MTV’s Mobile Unit 8 receives significant upgrade

Enhanced Lawo system capabilities debuts during September’s Video Music Awards.

Nashville, TN - From its home in Music City USA, MTV Networks’ 48-foot audio truck, Mobile Unit 8, has served as the company’s core mobile production facility for several years. Following on the heels of a recent refurbishment that encompassed the installation of a new 56-fader Lawo mc²66 production console and a second, smaller mc²66 system, the truck has now completed yet another upgrade that dramatically enhances the mobile studio’s capabilities by providing a greater level of redundancy and the ability to accommodate multiple projects concurrently.

Originally designed to accommodate overflow and secondary, offline tasks, the smaller mc²66 console that resides toward the rear of the truck has been upgraded to a fully operational system. The rejuvenated console now offers an 8 x 8 x 8 configuration (16 long channels, 8 short channels), with its own core, MADI interfaces, and DSP facilities.

Enhanced capabilities
The upgrade provides increased functionality between the main mc²66 and the secondary console and significantly improves the sharing of resources. The enhanced setup encompasses four MADI ports across both systems to interconnect the two consoles, with provisions for sharing up to 192 signals in both directions. These enhancements incorporate managed tie-lines between the two consoles (handled automatically in the background by the two mc²66).

From this benefits the operator: every signal is handled like a local signal even if it is connected to the networked, remote routing system. These improvements make it considerably easier to handle line checks from multiple stages as well as 5.1 mixes, because the snapshots can be easily ported from the small desk to the large desk. Similarly, the ability to support smaller “B” stage operations—as part of a larger event—is far more feasible than previously.

Mobile Unit 8 at the MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas
The recent MTV Video Music Awards — which took place Sunday, September 9th from Las Vegas, NV — was the perfect example of how Mobile Unit 8’s enhanced capabilities benefited the MTV production team. For this event, which encompassed multiple stages, sound checks, and dress rehearsals, the enhancement enabled MTV to address such tasks in parallel using the two consoles. The primary stage was handled by the large mc²66 and Pro Tools rig #1 while a second task such as a rehearsal or sound check was accommodated by the smaller mc²66. When rehearsals, sound checks, etc. were completed and the show actually ran, snapshots from both the secondary and primary console all ran from the large mc²66. By removing the Snap Off function on the large console; snapshots created on the secondary console were able to be recalled at the primary mix position. These added capabilities facilitated increased workflow and saved time for the engineering staff.

Technical Support by Lawo
For any broadcast operation, knowing you can count on an equipment manufacturer for responsive technical support is critical. George Epley, Vice President of Technical Operations for MTV Networks, offered a most favourable assessment of Lawo’s customer and technical support services. “We had a clear set of expectations when we started the entire upgrade process,” says Epley. “We have a very unique operation and our technical requirements are quite demanding. Lawo was among the few companies that were able to supply us with the level of technology we required, and from the very start of our relationship, the company has been great to deal with. Every issue or concern we’ve encountered has been addressed expediently. I look forward to developing a long and prosperous business relationship with everyone at Lawo.”