For Now, Sound Monitoring Is Little Changed in New, 3D-Era Trucks

The first 3D remote-production trucks hit the road within the past 12 months, from NEP’s SS3D last fall (slated to be used at the MLB All-Star Game, which will be broadcast in 3D) to All Mobile Video’s Epic truck, due in July. Video monitoring is the biggest change in this new truck generation, but audio, at least for the time being, seems to be staying pretty much the same.

“Based on the conversations I’ve had, no one’s planning on trying to do live 3D , so there’s no reason to change the way audio is monitored,” says Lee Blanco, director of engineering at All Mobile Video. “We don’t see any need for the A1 to see a 3D screen, and you can’t really put a monitor that large in the space typically allotted for audio on a truck.”

Blanco also notes that watching 3D can be taxing by itself; asking a mixer to use 3D glasses to watch the screen as well as work a console would be counterproductive. Therefore, Epic will have the same 5.1 speaker configuration as AMV’s previous multichannel-capable vehicles.

Game Creek Video’s future trucks will remain 2D for the foreseeable future, according to Game Creek VP Paul Bonar, although the company has a pair of 3G — 3-gigabit–processing capability to handle 1080p video at 60 fps — units under way. “What changes with 3D for audio is where the microphones are, and they’re following the additional camera positions used for 3D,” he explains. “The monitoring in the truck isn’t really affected, though we are using 5.1 configurations in all trucks going forward. We want to make the surround mixing as fully functional as possible.”

At least one change is being seen in some new trucks, although it may not be spurred by 3D video: a broader range of speaker types. AMV’s Epic will get Dynaudio DM 2/6 and DM 2/7 speakers, different ones from its predecessors. And Game Creek’s Bonar says he’s trying out ADAM monitors for the first time in a truck currently under build; three ADAM A8X speakers will form the L-C-R array, and a pair of A7Xs will be used for surrounds, plus an additional pair of A8X speakers for pre-fader (PFL) monitoring.

Any future alterations to the audio suites aboard remote trucks may come from feedback from A1s who mix sound to 3D broadcasts, but that will most likely originate in input from directors and producers, the ultimate truck clients. “They’re the ones that will be telling the mixers,  get the sound over in that corner or that corner,” says Stephen Sharp, director of R&D for Sweetwater Digital Productions. “The audio always has to match the picture, and that will be the case for 3D picture as well.”

At the same time, the opinions of A1s need to be taken into account to some extent, says Mike Mundt, director of engineering at NCP. “We listen to them certainly, but I doubt what ultimately happens will be very different from the 5.1 we already do.”

He adds that 7.1 is probably impractical for remote truck applications due to lack of space. “But it’s still early in this game,” he says. “They may be be able to automate certain types of scenes so they can call up a certain audio configuration as the picture changes, on a tally-by-tally basis. It’s like the early days of HD; we’re still learning as we go along.”