The trend of broadcasters making the transition to a file-based workflow has been a long and considered process, one that Simon Brett, UK Director of Operations and Technical Facilities for the National Geographic Channel and FX, has eased into with the help of Dolby’s DP600 Program Optimizer.
Programmed with preset folders by HHB Communications Ltd. Manager, Broadcast and SI Sales Nikki Kalsi, Brett’s DP600 has become an essential part of the toolkit used by the firm’s audio engineers. He is finding even greater use for the DP600 since the merger of FXUK and the National Geographic Channel, which brought more HD work and deliverables from several sources with varying formats for both VOD and direct to broadcast programming.
Specifically designed for use in cable, satellite, IPTV, terrestrial TV, radio, and post production facilities, the DP600 provides the ability to encode, decode, and transcode the broadcast media files and audio formats in use today, including MXF. It also features an audio analysis and automated loudness normalisation engine, plus an optional algorithm for upmixing 2-ch audio for 5.1 delivery.
“It can be challenging working across different technologies in different countries, so we wanted to come up with an effective way to tackle this,” Brett explains. “Decoding Dolby E files and physically outputting to tape and sending and receiving discrete tracks and M&E files involves time and manpower. Since implementing the DP600 system our productivity has improved two-fold. It was a turning point for the operational side of the company and has since become an essential part of our toolkit for everyday workflows.”
Most recently, the DP600 was invaluable to a first-of-its-kind companion iPad app to coincide with the launch of The Walking Dead season part two. The “Walkers Kill Count” app required a complex audio water marking processes, and its development was facilitated by the DP600 system. “The app is driven by audio watermarks that trigger the iPad in association with sounds on the show. The triggers can only be created using non Dolby E encoded, discrete audio tracks, so the DP600 was the only answer,” Brett says. “When the tracks came back with watermarking in them all I had to do was sync them with the pictures, export my 5.1 audio as 6 mono WAV files and then drop them into the DP600 to create the master file.”
Brett finds that the DP600 simplifies these and other complex daily processes without any audio degradation. Its intuitive interface softens the blow for audio engineers who are reluctant to move into the file-based world. Brett explains that these engineers are now happy to work in the new format: “Dolby’s DP600 has changed the way a corporation of our size operates by delivering materials and files quickly and of the highest quality. There is definitely no going back.”
HHB Communications Limited
Founded in 1976 and located in London, HHB Communications is a global leader in the supply of professional audio technology. Serving in the broadcast, educational, recording and media production sectors, HHB’s unique expertise is also recognised by major manufacturers and innovators, many of which have appointed the company as exclusive distributors of their products. The specialist division, Scrub, serves the needs of the television and film post production industry from premises in the heart of London’s Soho.
FOX International Channels
FOX International Channels (FIC) is News Corporation’s international multi-media business. It develops, produces and distributes 350+ wholly- and majority-owned entertainment, factual, sports and movie channels across Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa, in 35 languages. These networks and their related mobile, non-linear and high-definition extensions, reach over 1.1 billion cumulative households worldwide. FIC is dedicated to delivering high quality content to its global viewers. It acquires, develops, produces and co-produces scripted and non-scripted programming for its linear and digital platforms including, most recently, the Golden Globes nominated and Emmy winning series, The Walking Dead. FIC owns and operates four production studios internationally, as well as a digital studio arm dedicated to the production of short-form series.
Picture caption: Simon Brett of FXUK and National Geographic has found that the Dolby DP600 delivers materials and files quickly and of the highest quality