Studio and Broadcast News
Network Seven Gets Randy for DiGiCo
Audio Systems Australia (ASA) have been specialising in live music broadcasting since their formal inception in 1992. Head of Sound Randy Fransz, leads ASA managing a varied, high profile range of clientele. Their primary client is Australia's Seven Network for which ASA handles broadcast audio for their 'Sunrise' and 'The Morning Show' programs.
ASA has recently upgraded to a DiGiCo SD9 and SD11 in order to meet the growing demands of their premier clients. Randy was kind enough to share his thoughts and feelings behind the investment.
"The team at Seven usually consists of Ivan Ordenes of Dubology Studios and myself. When we do an outside broadcast we use Ivan's DUBMOBILE mobile recording truck which is fitted out with a DiGiCo DS-00. When Ivan's truck isn't available I'll use his D5 Live console. Having used these consoles regularly for some time without any issue, going DiGiCo for the upgrade was really a simple choice."
Randy wasn't short of reasons regarding his decision in choosing the SD Series either.
"Size and flexibility were among some of my reasons. Having all that processing power in such a small device was another. The quiet and very transparent mic pre's as well as ADA was also a winning factor. But it was the bang for buck that made it a no brainer."
Both consoles were put to work immediately at Network Seven where they have been performing tirelessly in a typically demanding live broadcast environment.
"Both consoles are, more or less, permanently installed at the Martin Place studios. The SD9 is used as the broadcast console while the SD11 is mounted in a rack on the studio floor for monitors. Having said that, we do take the consoles out from time to time. We just took the SD11 out for Justin Bieber's performance on Sunrise at the Overseas passenger terminal in Sydney."
Randy Fransz with his DiGiCo SD9 setup
Randy shed some light on how the consoles are usually configured also.
"We are running the 2 consoles on separate D-Racks to give us more local outputs. The SD11 (monitors) has a D-Rack with the extra 8 line outputs giving Ivan a total of 24 outputs. 16 are used for IEM and 8 are used for floor monitors (wedges). The SD9 also has its own local D-Rack giving me a total of 16 outputs which are routed to different parts of the studio. As the SD9 is used for broadcast I needed more than the 2 AES i/o on the console, therefore the second CAT6 connector on the console is routed to a DiGiCo little red box which converts it to MADI. That is routed to an RME ADI 6432 which handles all the AES ins and outs. The MADI port on the console will be used for multi-track recording and playback when the eagerly awaited UB-MADI arrives. The offline editor works great on my PC tablet and it enables me to do line checks by myself."
Randy also had a bit to say regarding the design behind the SD Series in general.
"Both console designs are very practical and intuitive. The layout makes sense and the learning curve is minimal. It still has a lot of features that I have yet to use, but hopefully it will be we will see a surround package for it soon."
Having been a live engineer in his former life, Randy can appreciate the flexibility of DiGiCo's design philosophy.
"I wish these consoles where around when I was still out there doing live gigs. It would have saved my and countless other crew members backs. All that gear in one small package. It sounds so good and it's flexible enough to tackle big live bands, corporate shows or broadcast."
Randy has even found that some of his clients are in disbelief at times when it comes to hearing the output from the console.
"General feedback has been great. I get messages send to me asking if the act is miming when they are not. The sound is probably one of the main reasons I chose DiGiCo. The SD9 and SD11 have made my job fun again. I am no longer trying to make a console sound good, I don't have to."
"I would like to thank Ivan from Dubology Studio's and Drew from Group Technologies for making my switch to DIGICO an easy decision."
A smiley Randy with his rack mounted DiGiCo SD11
Rugby World Cup Tackled by DiGiCo
The Rugby World Cup (RWC) forms part of the small handful of international sporting competitions that commands the attention of 20 nations and millions of viewers with an almost religious fervour every four years.
This year's RWC was hosted by New Zealand and with the competition being broadcast in numerous formats, across several mediums and in countless countries; the real requirement for a world class AV system was quite clear. Scott Willsallen (Principal of Sydney based Technical Production Consultancy Auditoria), was engaged by David Atkins Enterprises (DAE) as the Audio Designer for the RWC. Oceania was the audio supplier working under the direction of Scott Wilsallen and DAE for the project.
Scott had assessed the detailed requirement and chose to utilise two DiGiCo SD8 consoles based on many reasons he notes. "There were many factors in choosing DiGiCo including MADI interconnectivity, channel count, reliability, direct line to DiGiCo and Group Technologies for support; as well as sound quality. Ever since the release of the SD series with the SD7, the expanding range of consoles are industry-leading in every aspect. I have had excellent experience with the SD range of consoles both on fixed installations and on annual event projects, most of which I have re-designed to suit greater use of DiGiCo consoles."
Auditoria has had a long history in handling audio for the RWC and the choice to go with DiGiCo has become more apparent as the project requirements increase each year. "For major events such as Rugby World Cup, I have previously used alternative consoles from other manufacturers which have served me very well over the years. However, as the requirements for these projects continue to grow and the rehearsal time reduces; coupled with my constant desire to improve the quality of the audience experience, the advantages of DiGiCos SD range are very clear."
Above: FOH Operator Ian Shapcott
The decision was made to run the two consoles in a mirrored setup to ensure full redundancy was available given the scale and importance of the event. "Two SD8 surfaces were used in a dual redundant (mirrored) configuration, the primary SD8 was connected to the Optocore network via MADI through an Optocore DD4ME, and the secondary SD8 was connected to the analogue network via standard DiGiCo DiGiRacks. The amplifiers receive an AES signal from the Optocore network and an analogue signal from the analogue network. All switching between primary and secondary signal paths is done in the amplifiers."
Scott felt the performance of the DiGiCo's were excellent and has already specified a similar mirrored configuration for an upcoming event. "Each of the two SD8s were performing both FOH and monitor mixing duties and we were using every available input and output to make it work on a single console. The systems performed flawlessly and I have designed DiGiCo consoles into another major event project later this year in Doha where the two SD8s will be used for FOH mixing in a dual redundant configuration and a single SD7 will be used for monitors using the dual engines for redundancy."
Special thanks also goes out to FOH Operator Ian Shapcott and FOH System Tech Justin Arthur for their much appreciated work during the 2011 RWC.
Ayra Studio Monitors Make a Big Impact on Australian Studios
When RCF released the Ayra studio monitor late last year we were all very excited about the concept. For those who don't know, RCF hails from Italy and has been a world leader in speaker technology for the past sixty years. In fact, RCF were the creators of the first portable active loudspeaker. When a manufacturer who leads the way in loudspeakers and amplification decides to move into the studio market, you can be sure it has our attention.
The high end Mytho series monitor was released back in 2010 and it had some amazing feedback internationally. The excitement behind Ayra however has been its price point. Coming in to compete at the mid-market level, Ayra really blows its competitors out of the water performance wise. This has been proven already with our continuous orders of stock and retailers selling out constantly across the country.
With three speakers on offer, the 5", 6" and 8" plus a matched 10" sub making up the range, Aussie studio cats should definitely check these out.
We have setup a dedicated site with all the good stuff on the Ayra series including tech specs, pics, response graphs and where to demo them in person - www.ayra.com.au
DiGiCo SD10B's Go Live At Summer X Games
Broadcast consoles connected via MADI & Optocore streamline ESPN's audio imprint and help create consistency and ease of operation between various broadcast mix stations.
Using a strategy initiated at last year's shows MADI was the name of the game at the 2012 Summer X Games in Los Angeles as ESPN continues to streamline its broadcast imprint. Using fiber-optic cabling over an embedded-audio approach to connect all the venues within a 27-acre radius in downtown LAas well as all of the submixes, communications, and audio transmissionsoffered more inputs, smoother transmission between venues and a more efficient and compact layout. Spec'd by ESPN's Senior Technical Audio Producer Kevin Cleary and supplied by Hi-Tec Audio this yearwith onsite support from Group One's Technical Sales guru Taidus Vallandi and Chris Ficherafour DiGiCo SD10Bs were placed in key locations. Three handled effects sub-mixing for Motocross, Big Air Ramp/Rally Car, Street, Park & Vert Events feeding two Calrec Alpha desks via MADI at 48kHz located in an ESPN SS32 and Denali Summit remote trucks. International feeds, using the other SD10B, created from a separate mix gathered from all the venues for ESPN International, are sent to the main router also via MADI.
Blue Sky full-range monitoring components were paired in tandem with the DiGiCo consoles at every locationwith SAT 6.5s or SAT 5s set up alongside SUB 8s. This is the second year that DiGiCo consoles have submixed both Winter and Summer X Games, with Blue Sky systems on site for nearly eight years of events.
Seven DiGiCo SD Racks-totaling 368 channels overallwere stationed around the venue (approximately 3500+ feet) and linking back via redundant Optocore fiber loop carrying 448 audio signals.
"The X Games audio production crew has settled in on a winning combination with the DiGiCo consoles," explained Fichera. "DiGiCo SD10Bs in the critical submix positions integrate seamlessly to several DiGiCo SD Racks connected via Optocore located around the venue and is a system that can be replicated over and over again for consistency and ease of operation. The submixers are happy because they've learned the console, are comfortable using it, and it makes the whole flow of the system work easily. This cost-effective and consistent package can be replicated anywhere in the world for any ESPN broadcast events."
"I think the neatest feature of the DiGiCo SD10Bs is the ability to have MADI interfacing to the trucks and Optocore to the SD Racks," offered ESPN's Shawn Peacock, who handled 200 inputs and used 96 channels for both the Big Air skateboard and Rally Car events. "In this configurationwith the distances between events within the venue and around downtown LAthat is the thing that really allows us to pull this off. The ability for us to talk across MADI and have these interface boxes as far as they are is huge." MADI to the trucks, Optocore to the SD racks.
A smiley Shawn Peacock at the helm of the DiGiCo SD10 for ESPN's X Games
International mixer Chad Robertson agrees. "The MADI capability is very handy and is becoming more common, especially on a console at this price point and footprint. Also, the Macro buttons come in very handy and the monitoring section is very robust, which is very advantageous. Overall, the SD10B is easy to use and intuitive, plus it's been convenient to have all of us submixers on SD10Bs at the event. With everyone on the same console, we can compare notes and help each other out if we have any issues or questions."
Over at the motocross track, it was Devin Barnhart's second year on the SD10B. "One feature I used a lot last year and again in this event is the multiband compression. That helped a lot on the ramps because the sound coming off the metal ramp is a very high-end, kind of cheese-grater sound, but with the multiband compression, I was able to pull down all of the top-end frequency without losing the rumble of the motorcycles. That's a great feature of this console. Also, it's hard to distort the pre-amps. Last year, I wasn't able to go back and pay attention to what my actual pre-amp levels were By the time the event starts and you're throwing up 40-plus microphones and motorcycles start spinning around, you're just trying to catch up as fast as possible."
Marc Cochi built snapshot sessions to handle the roughly 166 mics total (80 for Park plus 86 for Street/Vert) on his SD10B. "I'm using one side of the desk for inputs, kind of like a recording desk, with outputs and cameras on the other side. I'm then mixing off control groups because with that many microphones you really can't follow them around. The console is really easy to use and it sounds great. That's what I love about it. In television, and sports TV especially, routing is the biggest issue; sonics come second. The SD10B has got easy routing and it sounds great, and I'm pushing it hard. It's weird to set gain structure for a guy slamming a bike into a metal rail; it's just not a normal thing. So if the pre's don't handle it you're in trouble. But these do and they sound great doing it."
Just one of the many high flying escapades that can be seen at the X Games
For a more in-depth snapshot of X Games' audio intricacies, see Dan Daley's coverage here.
Video Production Specialists Mediatec Choose DiGiCo
Mediatec Asia Pacific is a live event video production company which positions itself between AV and Broadcast markets. Mediatec is a solution provider of both temporary and permanent technical solutions for the media, event and sports industries. Their expertise has seen their portfolio of clients include the Logies, the Melbourne Comedy festival and the Sydney Motor Show to name a few. Mediatec recently acquired a new DiGiCo SD11 which was used on one of their latest projects for the iconic Australian Open Tennis Championship.
Mediatec's Owen Davison shed some light regarding the recent choice to go with DiGiCo. "We needed a console for live events in the video production world. Video playout, video recording and sometimes as mixer. Brand was part of the decision - Digico is regarded very highly with the noise boy department; then size and flexibility were the next two choices. We needed a bigger solution than our existing mixers. The SD11 has a pretty small form factor and is very flexible in terms of features - This was it!"
The 2012 Australian Open - Starring a DiGiCo SD11 working its magic humbly in the background
The cost of the SD11 as a solution further reinforced the choice. "Price always comes into it and we are not an audio company. If the pricing was unreasonable then we wouldn't have considered it."
The Australian Open was Mediatec's first event using the SD11 which they found to be an excellent choice. "Our first use for the console was the Australian Open Tennis this year. We controlled the Audio to all of the external video screens - 8 Zones in total. The Mixer had 18-20 Inputs and 12 Outputs."
Ease of use as well as immediacy were also standouts for Owen and the Mediatec team. "The features we really liked were the touch screen and ease of use in accessing all features. As we are primarily video guys, the console needs to be straight forward to use. I have a principle that you should be able to sit in front of an audio console for the first time and quite quickly (within an hour or so) be able to get ins and outs going without needing to refer to the manual. The SD11 passed the test with flying colours."
As always, the quality of sound was impressive also. " We're not really an audio company but it sounds great (as I would expect from DiGiCo). To sum it up, great sound, great features, great flexibility, great quality; great all round!"
The SD11 - Designed for both desktop and rack mount use. 16 microphone preamps, 40 digital channels, 12 mono or stereo busses and an 8x8 output matrix. An additional 32 microphone preamps, 8 line outputs and 8 modular outputs (analogue or AES) are provided when connected to a D-Rack.
DiGiCo SD10B is the Best Recipe for Saturday Kitchen
With viewing figures approaching three million, BBC1s Saturday Kitchen is one of the most successful Saturday morning television shows of the past decade.
Recently its production company, Cactus TV, started working with Prolink Television Facilities, who in turn brought the many benefits of a DiGiCo SD10B mixing console to the show.
Established in 1989, Prolink supplies equipment and staff to many of the worlds highest profile broadcasters, including the BBC and ITV, and a large portfolio of production companies. When leading Production Company Cactus TV was looking to move both to new premises and into High Definition broadcasting, the company took the opportunity to consider potential new partners and chose Prolink.
"We provide anything from a single man and single camera through to OB trucks, permanent installations as per Saturday Kitchen and some flyaway type systems. Our key aim is to provide a personal service, focusing on individual contracts and delivering the very best we can," says Prolink director Michael Dugard. "We were delighted when Cactus chose us to partner them. We went in with a lot of new, high quality equipment - including the DiGiCo SD10B - which they are pleased with."
Prolink invested in the SD10B as the companys first digital console and it has proved the ideal solution for the challenges of Saturday Kitchen.
"We looked at all the options and sought the opinion of our regular sound team, who between them have more years of experience and expertise than theyd probably care to admit to, but thats all extremely valuable so we always seek their input to design and acquisition decisions," says Michael. "Collectively we thought the SD10B provided a lot of bang for the buck and the functionality it offered was exactly what we needed. Overall it was a perfect marriage with the size of the facility we had.
"It also has a very easy to use interface, which is important because we have three or four supervisors who mix the sound on Saturday Kitchen. If they havent done it for a few weeks they can come in, be familiar with the console and load up their preferred configuration". Going forward we clearly hope the studios will host other shows and events, so the combination of the power and flexibility offered by the DiGiCo SD10B will serve us well."
Michael also has praise for DiGiCos technical backup, which is comprehensive and, as he highlights, very approachable. "As a company we like to work with people we know by their first names, building a relationship, sharing experiences and highlighting areas that present development opportunities. At DiGiCo, we have people we can contact who know exactly what they are talking about. We can phone Tim (Shaxson, DiGiCo technical sales manager) any time and James (Gordon, managing director) came up for a couple of days at the start of the Saturday Kitchen run. I think that having the manufacturers MD prepared to come on site is pretty good and I would have no problem with calling him up and asking a question or a favour."
"We have found that responsiveness to user requests is another very positive factor in buying a DiGiCo console. We didnt know that would be the case when choosing the SD10B, it has been one of those unexpected, pleasant surprises in life," Michael adds."Were happy with the way the console is performing and the sound quality - overall the experience has been very good.
"Were now talking about getting another console from them for a different application. I think its a sign of a good relationship when you want to go back and buy more."
Red Bull Chooses DiGiCo for Webcast and Recording
In line with Red Bull's continued interest in creative expression, the Red Bull Bedroom Jam competition has been stirring the pot for Australian bands aged between 14 - 19, giving them the chance to win a US or UK recording session and the opportunity to perform to a full house on a world-class stage.
To enter, contestants were asked to record an original track using their camcorder or phone and upload it to the Red Bull site. The band was then responsible for generating buzz around the clip.
The top 8 bands with the most buzz were then sent a full film and sound crew that would broadcast the band's performance over the web from one of the band member's bedrooms!
Melbourne band 'Cruel to be Kind' came in as one of the top 8 bands and Engineer Wil Burston was heading up sound for the very unique gig in a teen's bedroom (sounds a bit odd).
DiGiCo has made its way into the bedroom!
The requirements for the gig were to have a light weight solution with very high quality sound and a console with plenty of features given the mix would be a challenge due to the inconsistent acoustics of a band in a bedroom. The system also needed supremely fast connectivity and the ability to record multi-track easily and reliably.
Wil Burston setting up the SD11 in one of the most casual environments around... A bedroom.
"The separate stage rack allowed for remote inputs with only 1 Ethernet cable needed for connection. Wil was impressed with the consoles speed regarding its interaction with the rack also. "The SD11 has the least amount of latency compared to another other console".
"This is the best small digital console on the market... It's an SD7, only smaller".
The performance, mix and live recording all went accordingly and everyone was very happy with the result.
The 'Cruel to be Kind' gig can be viewed on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Website here.
We wish Cruel to be Kind the best of luck!
Above: The hand that tweaks.
DiGiCo SD11i Makes Debut on The X Factor
The SD11i is a new, expanded version of DiGiCo's rackmountable SD11 digital mixing console. It was used for the very first time on the The X Factor Finals' broadcast production, which went out live to a television audience of upwards of 15 million people.
"We'd been approached about using an SD11 for The X Factor Finals," explains DiGiCo's managing director, James Gordon. "However, they needed the console to have more channels. Within a few weeks we had upped the channel count and the first SD11i, with 32 stereo inputs, was produced for use on the show."
The X Factor normally resides at West London's Fountain Studios, where they have the use of a large digital console and have held the finals in previous years. Moving the finals shows to Wembley Arena this year meant it was necessary to augment the OB provider's equipment. The SD11i was deployed in order to replicate what was in the studio, whilst fitting into the limited amount of space available.
An additional consequence of the move to Wembley was a new set design, which didn't lend itself to foldback wedges on stage and the decision to make a gradual migration to IEM monitoring during the latter part of the studio run was made. This required additional outputs to account for both types of monitoring, and an SD7 was introduced for the IEMs and wedges, with a mirrored pair of D1 Lives at Front of House, which were supplied by rental company Soundhire.
"DiGiCo consoles have been used for a number of years now on both The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent audition phases of the competition process," concludes James. "We are very proud that we were able to find a solution for Robert and that our products can be relied on time and again."
Jimmy Kimmell Keeps SPL in Check with Apex
ABC-TV's "Jimmy Kimmell Live" late-night comedy talk show has adopted the APEX Argos and Hera sound level limiting system for its nightly outdoor live music performances. The Argos, sound level limiter and Hera controller are used to ensure that sound pressure levels generated by the performance sound reinforcement system at the late-night music show do not disturb the Hollywood-based broadcast's nearby neighbours.
The "Jimmy Kimmell Live" show, which debuted immediately after the Super Bowl telecast, broadcasts live to the East Coast each weeknight. The show, which airs shortly after midnight, regularly features musical performances from an outdoor stage setup behind the broadcast theatre, a former Masonic temple adjacent to Disney's famed El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
Recent show guests have included such hard rock acts as Godsmack, Saliva and former Guns 'n Roses guitarist Slash. With the loudspeaker system aimed in the direction of a residential area only a few hundred yards away, and musical acts often performing until well after 10pm; the Apex Argos sound leveller and Hera controller ensure that neighbours are not disturbed by out of control SPLs.
Argos prevents sound pressure levels from exceeding the password-protected preset maximum set by the operator. Unlike a typical limiter, the Argos sound level limiter adjusts level in a more natural manner to the human ear, which is most sensitive to mid frequencies. Utilizing an omni-directional microphone and 'A'-weighted filter, the device passes the mid frequencies, attenuating high and low frequencies gradually and continuously, thereby limiting the loudspeaker SPL in a musical and inaudible manner. In contrast to a normal limiter, the dynamics of the audio signal are retained.
According to Andrew 'Fletch' Fletcher, who frequently serves as front of house engineer for the outdoor musical segments of the "Jimmy Kimmell Live" show, the Apex system is transparent in operation. "Argos subtly adjusts my output level," observes Fletcher. "I don't even notice when it's working. It is much more acoustically friendly than a limiter, which means that not only are the neighbors happy but so are the musical guests' engineers."
For situations where maximum sound pressure levels are mandated by local authorities, the Apex Hera offers government-friendly features when used in combination with the Argos. Hera displays the current SPL information and also logs average and highest peak level information periodically, retaining the data in memory with a date and time stamp for later download and printout.
Hera's front panel display can also be used to indicate RMS values at the mic input an Leq values over various time intervals. It additionally allows users to scroll through and display the memorized list of Leq values and errors, including attempts to circumvent the logging operation. An optional remote LCD display is available where the Hera unit is installed out of view.
DiGiCo Records Remotely
One of the Australian leaders in location recording for radio, television, major music festivals and concerts are Sydney based company Remote Recorders. Working with the cream of the crop that visits the country, Remote Recorders have been recording in the background for years.
Whether it's the Big Day Out for Channel V, mixing Slash for Abbey Road Live, or DVD recordings for Muse, N.E.R.D or Kanye West; Remote Recorders are employed and trusted to deliver flawless recordings every time while it's all happening live.
Remote Recorders recently decided to purchase a DiGiCo SD8 console complete with an SD-Rack and one of their directors, James Cadsky, wasn't shy about explaining the choice. "We have the SD8 running with 2 MADI recorders and has proven itself to be a perfect solution for our live to air and live tracking projects. Building up a broadcast mix on the SD8 is very quick and easy." The choice to go DiGiCo was clear for James. "Sound quality, sound quality, sound quality. And road worthiness."
James also felt a console that was intuitive and easy to use was crucial to their decision given the heavy use of any equipment they purchase. "Ease of use was key for us as the console is frequently used to do live mixes of festivals such as Big Day Out. Sometimes we hire a DiGi-Rack when we require more IO." James summed up his thoughts and feelings about the SD8 quite succinctly also. "Sounds like gold".
Above: Engineer Anthony The at the Foo Fighters concert on Sydney's Goat Island
DiGiCo Hits the Road with Dubology
A new mobile facility is now available in Australia that has put the benefits of DiGiCo digital recording and ease of use into an extremely compact, mobile package.
Sydney-based Dubology Studios has recently unveiled the DubMobile, a mobile facility featuring a 128 channel DiGiCo DS-00 digital console with two EX-00 fader expansion modules, DiGiRack and MiNi-DiGiRack, with up to 288 tracks of multitrack recording on to ProTools HD, Steinberg Nuendo and MOTU Digital Performer.
Developed in conjunction with Sony Australia, Dubology owner Ivan Ordenes has created a comprehensive facility in a vehicle measuring just 5.8m long by 2.8m high, making it suitable to work in the most restricted of spaces.
With 15 years experience of touring the world and studio recording, working with bands including Metallica and Oasis, and currently mixing the broadcast or monitor mix for high profile guests on the daily live morning shows for the Australian Seven television network, Ivan knows exactly what makes the ideal console for broadcast, stage and studio work.
The DubMobile was the culmination of a long term plan to create a multi-purpose mobile control room and recording rig, he says. We chose the DS-00 for its power and performance to handle complicated audio situations.
Another advantage is that DiGiCo consoles have a very straightforward user interface. We have taken engineers who have never used DiGiCo before, given them a five minute user course and from there they have gone straight on air or to sound check.
He concludes, DiGiCo also has fantastic technical support in Australia. They respond to any queries or emergencies in the minimum time. We are really happy with the DS-00 and any future expansion or upgrade will definitely be with a DiGiCo desk.