9 Feb 2020 @ Zeiss-Großplanetarium Berlin
Producing our own show and helping an artist make their album in 3D from the ground up.
The Spatial Media Lab The Spatial Media Lab was given an opportunity to produce their own show for the Stiftung Planetarium Berlin at the Zeiss-Großplanetarium in Berlin on 09.02.20.
The Stiftung Planetarium Berlin organized this event, with Georgios Mavrikos (the creator of Contentious Constant) taking care of production and the curation. We share a common vision for aesthetics and we want to open ways for artists to work in planetariums and spatial media in general.
- fluesterLAUT custom 3D Renderer, based on a XI-Machine.
- Allen&Heath Dlive System with a CDM48 and a C2500
- Mono-PA by Coda consisting of two N-APS per side and two SCV-F- Subwoofers powered by Linus 12C.
- IEM Plugin Suite from Institut für Elektronische Musik und Akustik at the Kunstuniversität Graz
- Yamaha Grand Piano with helpinstill Pickups
For this event we worked for 6 months with artist Jan Wagner, teaching him how to use the IEM Plugin Suite from Graz and the digital audio workstation (DAW) Reaper. We showed him some of our past work in the planetarium to get an idea of how the 3D Audio would sound and then provided him with our Reaper Template and How-To Document. Meeting weekly to review the progress, discuss possible ideas, solve issues, and answer any questions, and periodically working late in the evening in the planetarium.
For the Loudspeaker setup, we determined that to bring the proper quality of sound and the spatial scenery for the piano and the backing beats we needed a hybrid setup. For this we brought a additional PA with the help from Ambion to amplify just the piano and the sounds that needed a clear connection to the stage. The grand piano was picked up by a helpinstill Model 120, which is an unusual electric pickup for a grand piano. Because of its principle the gain before feedback is immense. We could set up the PA very close to the piano and even extend its Low end by two octaves with subharmonic synthesizer plugin, which is built in the Allen&Heath D-Live console we could try for the show.
This combination allowed Jan a dynamic range in loudness and frequency domain “larger then life”. The rest of the backing tracks and live synthesizer playback went through the 50 speaker full-dome array. This created a crisp timing between the backing beats and grand piano. We used our very own Rendering Machine based on a XI-Machine to handle all of the spatialization while Jan could focus on playing the piano and synthesizer.
For Tobias Preisig our setup was quite simple. His setup was already fixed in a stereo configuration and we decided to lean into this by taking out the lead violin and backing beats (like Jan’s setup) and routing it through the PA. We also routed the live and backing strings through the Noisemaker’s Ambiverb to create a lush and huge sense of space, which left some listeners with a sense of floating.
Based on our past experience with the planetarium we chose to use 5th order ambisonics for the entire show. Because of the amount of speakers, the planetarium has a very good spatial resolution. While on other systems the difference between 3rd and 5th order is hard to hear, in the planetarium there is a noticeable difference in quality.
On the night of the event everything ran like clock-work. With an error-free performance of such a complex setup we all felt accomplished and grateful for the successful collaboration. We hope to hold another concert in 2022, finally coming out of the COVID pause, but only time will tell.