Springboard Productions Brings Austin City Limits Festival to the World
AUSTIN, TX, October 15, 2008 — Founded last year by GRAMMY®-winning producer Hank Neuberger, Springboard Productions is no stranger to the festival circuit, after supplying digital new media production services for events, including the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Rothbury Music & Energy Festival, Lollapalooza, and others. Enlisted by promoters C3 Presents and Giant Pictures as supervising producer at this year's Austin City Limits Festival September 26-28, Springboard gave guidance to the annual three-day event's webcast operations serving AT&T blue room programming as well as all on-site audio recording.
"Festivals like this differ vastly compared to working with a single band or in theater assignments," Neuberger says, reflecting back upon the challenges he faced this year in Austin's Zilker Park, where more than 130 bands appeared on eight stages representing rock, country, folk, Americana, hip-hop, and just about every other genre. "First of all, you're doing at least five bands at each stage per day with almost no sound checks, and you can consider yourself lucky if you get a complete line check. On top of all this you're subject to the whims of the great outdoors and whatever weather comes your way, you're not always able to work in the most ideal of locations, and there are a lot of inputs. It's perfectly common to deal with 50 at a time from a single stage."
Working with headlining acts the Foo Fighters, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Beck, Manu Chao, John Fogerty, David Byrne, Gnarls Barkley, and scores of others, Neuberger managed audio recording with the help of mobile units positioned at each of the four main stages driven to the festival by Chicago-based American Mobile, Metro Mobile Recording from Glenview, Illinois, and XM/Effanel, which sent a pair of its trucks from New York.
The job of advancing the shows fell upon the shoulders of each stage manager, who developed stage plots and input lists given to Neuberger and the appropriate sound companies before the ACL Festival. Shure UHF-R® wireless was a common sight across the board on all of the four main stages, used for vocals and instruments. The Niles, Illinois-based manufacturer's PSM® personal in-ear monitoring systems saw frequent use as well.
“I always insist on using Shure Microphones at Austin City Limits and the other festivals I produce,” said Tor Hyams, head producer at ACL and veteran of Lollapalooza serving in the same role. “Given the number of acts and fast paced atmosphere of such a large event, I know Shure mics won't let me down. Simply put, they are the most reliable and best live microphones on the planet. I actually get worried if I see another brand of microphone.”
Appearing on Day One, Jenny Lewis played before a large crowd crammed into the Washington Mutual Memorial Tent. Running through fresh tracks from her new LP, Acid Tongue, Lewis relied on a largely Shure stage orchestrated on the input end of the equation by engineer Adam Fisher.
"Like a lot of bands, we have certain expectations of our gear," Fisher remarked after the dust settled on the day. "With Shure microphones, we've found that our needs are met on all levels, not just vocals. There is indeed a degree of dependability that is comforting, especially when you find yourself in a throw-and-go festival situation.”
Even with the premium he places on sonic accuracy and quality in all of his painstaking recording and webcast efforts, Neuberger relates that the day has indeed come when wireless can match the performance levels of hardwired offerings in terms of performance.
"It's really up to the band," he says. "Whatever makes them comfortable is what they should use. That's the number one concern, always. There was no problem with wireless here this year whatsoever, even with the huge number of stages we had in close proximity to one another."