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Warner Grand Theatre Gets 21st-Century Sound as Part of Makeover

Bell Event Services gives classic cinema from Hollywood’s Golden Era a 21st century sound system with DiGiCo consoles and a touring-grade line array system.

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Warner Grand Theatre Gets 21st-Century Sound as Part of Makeover

The Warner Grand Theatre is the last of a series of classic southern California art deco-moderne cinema palaces from the 1930s designed by architect B. Marcus Priteca and interior designer Anthony Heinsbergen that retains its original contours.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the theater was renamed the Warner Grand Theatre in the 1980s and in 1982 was designated as City of Los Angeles Historic Cultural-Monument #251.

In 1996, the theater was purchased by the Department of Cultural Affairs and has continously operated this landmark and art deco gem since then.

Now, the 1,525-seat historic film house in San Pedro, Calif., hosts classic and art films as well as concerts and other live performances.

Today, it’s doing all of that with modern sound thanks to newly installed DiGiCo audio consoles: an SD12-96 at front of house and an SD9T for monitors, as well as an SD-Rack with Stadius 32-bit I/O mic pre’s on an Optocore HMA optical loop.

These desks control a new VUE Audiotechnik al-8 line array sound system, all of which were installed there in July by El Segundo, Calif.-based Bell Event Services (BES) under the direction of audio/operations Manager Tim Campbell, who served as the project manager.

Inside the Warner Grand Theatre

Saved from possible demolition or re-development in 1995 by a local group of preservation activists, the Warner Grand Theatre is now poised to be the hub of this Los Angeles neighborhood’s renovated downtown.

“The combination of the new consoles and the new PA system means that this is a world-class destination for touring shows,” said BES president Michael Bell.

The SD12-96 upgrade takes the SD12 console from 72 to 96 channels and from 36 to 48 aux/subgroups, while the SD9T offers a redesigned “T” workflow to suit theatrical requirements.

Bell says the SD12, installed at the rear of the auditorium, takes up far less space than the previous FOH desk.

“They would be able to add more seats as a result, for increased show revenue or social distancing purposes,” he said.

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Victor Prudeaux is both its front-of-house mixer and master electrician at Warner Grand Theatre and he mixes and consults at various other venues and stages in the Los Angeles area.

“I have worked on every digital console under the sun,” he said. “I’m not tied down by a set workflow. I don’t have to scroll through a thousand pages to get to the one I need.

“If an understudy has to suddenly go on, I can just select the understudy in the Player feature, and the all of the custom settings and processing we’ve previously edited and saved for that character’s replacement actor are there,” said Prudeaux. “I don’t have to rebuild an entire show like I have to on other consoles and we’re ready to go within moments.”

The Warner Grand Theatre, which was declared a historical and cultural monument of the city in 1982 and added to the National Register of Historic Places, is getting ready for its next 90 years, with upgraded projectors next on the list of planned enhancements.

“When touring comes back, the Warner Grand is going to be a real showcase room,” says Bell.

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