Charlie Richmond

Charlie Richmond

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Charlie Richmond is an entrepreneur and inventor born 1950-01-05. He was instrumental in the early development of sound design in the 1960s and 1970s. He founded a company in 1972 which continues to be responsible for major innovations and a patent in that field. He was also instrumental in the design of a major recording studio which he later owned. He was active in the area of film sound and was the USITT's first Sound Design Commissioner and first sound design and show control editor for their publication Theatre Design & Technology and was recognized by that organization for his work. He lead the group that created the MIDI Show Control standard in 1990.

Early developments in sound design

He was an amateur sound designer at the Community Theatre of the Monterey Peninsula in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, from 1965 through 1967. His first credited design (considered to be the first confirmed sound design credit off Broadway) was for William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker" in January 1965. He worked on the Monterey Jazz Festival, Big Sur Folk Festival and the Monterey Pop Festival between 1965 and 1969.

Richmond was the resident sound designer at the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) in San Francisco, California, from 1970 through 1972 and several other theatres in the US and Canada in the early 1970s including the Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, California, Vancouver Playhouse, Vancouver, Canada, Stratford Festival, Stratford, Ontario, Canada, and Neptune Theatre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. His first professional sound design credit was for Shakespeare's "The Tempest" directed by William Ball, produced by ACT in the Geary Theater in 1970.

Early recording studio development

He became responsible for technical design and operation at Aragon Studios, Vancouver, Canada, in 1970 and supervised the relocation of the original Universal Audio vacuum tube mixing console from United Western Recorders Studio A in Hollywood to Vancouver, Canada. This is the console that was originally installed in 1957 and recorded hundreds of hits by such artists as Bing Crosby, Nat "King" Cole, Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles. The 40 preamplifiers are still installed in that studio, which was renamed Mushroom Studios in the early 1970s and which has hosted a series of hit albums over the years, starting with Heart's "Dreamboat Annie" in 1975 on the resident record label and owner of the studio until 1980, Mushroom Records (not the Australian company but a short lived Vancouver based label).

Film sound work

In 1971 Richmond also worked for the National Film Board of Canada and was the field sound recordist on two short films: "Mudflats Living" and "Pleasure Faire".

Inventions and commercial achievements

Richmond incorporated Richmond Sound Design (RSD) in 1972 and they built a custom 12x24 theatre sound console, the Model 1224 for the Stratford Festival of Canada. It was the first company to produce an off-the-shelf theatre sound design console (Model 816) in 1973 and the first off-the-shelf computerized modular theatre sound design control system (Command/Cue) in 1985. Both were first installed at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California. He received a US Patent for his invention, the "Automatic Cross-fading Circuit" which was also trademarked Auto-Pan, on February 25, 1975.

Recording studio ownership and credits

Richmond purchased Mushroom Studios in 1980 and embarked on a major redevelopment of the facility the following year. RSD built a custom console which incorporated the original tube preamps as well as state-of-the art solid state preamps.

Many more hit albums were recorded at Mushroom by artists from Loverboy to Skinny Puppy and Jane Siberry. Richmond successfully adapted the studio to accommodate over 50 musicians in semi-isolated concert format to do film scores for dozens of feature films and movies of the week from Chuck Norris to a redo of The Dirty Dozen and it received an award for the film score of "Top Gun". Mushroom was sold to John Wozniak of the group Marcy Playground in 1999.

Involvement with non-profit organization

Richmond was the first United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Sound Design Commissioner, serving from 1980 through 1988 and on the USITT Board of Directors from 1989 through 1991. He was the sound design editor for USITT's quarterly publication, Theatre Design & Technology in the late 1980s and its show control editor in the early 1990s.

Development of major theme park control systems

RSD's first computerized sound system theme park installation was at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! show in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Florida in 1989. Richmond used that system to demonstrate to the theme park industry how the features of a computerized theatre sound design system can be effectively utilized to operate as a live show control system and similar systems were subsequently used in dozens of shows at Disney World, Euro Disney, Tokyo Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and Florida and many more at themed installations around the world.

Creation of international standard

Richmond headed the USITT MIDI Forum on their Callboard Network in 1990, which included developers and designers from the theatre sound and lighting industry from around the world. This Forum created the MIDI Show Control (MSC) standard between January and September, 1990. MSC is an open, industry wide communications protocol through which all types of show devices may easily interact. MSC was ratified by the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) in January, 1991, and the Japan MIDI Standards Committee (JMSC) later that year, becoming a part of the standard MIDI specification in August, 1991. The first show to fully utilize the MSC specification was the Magic Kingdom Parade at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in September, 1991.

Awards and recognition

The USITT inducted Richmond as a Fellow of the Institute in 1995 and presented him with a Distinguished Achievement Award in Sound Design for his work in that field and the show control field in 2000.

Current endeavours

In 2007 he developed virtual sound system software for live entertainment and many other low latency applications. This Windows audio engine software, called SoundMan-Server, is the basis for many third party applications whose needs exceed the capabilities of the native sound drivers and functionality found within general purpose operating systems. The first commercial application of this now operates the Waterworld-A Live Sea War Spectacular attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood.

External links

* [ Curriculum Vitae]

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