August 29, 2013

Chinook City Roller Derby, season finale

Last Saturday marked the final game of  Chinook City Roller Derby’s second season:
home team Kill Jills faced off against Avalanche City in a tight bout.

The round was tense, and ended with a difference less 30 points. Ultimately, this was a competitive and engaging game – and we were proud to volunteer sound, lighting, and tech services.

Announcer Jim Bourne, or Dev Null, adjusts the volume to fill the arena with his arsenal of situation-specific music. Considering arena halls are notoriously cavernous, we’d nearly shut the low frequencies entirely out on the soundboard and speakers. This prevents unwanted echoes and reverb from the low frequencies deflecting, competing and muddying each other in this arena. Cutting the low frequencies out allowed for crisper, cleaner voices.

Cautionary discretion – we’d rather you not biff it. Though it seemed that everybody on skates was confident and competent on four wheels, and there didn’t seem to be any off-track accidents.

Kill Jills (on the left in yellow) and local referees take a knee for O, Canada – as sung by one of the organizers. At this point, we’d used the mixing board to sweep and boost each announcer’s specific talking frequency.

#15 of Avalanche City racing ahead.

A few of the Kill Jills. From left to right: Roc-A-Felon, Sparkle Motion, Jenni Gunns and Bloody Maiden.

A few more: Monster Maggie, Bloody Maiden, Roxy Acetylene and EndHer Wiggin.

Some players for Avalanche City: Lacey Daggers, Smash’er S. Kullin, Jenna Jammerson and breakAdawn.

Kill Jills take the lead through the stalls. Our 14′ x 10.5′ fastfold projector screen takes less than half an hour to set up, and uses a genius alternative to conventional pipe and drape. Can you guess what it is?

For the next Roller Derby event, we would like to use a video mixer to include play-by-plays and professional sports cuts. This might take some practice, but would look hella awesome once done.

We’d set our speakers in a circuit, with each speaker’s horn pointed in the same direction following the next – oriented towards the audience, and tilted in for the players. This allows for each section of the audience to hear crisp announcer voices standing out from the arena drone. Dev Null was also cautious to lower the auxiliary audio volume from his computer while there were interviews or announcers speaking – this increases the prevalence of voices which should be peaking 20 dB louder than the secondary audio.

The players take a moment to recalibrate and recoup. The light mixer saw Par 56s and Par 64s, set as two independent alternating fixtures. However, the RGB is set differently for Par 64s than our conventional 56s. So, we’d adjusted the DMX settings for the 64s to be five notches above what the 56s would have been set to on each light’s DIP switch.

This allows for control of both sets of fixtures using the same faders on the light mixer.

Big Ugly Jim Martin, of Distillery fame, narrating the game through our wireless mic system. We always have extra batteries on standby, but luckily didn’t have to replace any from start to finish.

Both Jims were excellent announcers – on point with their play-by-plays, cues and hearty announcer voices. Dev Null listened to the raw audio mix through his headphones, and remarked throughout the night that this is some of the cleanest audio he’d heard for this venue and event.

You’ll notice shots are brighter here on. Dev Null and I cooperated with requests about how dark the venue was. As our light mixer’s faders were set pretty high, and the referees did need to identify individual players and team shirts, we opted to turn on the two centre rows of lights for increased viewability of the track.

Which worked wonderfully for referees, announcers, fans and photographers alike. This uniform lighting is a consideration to be wary of for sports events. That is, if we were to tech this event next time, we’d bring more lighting trees and increase the number of fixtures – to spread lighting out to all four corners and all four sides of the track.

The score drew further apart, but spirits remained high.

Big Jim remarking on the scoreboard’s gap closing.

Kill Jills meet up for another pre-rally pep talk.

I spoke with Lil’ Red in Da Hood outside the venue, #27 for Kill Jills. She says any assumptions you make about the players will be challenged – there are young, single women; mothers of two or more; speed demon professionals; and, well, women from every different historical and contextual background.

It’s easy to see the sense of community and family bond with the players.

At the end of the day, Avalanche City took the win 244:216, but that the game was so close after such a point disparity demonstrates the sport’s intensity.

After wrapping up at the track, we striked most of the speakers and brought out a QSC KW181 subwoofer to the front of the stage for the after party. Between two lights set to the same yellow hue, we placed two speakers on tripods for music to continue past the main event.

It has been an absolute blast working together with the Chinook City Roller Derby, and the Calgary Sound Rentals team is excited to partner up for their next event to break in their third season.

August 22, 2013

Farhana and Shaan’s Gaye Holud

Filed under: Events — Kyle Napier @ 7:46 pm

We’ve worked with the organizer for this event on several occasions, and were certainly excited to help bring this event to life.

A Gaye Holud is the blessing or ceremony the day before a wedding, generally celebrated in Bengali communities. It roughly translates to “Tumeric, or yellow, on the body,” as the bride uses turmeric to beautify and cleanse her skin. You’ll notice a theme of yellow, white and green – colours which attendees are traditionally encouraged to wear.

(Several guests take their photos of the newlyweds-to-be. On the left is Mintu, a videographer of 18 years for AAA Movies.)

However, red is often the symbolic colour used on the wedding day. When asked about the prevalence of red today, the organizer remarked, “Sometimes, people change – and cultures change day by day.” That is, we sometimes have to bend the rules a bit and make exceptions to traditions that may be viewed as concrete or unchanging.

Mintu gave us a quick walkthrough of his camcorder, an AG-HPX300 P2HD – demonstrating it’s tight 1.6 aperture with the ability to interchange its video lenses with dSLR camera lenses. He films manually, adjusting four filters for white balance, and rolling his smooth, wheeled tripod. Mintu claims, “Nobody has this kind of camera in Alberta.” On the discussion of competitors with Punjabi film and media, Mintu says a lot of local East Indian film-makers started with AAA Movies. He adds wisely, “Without competition, life is boring.”

Regarding audio/visual, we’d decided to run the lights and speakers through the same XLR snake, so as to keep congestion down on the dance floor. Close to the stage, we’d placed two QSC tower speakers on the lowest tripod stand settings – and centred our shop-built sub, appropriately dubbed the Experiment.

The Experiment (not pictured) was built by Kris Benoit and Duncan Kenworthy to see if it was possible to make a subwoofer that sounded as good as one purchasable elsewhere. Asked about how it compared, Kris smiled saying, “I find the quality of the sub to be warm and rich – just the way I like it.” It’s small and blends in – standing almost two feet high, and four feet across – and rumbles more than enough for attendees to feel the rhythm in their feet.

Pictured above is a rack-mounted Crossover, aimed to keep the bass nice and tight. Some speakers are more capable of handling varying frequencies, but as we’d brought the Experiment, we used the crossover to orient the 30-180Hz frequencies to the experiment with some roll off on either side. This kept the low frequencies from doubling up over each other from different sound sources, and allowed for a nice clean, evenly-distributed signal.

We’d placed 12 lights (mostly Par 56 with several Sound Activated lights) on six different fixtures, so as to orient the lights smoothly and specifically, placed on two different light trees on either side of the sitting area. Each tree paralleled four different channels, with two extra lights on each tree for the stage wash, and two on stage for uplighting.

Liny Sabrin, a famous Bengali performer, graced us with a performance which was, at times, both touching and engaging. She invited several audience members, and the father-in-law, to dance and sing alongside her. Liny writes, produces and performs her own music, yet modestly credits her successes to her family.  It’s easy to hear how Liny’s voice is so beautiful, especially  knowing that her sister is the famous Baby Naznin.

The event was so much fun to be involved with. As it was hot in the gym, we’d certainly perspired from loading in the towers and gear. Naturally, we bought some drinks that had electrolytes – then researched what electrolytes are. It turns out we get the same effect from the decorative foods placed for celebration!

Thanks for allowing us to be a part of your Gaye Holud, and all the best to you and your new lives together,

- the Calgary Sound Rentals team