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AURUS and NEXUS mix the sound of Hollywood

Technology from STAGETEC on concert tour with the soundtracks of Hans Zimmer

Berlin, May 2018: Hans Zimmer, Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe winner, is one of the most famous film composers of our time. With the tour "The World of Hans Zimmer - A Symphonic Celebration", a concert tour through Germany began at the end of April, on which Hans Zimmer himself is not present. The tour presents Hans Zimmer's soundtracks for well-known blockbuster productions, which he has rearranged for orchestra. For this world premiere, the film composer has chosen Germany - and technology from the Berlin-based manufacturer STAGETEC is also on tour.

A 48-fader AURUS platinum is installed at the FOH position. The console is embedded in a NEXUS system with six Base Devices, three for the FOH siderack and three for I/O. This network is complemented by two NEXUS STAR routers - one for AURUS processing at the FOH position and one for monitoring with MADI connection and for the remaining three NEXUS base devices. A so-called virtual console is also used to set up the spectral delta stereophony of the frontfills. Virtual console means that the AURUS can switch to a second DSP core during setup. Later, the virtual console is operated via an external PC.

The challenge with this production is the large channel and bus count needed for orchestra, choir, and a 15-piece band. In addition, the frequent change of instruments makes this production very demanding. Percussion instruments always play an important role in Hans Zimmer's music, for example there are 50 percussion channels alone. In total, up to 250 mixing channels are used on 128 buses. In the virtual console, there are another 193 inputs in a matrix on eight outputs for the nearfills. For this large number of audio channels, the NEXUS network was equipped with seven powerful RMDQ DSP units. For the numerous microphone setups, 23 XMIC microphone boards with eight channels each are available.

The brand-new "hierarchy of VCA groups" feature for AURUS was developed especially for this project, and the sound engineer in charge, Carsten Kümmel, needs it for this production. "I use the new VCA hierarchy to handle the large number of channels. I can assign a channel to several groups and make groupings, which then results in a VCA pyramid. We're no longer mixing individual channels on this project; it's mixed via VCAs." And Carsten Kümmel adds, "I'm using scene automation for the first time, creating snapshots before the show that I trigger through external timecode. We have a timecode show here, so I always have all the soloists and effects triggered controlled by timecode. Then I don't have to think about everything during the show, but can concentrate on the music."

German composer Hans Zimmer, who lives in Hollywood, won an Oscar for "The Lion King." He received eleven other nominations for films including "Rain Man," "Interstellar," "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dunkirk." He received the Golden Globe for "The Lion King" and "Gladiator." In collaboration with renowned directors and producers, Hans Zimmer composed the soundtracks for such well-known films as "Thelma & Louise," "Toys," "The Haunted House," "Pearl Harbor" and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film series.


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