Sony Keeps Around The Horn in Tune

ESPN program requires intricate handling of audio elements
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ESPN's Around the Horn, which features a Washington-based host playing the role of referee among four sports journalists in remote locations, makes the most of Sony's DMX-R100 console. In fact, it makes so much of it that it needs two of them linked together.

On the freewheeling program, host Max Kellerman scores the comments made by the guests, awarding and deducting points and even knocking guests off the program or muting them. It has a vast number of audio elements.

"Before we did the program, I sat on a couch for three days going through ins and outs of audio and realized that one DMX slated for the show wasn't going to do it," says Bill Kramer, Atlantic Video audio engineer. The program is taped at Atlantic Video's Washington facility.

The show requires 48 active faders to be available at any time, Kramer says. Tying the two DMX-R100 consoles together provides 96, with the second set of 48 used in edit mode. All the audio sources are isolated, including the audio feeds, sound effects and elements from the Matrox computer, a system controlled by Kellerman to keep the guests' scores.

The program is recorded live to tape or, in this case, video server, as each camera feed is recorded on a Thomson Grass Valley Profile. The content is edited back onto the Profile, which provides 100% accurate locking to timecode.

"We can edit the audio and video to the frame, and it works great," Kramer says of the system, which also uses a Thomson Grass Valley Kalypso production switcher.

Production begins every day with the music, sound bites, wipes and other elements being set for the noon taping. Once the show is shot, the facility has 90 minutes to put it together before transmitting it to ESPN's facility in Bristol, Conn.

Kramer says the Sony audio desk has proved a cost-effective way to get a digital audio desk into the facility. "It offers a lot of options and bang for the buck. Something like an AMS Neve Libra Live console with more than 100 active channels and tons of processing will cost more than $300,000. We have 96 active faders for less than $40,000."

The high-stakes action of the program required more than just flexibility on the audio side. Grass Valley had to write new software for the Kalypso switcher and new editing software for the Profile server.

"The show is absolutely insane," says Kramer. "It's definitely very complex. You have to stay in tune, or you'll lose it immediately."

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