30 October 2014

Using Ableton Live in theatre situations

Ableton Live is immensely useful for theatre performance. I do a lot of the electronic sound effects in Ableton Live where I'm using an Akai APC40 and keyboards to trigger things in Ableton. The sounds have plug-ins applied and are bounced down in advance to avoid CPU load during the live performance. Ableton is also used to trigger video cues and projector shows plus triggering steam jets and smoke machines.

One advantage that handling sound design for a theatre offers is that it is at a fixed location, unlike touring with a band, where venues can differ significantly one from another. However, mixing a live band is one thing but a theatrical performance - especially one so dependent on special effects, with infinite potential for timing changes and pratfalls (both literal and metaphorical) - calls for extreme adaptability and great watchfulness. There's no way the show can be put on a memory stick and left more or less on autopilot. Timing the show and all the special effects to the performers' actual movements needs to be done quite literally footstep by footstep.

Oh Yeah ...