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Yamaha Consoles attracting a big audience at SKY TV

Jan, 2010

Satellite broadcaster Sky TV continues to expand, thanks to its wide broadcasting remit and, in particular, it’s high quality sports coverage. This has recently seen the company boost its already impressive collection of Yamaha digital mixing consoles to a remarkable 46.

Sky’s arsenal of Yamaha digital mixers now comprises 32 01V96 and 14 DM1000, which form the audio backbone of most of the company’s 62 edit suites. Providing a combination of stereo and 5.1 routing and monitoring in both the acquisition transfer stages and in final pre-to-air edit 'confidence' listening, they are constantly in use.

"The 12 studios here at our West London premises are currently outputting more hours of TV per year than BBC TV Centre, so you can imagine the demand there is from productions to use the suites,” says Mike Edgerton, Sky Manager of Editing.

“We are working towards tapeless production, but at the moment the bulk of the material still arrives on videotape. This will likely either be a recording of a line feed from a third party outside broadcast (OB) company, which will have been recorded at Sky in our VT dubbing area, or may be rushes from a single camera shoot.

He continues, “When we transfer or capture in the editing suites we take two separate mixes; one with commentary and one clean version, which we use for highlights or compilations at a later stage.

“When capturing surround broadcasts this means there will be up to 16 channels of AES/EBU passing through the Yamaha console, comprising two lots of the stereo and 5.1 channels. We use the surround monitoring to listen both as we capture and also as we mix for final broadcast. This final ‘confidence monitoring’ is vital as it is very likely that it will be the last time the audio is heard before it's broadcast.”

Each of the Yamaha consoles is set up to provide various input/output configurations, depending on the task. These are all pre-programmed, the editor simply selecting one from a menu and leaving the mixer to do the rest.

“In a number of our suites audio that is captured onto our Avid NLE systems, and is then recorded back onto videotape after editing, passes through the Yamaha audio mixer for routing and monitoring,” says Mike.

“When simultaneously capturing and monitoring audio it’s important to separate the two signal paths, to avoid feedback. We do this by sending up to eight channels of audio to the Avid using the eight Aux busses and monitoring the Avid via the eight main busses to either stereo or 5.1 depending on the material.”

When recording audio to videotape after editing, the Avid output is routed via the main busses to the VTR. In this situation, checking the sound is being recorded properly is vital, especially if the piece is long and there may be no time to listen back after recording. To achieve this, the ‘confidence audio’ is routed from the VTR to the Yamaha console and sent directly to the stereo bus for monitoring.

“Another scenario is that we often need to record a guide voiceover in the edit suites,” adds Mike. “We plug a ribbon lip microphone into one of the mixer’s analogue mic amps, the console performing the A-D conversion. We then add some compression and EQ from the on-board processing and send this audio via Aux 1 and 2 to the Avid to provide a dual mono feed.”

Time is always of the essence in the broadcast industry and, with the sheer amount of material constantly feeding through Sky’s edit suites, reliability is crucial.

"When I first arrived at Sky we were using the Yamaha 03Ds for a similar purpose and we've slowly morphed into using our current line-up,” says Mike. “The ability to transfer scene memories from one mixer to another via Studio Manager is key, as a lot our edit suites have the same configuration.

“They are used day in, day out and they simply never seem to wear out. Yamaha's combination of flexibility, reliability and competitive price have made them extremely popular at Sky.”

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