Alex Wrigglesworth and Paul Stadden of Tall Audio discuss using the Calrec Brio 36 broadcast console for remote mixing BT Sport’s ‘MotoGP The Greatest Race’ and Premier League football.
With COVID-19 forcing large-scale changes to the broadcast world, sound services company Tall Audio relied on the Calrec Brio 36 to overcome the challenges of working remotely for BT Sport.
Owned by Alex Wrigglesworth and Paul Stadden, Tall Audio have been providing sound services for a long list of broadcasters for ten years.
MotoGP, the pinnacle of world motorcycling, has long been an important part of Tall Audio’s business. Originally working on the championship for the BBC and now for BT Sport, they now include the broadcaster’s motorsport show The Greatest Race as well as Bundesliga and Premier League football amongst their work.
But as COVID-19 began sweeping through the UK and the rest of the world, the impact became obvious. With the pandemic causing lockdowns in many countries across the world, the MotoGP season was postponed along with all major sport.
But this postponement offered an opportunity for Tall Audio to adjust to the changing production landscape. There was now a need for a reliable but powerful remote workflow for the foreseeable future.
“I was doing a job for an advertising and marketing publication on a digital festival,” Wrigglesworth recalls. “It was the last job as COVID became a reality. We’d set up a de-rig studio at their location and then people joined in via the internet, rather than in the studio. That was the last week before lockdown. And we thought, hang on a minute…”.
With that, Wrigglesworth and Stadden set about formulating the solution – straight from their garages at home no less.
Working with Timeline TV
One of the components to a successful solution was help from Timeline Television. Well-versed in the requirements of reliable remote setups, Timeline’s technological developments became the backbone of their work-from-home remote system.
“A director friend of ours told us about this technology they were going to use for parts of the Olympics (Timeline’s Stream Anywhere app) which became invaluable,” explains Stadden. “We started chatting to Timeline and within a few days I had a talkback panel and a Unity Connect, which is public internet transport technology we’ve been using, to see if it worked over public internet for us”. From then, it wasn’t long before Tall Audio were ready to go.
“Within a week or so, we handled a corporate internal job for BT Sport. Then quickly after that we pre-recorded a football show and then on the Sunday a live MotoGP show. After that it exploded.”
Another challenge that had to be tackled was the limited space that both Stadden and Wrigglesworth had to work in. They both required a desk that would offer the quality and functionality expected of broadcast mixers, whilst being able to fit in their make-shift studios.
“You’re getting the power of a much larger desk in a small footprint,” Stadden continues, when discussing the small-scale form of the Calrec Brio.
The compact size of the Brio 36 means it is extremely portable and quick to install, making it ideal as a general-purpose workhorse. All of the Brio’s analogue and digital I/O are entirely self-contained with expansion I/O ports available for adding further connection options. This combination of power, portability and overall form factor proved invaluable for Tall Audio.
“Both Alex and I had a Brio for our work and, to be honest, they completely saved the day. It was a huge amount of work and complexity coming our way and the Brio’s simply handled everything that we threw at them. And using Dante was amazing.”
Despite its compact size, the Brio offers features that are completely focused on the needs of broadcasters, with capabilities far exceeding its form. As well as offering comprehensive monitoring, surround sound and high bus quantities, its routing capabilities are what set the Brio apart for Alex and Paul.
“The ‘bird beater’ controls – being able to open a fader that automatically mutes another send – were invaluable”, Stadden notes. “Without these, it [would have been] impossible to work as quickly and concisely as we needed to. I did all the Bundesliga live presentation matches from my garage. That is how robust it was.”
With much of their work involving live broadcast, the workflow could be complex. This was especially prevalent in the Bundesliga and Premier League broadcasts.
Audio was sent from Timeline TV in Ealing, West London from a variety of embedded feeds. These were made available using a Dante network and sent to Tall Audio through Unity Connect – a 64×64 channel low latency streaming system.
These included two commentators also working from home, as well as a pitch side reporter at some other matches. Adding to the complexity was the requirement for three separate mixes: a clean commentary, an effects mix, and one with post-match interviews.
The routing for the video and comms audio was achieved in consultation with Timeline, whose Sound Guarantors (operating remotely) also had to ensure the Dante output was in sync.
“This was a real challenge with live football,” says Stadden, who remembers “long mornings of testing”.
Pivotally, the Calrec Brio 36 became the workhorse of the entire operation, withstanding the complexity of the workflow and providing a solution to a problem that has changed the landscape of production.
“They were used pretty much every day for the 13 weeks [of lockdown before live sport returned], often for 10 hours a day. Not in air-conditioned rooms – very far from it! [The Brios] just worked, and they worked brilliantly with Dante.”
Find out more about Calrec Brio and Type R
If you’d like to know more about the Calrec Brio, Type R or Hydra2 network, or would like to arrange a practical demonstration, give us a call on
01727 821 870 to speak to one of our team.