La Fabuleuse Histoire d’un Royaume, the unique historical theatrical extravaganza production on the creation and evolution of the Saguenay Lac-St-Jean in Quebec, Canada, celebrates their 35 years in show with an immersive upgrade of their sound system.
The show, seen by more than 1 300 000 spectators and with nothing less than 150 volunteer actors who take the stage representing up to 12 roles each, is a spectacular production featuring fire, water, helicopters, cannon shots, horses and other animals in an unprecedented sound and visual performance, taking place at the Théâtre du Palais Municipal in La Baie, Saguenay, the largest stage in Quebec with a capacity of up to 2300 spectators.
Deployed by LSM Ambiocréateurs, one of the most influential creators of scenic atmosphere in eastern Quebec, a new Immersive live sound system driven by the SPAT Revolution spatial audio mixing software, using Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) advance reproduction technique, was installed. The installation empowers the sound designers with the tools required to create and mix an outstanding world-class immersive experience, bringing this reputed legendary theatrical show to the next level.
In 2019, the entire production team headed by Jimmy Doucet, the new show director, wondered what could bring La Fabuleuse to another level to celebrate its 35th anniversary. The complete renewal of the soundtrack and how it was diffused seemed obvious. From then on, a monumental work of analysis, meeting, collaboration, research and then recordings, editing in the studio and in the venue, assembly, calibration and programming was put in place throughout these three years to achieve the result we know today.
“This new immersive system gives an incredible depth to our show. The music, sounds, and lyrics now come from where the action actually is taking place on our very large stage, which gives a much better understanding of our many tableaux. In several parts of the show, the system gives the spectators the impression of being transported on the stage with the actors, and with that becoming a part of the action.”, said Jimmy Doucet.
Serge Lachance, CEO of LSM Ambiocréateurs, Sound Designer, Mixing Engineer, and Operator of the show, took the La Fabuleuse project under his wings. First as a technical equipment supplier (sound, lighting, video, rigging) for 14 years, and as a sound designer and operator for the show during the last 7 years.
The show runs through a Midas Pro 6 console with an extended loudspeaker configuration from CODA Audio installed in the theater, and previously the show was set on a standard 5.1 system controlled by the surround panning on the very same Midas console, with only 24 channels of playback. The upgrade, and the installation of the new immersive sound system, now with a new soundtrack and over 200 audio tracks introduced significant challenges due to really short deadlines, and with the supply challenges of the last year (due to covid), still the installation was presenting a surprisingly pleasant end result.
“I am very happy with the result, and my biggest surprise was, and still is, the stability of the system overall”, said Serge Lachance.
“The main thing is intelligibility. La Fabuleuse is a story and you’ve got to be listening to what’s going on, and there is a lot of vocals. There is the spirit voice that delivers the story all the time, and then you’ve got the actors that are coming into play. There are so many actors and voices, so as you can imagine, with the limited resolution of a stereo or L-C-R system, you can rapidly lose that intelligibility when you cramb all this content together. If you make the choice of putting in more music elements to drive your audience, you stand the chance of losing intelligibility too. Sometimes there’s a compromise there, because you need the music to drive the dance and drive the audience. So, intelligibility and being able to get that localization, that was definitely the most critical factor”, Lachance added.
The tracks for the vocal, music and sound effects were handled in Logic Pro on Mac Mini M1s. Two Mac studios (for redundancy) are running the two SPAT Revolution immersive processors for the sound mixing environment and the WFS (wave field synthesis) reproduction; with the show control running on Qlab with MIDI and OSC commands. Having the ability to use the sound field creatively for localization of voices and other sound objects in the space, has created a whole new sound experience vastly improving the experience of the entire performance.
“There are also scenes of the show where there’s a war and people are flying by and they’re falling from the ceiling and there’s pyro, and there’s a chopper flying over, and now the audio is following all of that. So, it’s just not the same show on a 5.1 with all its limitations. The availability of the WFS reproduction technology was key to me in this project. In addition, the technical support, the services and solutions provided by Hugo Larin, director at FLUX:: Immersive, were crucial for my decisions.”, said Lachance.
« The WFS reproduction technology in SPAT Revolution was key to me in this project »
Serge Lachance, Sound Designer
FLUX:: Immersive was contracted to provide the various services for the success of this project. Hugo Larin was deployed to support the production with this redesign, its implementation, from the use of the SPAT Revolution software engine to show control/network integration and system calibration.
“The La Fabuleuse presented a great challenge but at the same time the perfect example of how an Immersive deployment could work, even with this 35-meter wide stage. The goal was to provide strong localization and a sense of depth in the audio mix and our Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) implementation in SPAT Revolution did exactly this”, said Hugo Larin.
“The show has now existed for 36 years, several updates have been made since the beginning, the last one being the addition of video projection on this huge set. (more than 35 meters wide) . The video completely changed the experience by transporting the viewer to an immersive setting that reproduces the history of the Saguenay over 150 years. With the sound recordings dating back more than 30 years, it was impossible to match the sound experience with the visuals of this show. By respecting the texts of the author Ghislain Bouchard and the music of Dominic Laprise, we have completely redone the soundtrack of the show. With these new 200+ tracks the possibility of an immersive sound diffusion was made possible.”, said Serge Lachance.
“With an extremely tight schedule due to supply issues, the time left to do the integration and to actually mix these over 200 tracks on 64 audio objects was quite short. That being said, I was quite impressed with the work of Serge Lachance and how it pulled a mix quite rapidly. Now, the production has a system that they can keep building on as they develop the immersive audio mix“, Larin added.
“FLUX:: Immersive is a company that listens to users, having tried the product last summer and having made recommendations, some answers came rapidly and some optimization were implemented rapidly.The precision of this software is impressive and once again, the stability is there with the qualified hardware that gets recommended.“, Lachance added.
After working on the show for many years, it took Lachance some time to get into this expanded universe opening up with the new immersive system, and finally in the end he even started to experience the real world around him in a completely new way as well.
“Funny enough, I had times with Serge outside of the show where we were sitting and talking and he was listening to his environment, like the birds. We were talking outside and he was being bothered by birds. Mixing this way opened his ears so much to listening to new things. He became more sensitive to his surroundings. Now, he is mixing with a better sense of the surroundings of the show, such as when there’s birds in the show. He knows how to place those because he relates more to how they are in life.”, said Larin.
“His conclusion is, once you’ve opened your brain to this, when you’re thinking about show production, you’re thinking about immersive and there is just no coming back. You don’t want to be coming back. And he’s now involved with two or three other productions and he’s thinking about WFS for reproduction techniques and about content in 360 degrees – That is a powerful way to transport an audience!”, Larin added.
La Fabuleuse Histoire d’un Royaume / The Fabulous Story of a Kingdom
Mixing, Sound design – Serge Lachance
Audio, Video and Lighting Supplier; LSM Ambiocréateurs
Immersive Audio technologies and services: FLUX:: Immersive
Loudspeaker manufacturer / Distributor: CODA Audio / SC Media
Audio team Marc-André Gilbert, Félix Perron, Nathan Allard and Sam Plourde St-Pierre
Production director: Marie-Eve Rivard
Stage direction – Jimmy Doucet Production
Technical director: Isabeau Côté and Fabien Duchossoy
Music by composer Dominic and Mathieu Laprise
Sound FX by Nicolas Dallaire and Jean-François B. Sauvé
Diffusion Saguenay, Producer and Promoter of the show
Audio System Detail
Remote control: TouchOSC Custom control pages on hardwired Ipads
Show control & playback: Redundant Logic & QLab software on Two (2) Dante audio Mac Mini
Mixing desk: Midas Pro 6 with Klark Teknik DN9650 AES50 to DANTE bridges
Immersive processing: Redundant SPAT Revolution on Two (2) Dante audio Mac Studio Max
Audio / Control Network:
- Luminex GigaCore 14R with fiber ring
- Primary & Secondary Playback Dante Audio
- Primary Diffusion System amplifier Dante
Signal Matrixing / Breakout and Fail over management: Auvitran AVBx7 Audio ToolBox
LTC distribution / routing: CM Labs Sixty Four 64
Master System WordClock: Rosendahl Nanosyncs HD Playback system generating LTC to video, lighting and pyrotechnics
A standalone QLab Mac mini system is handling rehearsals and serves as a completely analog / bounced show emergency system.
CODA Audio Diffusion/Loudspeaker System
Frontal co-linear system of 5 arrays
4 x APS per array , a hybrid of point source and line array.
Each arrays is flown with SCV-F sub-module
Main floor surround ring of 12 x G-Series Point Source speakers
Bleacher surround ring of 18 x HOPS-8, High Output Point Source Systems
Front fill line of 12 HOPS-5, High Output Point Source Systems
4 x SCP – Infra floor sub-woofers
56 channels of LINUS14D amplifiers in LINUS RACK
Photo Credits: Journal Le Quotidien (#2, #3), Marc-André Couture (#1, #4), Michel Tremblay (#5)