Logged by Emiliano Paternostro, Technical Coordinator for the Virtual Choir
All events occurred in 2014
First long distance audio conference with collaborators to discuss The Theory of Relativity’s Virtual Choir. Conceptualization of the Choir begins, referencing Eric Whitacre’s projects in conjunction with previous mountings of The Theory of Relativity.
Technical Road Map created to ensure all stakeholders are aware of and agree on the phases the project will take in order to be completed.
Various Technologists and Faculty at Sheridan College are consulted for guidance and resources (studio space, equipment, etc).
Students and past participants from around the world are made aware of the project calling for participation.
Alan Poaps sends mix stems of previously recorded version of “Nothing Without You”, finale for The Theory of Relativity. Tracks that were originally recorded for the studio release of the song become vital to the success of the project, as it includes a piano bed that will be used for participants to sing along and a click track for Neil to listen to ensure the live performance can be synchronized.
Neil Bartram flies to Toronto to shoot Conductor video at Sheridan College. Neil conducts to click track and piano bed that will be used later in the project. Project scope is discussed.
Neil soon thereafter sends sheet music for participants to use with different parts highlighted, as well as a Logic Pro project with guide tracks for each participant to listen to.
Marcel Bernardou from Sheridan’s Marketing and Communications Department sets up Virtual Choir Website. Work begins on building all the materials and documentation that will be hosted on the site.
First version of Conductor videos, complete with guide tracks, on screen lyrics and opening instructional animation is complete. First build of website is complete, feedback and notes are requested from collaborators and stakeholders.
Emi’s Birthday. Website is nearly complete.
Website is approved by all stakeholders. Link is sent out as a call to participation. Various web blogs and digital publications write about the Virtual Choir project.
First submission received!
Submission deadline passes with 31 submissions received. Decision is made to extend the deadline slightly to allow for more submissions to be collected. Work begins on synchronizing performances.
Final submission received: tally stands at 41 participants. Intense period of work begins to create the audio and video that will be played during the finale of The Theory of Relativity. Preliminary synchronization is done in Premiere Pro after videos are downloaded from YouTube submissions. Audio tracks are sent to Pro Tools project, Video tracks are sent to After Effects project.
Almost completed fine editing and synchronization of audio tracks. Many edits are created in each track moving parts slightly earlier or later to ensure performance sounds correct. Conscious decision to use absolutely no pitch correction or time expansion/compression to preserve “raw” quality of performers singing into a webcam.
Final Mix of Virtual Choir complete. Minimal noise reduction and dynamic control used, as well as no effects or echo applied to tracks to ensure that live choir matches virtual one during performance. Panorama applied to vocalists randomly, achieves a nice “group of people singing in a room together” effect. Work begins on laying out Video tracks.
Emi goes on vacation. Project is put on hold for a few days.
Early mornings and late nights are spent creating the video tracks for the performance. After a few mockups, the motif of “a person holding up a picture to the crowd, then laying the photo on a table in a grid” is decided upon.
Cast, crew and creators arrive at Sheridan College and begin an intensive rehearsal schedule to prepare the production. Presentation is only 5 days away. Video track hits a snag as project is too large for home system to render (40 HD video layers with mattes, strokes, colour correction and 3D positioning). Project is moved to another more powerful system to render it out. Final render time: 6.5 hours for 2 minutes of final screen time.
Neil runs the first test of performing live with a click track that is synchronized to the virtual choir. Live choir and virtual choir audio sync up beautifully. Video has yet to be tested.
Video projection is set up. Neil and Cast perform with the virtual choir on screen for the first time. Results are astounding. Rehearsal continues.
Opening night for Song, Stage and Screen IX. The Theory of Relativity is performed with the virtual choir projected at the finale. The crowd receives the presentation with much enthusiasm.
It is decided to take a short break from creating the online version of the virtual choir, to allow for some time to reflect on the project.
Work begins on the online video for the virtual choir. Some technical issues with regards to the capturing of the performance need to be addressed.
After some feedback and revisions, the online presentation of the virtual choir is complete and uploaded. Next challenge, to make the live performance deliverable and have it remounted at other venues. A possible installation version may also be in the works.
“Nothing Without You” featuring the Virtual Choir is presented at the annual Sheridan Welcome Back Breakfast. Presentation features Michael Mulrooney on Piano and a group of Sheridan Music Theatre students entering their fourth year. Project is received with great applause and proves that programme can be remounted with little technical challenges.