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Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Mar 2

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3/2/2009 8:34 AM  RssIcon

Sky Sports Assist With Installation Of DSF-2 & DSF-3 In Bow Tie's HD OB2

Wakefield, UK, March 2009: UK-based high-definition outside broadcast specialists Bow Tie Television have installed a SoundField DSF-2 and DSF-3 digital 5.1 microphone system into their second outside broadcast unit, OB2, which has recently been refurbished and rebuilt to handle 5.1 audio with the cooperation of satellite broadcaster Sky. The refurbished broadcast truck and the newly installed SoundField systems will be used to generate 5.1 surround audio for Sky Sports' premier league darts coverage.

"We recorded the World Championship darts event to multitrack at Alexandra Palace in December, using two analogue SoundField systems," explains Sky's Operations Manager Keith Lane, speaking in the middle of another darts championship match. "The broadcast itself was in stereo, but we took the multitrack recordings back to HQ to see whether we could produce 5.1 coverage of a game to the standard we wanted using the SoundField approach. The experiment went so well that we decided to make all of our darts coverage high-definition with 5.1 sound as soon as we could. Hence our contribution to the refurbishment of Bow Tie's OB2; we will be using that vehicle regularly for our Premier League darts coverage."

Despite its origins as a simple bar game, darts has proved a challenge to present in 5.1, as Keith Lane explains. "Darts fixtures are large events — there were 7500 people at the event in Liverpool we covered recently and there are 3500 at this event I'm working on at the moment. There's play-on music to be incorporated into the broadcast and of course all the dartboard noise and crowd atmosphere to factor in somehow as well - it all results in a fairly complex audio mix. SoundField's DSF-2 and DSF-3 combination has, over the past few years, become our standard way of originating 5.1 audio for HD transmission from football matches and other sports fixtures, but we weren't sure if it would be appropriate to ensure the coverage of such a variety of types of sound, some near and some far, spread over such a large area. We were prepared to consider using multiple mic arrays if necessary, but once we started experimenting with the SoundField systems, Adan Brewer, our Sound Supervisor, was completely won over. A 'point-source' system like the SoundField is the simplest way to obtain a natural-sounding basis for the coverage of the venues, and then we simply add a selection of spot mics for the very close sonic detail as required. Once we'd experimented with the twin analogue systems at the December recording to find the optimum placement, we realised one system would suffice, provided it was suspended overhead from the lighting trusses at each venue."

SoundField supplied Sky with the DSF-2 and DSF-3 directly, and also provided bespoke cable drums and a hard case for the DSF-2 to Keith Lane's specifications, to facilitate speedy assembly and breakdown of the systems at each championship venue. "It's tempting to see the DSF-2 and DSF-3 as off-the-shelf products, but Ken Giles and Pieter Schillebeeckx at SoundField always work hard to tailor the systems we need to our specific requirements,” concludes Lane. “They were as responsive as ever on this occasion."

Sky's first HD broadcast from the darts premier league using the DSF-2 microphone and DSF-3 digital 5.1 decoder followed in early February 2009, and the SoundField systems will be used on all of the matches through to May's championship final at Wembley Arena.

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