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Yamaha and Steinberg Help Bring Anne Frank’s Story to the Stage

Yamaha and Steinberg Help Bring Anne Frank’s Story to the Stage

The Netherlands - Commissioned by the Basel-based Anne Frank Foundation, Anne is the first production at the brand new, purpose-built Theater Amsterdam. Only the second time that one of the most famous and poignant accounts to emerge from the Second World War has been adapted for stage, Yamaha and Steinberg technology is ensuring the impact of the sound matches that of the large scale visuals.

Anne relates the story of the Jewish Frank family’s hiding from Nazi occupiers in Amsterdam, as told through the famous diary of their teenage daughter, using life-sized, 75 ton reproductions of the Frank family’s original Amsterdam home and the annexe where they hid for 26 months.

The show continues an emerging tradition in the Benelux countries of theatre productions on a huge scale. Sound design is by Jeroen ten Brinke, who took theatre sound to new levels with the revolving sound stage of Soldaat van Oranje, although in Anne it's the huge sets that move, rather than the audience.

Jeroen chose a Yamaha DM2000VCM digital mixing console to be at the heart of Anne’s 8.1 surround audio system, fitted with six MY16-AE AES/EBU i/o cards. Running at 96 kHz, the console submixes 24 actor radio mics, plus feeds from four computers running Steinberg software, for both front of house and monitor sound.

"I chose the DM2000 because it can run at 96kHz, I know it very well and it has cast-iron reliability - the intention is for the show to run for many years," says Jeroen. "It also provides us with redundancy for the main mixing console. This was really useful in pre-production, because time was very short and we could mix the production rehearsals on the DM2000, while simultaneously programming the main console. This was very beneficial to the show’s ability to open on time."

Two of the computers are running Steinberg Nuendo 6 for the 8.1 mix of Paul M. van Brugge’s pre-recorded, orchestral score - the first synced to the production’s significant video element - while the other two are running Cubase 7.5 for sound effects and live reverbs respectively.

"The advantage of Nuendo 6 and Cubase 7.5 is that there is no limit on track numbers," says Jeroen. "It allows every recording or sound effect, no matter how short, to have its own dedicated track. I find this buy far the easiest way to work in the pre-production period. Editing a huge amount of playback and sound effects had to be done in between production rehearsals and so having unlimited tracks makes things a lot more flexible and, ultimately, saves a lot of time."

The audio system was supplied by Focus Amsterdam BV (a sister company of leading Dutch rental house Rent-All) and features a huge PA system, with loudspeakers ranging in size from hangs of line array to miniature loudspeakers built into the armrests of individual audience seats. In addition, several hundred miniature loudspeakers are installed in the sets for monitors.

Despite time only allowing for seven full production rehearsals, Jeroen - assisted by Chiel Blauw (assistant sound designer), Igor Milosavljevic (head of sound) and Danny Hoogveld (sound technician) - has achieved a sound design which perfectly complements the show’s scale.

Meanwhile, July sees the debut of a multilingual translation system at Theater Amsterdam, enabling non-Dutch speakers to follow the performance through a tablet rented from the theatre. Available in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian, the audience can choose between a literal translation, a text or audio version (the latter via supplied headphones), a synopsis of each scene or a combination of all of these. The system is ideal for the hearing impaired and so also includes a Dutch option.

18th July 2014

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