Behind the Scenes of ‘Bat Out of Hell The Musical’ with Gareth Owen

By in Live Sound, Live Sound Videos

Award-winning sound designer Gareth Owen had three of the biggest musical productions running concurrently in London’s West End in the Summer of 2017—Bat Out of Hell, Wind in the Willows, and 42nd Street. His live system of choice? Avid VENUE | S6L for all three.

Watch the video series below and discover Gareth’s secrets to delivering the impactful and immersive sound that makes Bat Out of Hell such a raucous and epic production.

Production Overview

S6L Workflow & Layouts

Gareth discusses the differences between concert sound and musical theatre, the roles of operator and designer, and his philosophy and approach to sound design.

Gareth shares with us how he lays out his channels and VCA’s to enable programming remotely with VNC and operation on the console—his ingenious use of S6L’s layouts and bank safes are a revelation.

S6L Snapshots

S6L Events

Gareth explains how he uses Snapshots to build his shows, the use of VCA’s assignments, momentary snapshots, and how he copes with alternate actors.

Gareth talks about how he exploits the radical new Events capabilities introduced with VENUE 5.4 software in his shows.

S6L Plug-ins

S6L Hardware

Gareth shares the plug-ins he uses, why he uses them, and the settings to achieve specific effects.

Matt Peploe, Junior Associate Sound Designer at Gareth Owen Sound, describes the hardware set up for Bat Out of Hell production at The Coliseum Theatre in London.

Backstory to the Bat Out of Hell Videos

By Robb Allan

I first met Gareth back at the height of Britpop when we were both on an a fairly wild Oasis tour. I was mixing the Manic Street Preachers and he was sub-mixing a string section for our mutual friend, gentleman-scholar and legendary noise boy, Huw Richards. Huw was mixing FOH for the Gallagher brothers at the time, one of the loudest shows I’ve ever heard! We’ve bumped into each other often over the years since then—at tradeshows catching up on audio trends, gigs, even appearing together on talk panels—and have remained friends while having taken different paths. I stayed in the rock and roll world and mixed various fellas with guitars and whatnot, eventually ending up, (long story) working for Avid and helping design mixing consoles. Gareth has spent the subsequent years conquering the world of musical theatre. He’s now a veritable “Prince of Sound Design” on Broadway, the West End, and all across the world. He’s won Tony and Olivier awards and his eponymous company, Gareth Owen Sound, at any one time will have numerous high budget productions spread across the world’s most prestigious theatres.

Gareth and I have spent a lot of time recently talking about theatre workflows and how we can best harness S6L’s open architecture to enable advanced workflows for theatre design and mixing. He had massive input into our VENUE 5.4 software release earlier in the year, generously sharing his ideas and experience with the team.

It seemed like a good idea to get some of these conversations with Gareth into a video, as he is so erudite and articulate on the nature and philosophy of theatre sound design. To share his thoughts with the audio community at large I headed down to the Coliseum Theatre in London’s West End, home to Bat Out of Hell, with a video crew in tow to have a chat. The ambience is a little different from the febrile back stage at a Britpop concert where we used to hang out, but congenial none the less. Although some of the workflows he describes are specific to musical theatre, many of the ideas behind them can be used in concert mixing, corporate, or indeed any of the audio disciplines.

I hope you enjoy watching them as much as we enjoyed making them.

Discover VENUE | S6L

The next stage in live sound is here—with the award-winning VENUE | S6L system, you can take on the world’s most demanding productions with ease.

As a live sound engineer, I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing artists including Coldplay, Massive Attack, Manic Street Preachers, Natalie Imbruglia, Richard Ashcroft and Lisa Stansfield. I have also mixed broadcast sound on David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, Jay Leno, the Brit Awards, the MTV Music Awards and the 2010 World Cup Kickoff Concert.