Rising Star is the latest reality TV singing competition to take France by storm. Currently aired live every Thursday night on M6, France’s most profitable private national TV channel, the show is derived from an Israeli concept where it was a massive success.
In contrast to other TV singing competitions which feature a panel of celebrity judges, Rising Star features a panel of celebrity experts who offer opinions and commentary, but candidates rely almost exclusively on viewer votes in real time via a free smartphone app to determine whether or not they achieve the next stage.
From a technical point of view, the show clearly breaks new ground. The same is true backstage where Euro Media, the European leader in the provision of broadcast services who are responsible for bringing Rising Star to French TV screens, decided to call on Paris-based company Yasta to provide the music premix for the OB van. Yasta specialises in live audio recording and mixing of major artists and events for broadcast, either via TV or internet streaming. They have developed a turnkey digital audio recording/mixing/networking solution built around a Lawo mc²56 digital console combined with Optocore networking modules. Yasta was keen to test their methods of audio workflow management in a TV studio environment, so in addition to handling the music premix, Yasta offered to set up and manage the entire audio signal chain from the stage right out to the OB van.
“A traditional solution in a TV studio environment would probably take the audio from the stage via analogue microphones before being split to go to all the other destinations (FoH, monitors, premix, OB van etc.),” explained Yasta’s co-founder, Louise Bardet, who is handling the music premix for Rising Star. “In each case it’s just an A-to-B link that no-one else can see or manage. Our solution differs in that it is fully digital from the stage all the way out to the OB van – in the case of Rising Star, all of the microphones (except the presenter mics) are digital as well - and completely transparent. Everyone in the chain has access to all the signals from everywhere in the network. That way, if something goes wrong at some point in the chain, or if we decide at any point to change things around, the signal can be instantly and seamlessly accessed from elsewhere and either re-routed or intervened upon in whatever way is necessary.”
“It is the combination of Lawo with Optocore that makes this solution so uniquely powerful and flexible,” continued Louise’s colleague and co-founder, Benoit Gilg. “The size and power of the Lawo matrix is simply awesome, and now that Lawo has given Optocore the possibility to emulate Lawo’s DALLIS interface, it’s as though the console sees its own I/O cards and can thus control Optocore’s preamps as if it they were its own. This means that we can harness the combined power of Lawo and Optocore for optimum results.”
So how about the mc²56 as, well, a mixing desk? “It’s true that we’re blown away by the power of the matrix, which is particularly pertinent for us and the way we use the desk, but of course the mc²56 is simply the most amazing console in its own right,” said Louise. “The sound quality is just unparalleled – what you hear through this desk before you’ve done anything to the sound is more musical than through any other console I’ve used. I also love the fluidity and ease with which you can configure your work surface however you like depending on the job you’re doing and the way you like to work. On this job in particular, it’s also a big bonus that I can manage all of the digital microphones directly from the console.”
Yasta is managing a colossal 768 audio signals in total. Indeed, with the exception of the analogue presenter mics which are handled directly by the OB van, all of the microphones including the ambience mics are digital and all premixed by Louise before being sent to the OB van. In a traditional analogue set-up, the ambience mics would normally be sent to the OB van to be mixed directly with the video, but in Yasta’s all-digital implementation, the ambience mics can be piloted from the mc²56 along with the rest, so it made sense for Louise to manage them. However, as she pointed out, it would be the work of a moment to re-route them to the OB van or elsewhere if that worked out better.
“We can literally do anything we like with this network,” remarked Benoit. “That’s the beauty of it. Furthermore, as well as being much more powerful and flexible than a traditional solution, ultimately it’s far more cost-effective as well because we are able to pool resources, which avoids any costly doubling up of equipment, and it’s much lighter in terms of cabling. We are delighted that Euro Media gave us the freedom to prove our methods on Rising Star, and I hope that this will open doors for us in the future.”