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CBS Television Upgrades With SSL C100 Digital Broadcast Console

CBS Television’s legendary Studio 33, home to television icons from Jack Benny and Danny Thomas to The Price is Right, has been upgraded with a Solid State Logic C100 Digital Broadcast Console.

In addition to hosting The Price is Right—which celebrated 35 years on the air last September—Studio 33 is home to HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and other programs. The historic studio is extremely active, with five Price is Right shows taped over four days; weekly episodes of Real Time; a monthly taping of religious program Helpline; and many other programs and presentations.

As CBS Television transitions from an analog to digital infrastructure, an upgrade in Studio 33 was especially timely due to the variety of programming it accommodates, says Greg Doughty, one of the studio’s primary mixers. “We have many different programs that require many different capabilities,” Doughty says. “Real Time is different from Price is Right, and Helpline uses a lot more inputs than either one of those.”

“In Studio 33, it’s particularly important because it changes so fast,” adds Marc Hurd, director of Technical Operations. “At one point we were doing shows on a Friday, a different show on Saturday and Sunday, and then coming back with the first show on Monday.”

With the C100, Doughty explains, “It takes just a couple of minutes and a few patches to get your show set up. It used to take forever—you had to go through every pot and every button manually. Now, when a show comes in, even if it’s once a year, you can store your setup on the console; when they come back in, we recall it and are set to go. It has eliminated a lot of patching and things like that. The setup time has been cut way back. Also, when you recall your program, you’re exactly where you left off.

“That also helps us on The Price is Right,” he adds. “We might have to change something, depending on how loud the audience is or whatever. But we have a starting point that we go back to every day. It’s a lot more precise than an analog console.”

For analog console operators—CBS Television still employs several SSL 6000 and 8000 Series consoles—the C100’s learning curve is not steep. “The way it’s laid out makes it easy to learn,” Doughty comments. “It’s laid out like an analog console, so you don’t have one knob that does everything. You have a whole EQ section, dynamics, everything. It’s a lot quicker to learn from an analog console.”

With the C156 in Studio 33, CBS now houses four of the acclaimed C Series digital consoles. Audio Post 2, responsible for post-production for The Bold and the Beautiful, houses a C200 Digital Production Console. Studio 58, site of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, features a C100, as does Studio 56, currently home of The Tyra Banks Show.

“We wanted the redundancy of being able to swap things out and have interchangeable parts,” Hurd comments. “We certainly like to keep the consistency.”

CBS Television’s long use of SSL consoles is testament to a solid relationship, and contributed to the current leadership’s decision to equip the studios with multiple C Series consoles. “That was one of the main factors,” Hurd confides, “when it came down to the choice of which console we would get. Our track record with SSL over the years has been exceptional, with very, very strong support.”