Monday, December 21, 2009

sync or swim

The technological challenge of presenting the Living Christmas Tree in a basketball arena is mind-boggling. I was impressed with the professional caliber of the performance. It's as good a show as you would expect to see at a theater in Nashville or a theme park in Orlando. Was it too good to be true?

As I watched the program yesterday, I wondered where they placed the microphones for all the singers in the enormous, tree-shaped riser. Some of the soloists had flesh-colored headset mics on their cheeks. I thought about how many wireless channels it would take to collect the sound from the hundreds of cast members.

My suspicions were confirmed today by someone who attended the matinee performance on Sunday. She has a friend who played in the sizable live orchestra. The friend told her that the acoustics of Thompson-Boling Arena would make it impossible for all the musicians and singers to play and sing together. The distance between the orchestra pit and the singers in the tree would create an audio delay. As a result, the musicians and most of the singers pre-record their parts in October. A few of the soloists sing live with the recorded track. The rest of the singers and musicians aren't just mouthing the words or playing air guitar. They do actually sing along and play along with themselves but without microphones.

Armed with this information, am I surprised? A little. Am I disappointed? No. Do I regret going to the show last year or this year? No. Will I go again next year? Absolutely.

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Blogger Sam Jackson said...

Glad you enjoyed the show, Frank! Thompson-Boling does create challenges, especially for the sound. There are backing tracks for the choir and orchestra, though both do perform live in the arena as well. However, I think you would be surprised at how many of the soloists do sing live. I was in the program in a non-singing role and though I don't know for sure, I would tell you that at least 75% of them were singing live. In one of the performances, for example, Santa and then the woman who sings as Mary Magdalene both had mic issues and had to be handed a hand mic for their parts.

I enjoy the blog and have been reading it for quite some time now. Keep up the good work!


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