09.25.2009 11:35 AM
Euphonix Max Air Reconciles Divorce Court
Michael Mazzetti
Despite the daily acrimony on the set of "Divorce Court," (one of Sunset Bronson Studios' most popular television shows), there's nothing but calm inside the production's control room. As one of the first engineers to work on the Euphonix Max Air when it was originally installed at this facility in 2003, I've always found the digital console to be versatile, intuitive and ergonomically superior over others I've used.


"Divorce Court" is exactly as it sounds; estranged couples are taped as they resolve and dissolve their marriages in half hour blocks of time. (I refer to my work on "Divorce Court" as "jungle mixing.") On every show, there are angry litigants with no television experience, and who aren't sound checked or rehearsed. During the taping their emotions supersede the camera's presence and they can go from a whisper to shout in a heartbeat. To add even a little more drama, I never know which litigant the judge will address first, so I have to stay alert and be prepared at all times.

The Euphonix Max Air lets me do just that. Its comprehensive and logical layout allows me to stay at the MasterSection in the center of the console, where I can focus on the production. I'm constantly using the SuperChannel to quickly adjust sources; then I use the MasterSection's touchscreen display, which is identical in layout to the SuperChannel, as my reference. I can see exactly what I need, quickly and clearly. As the MasterSection's knobs are color coded to match the parameter that I'm using, (EQ is blue, dynamics are green, input is red) I can locate the control I need almost instinctively.

As everyone knows, TV production is fast paced and things change on the fly. "Divorce Court" is no different. We typically tape eight shows in one day. I don't have time to search for a button or knob, and with the Max Air I don't have to. The console is ergonomically designed for instant changes.

Some of the show basics are the same, such as its opening sequence or the music for the courtroom audience. I build "Snapshots" for these that I can instantly recall at the push of a button. The Snapshot recall feature gets used a lot because it's convenient, fast and reliable. And when the show adds a new element such as a remote feed, I can quickly grab and assign a new channel to the SuperChannel for full-control.

The console also produces great sounding audio—not a digital sound at all, but rather a very warm and natural sound. I've always been a technology guy and have followed the transition from analog to digital consoles. I now realize that in the world of digital consoles, the sonic part has finally caught up to the ergonomics and the technology. It really comes as no surprise to me that the Euphonix Max Air, with its intuitive design, ergonomic layout and rich warm sound, has reached this pinnacle first.

Michael Mazzetti is a veteran freelance broadcast audio engineer who currently works on "Divorce Court" and "The Bonnie Hunt Show." He may be contacted at mikem@thevine.net.

For additional information, contact Euphonix at 650-855-0400 or visit www.euphonix.com.

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