Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Meyer Constellation Tuning

Intrepid MFA student Patricia Cardona wanted, for her design for Waiting for Godot, to use the Meyer Constellation system that we own here at UCI. The Constellation system uses VRAS (Variable Room Acoustic Simulation) technology to alter the acoustic properties of a room. UCI owns a portable system, and it gets used in a few shows per year. The last time we had any Constellation/VRAS training, however, was before any of our current students were here at UCI, so it was time to ask Meyer to provide some training. Fortunately, Mac Johnson at Meyer was excited to come down with some colleagues to help us learn how to take advantage of the Constellation system.

The Meyer visit lasted over three days. On Sunday, Mac and Pierre Germain came in to do some secret math to make the room sound natural. Patricia, Stephen, BC, and I were on-hand to help them out, but due to the proprietary nature of the techniques, we weren't allowed to be in the room to watch the magic happen.

On Monday, we took a break from work on Waiting for Godot, but Mac visited my Trends in Modern Sound Design class to talk about his life before and after his being hired by Meyer. Mac regaled us with tales of the road and more than a few words of wisdom about high standards, interpersonal communication, and professional flexibility/adaptability. On Monday night, we met for libation and mirth.

Tuesday morning, bright and early, we met back at the Robert Cohen Theater to get cracking on giving the Constellation System some personality. Pierre had done a terrific job of making the room sound natural, and now we welcomed Steve Ellison, who gave a primer in the parameters and power of the Constellation System. Steve walked us through the interface and helped Patricia create a few presets to get her started as she heads into tech this weekend.

Here's Steve and Mac on the set of Waiting for Godot:
And Steve with some of our MFA students, probably rapt with attention as Mac activated the room with his mellifluous baritone voice.

It was an exceptional session! I've used VRAS a few times in my work over the past few years, but I feel like I understand it now at a level that I had not been able to understand before. I can't wait to try using it again soon, and I know that many of the students feel the same way!

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