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Audio for NFL on NBC (Cowboys v. Giants) 9/9/07 Dynamic Microphones
Old 10th September 2007
  #1
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Talking Audio for NFL on NBC (Cowboys v. Giants) 9/9/07

I am currently watching the Dallas Cowboys v. NY Giants on NBC Sunday night football with my sister and brother-in-law. I try to keep my comments limited when it comes to audio quality because 9 times out of 10, it is something small that only I would notice.

Without being prompted, after about 30 seconds they both just asked me "why does the sound for the game sound terrible." I asked them in what way it sounded bad, not wanting to influence their response.

They said two things:
• Why is the crowd noise SO loud that you cannot hear what the announcers are saying
• They described the crowd noise as sounding like "your head when you have a throbbing headache" like it was "pumping"

Whoever is responsible for the audio feed for this game (individual or group of people) should be dismissed immediately. I am not going to get into an arguement about whether limiters to maximize loudness and level should be used. That is not what I am talking about here.

Whoever was responsible for this broadcast has absolutely NO idea about how to use limiters, compressors, gates, or faders. Atrocious across the board.

You can hear the gates on the crowd opening and closing every few seconds with the result being a change in level of between 6-10 db! It sounds as if the gates are being keyed off Al Michaels' and John Madden's mics as well.

On top of that, the fact that you cannot hear the announcers is simply inexcusable.

This is the kind of amateur-hour second-rate crap that I would expect from the local high school A/V department when they get their first chance to record the city championship. Not the NFL.

Grade = F-
Old 10th September 2007
  #2
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This should be in the 'Remote Possibilities' forum.
Old 10th September 2007
  #3
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Who won?
Old 10th September 2007
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jfw3 View Post
I am currently watching the Dallas Cowboys v. NY Giants on NBC Sunday night football with my sister and brother-in-law. I try to keep my comments limited when it comes to audio quality because 9 times out of 10, it is something small that only I would notice.

Without being prompted, after about 30 seconds they both just asked me "why does the sound for the game sound terrible." I asked them in what way it sounded bad, not wanting to influence their response.


This is the kind of amateur-hour second-rate crap that I would expect from the local high school A/V department when they get their first chance to record the city championship. Not the NFL.

Grade = F-
I have not done any mixing for live sports on that network, but for many others in the USA and Canada, (although less frequently as I work in post mostly now). The mixes are generally getting worse as there is too much going on in a production - numerous effects from numerous sources whilst having to listen to numerous sources on intercom and walkie talkies. Mixers do not have too much time to listen!!! ESPN I believe has mandated that all mobile facilities must use a 'black box' that enhances the dialogue in the centre - a product by SRS I believe but the name escapes me... Why not simply mix better...

In all fairness...
There is a lot of pressure from the directors to mix the sfx high - it is part of being 'closer' to the game, along with very tight shots of player's nose hairs... The directors and producers are also listening to a multitude of sources so they really are not listening all that well either.

I have encountered a few instances where the sound leaving the truck has been fine, but somehow gets messed up along the way as there are several points between the venue and broadcast transmission. After that, there are potential problems that can arise at your local cable or satellite provider.

Someone once joked that we seem to be going through a lot of trouble to do surround when mono would sound much better.

Roberto
Old 11th September 2007
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazzpunk View Post
This should be in the 'Remote Possibilities' forum.

My apologies. I figured it belonged here because of the subtitle of TV.
Old 11th September 2007
  #6
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This is what they use:
Dan Dugan Sound Design: Automatic Mixers, Nagra Service, Nature Recording, CD Mastering, CD Production for Dance Performance, DVD Authoring

Listen to "Late Night with David Letterman". The Audience is so "IN YOUR FACE"!!
This is an Auto Mixer and it shows!!
Old 11th September 2007
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dr.sound View Post
This is what they use:
Dan Dugan Sound Design: Automatic Mixers, Nagra Service, Nature Recording, CD Mastering, CD Production for Dance Performance, DVD Authoring

Listen to "Late Night with David Letterman". The Audience is so "IN YOUR FACE"!!
This is an Auto Mixer and it shows!!

I am sorry, but the Dugan system is an excellent and subtle system. The problems all are pointing out here are not the Dugan's fault at all, it is the way the audience and effects are mixed in with the clean and clear voices, OR they are using it improperly... I'll ask Dan to make some comments - I do not watch TV or sports so cannot respond directly, but I'm sure he can comment. I've used the Dugan system extensively, and it is NOT like ordinary auto mixers. Like any audio gear, especially sophisticatred mixers, it can easily ne misused - he'll want to correct them if this is the case!

I've known Dan for many years and his product is truly excellent.
Lou
Old 11th September 2007
  #8
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I am in total agreement with your comments. I am saying it's being misused.
The Leterman show is so damn unnatural. One other thing to take into consideration is that they probably were also mixing in Surround . If you don't have your setup just right and if you don't ever check your Lt./Rt downmix you will have problems such as those mentioned above.
Just one comment, you don't watch TV or Sports, but you have used it extensively. On what?
Old 11th September 2007
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dr.sound View Post
I am in total agreement with your comments. I am saying it's being misused.
The Leterman show is so damn unnatural. One other thing to take into consideration is that they probably were also mixing in Surround . If you don't have your setup just right and if you don't ever check your Lt./Rt downmix you will have problems such as those mentioned above.
Just one comment, you don't watch TV or Sports, but you have used it extensively. On what?
Thanks for the agreement. "Extensivey" might be an exaggeration, but I have used it a number of times, once for 8 prison actors doing a live play inside San Quentin (that was quite an experience! it was also being filmed) for their wireless lavs, several PBS TV shows, one with a string quartet and a few actors doing a thing about how law is like music (about the writing and interpretations, amazing the points they made...) and numerous panel talks and interviews.

I have many years experience mixing live radio interviews, and having the Dugan system makes it effortless and pristine, even with wireless mics. I wish the PBS News Hour would use one - they have the worst roomy sound on TV! (and they put it on radio here in SF).

Knowing Dan for 30 years, and working with him in his lab and on location, I've seen it in development and it is not like any other auto mixer at all! He has a new smaller Model E out now, which can work easily with any mixer using the inserts.

I do watch a bit of TV but not the Letterman type things - I stopped when Carson retired. One day I should try it - and I don't have surround, just plain old analog TV and DVD player, simplest kind.

Lou

Last edited by loujudson; 11th September 2007 at 08:05 AM.. Reason: add SQ
Old 11th September 2007
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfw3 View Post
My apologies. I figured it belonged here because of the subtitle of TV.
Mobile & Location Production & Broadcasting (listed in the subtitles for the 'Remote Possibilities' forum).

Easy to miss though.
Old 11th September 2007
  #11
I noticed the same issues during the Redskins - Dolphins game on Sunday. The crowd was pretty distracting.
Old 11th September 2007
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamz0r View Post
Who won?
The wrong team.
Old 11th September 2007
  #13
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Talking Dugan on Dugan

I don't know what NBC Sports is using--CBS and ABC have been using Dugans frequently for years, but NBC has been slow to adopt. NBC got one D-2 for Burbank in '03. If you're hearing gating it probably isn't a Dugan--though it is possible to make one sound bad if you work at it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr.sound View Post
Listen to "Late Night with David Letterman". The Audience is so "IN YOUR FACE"!!
This is an Auto Mixer and it shows!!
The Letterman system was designed by Dan Gerhard. It uses the Dugan Speech System for all the voice mics. There are separate consoles and Dugans for program and PA. Music is a third separate mix, no Dugans.

Gerhard invented a patch for the audience mix that in my opinion is brilliant, and unique in the industry so far as I know. His objective was to make the audience much more present in the mix without picking up the PA, and he achieved it.

There are 16 audience mics going into a separate stereo mix. That mix is then processed through two channels of Dugan Music System, with the reference signal being a mono submix of all the voice mics. The effect is ducking rather than gating. The audience mix is ducked by the voices, ducking out the PA, but it bobs right up in between the words so subtle reactions are audible.

I guess dr.sound doesn't like that; I have to disagree. I think it sounds great, and I invite you to drop by booth 645 at the AES to see my Letterman demo DVD. Notes to the demo are here.

-Dan
Old 11th September 2007
  #14
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Dan,
I'm not saying the design is anything other than brilliant, I am saying it sounds very unnatural. It is like the Audience reactions are being "reached for" (pushing the fader to the hilt ) for any reaction. It sounds like something that's "over sweetened".
I have heard the demo. It's the mixer, not the mixer (the equipment)heh.
Old 11th September 2007
  #15
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr.sound View Post
This is what they use:
Dan Dugan Sound Design: Automatic Mixers, Nagra Service, Nature Recording, CD Mastering, CD Production for Dance Performance, DVD Authoring

Listen to "Late Night with David Letterman". The Audience is so "IN YOUR FACE"!!
This is an Auto Mixer and it shows!!
I have heard of the Dugan product and was aware of its use in shows like Letterman, but it is news to me if it is being used in the mobiles that do NFL, NHL, NBA or Baseball games - and I have been and worked in some of those mobiles. Perhaps it has been added in - I will check with some of the technical producers I know. The product by SRS that was required was simply the SRS Broadcast Processor that is supposed to be inserted in the 2mix and help the announcers pop out - supposedly - all in how the operator and he facility incorporate it. Most mixers I know listen to the stereo mix and simply check the surrounds periodically - too difficult to listen to 5.1 and all the intercom sources at the same time. Besides, most people are listening in stereo and not in surround at this point in time, although this is gradually changing.

The other note in mobiles is the physical size of the audio room - if it is 10 feet deep it is large. The surround speakers are all within easy touching distance. The rears are usually placed up high as there are racks and huge patch bays directly behind the mixer. Not an easy environment to work in. All facilities are not equal of course.

Roberto
Old 11th September 2007
  #16
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I noticed it and loved it.

It sounded dark, rumbley, and phasey. And it worked. It filled the room in a cool way. It made it sound like I had surround speakers all around my room instead of just the speakers in my TV. The only thing that sucked was that I had it up so loud, I couldn't hear the Cluck-U guy knocking on the door when he showed up with the wings.

As far as the pumping stuff goes, well, that's nothing new.
Old 12th September 2007
  #17
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Uhhh....you might want to check the settings on your TV audio. You may notice the same effect in a Soap Opera on SAS setting.heh
Old 12th September 2007
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jowillie View Post
Uhhh....you might want to check the settings on your TV audio. You may notice the same effect in a Soap Opera on SAS setting.heh
Ha! Nah, it was just the Giants game.
Old 12th September 2007
  #19
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well I don't think it's completely in the wrong forum (not all sports tv mixing is done from within a remote truck, offcourse that where the signal originally comes from, but sometimes it's also beamed via satellite to a post-pro studio for different language commentary, so I guess that is also a form of post-pro), but it might belong more in the remote forum. So I'll put it there with a permanent redirect to this forum.

I think it's an interesting subject, and if there's an automixer involved...
Old 12th September 2007
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geert van den Berg View Post
...
I think it's an interesting subject, and if there's an automixer involved...
well? If there's an automixer involved, what? Gotta say again the Dugan system is not just an automixer, any more than a lamborghini is just a car. I'm curious how you'd finish your sentence!

Lou
Old 12th September 2007
  #21
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I have never used nor seen an automixer. I don't criticise it being useless, I am sure it works great and is also fine for these applications.

However I think there should always be someone to monitor the show and to make sure the equipment gets adjusted so it gives a good sound.
Old 13th September 2007
  #22
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Talking Tutorial

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geert van den Berg View Post
I have never used nor seen an automixer. I don't criticise it being useless, I am sure it works great and is also fine for these applications.

However I think there should always be someone to monitor the show and to make sure the equipment gets adjusted so it gives a good sound.
If mixing a live panel discussion were like mixing multi-track music, it would be fairly easy: The mixer would listen to each talker, raising or lowering the fader so the talker's level matched the desired program level. Once everybody was dialed in, the mixer could relax a bit and just touch up faders as the discussion went on, always being alert for unintended noises and riding gain on inconsistent talkers.

But in a live program that isn't possible; having all the faders up at the same time will pick up too much studio noise and PA feedback.

Adding gates won't work. If the thresholds are low enough to always come on for the talker, they will all come on when the audience applauds, or when a loud talker speaks. If they're set high enough to avoid false triggers, talkers will start to be cut off. In any case the background noise will be pumping up and down with the gates.

What the mixer has to do is to mix defensively. The faders are pulled back to a medium gain most of the time, and raised to the "on" gain when the talker is talking. This requires the mixer to be constantly on the ball, trying to anticipate who is going to talk, and to react quickly when someone starts.

Inevitably, up-cuts will be missed. Worse, sometimes the wrong fader will be raised, causing off-mic sound or feedback. The mixer is only human.

The Dugan Speech System automates the cueing part. It takes care of pulling the faders back when the talkers aren't talking, while keeping a constant gain from the room so that the ambience doesn't pump.

The mixer has been relieved of the robotic part of the job. He or she can concentrate on making a balanced mix, and troubleshooting problems as they occur. No more late upcuts. No more wrong mics up.

-Dan Dugan
Old 13th September 2007
  #23
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Remoteness's Avatar
For what it's worth...

I'd take 192 channel of live music audio mix over 24 channels of live TV mix any day.

TV audio engineers do not get the credit they deserve.

They are not just mixing the show, there's a lot of other stuff going on and you must be at the top of your game.
Old 13th September 2007
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazzpunk View Post
Mobile & Location Production & Broadcasting (listed in the subtitles for the 'Remote Possibilities' forum).

Easy to miss though.
Yeah, tell me about it...

Folks don't even know we're here.
Old 13th September 2007
  #25
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Dan,

Thank you so much for your reply.

I also agree with you in reference to the Letterman show's sound design.
I think it sounds great, and I look forward in meeting you at your booth at the AES in NYC. I cannot wait to see your Letterman DVD.

All the best to you and yours!



Quote:
Originally Posted by dandugan View Post
I don't know what NBC Sports is using--CBS and ABC have been using Dugans frequently for years, but NBC has been slow to adopt. NBC got one D-2 for Burbank in '03. If you're hearing gating it probably isn't a Dugan--though it is possible to make one sound bad if you work at it.



The Letterman system was designed by Dan Gerhard. It uses the Dugan Speech System for all the voice mics. There are separate consoles and Dugans for program and PA. Music is a third separate mix, no Dugans.

Gerhard invented a patch for the audience mix that in my opinion is brilliant, and unique in the industry so far as I know. His objective was to make the audience much more present in the mix without picking up the PA, and he achieved it.

There are 16 audience mics going into a separate stereo mix. That mix is then processed through two channels of Dugan Music System, with the reference signal being a mono submix of all the voice mics. The effect is ducking rather than gating. The audience mix is ducked by the voices, ducking out the PA, but it bobs right up in between the words so subtle reactions are audible.

I guess dr.sound doesn't like that; I have to disagree. I think it sounds great, and I invite you to drop by booth 645 at the AES to see my Letterman demo DVD. Notes to the demo are here.

-Dan
Old 13th September 2007
  #26
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huub's Avatar
I mix a lot of sports, and I love it, but honestly; How nice it sounds often is the last of my worries ..
BUT I would never let my limiters pump horribly, or let the commentators drown in the fx,
I mean, that's pretty basic, you can do that even whilst listening to director,pa,producer,mcr,your assistants,solving all kinds of intercom problems,and checking the pfl of interview mics for both national and international feeds
I do often turn down, or mute my monitors to be able to hear the intercom better..
Oh, and any mic patched into a camera sounds crap by default... It's even worse with the new hd cams, they needed more bandwith for video, so they made talkback and camera audio sound even worse.. But for the sake of convenience I use it all the time..
Sometimes I get a little frustrated, but mostly..I'm happy if the director is

huub
Old 13th September 2007
  #27
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Dan, your automix system looks really interesting by the way, I was not aware of such a system..
You were not at the aes in vienna or the IBC were you?
Old 13th September 2007
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Cibley View Post
The wrong team.
Respectfully disagree.
Old 17th September 2007
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huub View Post
Dan, your automix system looks really interesting by the way, I was not aware of such a system..
You were not at the aes in vienna or the IBC were you?
Can't afford the European shows. I'd like to, though.

Poor and famous, Dan
Old 29th November 2007
  #30
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I have to agree

I came from mixing music. First of all, the tracks you get when your recording music come from an isolated studio. The tracks you get on TV come from anything but. When I mixed music, I made good tracks sound great. Now that I'm in Broadcast, I have to make aweful tracks sound acceptable.
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