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Author Topic: Typical control setup for sports stadiums?  (Read 2891 times)

Cailen Waddell

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Typical control setup for sports stadiums?
« on: November 27, 2014, 02:00:06 pm »

Hi all,

Quick background, I am the production manager for our local PAC, but my group also does production for larger events at some of our athletic facilities.  Beyond watching football in tv, I don't know as much as I should about the athletic production / game process

Issue:

In our 12,000 seat soccer stadium, the mixer is in a rack in the control room, along with videoboard production equipment.  The announcer is in a sky box with glass windows along with a stats technician and scoreboard operator.  Basically, no one is in a position where they can hear what the show they produce sounds like.  How do other venues and installs handle this?   Is there a technician that runs a mixer in an open air area so they can hear the show?  Our sources are really just video board, music playback, or announce. And of course a wireless for the national anthem.  With crowd noise there is a narrow band of levels that are loud enough to be heard over the crowd without being too loud.  I feel like some delicately set ducking could handle a lot of these issues.  I know the best solution would be someone actively mixing the show, but I suspect that expense may be difficult to convince there's of. 

The mixer we have in place is an older model analog mixer.  Very basic.  If a new mixer with ducking capabilities is in order, I'll probably look towards an x32 rack so that a remote laptop or iPad could be used to mix the show, but in not convinced this will really help.

So I look to the collective wisdom of the forum, what is typical for control in mid level minor league sports stadiums?


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Lee Buckalew

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Re: Typical control setup for sports stadiums?
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2014, 03:02:09 pm »

Hi all,

Quick background, I am the production manager for our local PAC, but my group also does production for larger events at some of our athletic facilities.  Beyond watching football in tv, I don't know as much as I should about the athletic production / game process

Issue:

In our 12,000 seat soccer stadium, the mixer is in a rack in the control room, along with videoboard production equipment.  The announcer is in a sky box with glass windows along with a stats technician and scoreboard operator.  Basically, no one is in a position where they can hear what the show they produce sounds like.  How do other venues and installs handle this?   Is there a technician that runs a mixer in an open air area so they can hear the show?  Our sources are really just video board, music playback, or announce. And of course a wireless for the national anthem.  With crowd noise there is a narrow band of levels that are loud enough to be heard over the crowd without being too loud.  I feel like some delicately set ducking could handle a lot of these issues.  I know the best solution would be someone actively mixing the show, but I suspect that expense may be difficult to convince there's of. 

The mixer we have in place is an older model analog mixer.  Very basic.  If a new mixer with ducking capabilities is in order, I'll probably look towards an x32 rack so that a remote laptop or iPad could be used to mix the show, but in not convinced this will really help.

So I look to the collective wisdom of the forum, what is typical for control in mid level minor league sports stadiums?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Typically, for both NFL and NBA, there is a mix position in the house where all sources end up being sent to the PA.  Playback of both audio for video and audio only tracks happens from an enclosed control room (that may or may not have possible acoustic access to the arena itself) but is sent to the FOH mix position.  Typically this playback is split so that the remote trucks, and other recording needs are fed separately from the FOH mix.  FOH only handles the PA.  Even wireless for the ref mics are split before hitting any consoles so the trucks get there feeds direct and FOH gets there feed for the PA.  The house announcer is in an enclosed booth with a window. 
There is a stats announcer that feeds the working press area along with a split from the ref mics. 

In large broadcast situations, from the venue perspective, nothing that can be wired is run wireless.  For the NFL stadium that I just finished up the sideline wireless com, broadcasters, and ref mics (and backup) take enough RF coordination.  The national anthem and other pre, post, or halftime events are done wired although there is often back of house production (clubs) that will utilize wireless pre-game.

Lee
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Cailen Waddell

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Re: Typical control setup for sports stadiums?
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2014, 07:24:02 pm »

Typically, for both NFL and NBA, there is a mix position in the house where all sources end up being sent to the PA.  Playback of both audio for video and audio only tracks happens from an enclosed control room (that may or may not have possible acoustic access to the arena itself) but is sent to the FOH mix position.  Typically this playback is split so that the remote trucks, and other recording needs are fed separately from the FOH mix.  FOH only handles the PA.  Even wireless for the ref mics are split before hitting any consoles so the trucks get there feeds direct and FOH gets there feed for the PA.  The house announcer is in an enclosed booth with a window. 
There is a stats announcer that feeds the working press area along with a split from the ref mics. 

In large broadcast situations, from the venue perspective, nothing that can be wired is run wireless.  For the NFL stadium that I just finished up the sideline wireless com, broadcasters, and ref mics (and backup) take enough RF coordination.  The national anthem and other pre, post, or halftime events are done wired although there is often back of house production (clubs) that will utilize wireless pre-game.

Lee

Thanks Lee, that follows what I expect for a big stadium...  I think a dedicated audio person is the way to go, it may be difficult to convince other staff to accept that expense, however the video board is staffed with 5 people, so whats one more?  If anyone else has some insight one what a minor league or small college is doing, including what they mix on, staffing plans, etc, I would be glad to hear it.  having examples always helps justifications...
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David Sturzenbecher

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Re: Typical control setup for sports stadiums?
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2014, 08:31:51 pm »

Thanks Lee, that follows what I expect for a big stadium...  I think a dedicated audio person is the way to go, it may be difficult to convince other staff to accept that expense, however the video board is staffed with 5 people, so whats one more?  If anyone else has some insight one what a minor league or small college is doing, including what they mix on, staffing plans, etc, I would be glad to hear it.  having examples always helps justifications...

Cailen,
I work primarily on sporting venues from D3 through professional. 
At the D1 and below level, you would be surprised how many stadiums have poor system coverage at the audio booth.  In a lot of stadiums this is by design.  Why shoot sound towards 400ft of glass where the press box is?  One stadium i did recently (80k+ seating) the audio booth had no visual or audible connection to main system at all.  The show was mixed on a pair of near fields, from essentially a back closet. With a stadium of 10K+ I would consider having an active mix engineer essential. 

One trick I have used with great success for minimally skilled operator is to put a 10dB duck on your music playback sources triggered by your announcer and/or ref. That way, these guys are insured to be intelligible over the music.

I would caution relying on anything WiFi for critical game day operation. I have had 2.4Ghz networks turn mighty sluggish when the venue starts filling up.  I have also had 5Ghz networks be rock solid with 60k+. 

Another thing to play into your choice of mixer is reliability.  Would there be an issue if you mixer went down with 12k people in the stadium?  Would the fire alarm system be audible enough to handle an evacuation?  Most sound systems do not meet life safety codes, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't always use the most reliable equipment you can buy.  I had one bad experience with a "Pro" mixing console, and I will never use that brand again.  That being said, the company I work for has hundreds upon hundreds of Yamaha consoles in the field...and the only failure ever has been when the AC unit above the audio control booth dumped water all over it...this has happened more then once.

For the longest time the workhorse at this level of venue was the Yamaha 01V.  For the sole reason that there was a scene recall button directly on the surface.  This way, a knowledgeable tech can setup pre-game, game, halftime, anthem, post-game, off, etc presets. Then these can be recalled without having to dig in menus.  This helps make a consistent game to game production with unskilled operators.

Many of the current crop of $2k mixing consoles do not have the scene recall button on the surface...so needless to say, we still sell a lot of 01V's.
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Cailen Waddell

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Re: Typical control setup for sports stadiums?
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2014, 09:24:31 pm »

Cailen,
I work primarily on sporting venues from D3 through professional. 
At the D1 and below level, you would be surprised how many stadiums have poor system coverage at the audio booth.  In a lot of stadiums this is by design.  Why shoot sound towards 400ft of glass where the press box is?  One stadium i did recently (80k+ seating) the audio booth had no visual or audible connection to main system at all.  The show was mixed on a pair of near fields, from essentially a back closet. With a stadium of 10K+ I would consider having an active mix engineer essential. 

One trick I have used with great success for minimally skilled operator is to put a 10dB duck on your music playback sources triggered by your announcer and/or ref. That way, these guys are insured to be intelligible over the music.

I would caution relying on anything WiFi for critical game day operation. I have had 2.4Ghz networks turn mighty sluggish when the venue starts filling up.  I have also had 5Ghz networks be rock solid with 60k+. 

Another thing to play into your choice of mixer is reliability.  Would there be an issue if you mixer went down with 12k people in the stadium?  Would the fire alarm system be audible enough to handle an evacuation?  Most sound systems do not meet life safety codes, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't always use the most reliable equipment you can buy.  I had one bad experience with a "Pro" mixing console, and I will never use that brand again.  That being said, the company I work for has hundreds upon hundreds of Yamaha consoles in the field...and the only failure ever has been when the AC unit above the audio control booth dumped water all over it...this has happened more then once.

For the longest time the workhorse at this level of venue was the Yamaha 01V.  For the sole reason that there was a scene recall button directly on the surface.  This way, a knowledgeable tech can setup pre-game, game, halftime, anthem, post-game, off, etc presets. Then these can be recalled without having to dig in menus.  This helps make a consistent game to game production with unskilled operators.

Many of the current crop of $2k mixing consoles do not have the scene recall button on the surface...so needless to say, we still sell a lot of 01V's.

David,

Thanks this is great info to have.  This stadium got a new system less than a year ago.  It isn't the system I wanted, it doesn't sound good, and I am not happy with it.  That said, it will forever be the "i told you so" example, so it has some value.  Every other venue in town I am involved in has a Danley system... 

Regardless, I have about 8K left in the project budget, for which I am trying to tie up some loose ends, and make a couple improvements.  Weather kits for the videoboard cameras, as well as a couple longer HD/SDI & XLR looms need to happen.  Some additional video monitors in the control booth, monitor arms, etc.  The rest, which is not much, is what I would like to use to fix what I can in audio land. 

I suppose the major constraint I have to work with is I can't go and relocate all the audio lines to create a mix position.  A mixer with some sort of remote will be required.  You are right about reliability with wireless networks, although I get great enterprise level support and deployment from our IT staff (advantage of working for a municipality I suppose - side story - they have offered me spare dark fibers they have to connect all our spaces with fiber if I wanted - I don't).  Whatever I end up with, a wired backup will be neccessary, or will need to be the primary.  Given budget constraints, I was leaning towards the x32 rack.  Using some ethernet dry lines, this would actually make audio interfacing with some 3rd parties quite easy with an extra stagebox.   

All audio for the stadium hits a biamp expi/o and then a fiber convertor to go to the sound system.  Fire alarms are tied to the power on the fiber convertor and takes it offline if there is an alarm.  The fire alarm does NOT have its own announce capability, so we have (with the fire marshals blessing) and analog backup line to the PA that our operator can flip a switch and activate to make an emergency announcement.  This is a soccer stadium, and I am told, the PA is not required for game operations, so reliability, while a concern, is not mission critical.  We run our own 'rental shop' of equipment in town.  I am 100% confident I could put something in place in the event of mixer failure, but again this is good to think about.

I have one skilled operator onsite for games.  He power up the videoboard system and sound system, and runs the videoboard computer (which switches ads, zoning, board layouts, etc).  Basically he is a working supervisor.  An outside contractor runs cameras, tricaster, etc for games, and my guy sits on headset with them.  Adding a human being isn't impossible, just not incredibly easy either....

Regardless, thanks for your thoughts and wisdom.  Much appreciated.
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Rob Spence

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Re: Typical control setup for sports stadiums?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2014, 02:38:18 pm »

Hmm, how about a  mix position with just a pair of Ethernet like cables (or fiber) plus power to it? Any desk with a Dante option would let you route all the audio in and out and you could minimize changes to existing infrastructure by placing I/O boxes (Yamaha Rio or A&H AR or SB ) where the existing analog signals are.

You could permanently wire the cables to a weatherproof box at the mix position and the mixer could just be placed on event days?


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Re: Typical control setup for sports stadiums?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2014, 02:38:18 pm »


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