When Drilling a Hole is Not an Option: The German Submarine Bunker

Lars Årdal, Head Sound Designer, Riksteatret, the national touring theatre company of Norway
January 2007

The job: A German submarine bunker from the second World War. The bunker, DORA 1, was located in Trondheim Norway. Seven stages would be created in seven different rooms. Three metres of concrete wall separated every room.

They wanted a sound design to play on the different stages in sync, so you could move from one stage to the another but the sound would remain synchronized. They also wanted sounds to "move" from one room to another.

[Floor plan of the bunker.]

I sat down in my studio to think: "It's not a big project money-wise. How should I get it to play in sync? No drilling of holes. Cables? Too long. Wireless network? Through three metres of armored concrete...?"

Then I sent an email to Christopher at Figure 53, explaining the problem and wondering if it was possible to use the clock in a Mac to trigger cues. When a Mac is connected to the network it automatically adjusts its internal clock to an atomic clock. It stays in sync for quite a long time.

Christopher said he needed some time to write it.

I sat down in studio and made the tracks, mixing it down to seven stereo tracks. I use Logic and am a heavy abuser of NI and Altiverb. Then Christopher had the Wall Clock Trigger ready. I couldn't wait to try it! I took seven computers and placed them in different rooms and places, set the time and waited. Fantastic! It just worked!!

When I moved the design into the bunker, the timer worked perfectly. We used one iBook and six Mac Minis.

[The submarine bunker from the outside at the opening.]

The submarine bunker from the outside at the opening.

[One of the stages.]

One of the stages.

[The long corridor to the stages.]

The long corridor to the stages.