Aug 19, 2013 3:13 PM, By Cynthia Wisehart
Live sound meets live streaming at Fenix
“We had to really make sure the control room was isolated,” Storyk says, “no feedback from stage. It’s tough to get a studio room-within-room construction in a confined space, so there were a lot of mechanics to getting that done.” The 8x10 room houses the video editing and streaming gear on one side and the Avid ProTools rig on the other. Moveable walls allow the positions to be isolated from one another for recording and post.
The control room receives continuous feeds from three fixed-position Panasonic AW-HE50S HD-SDI pan/tilt/zoom cameras, featuring programmable operator-control options, mounted on the lighting trusses as well as audio from an array of almost three dozen Shure, Electro-Voice, Sennheiser, and other mics. There’s also a camera input at FOH for a handheld. A split at the stage box sends AES analog stereo signal up to a NewTek TriCaster from the house console. (The show and recording can also be mixed from the ProTools desk in the control room.)
“The ideal show would have three operators,” Saunders, says, “a live guy at front of house mixing house and monitors, an engineer doing multi-track from the ProTools desk, and a video director who would call the show. But the system is also designed so that one person can run everything from the control room.
Saunders says they did not have big budget; they were just clear on their priorities. “We invested a lot of time, asked a lot of questions, and got a lot of help from music community veterans to figure out how to get the biggest bang for our buck,” Saunders says. “To have a great sounding room was an investment. We spent a great deal of time on it and probably 25 percent of the budget on acoustics materials. To be able to mix individual channels, and shoot three or four cameras, does put us ahead of what is typically being done, which is what Laura wanted, so that helped us figure out the gear and the system design. The control room was an investment. But we also saved thousands in cable runs at the same time—the speaker runs are less than 15ft. from the power.” Making budget, he says, was a matter of how they thought about things, and having the time to iterate.
“The recordings are truly great,” Sanders says with no small satisfaction. “The archive is virtually unedited; we typically just take out any long pauses. Because the room is so clean, all the recordings have a consistent feel, even though the personality and demographics of the room changes every night.”
This sense of place—inspired by Austin City Limits—can’t be underestimated as a part of the experience, as well as the Fenix brand, if you will. They planned the system to support big success, what Saunders calls the “Oprah moment” when people from all over the world figure out you have something special. Already global viewership is rising by 20 percent weekly on the FenixLive Channel at www.livestream.com/fenixlive with 520,000 minutes viewed in more than 64 countries.
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