“But you are a set designer, why are you concerned with acoustics?” I hear you say. Well, a Show Set Designer does more than just Scenic Design. Show Set is where a lot of the coordination between various disciplines happens. Show Set drawings are kinda like an Index for the project, if we don’t have the specific info you need, we at least tell you where to get it.
That being said, I was working with my 3D model for a new attraction one day and our Acoustician, yes, that is a real title, came by to ask about some speaker placement. He saw me working with a light in 3DS Max and asked if I could use the 3D model to bounce a light off a wall and see where the reflection landed. “Sure thing”, and with just a couple tweaks of my shader and render settings I showed him just that. “Eureka!” and he explained that I had just shown him a way to save him a lot of tedious work.
We then loaded up the 3D model of another project he was working on that had a long compound curve wall around the back of a performance stage. He wanted to know what the sound from the stage was going to do once it hit this wall. So we loaded in some lights, tweaked a few settings and there it was, horrible audio reflections all over the crowd. Thanks to that study he was able to talk the architects into making some adjustments that would mitigate that sonic mud.
I would never have thought that my 3D animation and lighting skills would be able to help our acoustician (I’m a big fan of that word) figure out the effects of architecture on the audio design. But I’ve now helped him with this task on 4 or 5 attractions and it’s been a big time saver.
Here is an example of the visualization of sound reflections off various architectural shapes. In this image, the direct lighting (stand in for audio waves) is white (the white discs are the “speakers”) while the reflected light is red. You can clearly see on the floor plane where the sound will be focused by the architecture.