Dubai Media Incorporated used surround sound capture for the first time with TSL PPL SoundField DSF-B Digital Broadcast Surround Microphone package to broadcast the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship this year. A report When preparing to broadcast the Dubai Duty Free 2013 Tennis Championships earlier this year, state broadcaster Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) looked to […]
Dubai Media Incorporated used surround sound capture for the first time with TSL PPL SoundField DSF-B Digital Broadcast Surround Microphone package to broadcast the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship this year. A report
When preparing to broadcast the Dubai Duty Free 2013 Tennis Championships earlier this year, state broadcaster Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) looked to recreate the intense atmosphere of the ATP World Tour 500 series mens tennis for viewers across the globe through surround sound. The event took place at the Aviation Club Tennis Court, a hard surface outdoor stadium that seats 5,000 guests.
The state broadcaster chose the SoundField DSF-B Surround Sound Microphone package from TSL Professional Products Limited (TSL PPL) for this project. The system offers the surround capturing technology as the bed for the effect and announcer microphones.
As this production was the first venture into surround production for DMI, putting the correct equipment in place, along with a surround-aware workflow, was perceived as challenging. In the past, an array of effect microphones capturing the hits, player exclamations and referee comments, mixed in with announcers commentary and overall ambience, provided the audio experience for the event as it was sent to two OB trucks for mixing and processing.
TSL claims that its PPL SoundField DSF-B Digital Broadcast Surround Microphone package helped bring DMI sports broadcasting into the HD surround age. Made up of a DSF-2 Microphone System (DSF-2 microphone and DSF-2 microphone controller) and the DSF-3 Digital Surround Processor, the system provided engineers that were new to producing surround content with a comprehensive 5.1 audio tool that was straightforward to install and easy to use.
The single DFS-2 microphone feed was suitable for producing the entire programme with commentary, and some heightened effect microphone feeds added to the taste. The engineering team only had to deal with blending in the extra feeds, not constantly synthesising an ambient field from multiple microphones, thereby streamlining the engineering process.
The DSF-2 Microphone system is based on the SoundField B-Format design principle that all acoustic events can be represented by four basic elements:
X the front/back or depth information
Y the left/right or width information
Z the up/down or height information
W the central point from which the other three elements are referenced.
The microphone itself is made up of four high-quality, precision-aligned condenser elements to capture a 360-degree sonic panorama. The DSF-2 Controller manages the microphone and outputs the four-channel B-Format. The DSF-3 Digital Surround Processor will take the B-Format signals and output a 5.1 ambience bed, which can be completely customised from the comfort of the mixing position. The resulting 5.1 is phase coherent and is, therefore, completely downmix compatible.
“We have employed two HD OB trucks for sports and event production for the last few years,” says Saleh Lootah, Chief Technology Officer at DMI.
“The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is the first time we made an attempt to go into surround sound production. The surround test was part of a product evaluation that went very well. While in some instances we felt the need to add traditional effect microphones to sonically emphasise certain elements, for the most part we simply used the SoundField signal mixed with commentary. We had no phase issues whatsoever upon metering.”
When the SoundField stereo signal was compared against an actual dedicated stereo recording of the event, the former was deemed suitable for non-surround transmission as well.
“To be able to capture the entire event and output both surround and stereo from one source is a remarkable efficiency for the engineering staff,” explains Lootah.
Because of the success of the 5.1 production using the SoundField DSF-B system, further systems are slated for installation in the future. The system was ideal because the DSF-2 microphone can be situated up to a distance of 1.25km from the truck without any signal degradation. Also, the stereo signal may be output directly in both analogue and digital to accommodate any broadcasting situation.