LOS ANGELES—IT and broadcast are converging across the television industry, with an escalating number of facilities transitioning from baseband distribution to video and audio over IP. Today, broadcasters routinely and efficiently route multichannel signals between control rooms, production spaces and technical operations with a minimum of cables and connections.
Authentic Entertainment production cart with Dante-enabled hardware
The value of digital media networking in television extends beyond the traditional studio facility, however. Production companies increasingly rely on these networks to improve efficiencies across the production and post cycle, from setup to tear down, reducing the labor associated with TV production.
Authentic Entertainment, a production company specializing in reality and documentary programming, is an example of this trend. Using Dante Audio over IP networking from Audinate, we recently streamlined the end-to-end production process for season two of “It Takes a Church,” a dating/game show that brings traditional TV matchmaking into houses of worship.
Having Dante on the production floor brings several immediate benefits, including quicker setup, lighter infrastructure and higher channel counts. For infrastructure, we reduced the weight of our mixing bags to less than 5 pounds apiece and centralized the recording architecture to a single cart. Cabling and connections are minimized, using Cat6 network cabling and off-the-shelf switches to transport audio.
For “It Takes a Church,” our Dante architecture employs Sound Devices 970 units in the field to record audio. Connected to a Dante-enabled Yamaha QL1 mixer, the feeds are recorded onto a single solid-state drive using Dante before sending the whole media package to post over the network.
With everything centralized, we simply roll out the cart, power up and go. No question, the transition to Dante has cut production time in half. Setup and breakdown has become a very simple process where everything locks right in at the onset. Everything plugs into a single laptop, and our production staff can quickly make all the connections between the recorders and mixer using the Dante Controller. We no longer have to run around the production floor to monitor and adjust five devices.
The networked architecture currently supports between 24 and 32 channels per project, as needed. Dante is a very low-latency technology, which simplifies the process of recording multiple tracks simultaneously. All audio and video remains perfectly synchronized across the production workflow as a result.
Extending out from the cart, the production team across the floor enjoys a simpler workload. Normally, we would assign four crew members to this size of shoot, each outfitted with two cameras and a hefty mixing bag. Each crew member was tasked with following talent assigned to those cameras, and tracking them with a boom mic.
For the Authentic Entertainment team, this meant piecing everything together on at least four different hard drives from a variety of cameras and mixing bags, each of which could be assigned to several actors. This always made the handoff to post more of a challenge, but the ability to now have everything on one hard drive and one recording—with all track names in a single database—has been a huge help to post. They no longer have to run around seeking out the right hard drives for the right tracks.
The benefits of Dante Audio over IP for TV production have made everything simpler. Those that are nervous about transitioning to the network will get past it very quickly. It may seem complicated from a distance, but in reality it makes everything much easier.
Paul Rials can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Audinate, contact Joshua Rush at 971-219-7546 or visitwww.audinate.com.
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