Showtime Sound, on Aug 29, 2023 5:48:35 PM
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“Our team specializes in production integration,” says Showtime President/CEO Scott Tydings. “That means we can design, build, and move your event or tour from large clubs to touring arenas to outdoor stadiums. From start to finish, we’re your team to get it done.”
Showtime is also in it for the laughs—literally. In addition to its work in several markets, including touring, corporate events, and installations, they have carved out quite the niche in the comedy world. Currently Tydings is out as Production Manager and FOH engineer with one of comedy’s biggest stars, Kevin Hart. Showtime is also supporting John Mulaney and Bill Burr, and in the past has toured with Amy Schumer, Louis CK, and done work with Chris Rock.
The company started out as Showtime Sound LLC in a two-car garage, but quickly grew into other production disciplines, “Today we are an event solution company, handling audio, staging, video, lighting, and even backline musical instrumental rentals,” says Showtime’s Director of Operations and Production, Brian Linnemann.
Tydings notes he was a touring audio engineer “carefree and foot loose” until the early 1990s when he “came home, started a family, and got a real job.” But he couldn’t exercise the live event bug out of his system, so he invested in some gear and started doing local work, primarily with bands. One he mixed for was Vs. the Earth, where he struck up a friendship with drummer Shawn Hocherl. “I had done some work with Scott when I wasn’t touring, and then in 2006, we founded Showtime because we saw a need for high-end event production services based in the Frederick, MD area,” says Hocherl. The company branched into lighting and video to respond to customers. “Every aspect of our company develops the same way: Clients ask for it, and we get it to them,” Tydings adds. “In the beginning, we would sub out for something like video, but then we realized we could do it so much better ourselves. That’s how we got into lighting, video, trucking, backstage management—and now we’re even supplying furniture for backstage. We were going into arenas not even finding a decent chair or a nice couch worthy of an A-list superstar.” He pauses and then adds with a laugh: “Next on my list—catering!”
“Right now, we’re focused on expanding our corporate division,” says Linnemann. That area was growing nicely pre-pandemic, and now it’s a bit of a scramble as “we spend half our time trying to track down former clients and seeing what we can do for them. But there are a lot of opportunities for corporate work in our Baltimore/Washington region.”
“Speaking of the pandemic, we want to thank our core team of employees that stuck with us at Showtime through it all,” adds Hocherl. “That’s the reason why we are still here and able to continue to successfully serve our clients. Gear is great—but for us—everything we achieve is because of our people.”
The Showtime team is also a scrappy bunch: When one of their truck drivers on the Mulaney tour had a sudden death in the family and needed time off, Linnemann himself got on a plane and went to St. Louis to drive the truck to its next stop, Kansas City. “I joke that we all wear all the hats,” he says with a laugh.
Along with Tydings and Hocherl, around 20 employees plus many subcontractors keep Showtime running smoothly, working out of a 19,500 sq. ft. warehouse in Frederick, MD, which houses a strong inventory ready to address client needs. “We have strategic partnerships with the best manufacturers to provide clients with the best solutions including L-Acoustics, Telefunken, AVID, Absen, Chauvet, MA Lighting, and AC Lighting,” Tydings says.
Staying current, Showtime recently invested in grandMA 3 consoles, and in Astera LED-based lighting gear including their Titan Tube product. “We’re trying to get Astera more in the corporate world,” Linnemann adds. “There is a lot of raving about their products.” Upping their video inventory is a priority which they met with investments in Absen Polaris PL3.9 Pro (XL) LED video panels. “That’s a great product because it is IP65 rated so it works inside and outside, even in bad weather.” Among Showtime's inventory is also a Stageline SL100 mobile stage. They also have their own wood shop and build their own road cases, recently investing in a CNC router to expand that division. “Today we are completely turnkey,” says Tydings. “We have made the best investments in people and equipment to execute superior experiences.”
Rock Star Comedians
Matching gear with client is part of Showtime's expertise. Those Absen video panels are ideal for their touringcomedy clients, like Hart and Mulaney who can sell out Madison Square Garden for three nights. Understanding how that gear works for the client is also important: while a 16:9 aspect ratio (landscape) is the norm for a rock show, for standup comedy a portrait aspect ratio works better. “That way you can really see all the energy coming from a performer like Kevin Hart, as every part of his body is used to set up that punch line,” Linnemann says.
Tydings, who has developed a close working relationship with Hart, is out for a fourth time with him. “He is methodical,” he states. “He is a workhorse who has a routine that works well.” Developing that routine is an 18-month process. Hart starts a new tour by working up bits way in advance, and when he has 45-minutes’ worth, Tydings gets the call. They then hit the smaller theaters and build out the show further until it’s close to the 90-minute mark and ready for the arenas. Conversations are had, and Tydings starts giving Hart production options to choose from. “Kevin is more production-wise than most comedians; he’s able to put on a rock show without a band.”
Previous tours of Hart's have indeed been rock-concert size, the last one needing 13 trucks carrying a stage with trap doors, pyro, and 360 LED lights. For this current one, the comedian elected to go for a simpler, more intimate take. The setup includes a motorized 40’ wide x 30’ tallred Austrian curtain and custom 40’ x 24’ deep Marley black stage floor that features a heart-shaped logo. There’s a Follow-Me Performer Tracking followspot system used with two Robe Esprite fixtures downstage, and a third one above, able to always follow Hart as he moves all over the stage. This is particularly important as the stage lighting overall is dimmer than on previous shows. Tydings, with Showtime's support, has certainly met the inherent challenge of ensuring that a single guy with a microphone on a stage connects with those sitting in the far reaches of stadium or arena.
The Showtime Advantage
Showtime's client list reflects the array of market segments they support, including the Maryland Special Olympics, the Supernova International Ska Festival, and the Taste of Country Music Festival. Installs include Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric and Pier Six Pavilion, both in Baltimore. Corporate clients include the Baltimore Ravens and Salesforce. They were also there for University of Maryland’s Commencement Ceremony for 12,000 graduates held at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. And when a client needed high resolution LED scoring tables for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA®) Basketball Tournament, the Showtime team did a custom build featuring Absen LED panels to fit the event’s specific needs. From construction, to content review, to courtside action, Showtime delivered the LED scoring table solution. Showtime also handled the North American Timeless tour of II Divo that was heavy with Chauvet Professional fixtures. The touring rig included a collection of 22 Rogue R2 Wash fixtures, along with 20 Rogue R1 FX-B multi-beam moving heads, and 7 STRIKE 4 multi-format blinder/strobe lights.
“There are a lot of mega corporations out there where you’re the client, but that comes with a number," says Linnemann, explaining what he sees as the Showtime advantage. "We can get to know clients better, learn what has worked with them in the past, and help them make their events the best they can be. We’re small enough to be able to design and create a production package around what their priorities are. We give our clients a much more focused experience.”
Showtime Sound, on Aug 23, 2022 3:59:55 PM
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Showtime Sound, on Mar 7, 2022 5:57:31 PM
BALTIMORE, MD – Plato once said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Showtime Sound LLC couldn’t agree more. When its client needed high resolution LED scoring tables for the upcoming CIAA Basketball Tournament, the Showtime team got to work on a custom build to fit the event’s specific needs. From construction, to content review, to courtside action, this LED scoring table reinvented the Absen Polaris PL3.9 walls.
The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) is one of America’s oldest athletic conferences. This latest tournament was held February 22-26, 2022 at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD. The CIAA describes this annual event as “the quintessential cultural experience offering official events appealing to a diverse demographic of alumni and fans, to include educational programming, community engagement, Fan Fest, Super Saturday, step-shows, and most importantly, 22 action-packed basketball games. It’s also one of few basketball tournaments in the nation that features men and women competitions in the same facility, during the same week.”
The Showtime team easily met the tournament’s audio needs by relying on their L-Acoustics equipment, using a combination of K2, Arc II and X8 speaker enclosures. However, the scoring table needed a bit more attention. Showtime’s Video Department Manager, Galen Newell, explained the custom building process saying, “The tables were built in the shop for testing purposes and photos were also sent to our client for approval.” Newell elaborated, “We integrated our Absen PL 3.9 Pro XL Panels into the tables. These LED panels were driven by primary and backup NovaStar R5 processors in a redundant loop. This way, if one cable were to go bad, there would still be a redundant feed to the LED table. We were able to feed content to the processors using a primary and backup Resolume media server.” Brian Linnemann, Showtime’s Director of Operations and Production, remarked on the importance of using these specific products for the build. Linnemann explained, “The big selling point of our table is that the 3.9-mm pixel pitch is far superior to the 8 or 10-mm pixel pitch that is standard for most manufacturers’ scoring tables. The smaller pixel pitch allows for higher-resolution content to help deliver the sponsors’ messages.”
With awesome courtside seats, these panels needed some extra padding to protect both the athletes and the LED. Custom padding with a vinyl surface protected the panels, while maintaining a clean and appealing aesthetic.
Showtime Sound, on Jan 4, 2022 10:04:04 PM
OXON HILL, MD – According to Buddy the Elf, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” This holiday season, the team at Showtime Sound found a way that might be just as spectacular.
As part of their Christmas celebrations, Gaylord National Resort recently presented a range of family friendly activities for the holidays from Nov. 26 to Dec. 31. The Exhibition Hall featured such events as ice bumper cars, ice skating, “Snowball Build & Blast”, and even ice tubing! Families were also able to enjoy snacks and activities such as “I Love Christmas Movies”, a guided walk through experience that brought to life scenes from beloved holiday classic movies and let visitors actually interact with these scenes. According to Public Relations Manager Patrice Clayton, the event showcased “13 different scenes from five beloved Christmas movies, including “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “The Polar Express,” “A Christmas Story,” “Elf,” and “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” Clayton explained, “We have a really great partnership with Warner Brothers, so we went through and thought about what movies really provided a sense of nostalgia for people … movies that just really stick with people. Then, we went through and chose the scenes that were the most well-known and iconic from those movies.”
Alongside the attractions in the exhibition hall, the Christmas celebration also featured an array of exciting events in the resort’s Atrium. During “The Greatest Story,” a live stage show, the Gaylord welcomed guests to “experience the birth of Christ through the eyes of six international storytellers in a musical stage show and multicultural celebration of everlasting faith, hope, and love.” Gaylord wowed guests with a #lit Laser light show. Nightly, the atrium came to life with audio, lighting, lasers, fountains and snow. The Gaylord called on Showtime Sound LLC, continuing their tradition of providing audio reinforcement for these epic annual events, giving Showtime a chance to conjure up a little Christmas magic all their own.
Just like in the movies, event magic also involves a little planning. The unique layout of the Atrium would normally present numerous challenges, but having worked in the space in years past, the Showtime team easily overcame them. Showtime’s Director of Operations and Production, Brian Linnemann explained, “The atrium is huge—it’s 110 feet below the steel, about 240 feet wide, and the lower area is almost 200 feet deep. It’s also surrounded by hard, reflective surfaces, including a huge glass wall and ceiling, plus concrete balconies. We had to keep the sound directly and precisely on the seating and away from the reflective surfaces. Fortunately, our [L-Acoustics] Kara enclosures can be aimed extremely precisely. We used [L-Acoustics] Soundvision modeling and prediction software and the result was perfect—great, uniform coverage with high intelligibility and plenty of impact for the music.”
In addition to experience with this facility, Linnemann had another secret weapon in making these events possible. Working on this event previously was Showtime Sound’s Director of Technical Operations, Marc Chauvin. Chauvin shared, “Unlike, in years past, the scope of this event required a more comprehensive and flexible platform for audio routing and distribution. Keeping the stereo main, lower atrium delays, and flown audio delays for the upper atrium, we also needed to be able to accommodate inputs from live performers for “The Greatest Story”, in-ear monitoring, and a premixed playback for the #lit laser show that was married to a timecode track. Being able to utilize QLab and Radial's SW8-USB for timecode and playback, coupled with the power and interfacing options of the Avid S6L platform allowed for a seamless integration into the live experience for guests.
Showtime Sound, on Dec 16, 2021 6:12:47 PM
FREDERICK, MD – How do you turn sketch art into an immersive experience? You cover the entire wall in it! The Showtime team, led by Galen Newell, stepped up to this challenge on the evening of November 16, 2021 at the Delaplaine Center for the Arts, surrounding event guests with the artwork of a sports mural that does not yet exist.
The Frederick Sports Mural, a project of Community Arts Inc & TGP Gives, is set to be one of the world’s largest sports murals. It will be located at Harry Grove Stadium in the heart of Frederick, Maryland. The muralwill celebrate 125 years of history in more than 30 sports and will recognize 5 coaches and 250 athletes. Visionary and artist Yemi Fagbohun, founder of Community Arts, Inc., created the mural concept seven years ago. Since then, he has worked with an architect, structural engineer and a construction firm, plus the City of Frederick to be able to locate the 550-foot-long and 14-foot-tall public art project along the exterior wall of the stadium. “I thought I would paint a dozen or more portraits, but when we started to research, we found hundreds of athletes who have been recognized for high levels of achievement in their respective sports,” Fagbohun said. While all of the athletes attended Frederick County schools, they also have gone on to achieve fame through the Olympics, including one in Tokyo in 2021, and several professional sports.
Artist Yemi, stands with a rendering of the Frederick Sports Mural
Helping bring this art concept to life for the local community was Showtime Sound LLC’s own Galen Newell. The TGP Gives team had worked with Showtime Sound in the past on a very successful drive-in movie and concert series. Their partnership created the perfect transition for this new endeavor. Community Arts Inc. & TGP Gives tasked Showtime with building a living art gallery showing the mural sketches. Newell and his team utilized laser projection technology to display artist Yemi’s drawings throughout the room.
Showtime took several steps to prepare for an event this unique. Newell described the process, saying, “Because of the size and aspect ratios of the walls that were being used as living canvases, we brought out our gear to do a test run several days prior to the event. This helped to finalize throw distance, lens selection, and projector placement. During this test run, we decided on how we were going to ‘slice’ each wall into sections in order to display multiple works on the same wall at the same time. We found that the walls seemed to naturally divide themselves into 5-6 different canvases, so we asked for at least 8 pieces of art in order to be able to dynamically cycle through the works during the show.”