ABC pulls out all the stops for Katie Couric

As part of its new show "Katie," the daytime program featuring Katie Couric that debuted in September, the Disney ABC Television Group took time to answer a few questions about the new set and its audio components. We spoke with David Linick, manager, broadcast engineering, ABC broadcast operations & engineering, and John Schmidt, a senior staff engineer who contributed to the design of the “Katie” facilities.

1. What features made the Riedel Rocknet networked audio system the proper fit for this application?

Networked audio allows us to concentrate resources where they are needed, based on the set design or performance requirements. If needs change or the set layout changes, relocating audio I/O resources can be easily done. Since the technical requirements for the project preceded the set design and specific production requirements were developed, we wanted to be able to easily accommodate any show requirements.

The Rocknet system also allows us to share resources i.e. between the main (Vista 9) console and the FOH console and maintain independent mic trim control. We can also make these resources available to music mixers when live performances are booked for the show. This approach has significantly reduced the need for multiple passive splitters, multi-pair cables and breakouts.

2. Many consoles could work in this environment. Why was the Studer Vista 9 chosen as your main board? What made the Soundcraft Si the proper choice as the secondary console?

We had the opportunity to start with a “blank page” on the selection of major equipment, including the audio console. Starting with an RFP that defined channel and I/O requirements, we evaluated offerings from several manufacturers. 

Our evaluation process is very inclusive of our audio operational staff. They felt that the Studer Vista 9 uniquely combined operating features and flexibility with intuitive operation. These were key points, because during the evaluation period (November and December, 2011) we did not have details on the show’s production requirements, and the staff, including audio personnel, had not yet been hired.

The Soundcraft SI secondary console (as well as the Vi4 FOH) console, were provided as an integrated package by Studer. We now have a single source for all of our support needs for the audio production system

3. Maximizing the integration of audio and video sources is a key aspect of the work being done on this show. Are delay problems between audio and video an issue?

The audio console includes programmable delays as required, so compensating for video signal path delay was not a difficult issue to address.