LLANELLI, WALES - Tinopolis Cymru, the UK’s largest producer of Welsh language programming, has upgraded its audio production with the installation of a 32+2 fader System T S500 console in its Main Control Room. With three studio spaces all connected via a Dante network, the new console is seeing constant use as Tinopolis produces the daily primetime ‘Heno' (‘Tonight’) and afternoon magazine show ‘Prynhawn Da’ for S4C, alongside an impressive range of other live and post production work.
The System T S500 control surface is connected to a T25 Tempest Engine and can be used with any of the three networked studios, each with SSL Network I/O stageboxes featuring remotely controllable SuperAnalogue™ mic preamps. Also connected to the redundant Dante network are SSL Network I/O SDI, MADI and AES units to provide connectivity in the machine room and a Network I/O A16.D16 for the mix of analogue and digital connections required in the control room.
“The new set up will handle everything from magazine shows, to chat shows, to music items from full rock bands to solo musicians,” says Gareth Evans, Senior Sound Supervisor and Deputy Head of Technical Staff. “The System T is a breath of fresh air. It is a vast improvement over what we had before.”
Scalable and flexible
The route to the new System T set up has been roughly a year long, and the new equipment has been live since November 2018.
“We looked at a few different options,” says Evans. “The System T though was the one that ticked all the boxes, from being scalable as far as I/O is concerned to the flexibility of all the different options.”
He cites the upcoming work on this year’s Tour de France coverage Sunset & Vine Cymru, part of the Tinopolis group, produces for S4C as a case in point. This divides into two to four hours of live coverage every day for the race’s three-week duration, plus a half hour, fast turnaround nightly highlights programme. The previous workflow involved a complex sequence of analogue de-embedding from the incoming feed, re-embedding, reclocking, and checking sync. This year, that will be very different. “The System T SDI box allows us to choose what we need and provide MCR with what they need; it’s all done in the box from the console’s routing page,” says Evans. “‘Route into SSL One’, ‘Route into SSL Two’. It’s become a staple part of our day to day patching.
“And for the quick turnaround of the highlights programme in the evening, we’ll now have the flexibility to provide individual mics clean onto the editor’s timeline and they can have a multitrack of the session,” he adds.
Ergonomics and ease of use
Evans is also a fan of the S500’s ergonomics and ease of use, which he says are good enough that even staff with no official training have been able to jump on the console and mix a programme once he shows them the basics. Plus the ability to work on different show files has greatly streamlined operations; a crucial element when the throughput of shows at the facility is so constant and demanding.
“We have a very quick turnaround. A band can arrive at 16.30 and they can be pushing to record at 17.00 in order to get the rehearsals for the evening programme in. To have something like System T in place has made our life much easier,” he says.
“We have it set up in our mixing room so that one operator can be working on the console and another operator who is working on a later show can come in and work on their show file on a separate PC in the background. They save it, put it through to the console and just hop on it when they need to and there it is; it’s all been laid out beforehand.
Currently Evans and his team is looking at moving the frequent weather forecasts it produces for S4C from one of its green screen studios over to System T. “That will give us improved audio quality,” he says.
It doesn’t stop there either. From daily magazine shows to documentary, dramas, and music, and even on to foley and dialogue work, Tinopolis is always looking to expand its range, and now has the renewed confidence in its audio capabilities to do so.
“We have much easier, much cleaner audio now, and that opens up the type of programmes we can do,” says Evans.
“I was fighting to schedule people in to mix the programmes before. Now they’re fighting to get their names down to be in the room and use the console. That’s a fantastic improvement.”