Stagetec Sees an Automated Future

Tickets to Europe may be expensive this summer, but you might find that a bit of the Continental way is actually heading this way. Conversations with router manufacturers at the NAB Show this week suggest that the European style of total truck automation might become part of the U.S. truck-management protocol in the near future.

“We’re seeing more interest on the remote-operations side in some of the automation systems that are commonly used in OB-van operations in Europe,” notes Stagetec USA President Rusty Waite. He specifically cites L-S-B Broadcast Technologies’ Virtual Studio Manager software as a system being used to create show-specific “snapshot” recall automation for AV routing aboard trucks.

The reason, he says, is that live sports shows are becoming more complex and larger in scale. Audio-mixing consoles have been scaling up to meet the demand for more channels (in the process, moving to a more layered control-surface design that, he adds, is also opening the market up to more competition in that product category), but that’s also creating a need for a more global approach to signal management, something a truck-wide automation system can address.

“They’ve been doing it this way in Europe for years,” says Waite. “I think we’ll see snapshot-type automation come more into play over here as A1s are being tasked to do more and as channel counts continue to go higher as we move to more multichannel transport like MADI.”

He also believes that production budgets will argue for this techno-cultural shift. Some networks for certain shows, he points out, are asking A1s to shave one day off setup schedules to reduce costs. Automation would compensate for reduced setup time in the field.

“I think the pressure is building for this,” Waite says. “In Europe, they don’t have the luxury of having a truck dedicated to Monday Night Football, for instance. The solution is to have truck automation that can store and recall the entire [AV] setup for a particular show that’s available month after month and year after year.”

At its booth, Stagetec is also showing a new XDIP board that connects its NEXUS router to networks running Audinate’s Dante networking, which enables audio and media networks to be created on existing standard Ethernet infrastructure using TCP/IP and is compatible with the emerging AVB IEEE 802.1BA standard.