DiGiCo SD 12 Consoles Prep BRIT School Students for the Industry; Power BRITs Award Show
The BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology has invested in DiGiCo SD12 consoles. In addition, DiGiCo consoles were specified throughout the entire 2019 BRIT Awards.
The BRIT School Gets Students Industry-Ready with DiGiCo SD12 Consoles
Situated in Croydon, South London, The Brit School is a state-funded school for ages 14 to 18 and is dedicated to ‘Education and vocational training for the performing arts, media, art, and design, and the technologies that make performance possible’, as well as providing a core GCSE study programme. It boasts a list of highly successful alumni and lays claim to 99% of graduating students going on to find work in the creative industries or enrolling in higher education. These impressive results are down to dedication, a carefully curated curriculum and equipment that allows its students to go out in the real world.
“A really high proportion of students go directly into the industry as riggers, sound engineers and lighting programmers and controllers, all the way through to people taking their study further – maybe at one of the well-known universities operating in our field,” says technical manager Andrew Smith. “We’re proud of that. We are energized by making sure that people have an awareness of the industry and that they can make a career.”
A major emphasis for the course is real-world production practice, with students from the Production Arts course providing lighting and sound requirements for its own productions. The intensity of the School’s performance programme was one of the driving factors that lead to a search for new consoles.
“We have performances going on simultaneously in multiple venues, including our two fully-equipped theatres – the Obie Theatre (named after the late music exec Maurice Oberstein) and the BRIT Theatre,” explains Smith. “Making a further investment DiGiCo SD consoles made absolute sense. We purchased two SD12s, which means we can train students on a tool that will allow them to work in a broad range of genres.
The consoles were supplied and installed by HD Pro Audio, which has worked with the school since its inception in 1991. Sales Director Andy Huffer notes that the SD12 is particularly suited to its wide-ranging production and learning requirements.
“The School already had a number of SD consoles, so it was familiar with the technology,” says Smith. “The SD12 is a fantastic ‘all-rounder’, suitable for both bands and theatre work and will mean that graduating students are already familiar with the popular DiGiCo platform when go out into the industry.”
“In the music industry, the SD Range is very much at the top of the tree,” he adds. “It’s the same in musical theatre where we see large-scale consoles coming into play. Teaching on them is great, because students know they’re a piece of kit they have to get their heads around if they are going to work in the industry, and that means they progress rapidly.”
The integrated USB recording interface on the SD12 is also a key learning tool for the school.
“If you’ve never engineered before, you can do prior training, but actually doing it for real is where you learn the skill of the quick decision making that’s needed,” says Andrew. “Then, in a calmer environment, you can analyze what you’ve done and improve on it. Outside the live performances, we can use those recordings to give students a safe environment for learning to engineer.
“We’re passionate about the creative and performing arts. We have industry professionals involved at every level and we want to make opportunities for young people in an industry we love. Being able to have relevant equipment, such as the SD12, is a key part of that.”
The evening’s live mixes, which were also broadcast live on TV, saw Hugh Jackman, George Ezra, Jess Glynne, and The 1975, amongst other top artists perform with the sound of DiGiCo.
“The BRIT Awards is always a tricky show; being able to balance artists’ needs with simplicity and continuity throughout is hard to achieve,” states Colin Pink, The BRITs longstanding Live Sound Supervisor. “This year, every sound desk was a DiGiCo, which allowed the production to feel much more elegant than in the past.”
The consoles, deployed by Britannia Row Productions – which has been The BRITs’ audio supplier for over 20 years – were two SD7s at FOH with an SD7 Quantum surface, two SD12s at FOH for the presenters, hosts and acceptance speeches, and two further SD7s in monitor world flip-flopping between live performances.
The 1975 brought in anSD5 for their monitoring duties and P!nk’s pre-recorded section was handled via her own SD12 by FOH engineer Dave Bracey – a long-time DiGiCo user.
“The advances that the Quantum Engine bring to the flagship SD7 allow so much more flexibility and simplicity to these multi-band gigs,” Colin continues. “It’s a great asset to the DiGiCo brand.”
Lez Dwight, Britannia Row Sales Director, joins the conversation: “This year’s BRITs really benefitted from a unique and brilliant production design from Misty Buckley. Her set was very favourable for an emphasis on quality live audio.
“The show went very well, with no technical issues whatsoever, in no small part due to DiGiCo’s expert presence. DiGiCo artist liaison manager, Mark Saunders, and product specialist Dave Bigg, provided instant, on-site support.”
Lez is keen to highlight the benefits of working with DiGiCo kit: “As well as the show being completely DiGiCo this year, it was also the first time we’ve ever used 32-bit cards across the whole range of consoles on a live production.
“Britannia Row has worked with DiGiCo for a very long time, as has our worldwide network within Clair Global. It’s the console that the majority of engineers are very happy to use, which is important for a multi-act show like this. The 1975 requested to bring their own monitor desk in, and as their preferred console is an SD5, it worked with the production perfectly. The Live sound quality this year was truly exceptional.”