mc²66 consoles at the heart of each audio control room.
In New Zealand, the Auckland-based facilities provider On Site Broadcasting (OSB) takes delivery of its third HD vehicle in February 2009, and makes it three-in-a-row for Lawo consoles. At the heart of each of OSB’s state-of-the-art, full high-definition outside broadcast trucks is a Lawo mc²66 digital mixing console.
OSB has been providing outside broadcast vehicles since the company was established in 2002. In addition to the two full HD vehicles, (HD1, a 14.3 metre semitrailer with an 11 metre expanding side and HD2, a 14.3 metre semitrailer with a ‘pop out’ monitor wall), OSB also hires out three standard definition trailers - two 13 metre semi-trailers and one 9 metre rigid vehicle.
All five vehicles are in constant use covering live events throughout the year. “Our core business is Sky NZ, for whom we did 333 different projects, mainly sports, over the past 12 months alone!” Lex Walker, OSB’s Operations Manager explained. “As well as Sky, we undertake a number of events for various independent production companies, so they have to be reliable, ergonomically efficient, and easy to operate. OSB’s dry-hire includes two technicians and a gaffer on every job, but no sound engineer unless specifically requested. All the freelance engineers who have used the Lawo mc²66 consoles simply rave about them.”
Covering events as diverse as the nation’s favourites, the All Blacks, playing in the Tri-Nations rugby championship, to the New Zealand Music Awards and Xmas in the Park, OSB has garnered a reputation for providing outside broadcast equipment of the highest calibre.
"Speaking frankly", Walker stated, “When we chose Lawo, price was not the main factor. There were other options we could have gone for that were less expensive, but none of those offered us the quality, power and versatility of the Lawo consoles.”
He praised the support he received from Lawo and its distribution partner Protel during the commissioning stage, and later, in getting them up and running operationally, “Lawo was terrific. The first vehicle seemed like an impossible task as it had a very short lead-time from initial talks, through commissioning, to delivery. However, thanks to Tony Fitzsimmons and René Bullinga from Protel, and the Sony team which physically integrated the vehicle, we met our start dates for both HD1 and HD2. We have had the same experience so far in commissioning HD3, which is due to start work mid February.”
Walker remembers when he first looked at Lawo mixers, “We were looking to equip our first high-definition, fully digital truck and wanted it to be top-of-the-range in terms of both sound and picture. Lawo had just shown the new mc² series mixer in Australia and decided to bring one over here to New Zealand. I went to see it, and the rest, as they say, is history! The quality of the build, coupled with the immense power and flexibility they offer, is second to none. I am delighted we chose the mc²66s, as are all our clients. Ordering a third Lawo console for the upcoming HD3 truck was not just about maintaining continuity, it was done as a result of both client feedback and proven quality and reliability in the field.”
Each of OSB’s vehicles, whether HD or standard definition, is designed as a stand-alone audio and video broadcasting unit. Despite the mc²66’s ability to have many independent signal paths, allowing more than one operator to work independently from others on one console simultaneously, in Walker’s experience most of his clients use a single sound operator for their events. “With technical specs that include up to 376 inputs, 48 sub groups, 32 aux sends and 96 track busses, the mc²66 can be configured in hundreds of different ways. Yet regardless of how complex the individual mixing job might be, utilising the Lawo’s total write and recall facility makes it easy for a single operator to set up for specific broadcasts ─ especially if they are repeat commissions and there is already a template in the mixer.”
As well as the three hundred-plus Sky broadcasts last year, OSB undertakes one hundred and fifty other independent productions. The ever-increasing demand for surround sound on projects, including Sky’s sports, was another factor influencing Walker when it came to choosing the mc²66 desks. He confirmed, “We had to have all the surround sound formats - including DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Pro Logic, DTS ES, and SDDS 7.1 - within the signal processing of whichever digital mixer we chose, as the majority of clients now expect their output to be in surround.”
Walker concluded, “The more events OSB undertake here in New Zealand, the more compliments we get about the Lawo mc²66 consoles from various sound engineers. I have not heard a single complaint from any operator who has driven one ─ and that says a lot in this business!”