Located in eastern Washington, Deer Park High School offers a broad curriculum of college prep and career studies for its 675 students. The school has an attractive, 350-seat live theatre, which supports Deer Park’s active broadcasting technology educational programmes. The theatre is well equipped with a certified full-fly rigging system, modern digitally-controlled theatrical lighting, a video recording and presentation system and a high-performance audio system with an Allen & Heath Qu-32 digital mixer.
Dan Huffman heads the school’s production department. He emphasises that Deer Park’s theatre and adjacent production room are more than just a place for the school to host events.
“This is a teaching facility and our students run all of the systems at a live event including video, lighting and sound. Live production is an important part of our educational programme," Huffman says.
Deer Park’s new Qu-32 replaces an older analogue mixer that has been moved to the production room.
“The Qu-32 is smaller and less intimidating than the analogue board but it has plenty of capability and I can even use the line inputs to connect more than 32 sources and access them on different digital layers,” said Huffman.
The Qu-32 normally resides in a mix booth at the back of the theatre. However, it can be moved into the theatre seating area when required for complex productions. Alternately, operators can take an iPad into the theatre and move from place to place while controlling the mixer using Wi-Fi.
Huffman configured the Qu-32’s first layer as a default for simple events.
“Almost anyone can operate the mixer in this setup,” Huffman explained. “Just turn it on and hand a wireless mic to the presenter.”
For the school’s more sophisticated dramatic and musical performances, students have set up scenes and layers and they are learning to optimise the DSP and reverb for an individual performer’s voice.
“That helps us learn by doing and we’re using more features each time we turn it on," Huffman commented.
Huffman plans to implement the Qu-32’s multi-track recording capabilities soon and says his students are looking forward to the school’s first big theatrical production which will take place in mid-January.
“The programme director is excited about using the Qu-32’s scenes to coordinate the audio with his production,” Huffman said. “The Qu-32 is like a lighting control board in that way, and we’ll be using even more of the mixer’s capabilities by then. So far, we’ve probably only tapped about 25% of what this mixer can do.”