Koreans Take Unique Approach to Surround Sound via Metrovision

Metrovision Production Group’s HD-1 unit and its crew, hired by the Seoul Broadcasting System for coverage out of Pacific Colliseum, home to figure skating and speed skating, overcame cultural and language barriers to help the client deliver a Surround Sound experience that was quite different than the one heard by others around the globe.

HD-1 Engineer-in-Charge Paul Wolf says the Metrovision truck took in the Surround Sound feed from the host broadcaster’s NCP-11 truck as an embedded 5.1 signal. But while audio was embedded via coax effects mics and announcer audio came in via phone lines.

“We had been expecting DT-12 cable, so we had to scurry around to find binding post-to-XLR connectors,” says Wolf. “There were definitely some language barriers.”

Metrovision then stripped the [embedded audio] out to a left-surround/right-surround mix of FX audio and placed that mix on a lower level of the Studer Vista 5 console on the truck. To that, the audio mixer added most effects from the two microphones mounted on each of the five hand-held cameras used by SBS: one Sennheiser 416 short shotgun and one 418 long shotgun microphone.

That made for a lot of elements, but where the cultural difference manifested itself was in the mix. “The SBS mixers drove the center a lot hotter than we were used to,” says Wolf, noting that the Korean-language commentary was placed both in the center, the left-right channels and in the surrounds. Curiously, however, the LFE channel was virtually unused. “The LFE was pretty much dead the whole time,” he says.

But it worked as SBS reported a 25-percent jump in viewership for those events, helped certainly by the success of Korean athletes like Kim Yuna but certainly not hindered by the lively and loud audio mix. “It was definitely different, but it worked for them and that’s what matters,” says Wolf.