CTV finds success with Lawo

Canadian private broadcaster CTV made a substantial investment in Lawo equipment that was used by Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, a relationship between leading media conglomerates CTV and Rogers Media, which collectively broadcast the 2010 Winter Games across Canada. The purchase consisted of seven Lawo mixing systems: five mc²56 consoles and two zirkonXL consoles that were deployed at the international broadcast center (IBC) in Vancouver.

Robert Miles, CTV’s manager for Olympics audio engineering, discussed the challenges of preparing for the Winter Games. “One of the biggest issues I faced during the design phase was trying to nail down a ‘worst-case’ scenario for the capabilities of the large audio consoles that would be deployed at the IBC,” Miles said. “Purchase decisions were made as far as 20 months in advance with no firm production plan in place. We knew we’d be working in 5.1 surround, but the final numbers of inputs, outputs, downmixes and submixes was still a variable. The Lawo mc256 enabled us to expand the DSP and I/O (with DALLIS frames) capabilities should our requirements evolve. Similarly, we could also expand the number of faders.”

Noting the network’s positive track record with the zirkonXL, Miles said, “Since the zirkonXL is capable of 5.1 surround, it easily became our choice for the two small audio control rooms (ACR6 and ACR7) at the IBC. The Lawo consoles, by design, enabled us to centralize the audio consoles’ cores and DALLIS frames in our IBC CER (central equipment room) and connect all the surfaces remotely using Cat 6 cables. Last, but certainly not the least, of our concerns, was a further requirement that we be able to repurpose the consoles within the CTVglobemedia family after the Winter Games. The mc256 console surfaces, HD cores and DALLIS frames could be easily resized and reconfigured, depending on the network’s requirements.”

Miles offered a glimpse of what the technical staff had to contend with during the Games and why the Lawo mc²56 consoles were ideally suited to the project. The two busiest consoles were located in ACR1 and ACR2, the audio control rooms for the main English and French productions. Both were on-air continuously for more than 20 hours each day and involved three crew shifts for 17 days straight, with shift changes occurring over the course of a two- or three-minute commercial. The outgoing operator saved the current configuration for the next day and stepped aside. The incoming operator recalled the previous day’s file, took his/her seat and awaited the return from commercial. At the same time, the associated production control room and studio personnel, including on-air talent, also switched. According to Miles, all transitions on the Lawo mc256 consoles were quick, accurate and flawless throughout the Winter Games.

Allan Morris, CTV’s senior vice president of engineering, operations and IT, was integral in authorizing the Lawo equipment purchases. “Our Lawo purchase for the Winter Games was a significant investment for us, and I’m very happy about the results we achieved. CTV has been a Lawo customer for several years, and we have a number of systems deployed throughout our facilities. Lawo equipment has consistently proven itself to be highly reliable and very well suited for our various types of operations. We have a large-format Lawo console in our Toronto newsroom as well as a complete radio system at Toronto’s 104.5 CHUM FM and CP24 Radio 1050. Based upon these previous deployments and the company’s consistently responsive customer and technical support services, we had every reason to conclude the selection of Lawo equipment for the Winter Games would be equally well handled. I’m happy to report this was, indeed, the case.”