor will go through the entire syllabus, discussing each
section, take questions, make sure that each student and the instructor know this is a
serious binding academic contract. Make sure that each student understands the
syllabus and requirements of the course, reads and signs the syllabus
acknowledgement at the end.
1st class assignment.. Up to one page What do you expect to get out of this class?
A couple of paragraphs about what each student expects from the class.
The assignment is due next class.
3b. WEEK ONE
Opening statement class synopsis: what is the perception of the student?
This class will open with a short discussion of the assignment, recognizing the ideals of
the class and reconciling them with the desires of the students. Then start a discussion
of the uses of the design into the 20th century where modern design as we consider it
really evolved. Then talk about radio and early TV live broadcasting, and some
if a light goes out the LD will hate you... if the sound goes out
everyone will hate you
Talk about assignment The class and perceptions. This is a discussion of the
assignment from last class. What is the perception of each student about will go on in
class? An open discussion in class and then on to...
Various uses of design different types and usage
Radio old and new In the heyday of radio, there were many things going on.
It was all live theatrical presentations, just over the air. Talk about how the
presentations were mounted and the facilities were used. How were things set up
on the stages? What elements are there? When did this start and how was it
Early TV Now this is more like going to see a live production. How is this the
same as the radio shows? What was different and more like theatre? Define and
describe how things were set to allow for the visuals for TV. There is still the full
theatrical hierarchy used for these shows. Define that for all students.
Current In todays world, there are more opportunities than ever. There still are
live theatrical productions, which depending on the production and size of the
venue, means you may be placing mics all over or just providing some needed
effects to support the show. There are also corporate events, which are
structured like theater presentations, including effects and placing system pieces
in different places in the venue. Performance art shows and highly staged
ubiquitous pop shows which are tightly rehearsed and presented like theatre in
that staged with full crews and designs.
Theatre productions From your local corner playhouse to Broadway, the
shows all still have needs. Define the needs and the market and how theyre
presented depends on the director and the venue. What can be supported and
useful for the show presented? Talk about the limits of productions, large and
Corporate events These might seem like rather dry events with mainly
speeches going on, but you also have video and audio playback, including
effects cues and so forth, also being delivered all over the venue. The design
here is more of system and placement, but the theatre hierarchy is still in place.
Talk about how that is used. Define the elements of these shows.
Pop shows Its a theatrical presentation set to music. Everything is
choreographed in advance, with all the appropriate effects, both audio and
lighting and video in full use.
Relevance of design....
Still low on thought and priority totem pole, but has made huge strides in last
thirty years in awareness and capability. Talk about how awareness has risen and
in todays world the importance has grown for audio design and the evolution of
it. Talk about how audio affects the production.
Next week History Remind the class that the general history and elements will be
overviewed in the coming weeks.
3c. WEEK 2
This class is about the origins of design, how it was first used in the old greco roman
theatre presentations. This class goes on through the medieval to renaissance times.
Shakespeare, opera, and plays all used design in their rudimentary way. This continues
to 19th century theatre productions, including the introduction of vaudeville.
Earliest times This class will survey the use of greco roman... The use of natural
bowls and arenas, actors hiding to make cues. They made masks with mouths shaped
like horns to project voices. You see the use of natural bowl formations to let the
audience hear the production. Also later coliseums still emanating the principles learned
in the natural bowls for sound dissemination.
image 1 see image appendix
Medieval to renaissance
Churches In medieval days the main presentations were religious in
nature. How were events used? Buildings were made with rudimentary
acoustics in mind. Show how these had progressed from the original
Opera Now we move into the renaissance period and we have staging
of operas which are full productions, sponsored by the rulers of each little
fiefdoms and the sovereigns of countries, those being the most
prestigious. What was different now and why? How had staging and
technology progressed to support the productions? Show all of this to the
class to give an understanding of the progression.
Shakespeare These are similar to operas as the elements used in a
production. With these productions you see the implementation of different
styles of venue. Rudimentary sound effects were used at this time.
Image 2 see image appendix
19th century Theatrical venues move to a type of theatre that is in prominent
use in modern times, the proscenium type with the defining arch and front curtain
3d. WEEK 2
We turn the corner into the 20th century and see how staging evolves into modern
theatre. Through vaudeville, then radio, staged musicals, into early live TV, then
Broadway and into the 60s and a bit of revolution.
Turn of the century
Vaudeville Oh, those were the good old days... These were the shows of the
touring acts of the day. Theatre was evolving into more intricate productions.
Show how this was happening.
20s and 30s
Image 3 See image appendix
Radio plays Think of the big networks you know today. They got their start in radio.
They had many productions on the air. Plays, variety shows, all sorts of presentations.
These were full productions on a stage with an audience. Just like in a theatre, except
that you see all the elements on stage. The performers walking on and off, the effects
personnel working on one side or the other and the working crews calling cues and
entrances. A host for the hall is usually present as well. Technology becomes a part of
the production, talk about the impact of that.
Musicals On stage in the 30s going into the 40s musicals were very popular.
The venues would have to be set up so that everything could be heard. Effects
cues for any sounds, plus all the musical needs. This is traditional theatre in
40s into 50s
Image 4 See image appendix
Early TV Early TV emulated the real theater experience, with the crews and
everyone offstage with only the performers onstage and no holding scripts, just
acting and action. This was live TV. Diagram the staging and show how the art
had progressed to this point. Many different types of shows, not only dramatic
presentations but also variety shows, comedy and most of the time a studio
audience. Technology moves forward again enhancing the experience. Talk
Broadway The Great White Way its called. In the beginning Broadway, the
theaters were not quite so big, but were built more to help the sounds be heard
everywhere. Famous halls like Carnegie Hall hosted all sorts of performances. Theaters
up and down 5th Avenue and Broadway, opened plays. An example of how this looked
was in the movie King Kong. Perhaps show a clip to illustrate this.
60s the turning point
Audio catches up Now we get to a golden point in audio for reinforcement.
The performers were close miced or more mics were placed all around the stage
to ensure every song, every line of dialog was heard. Someone had to plan all of
that. These were the days of the rudimentary sound design. How were things
changing and what was driving this throughout the entertainment industry? Rock
and roll was driving innovations in sound reinforcement which filtered to every
branch and use in the modern day.
Analog design Analog gear was all that was available at first. Bulky tape
recorders, turntables, 2-4 track recording machines, and large mixing desks
along with large speakers were the game at this time. Why was this? Innovation
was slow at first, but progress was made. The industrial revolution and how it
progressed was the model for the industry, with growth on an exponential plane.
Explain how this works. Ever since multi-tracking was invented by Les Paul and
brought to market after WWII, innovations continue to evolve. Bing Crosby and
Ampex were proponents of this.
The present and beyond
Arrival of digital We enter the computer age. The first things were larger
(track-wise) multi recorders. Then the mixing desks were shrinking but with more
capacity. How did this help the industry? Analog became digital in the computer
world. Computers evolved and became more a part of the show design
experience. Recorders shrunk in size like other pieces of gear. Then disc
technology arrived. First CD and then recording CDs, then mini-disc and DAT
machines giving digital access to cues for better and more precise planning of
cues. How did this revolutionize design? Software has evolved to the point
where they can control the access to the different placements of speakers to
facilitate the cues plus driving the cues themselves. No more bulky set ups in
booths with tape and disc player stacked up and the operator having to keep
careful attention to each piece using notes. The computer has already been
programmed by the designer and crashes notwithstanding, will be as much or
more reliable than any of the old analog or even the prior digital set ups.
3e. WEEK 3
Today finish history with any questions. The class has touched on history to give a
background on the evolution of sound design, to understand where the future might also
lie. Well talk about corporate events and the traveling shows like Cirque de Soleil which
present other challenges to the designer. We'll talk about those. And about current
effects available digitally. Then on to audio gear if time allows. First the most ever
present things like control surfaces (mixers) and computers (which will go into more
detail later in project 2). Then well talk about the upcoming tour of a recording lab.
Finish of history Any questions or topics not hit on during the last week.
Corporate Corporate events are modern business theater. The events are
structured just like theater with all the departments, and run like a theatrical show. Cues
and performers (speakers) are all cued on and off. Show pictures to illustrate the points,
image 5 See image appendix
Traveling shows like cirque de soleil These shows present a particular challenge
to the designer. The designer must design a show that not only works to everyones
satisfaction, but that is portable. That means able to move and set and tear down in any
appropriate venue. The designer must plan for all show needs plus travel needs, cases,
packing, trucking or other shipping.
Image 6 See image appendix
Reinforcement What is reinforcement? It is the use of audio gear enhancing any
presentation making it coherent and intelligible without getting in the way of the show.
You want the audience to not even know you are there, but in every place in the hall the
show is ever-present and understandable and pleasant.
Current effects There are an abundance of digital effects and other software
available to create and put forth many effects used. Digitally formatted sound effects
libraries are now available as well. Purchasing the library is your license for use.
AUDIO GEAR Here are a couple of the items used in productions that are used in
most shows these days.
Control surfaces These are your mixing consoles, also called desks and
control surfaces. These come in many forms and sizes in present day, in both
analog and digital formats as well. Depending on the venue or the production
companys resources, you may be presented with, or asked to procure either.
Image 7 See image appendix
Decks and players Many smaller shows will still run with stacks of CD players, or
mini-discs or even older analog tape decks in either cassette or reel-to-reel, or any
combination of the aforementioned. All are still slotted into a mixer giving the operator
control of the output to wherever its needed.
Image 8 See image appendix
Computers Modern day theatres and many other venues now use computers
to control the presentations. With these you preprogram the show and then just
let it run or your operator listens for cues called and hits the GO button on the
SFX Software See handout appendix.
Budget A very important aspect of design. This sets your actual parameters of
design. How is your fee set? Is it included in the overall budget with any
requested gear and microphone (like wireless) rentals and so forth? What does
the space the production will be mounted in include in their fees? This is part of
advancing your design. Whats your budget? should be a primary concern and
one of the first questions asked in meetings. A handout should be made of an
example budget for the class as well.
3f. WEEK 3
Today the class will take a tour of a recording lab, which simulates a real recording
facility. Here well see a control surface up close, plus all the other parts of the chain.
The students see and touch different types of connectors, see how they work and how
they are applied. What cables are used where and why. A handout is given about
connectors The students should see a variety of microphones and perhaps talk of their
applications. Look at the speakers in the labs used as monitors and talk about the
basics of them and how they pertain to design. The class should touch on full systems,
which we will look at closer later.
Tour of school recording lab Today the class goes on tour to school facilities
where recording projects can be fulfilled. Control rooms and recording spaces are
shown along with the gear used in the process, the students should see and handle
cables, connectors and microphones, along with the recording mixer and recorder,
whether its an analog multitrack deck or a digital software program like Pro Tools.
Connectors Handout. Along with the handout students get to see some in
use. Pick up a cable and pass it around for all to see and explain the use and
Handout of connectors See handout appendix
Cables The different types used in recording are seen today. Most of the
needs in shows these days will use XLR cables for most signal runs. When a
theatre is toured, students see the other types as well, like speaker cables.
Microphones Here students see many of the types used in recording studios
and that can also be used in live presentations. There are also some other types
of mics that can and are used in live shows that students wont see here. Well
also talk about those.
Image 9 See image appendix
3g. WEEK 4
Today the class will look at theatres. A tour of the facilities should be available at school
and a talk about the types of theatres in general use should be given. Instructors should
use the school facilities as examples of types. As the class looks around, students can
see how theatres are organized and how type must be taken into account for design.
Learn your facility is a mandate.
As the class tours, the instructor should speak about the hierarchy of theatre. Here the
director is emperor. There may be a show producer, but they are more of a funding
position. The director calls the production shots and is in charge of everything. All
designers report to the director and its the directors vision that you work to create.
Some larger productions will have a technical director, as will corporate events and
youll work together through them, but the director rules. You'll find the work divided into
departments which must work together to create what is needed for the production.
Then there is the stage manager who rules when the show goes up. Discuss show
protocol as well, how things flow during shows. This information is very important and
should be impressed as a part of the basic knowledge of theatre.
Tour of theatre(s) of school Today the class tours a school facility that should
represent a typical theatre encountered out in the world. Perhaps the school will have
more than one type plus a black box. A full walk through is presented, showing all the
different elements. Walk backstage and give an orientation to stage direction (up, down,
center, so on). A discussion of the fly rail and the use of pipes and flying gear for a
production will be useful. Show where the booths are for control, and perhaps some of
the audio systems to be used in productions.
Types of theatres A short discussion of the three main types of theatres in use
today should be held either before entering the facility or just inside for a vivd example.
3 basic types The three main types are proscenium arch, 3/4 with and without
thrust, and in-the-round. There are other variations on a theme, but if these types are
known then solutions for the design can be worked out.
Other types of rooms black boxes These are mainly used for rehearsal spaces,
but presentations are also given here. They are also known as production studios. The
elements here are a permanent grid in most and the chameleon ability to morph into
most any kind of room for a show.
Hierarchy of jobs Define these positions and how they interact. Responsibilities
can shift, so define this.
Director Ruler of the show universe. Define the parameters of this position.
Stage manager This is a special position. Talk about pre-show responsibilities and
what goes on during shows.
Departments List the departments and their responsibilities. Also talk about how
these departments figure in almost every type of show.
Show protocol Here we talk about the form and function of a show production. Go
over all backstage responsibilities.
Audio gear A round up of the gear used in venues of all types for reinforcements.
Cables The types of cables used in clubs and theatres and many shows of all types.
Speakers The types and sizes of speaker boxes in general use for productions.
Amplifiers These drive the speakers taking the signal from the control booth.
Intercom The intercom is the communication background of the production. Used for
cues including calling places for actors and effects for the production, and any other
3h. WEEK 4
Today the class touches on setting up systems for productions. It is to be hoped that
students can still be in a theatre to more show use of space. Show how speaker
placement aids effects used in production and the needs of the show which the
designer is also responsible for, like intercom, which is placed wherever the director and
stage manager desire. As students finish the time in the theatre, the instructor points to
these aspects, which outside of the theatre department are largely unknown. Next week
Systems set up This is part of the audio design. This is the physical part detailing
where different sounds will emanate from.
Placement Speaker placement can be key to creating the required moods. Setting
speakers off stage or underneath a particular piece.
Intercoms The communication backbone of the production. This will run to all
positions needed to run the show.
Microphones If reinforcement is needed, microphones are placed where necessary.
Effects playback The booth operator controls effects playback, cued by the stage
manager during the show.
3i. WEEK 5
Today is a bit more of detail. The class will discuss ideas and how they relate to the
production. First the design concepts as each designer envisions. Then the directors
vision is presented and the two must reconcile. The show is spotted and a list of needs
made, both cues and music. Effects needs are sussed. Will recording be needed or can
prerecorded be used. Some cues might need to be built without needing new recording.
Then we present to director and appropriate culling in the design is performed.
Remember the designer is there to support the show. The design is not the star but an
integral part of the overall presentation. You may not have some of your work realized in
the final production if it contradicts the directors vision. Too bad. You support the
Music is sorted next. The designer must consider all aspects, including walk-in and
intermission and walk-out since the mood of the show will be supported by the choices
in music. Music will set the mood and time of the show as people walk in, keep them in
place during intermissions and finish the presentation for walk-out. Music can be a
general term here for any needs at those times. Also the use of music during the
production. Placement in the show and emanation during production.
Concepts The concept of design in theory is discussed. Then the reality of design is
Spotting See handout appendix. This is going through the script notating on a spot
sheet the prospective cues found in a script.
Directors vision This is the guidelines given for a successful working design for a
Sound effects These are the cues found in libraries or built to give a sense of reality
to a production.
Gathering effects Recording prerecorded effects from a library, or built from scratch
according to the productions needs.
Culling effects The inevitable culling or eliminating of effects deemed irrelevant by
the director for their production vision.
Support the show! The designers vision isnt necessarily what will work for the
production. Again its the director that has the final decision.
Music pre, during and post show This is where the designer chooses music to
support the production, create the required mood for the audience from the moment
they walked into the room until they left at the end of the production. Music will carry the
Project 1 Advise students to start thinking about project 1 now, to consider the
subjects and ask any questions.
3j. WEEK 5
Today is the physicality cf the show. The setting of gear in the space to be used.
Intercom stations placed and connected and checked. This is also in the designers
purview since the design, to be realized, will rely on placement of speakers and other
things to create the reality needed. You'll make decisions along with the director about
reinforcement used during the production and placement of such elements. Playback
gear will be decided using resources at hand. If computers are available, use them for
effects and so forth. Music discs can be built and then played back on separate players.
All go through the master mixer.
Rehearsals will need to be set. Stations placed in the house for both intercom and
remote cueing if possible. Tech rehearsals will set the cues with plenty of notes taken.
Directors will also give notes to each department after each rehearsal and changes
At the end of the final tech rehearsal before dress rehearsals, the room is restored for
show run. Notes after dress rehearsals address any last minute changes.
Room setting This is setting the room for the show with the speakers and
microphones that would be needed to support the production. This includes the lobby,
around the audience and around the stage.
Intercom Deciding stations to be used in the venue starting with the stage manager
and in the booth for lights and sound, and to the stage for performers cueing.
Reinforce or not? This is an aesthetic decision made by the designer and the
director to support the needs of the show in a particular venue.
Playback Players or computers? What is set in the booth is determined by show
budget and what might be available in any particular venue.
Setting for rehearsals Explain how to set the house for rehearsals. The setup in the
main room for the designers and stage manager and director as they watch rehearsals
and decide the cues and revise them and the physical placement of gear. This includes
setting intercom for each rehearsal station set up.
Restore for show This is removing the set up in the audience area for the
rehearsals and making the room ready for the run of the show.
Showtime The actual run of performances of the production.
3k. WEEK 6
This week brings to a close the basics of design. The class reviews and then has an
exam to see how things were understood. A review sheet is made and gone through on
the first class with the exam presented in the second. The exam will be a mixed exam
with some direct answer or choice question and some small essay questions.
Review of first third of class Go over review sheet in class.
Review sheet handout See handout appendix
Questions Answer any questions about content from the first few weeks of class.
Project 1 reminder! Try to match different majors for the project i.e. 1 theatre and 1
31. WEEK 6
Its exam time and once the exam is finished the students may leave. This is not a take
Exam See handout appendix
3m. WEEK 7
Today we start practical applications. We take the basics we learned before and apply
them in a design presentation. Well go over project 1 requirements and as a class
discuss the goals. Each person in class will pick a production and then partners are
picked or assigned. Then split into the appropriate groups and start. Materials will be
decided at this point and approved by instructor. Class participation will have a great
effect on the project grades.
Project 1 See handout appendix
Go over requirements Discuss the project parameters and requirements. A paper is
a final part. Participation is a key element.
Each group member will be both director and designer This project is designed
to give everyone experience on both sides of the design.
Class discussion about goals A discussion is used to gain an understanding of the
goals of the project.
Pick partners Students pair up here, discussing how to work with each other.
Pick plays Each student pair decides the plays used for the project. Then they
decide who is director first.
Material approvals The instructor has to approve each choice of material to make
certain it will provide enough experience to give a basis for project 2.
3n. WEEK 7
This class is mainly a self work class, concentrating on Project 1. Students will break
into their groups and instructor will visit each group to answer any questions check
progress. The groups work out their parts and see how the director and designers
interface to complete a production.
Start projects In class each team starts to work out each part setting their criteria for
design from each perspective, setting the roles and goals to be used. Each student as
both director and designer learns perspective which will be useful in the future.
Questions A class discussion with any questions brought up by immersing into the
Group work Students break into their groups and use class time to work on this
project. This is important because of the presence of the instructor to answer questions
brought forth by the work.
3o. WEEK 8
This week while Project 1 is ongoing we touch on aesthetics of design. The finesse of
creating a vision. Today is about your vision and reconciling it with others and creating
Aesthetics of design This is the artistry of the design. Discuss with the class how
each person sees the requirements differently. This is artistic perspective. How do you
support the designers vision, while still conforming to the production needs as outlined
by the director? Will the design create the world and atmosphere desired?
Creating a design Students start a plan to fulfill the requirements set forth by the
director for each play. Each student will do this within their group.
Sometimes minimal works This is very important. Learning that sometimes
designing every moment and sound can be too much. Venues figure prominently into
directors vision. This is part of conceptual thought as pertaining to design and not
necessarily a part of this first project exercise.
Safety This is an important aspect. The physical safety of both the audience and
crew. Safety for the audience in taking care of the SPL levels used in the design, not
creating excessive sound pressure levels that would damage the hearing health of the
audience. And cover the physical safety of the crew as they place gear used in the
production. Follow OSHA rules and regulations.
3p. WEEK 8
This class is about working with others. Learning how to deal with directors and
coordinating with other departments to fulfill your design. You learn the art of
compromise and how to make it work. And dealing with the aged perceptions of theatre
since sound design is relatively new and for some just not considered at all or not till the
last minute. Working against these perceptions and educating others in a way to
advance the craft. Help others in all ways.
Working with the director Its their vision, the designer must realize it for them.
Learning to reconcile and compromise is key to this concept.
Coordinating with the other departments to make your design live This is
basically learning to play with others, cooperating with the other designers and director
to bring the production to life.
Compromises and working around them The designer is their own advocate.
Each fight must be carefully chosen and prepared for diligently to make the point. Learn
to help the others to gain cooperation with your needs.
Don't let the others marginalize you Remember sound designers are the relative
new guy but no less important. Each designer is an integral part of every production.
3q. WEEK 9
Answer questions about design and projects and then start presentations. Encourage
class discussions about each design. Was it fulfilling? Meet the directors criteria?
Opinions and collect papers.
Questions about designs Go over in class the problems encountered by each
student in project 1. Discuss the measures taken to overcome these obstacles.
Start presentations of project 1 Time to make the presentations, each pair
presenting both sides of the designs. They give their impressions of how things worked.
Class critiques. What worked, what didnt The class then discusses the project
talking about what worked and what didnt for them. This is peer criticism, some of the
most valuable elements of the project.
Collect project papers Each student has written a paper detailing their experiences
in the project. This is due at end of class.
3r. WEEK 9
Project 1 presentations finish and then class discussions on how things went. What
could be done differently? Goals? Then prepar.ng for project 2 next week.
Continuation and finish of project 1 presentations Finish the presentations in
class of each group. Use the criteria set forth in prior class.
Class critiques This is a very important element of project 1. The class decides how
the projects succeeded. Students learn how to recognize the success of a design.
Discussion after on goals being met Did each design create the desired effect?
Was the mood created? Was the directors vision fulfilled?
What would be done differently? After deciding what had worked and what had
not, the class must decide how to make each design a success.
3s. WEEK 10
Well, its time for the big project. Go over the Project 2 overview, discussing the goals
and structuring of the project. Talk about the production for the project. Where will it be?
Is it in theatre or blackbox? How will you adjust to the space? Discuss paper and
critique at end. Talk about the needs and design. Get production schedule and have
class go to meetings, or designate representatives to go for class and report back.
Project participation is key here and a big part of the project grade. All students must get
the chance to be part of all phases of production design and implementation.
Project 2 overview See handout appendix
Goals To fully experience the concept and implementation of design. And go over all
the requirements of the project. Be clear about the notebook and paper.
Discuss project play Talk about the process and how to continue. What are the
needed elements for this play? Class discussion on how to handle the project.
Preliminary needs Define what is needed for the design in your opinion. How will
this reconcile with the directors vision?
Design criteria Talk about the elements to be put in place for a successful
Production meetings Meetings with all designers and crew and director. Here the
vision of the production will be decided or at least defined. Depending on class size,
attendance may be mandatory for at least the first couple of meetings. Notes will be
taken and shared with the class in discussion.
3t. WEEK 10
Production meeting reports, and task designations. Spotting the production. Design is
discussed and cues planned. Discuss music to support production. A pre disc is made
to submit to director. Plans for recording, times selected.
Production meetings These meetings will have designated attendees from the
class who will take notes and discuss the meeting in class.
Design plan After the directors vision is clear a plan is formed. Set out the elements
in class and discuss how to proceed.
Spotting the script Each person in class will obtain a copy of the script and spot it
for cues. Then the class will reconcile the spottings and decide how to proceed to best
implement the directors vision.
Delegating tasks Starting with volunteers, tasks will be assigned and rotated so
everyone gets experience in each aspect.
Music Choosing or original? Decide how to proceed. Explain how music will carry
not only the mood but the time and place of the production. It will create this starting
when the audience walks into the theatre with the walk in music.
Planning cues From the spotting list, decide how to accomplish each cue the class
has spotted. Do this with the spots decided on prior to directors vision being made clear.
This is for experience.
Start recording Book sessions in the recording labs. Here the expertise of the
recording students can lead and teach their peers in the use of the room. This will be
returned when the class enters the theatre. Record and mix the cues decided on in
class to present to the director as preliminary cues.
3u. WEEK 11
Progress reports are given. Tasks are redivided so all may participate. Class goes to
facility to plan the physical layout of the design, and note the other needs of the venue
(intercom and so forth). Class meets with director to discuss design, talking about the
preliminary disc submitted. After the meeting, recording needs are discussed time
Rehearsals need to be attended The class will designate students to attend each
rehearsal and take notes and present to the class the progress.
Progress reports to the class, each delegation See above.
Touring venue to facilitate planning needs The class will tour the venue for the
production to learn how to. implement the design. What will the room allow? This is
needed for part of the presentation to the director about the proposed design.
Field recording This is if any recording is needed away from the recording labs.
Check out the equipment and go forth. Bring the raw recordings back and play for the
class next session.
Preliminary Disc A first disc of cues and music is submitted to the director for
approval and direction.
3v. WEEK 11
Cues are discussed and needs like recording and/or mixing recording times and gear
are booked. If any field recording needs to be done, a plan is made. Groups decide who
is doing what.
Out of classroom activities on this project start such as the recording and mixing and
Preliminary disc After meeting with the director discussing the preliminary disc, the
design will move forward.
Cue designing What will it take to create what is needed fro a cue? Can it be found
in a set library? Or must it be built. And realize building it is the first step to creating a
new library that may be worth something later.
Recording if needed If the cue needs to be recorded and built, then booking time in
the studio labs in mandatory. More experience is given in process here.
Mixing cues After recording the parts, the cues still need to be mixed. Techniques
are explored here with students learning recording basics to complete the needed cues.
3w. WEEK 12
Known recording is finished and cues are mixed. Progress reports are given in class,
any design revisions or added requests are also discussed in class, working out how
best to implement the design as it now stands.
Music is also discussed. Will original music be used or prerecorded music? Discuss
music rights and fair use, and be distinct about the difference with copyright issues.
Submit lists to director for approval. Note that using sound effect libraries is ok because
of licensing rights acquired with purchase. Music is different.
Rehearsals need to be attended.
Mixing cues More mixing of cues if needed.
Revisions in design After the first disc is submitted, cues are revised to conform to
directors vision and resubmitted.
Choosing music or mixing original music If music can be found and licensed for
the production, then its used. Otherwise music will need to be written. Again, this ties in
the experience of the recording arts students using the composition skills they have.
This is shared knowledge again.
3x. WEEK 12
Progress reports are given and design revisions are discussed. The use of computer
programs in show runs are discussed, primarily SFX software and outboard gear.
Any approved revisions are sent to remix and the tasks are designated.
Design revisions After progress reports are discussed, any needed revisions are
Mixing and remixing More recording lab experience as cues are worked and
reworked by the class.
Progress reports Reports to the class concerning all aspects of the design.
Progress in mixing, working with the director and deciding how to set the venue.
Computers A tutorial for using computers in implementing the design.
SFX Handout See handout appendix
3y. WEEK 13
Production meeting with all departments and director, before rehearsal. Rehearsals
need to be attended. Room prep is discussed in class and a plan designed. Creating a
lottery for run crew so the most chances are given to run. Also plans for observing
others are made.
Class moves to space to start prep of gear for placement.
Production meeting Discussing any last minute needs and concerns with director
and crews for departments.
Prepping the room and Setting the design If needed place microphones for the
show. This also means all the cabling and power needed for the various elements.
The operators booth is then set up with all control surfaces and effects and music
playback gear set. If a computer is used for cues and sequencing then it is placed and
Run crew Whoever has been selected for the slots will go to rehearsals and be in
Rehearsals Provisions are made at this time for tech rehearsals and final production
rehearsals. Spaces will need to be set in the hall for the director and so forth.
3z. WEEK 13
Class meets in space to further room prep and set up for production. Entire class
involved in setup. Rehearsals must be attended and room set up for tech rehearsals.
Ongoing revisions to the design are dealt with and submitted for approval.
Computers if used, are programmed and set. Otherwise discs are made and practiced.
Rehearsals Hall is finished being set for tech rehearsals as started last class. Class
should attend all of these taking notes.
Revisions As rehearsals progress, revisions are inevitable. Notes are given and
plans made to make revisions available ASAR
Setting up house for opening If there is anything that can be preset for the show,
that starts now. As tech rehearsals finish and other rehearsals finish, start plans for
room reset for show. Crews need to be set for run and set and strike.
3aa. WEEK 14
Class meets in space. Progress reports are given and any concerns are discussed.
Room prep should be prepared and ready to set. Tech rehearsals are happening and
must be attended. Run crew slots are filled with everyone trying to get a chance to be
on crew. Project participation is the key here for this to work.
Prep for show opening, every element in place.
Final revisions Any last minute revisions done as fast as possible, preferably on the
Delegating crew slots Volunteering or lottery, the whole class participates.
Show opens and runs Hall is changed back to show ready, and class prepares for
show run to start.
3bb. WEEK 14
The show runs. Crew slots revolve around the class. Any changes or revisions are
implemented. Now comes the next part of the show... Strike. All students must attend
and participate in the strike. Tasks will be divided. Show progress is discussed in class
time. What have you noticed?
Show runs As much as possible and director allows, crew slots revolve around
class. Experiences are discussed in class time.
Changes? Any last minute changes?
Crew slots All slots are filled and students can revolve in the slots for maximum
Show close and strike Students should plan on attending last show and be
prepared for strike following it. All gear is torn down and packed up and put away. Then
cast party if there is one.
3cc. WEEK 15
Discuss the show process now that its over, and evaluate the process. What could be
changed, done differently?
The project papers are due at end of class today. And a reminder of show notebooks
due next class.
Show critique Evaluating the performance of the class for this project.
Class discussion on production process Evaluating what was learned during this
project. How to implement what was learned in the future. Good and bad.
Papers due At the end of class, collect all the papers for this project and remind the
class that project notebooks are due next week.
3dd. WEEK 15
Show notebooks are collected at the beginning of class. Any further questions on the
project or production are discussed.
The class discusses creating the portfolio to use while searching employment. Everyone
has one. We have materials from both projects to start portfolio, and other guidelines
are given for a great portfolio.
Notebooks due Collect all notebooks at the beginning of class and make the
arrangements for returning them after grading.
Questions on production Any final questions of the project and the production.
Creating a portfolio The notebooks are a key element of this. Modern portfolios will
be on computer disc with documentation from each project along with pictures and any
representative cues and other audio work to be submitted. Show how to arrange each
element to create a successful presentation.
3ee. WEEK 16
More on portfolio preparation. Elements needed and so forth.
Talk about the business of design. Using your portfolio and networking to find work in
the business. Starting in smaller theatres. Considering a move to be nearer to a working
arts environment. Non-profits, community theater, so forth. Also, looking into corporate
work, including working for companies for their events.
Elements needed Discuss each element of a portfolio and its importance.
Creating a portfolio Concluding portfolios and any questions.
Documentation Resumes and references.
Business of sound design Identifying your market and applying there. How to
apply. Will you work freelance, or join a company? Talk about the qualities of both.
Where to look Research your area. Look for internships and local work. Prepare
every day to move forward.
Getting hired You got a job! Now go back and use what youve learned and be sure
to use your resources for a successful design. Always ask those youve worked for in
the past for advice.
3ff. WEEK 16
Wrapping up business. Any final questions, reviewing the semester, looking at resumes
and portfolios. And saying goodbyes, wishing luck in the world!
Business of sound design Any final questions?
Networking resumes Look at resumes of any students. Advise those who might still
need direction on preparation.
Portfolio Be clear about the use of the notebook for this and building it. Portfolios
are always a work in progress.
Final questions and concerns Last minute items.
Bye bye!! Good luck and go conquer the world...
With a combined use of lecture presented information, and practical experience
provided through lab and project work, the student is given a working basic background
in sound design for theatre. The concepts of Blooms Taxonomy are in use here.
Learning, remembering, conceptualizing, experiencing, all are part of this class. Each of
the pertinent elements have been addressed, showing the paths needed to be followed
to work in the industry. Students even learn how to put a portfolio together to further
their chances of finding future gainful employment in the Arts. The relevance of this
class cannot be overstated; it is part of the future of both theatre and audio design. The
fields are merging in use of technology and implementation of design. With no university
recording arts program offering live design yet, this class is needed more than ever. The
future is now; any school wanting to be a part of it will be offering a class like this or,
perhaps, even this class. Knowledge is power and that power is here.
5. APPENDIX LISTS
1. IMAGE LOG
3. LIST OF SOUND DESIGN FOR THEATRE CLASSES
5.1 IMAGE LOG
1. Grecian theatre courtesy of visual.merriam-webster.com.
image 1 Open-air structure, often built on a hillside, where theatrical performances
were staged during antiquity.
2. Shakespeare theatre courtesy of Modern Library.com
image 2 View a Shakespearean Theater
Since there is no authentic image of the interior of a Shakespearean
theater, we reproduced a hypothetical one, based on various kinds of
evidence and designed for this edition by Charcoalblue. Charcoalblue
are currently working with the RSC and their architects on the Â£100
million transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which
includes the design of a brand new 1,000 seat auditorium featuring a
thrust stage that Shakespeare would have recognized.
3. Radio show work showing early technology courtesy Jerry Haendiges
5. Corporate staging courtesy Randy Haines
7. Mixing desk courtesy Randy Haines
8. Control booth with operator courtesy Randy Haines
9. Microphone assortment courtesy Shawn McNary
What is SFX?
_ 2008 Sound Product of the Year _
SFX is the leading live entertainment sound playback software application. The typical
venue for SFX is theatre, but it is also used by theme parks, magicians, and other related
venues that require the playback of music and sound effects. SFX puts the art back into
sound design: instead of worrying about technological limitations, you can now create rich
sound designs that can be reliably played back during each performance!
How does it work?
Very simply, you put your sound files on the computer and then drag-and-drop them into a
SFX cue list and, along with other special cues that you can create in SFX such as Waits and
Volume Changes, you create an easy to playback sequence for the operator. Also with SFX,
you can playback multiple sound effects at the same time and you can even send them to
many different outputs: imagine playing a train cue that steams across the stage from stage
right to stage left while also playing rain in the back of the house and then at some point
also playing a telephone ringing that was based off an actor's cue all cues overlap, are
independent, easy to setup, and even simpler to playback! Read more...
Where can you hear it?
You can find SFX in On- and Off- Broadway shows, on the professional London stage, as well
as professional, academic, and amateur theatres in the U.S. and all over the world. Theme
parks, haunted houses, magicians, puppet-shows, and corporate types are also users of
SFX. Here are some examples.
Who is SFX for?
If you playback prerecorded music or sound effects, especially if you're a theatre sound
designer or operator, then SFX is for you. The typical system that SFX replaces is one or
more CD players or minidisc systems. Because just about anybody can use SFX to create
complex shows that are operated easily, it is found on all levels of theatres from academics
all the way to the pros. Professional theatres use SFX because it can create reliable and
enriched soundscapes and has been used in many award winning shows including several
Tony Award winners. The academic stage (from elementary education through college) and
amateur theatre also enjoy SFX not only for the high quality of shows it can create, but also
because it is easily run by novice operators. For students, they are also learning the
software that they will most likely work with when they enter the theatrical job market.
THE CONNECTORS OF THE AUDIO INDUSTRY
Mating Panel Connector
Dual Banana Plug
RCA Plug (Phono Plug)
Stereo 1/4Phone Plug
(orT/R/S Plug -Tip,Ring,Sleeve
or Unbalanced Quarter)
Neutrik Speakon Connector
XLR Female Panel Connector
XLR Male Panel Connector
Universal Dual Binding Plug
RCA Panel Jack (Phono Jack)
Speakon Panel Jack
Guitar and Bats Connectors
Sound Cue List Production: Date:
Cue # Page # Sound or Effect 'Location in Threatre Remarks Overlap ?
How far back in history were the first types of theaters? Where were they located and
What were the next types?
Name the main types of theatres.
Name the categories or types of microphones.
Name the types of connectors most often used in productions.
In the process of design what is one of the first procedures?
Name the hierarchy of personnel in a show.
Name the working parts of a theatre.
What is a control surface and how is it used?
What are cues?
What audio gear is typically used in a production?
What are the elements of a design?
How do you set up a design?
What happens at the end of a show?
Be prepared to outline a design from start to fruition.
1. NAME THE TYPES OF CONNECTORS AND CABLES TYPICALLY USED IN A
PRODUCTION. (10 PTS.)
2. NAME THE MAIN TYPES OF THEATRES IN USE TODAY. (10 PTS.)
3. DEFINE THE ELEMENTS OF A SOUND DESIGN. (10PTS.)
NAME THE TYPES OF AUDIO GEAR USED FOR A PRODUCTION AND HOW THEY
ARE USED. (10 PTS.)
NAME THE FIRST STYLES OF THEATRES USED THROUGH HISTORY. (10 PTS. )
YOU ARE THE DESIGNER. TAKE US THROUGH YOUR PROCESS FOR A
SUCCESSFUL DESIGN. (50 PTS.)
This project will he to build cues and structure music to fit a
play. Students may use available sound effects libraries to (idler
make or employ what is needed. These projects involve two
students, each functioning as the director for one design and the
designer for the other. Each student selects a play any play, then
functions as the director of that play. The director provides the
interpretation of both director and playwright to create a
successful design and imparts this to the designer, who will plan
a successful design from start to finish. The first project will
involve a presentation and critique in class. Both designer and
director will give their perspectives on how the design should he
and how the design turned out. A rudimentary build of cues that
are plaeed in order; as well as music (if desired';, is required as
well as a discussion of placement of gear and where cues
emanate. Does this work for the production? Each designer is
required to turn in cue sheets, a disc with cues, and a short
synopsis of the process. The timeline for this project will he
listed in the schedule. Students will complete a l-3 page paper
outlining your experience in this project and what you learned
and are ready to bring forward to Project 2.
The second project will invoke tin* class, and he pari of a
working production in school. The class will designate attendees
to meetings, will go over details with the director, and will caucus
to share the director's desires for the production. The students
will take the design from conception to fruition, including
recording and mixing any cues, setting all music needed
including writing if* it's possible':, and setting all gear needed in
the theater including all ancillary needs such as intercom, paging
and listener assist. They will also designate an operator,
hopefully more than one depending on the rim. to give as much
experience all around as possible. The final part of the project
will he a written paper describing the entire project, their
experiences, what they learned, and what they will take forward
into life.This w ill he a minimum 5 pages to maximum 10 pages,
double spaced. The paper w ill sen e as the capstone of this
project and w ill weigh 60% of the project grade. The remaining
40% will he a notebook containing notes from meetings and
about the design, plus class participation. 'Note: This project will
also be 50% of the final grade for the class.; All preliminary work
is encompassed in the aforementioned notebook.
5.3 Sound Design for
Theatre classes offered by
1. Carroll Community College 1801 Washington St,
Westminster, MD 21157
THTR-206, Sound Design for Theatre
Sound Design for Theatre provides in-depth study into modern theatrical
sound design. The course will focus on the sound design process and give
practical understanding of tools and technology of mounting a design.
This class aims to highlight the importance of sound design for live
theatre and introduces students to the creative possibilities of sound
within the vocational performing environment. Prerequisite: THTR-1 30, or
permission of the program coordinator. Three hours lecture each week.
Three credits. Three billable hours.
2. Uiversity of Virgria D*pt. of Dam, FOB*400128, ChEriottea/ille,
DRAM 2620 Sound Design (3)
Prerequisites: none, Corequisite: DRAM 2630 (for Drama
Majors); An exploration of Sound Design for Theatre and
Media through discussion, construction, critical listening,
and demonstration of music and sound.
3. Winthrop University Rock Hill, SC 29733
Designator/ Number: T H RA 3 6 2 Version No: 2
Department: T H D N
College: V PA
Catalog Title: 362. Sound Technology and Design for Theatre (3).
Transcript Title: SOUND TECH & DESIGN FOR THEATRE
Catalog Description: Introduction to sound equipment & techniques used in
theatrical productions as well as the application of these to sound design
4. UCChvisDdpt. of theetre and dance
Theatre and Dance Department Main Office
222 Wright Hall, One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
Principles of Theatre Sound (3) Lecture/discussion--2 hours; laboratory--3 hours.
Fundamentals of sound, sound equipment, and sound design as used in modern
theatre and other performance venues. Assembly, set-up, and operation of basic
theatre sound reinforcement system, recording system, and theatrical playback
system.--Jacobson This is an upper division class.
5. Sheridan College Davis campus
7899 McLaughlin Rd., Brampton, ON L6Y 5H9
This college has an ongoing program listed with a number of courses over
a 3 year term, not just audio design but fundamentals and advanced.
This is the most comprehensive l-^ve seen listed.
6. Uhversityaf V\tehrgaiGbllegecf Ms and Sciences and Dharra
DRAMA 213 Introduction to Sound Design for Theatre (4) VLPA
Explores the how and why of sound and music for theatre. Includes
different uses for audio in plays; choosing sounds and pieces of music;
basic editing of music, environments, and effects; designing a cohesive
world of sound
Bracewell, John L. Sound Design in the Theatre. Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice Hall
Kaye, Deena, and James LeBrecht. Sound and Music For the Theatre: The Art and
Technique of Design. Boston, Mass.: Focal Press 2000
Campbell, Drew. Technical Theater for Nontechnical People 2nd ed. New York, NY:
Allworth Press 2004
Gibbs, Tony. The Fundamentals of sonic Art & Sound design. Switzerland: AVA
Leonard, John A. Theatre Sound. New York, NY: Theatre Arts Books/ Routledge 2001
Davis, Gary, and Ralph Jones. Sound reinforcement Handbook for Yamaha 2nd ed.
Milwaukee, Wise.: Hal Leonard 1990
Davis, Barbara Gross. Tools for Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass 2001
Mager, Robert F. Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development
of Effective Instruction 3rd Ed. Atlanta, GA: CEP Press 1997
Moody, James L. The Business of Theatrical Design. New York, NY: Allworth Press.
Jaen, Rafael. Developing and Maintaining a Design-Tech Portfolio: A Guide for Theatre,
Film & TV. Burlington, Mass: Focal Press 2006
SFX Users Guide. User Guide to SFX Staging Software. Cleveland, Ohio: Stage
Research, Inc. 2002
Harvey, Lawrence. The Aural Eye: Soundscape Practice and Pedagogy in
Design Education, SIAL Sound Studios, RMIT University, Australia
Ebrahimian, 6 A., The Cinematic theater Lanham, MD.: Scarecrow Press, Inc. 2004
Lampert-Greauz, Ellen. Live Designs Master Classes: BLMC and BSMC Schedule
Live Design January 2006