SVG League Technology Summit Will Feature DTV Audio Group Meeting

Next Monday’s League Technology Summit will feature an Audio Production and Distribution Workshop presented jointly by the DTV Audio Group and SVG. The two-hour panel, starting at 10 a.m. and moderated by DTV Audio Group Director Roger Charlesworth, will examine strategic audio issues centered on the transition to mobile and other multiplatform deliveries, and the impact of the rapidly changing digital-television landscape and emerging technology on audio-production and -distribution workflows. Also on the agenda: audio-training challenges, loudness and dynamic-range management, wireless-spectrum allocation, the increasing demands of multichannel production, multiple concurrent program and language and music support, and opportunities and obstacles to harmonizing delivery standards.

“So much of the discussion has been on the transition to mobile and over-the-top delivery and their implications for broadcast audio, and sports has been at the forefront of that,” says Charlesworth. “But there’s a lot that we have to figure out.”

The challenges for audio include the diverse array of consumer monitoring propositions for sports programming streamed to such devices as tablets and smartphones, and how audio can offer optimal performance when the same WiFi audio stream may be listened to on anything from earbuds to a 5.1-surround home theater system. Moreover, despite the near ubiquity of discrete 5.1-surround network distribution, the broadcast-audio workflow continues to have significant pockets that remain in stereo.

“A lot of preproduction is still done in stereo, as is a lot of the quick-turn editing, so there’s still a huge gap there,” Charlesworth asserts. Compounding that is the fact that a substantial amount of preproduction work, such as prerecorded packages that still use stereo sound elements, appears interstitially throughout programs otherwise done in discrete 5.1 surround sound. “And then you have the fact that many mobile devices are limited to two channels, so you have the potential for a clash there, too.”

On the other hand, technologies already exist that can make surround sound over headphones readily available to consumers and offer the potential to make sports sound even more immersive and compelling. According to Charlesworth, these issues will be combined with ongoing topics, such as the current online training program backed by the DTV Group and several major broadcast networks. He notes that the success of the initial offering, on loudness, will be followed this summer by a new tutorial module on 5.1 mixing. Other variations on this concept are also under discussion, including extending it to individual manufacturers of digital audio consoles, who can use online training to familiarize A1s with their consoles’ operation.

“The online approach to training works very well,” Charlesworth says. “The retention of information is amazing. These are the kinds of initiatives that sports-broadcast audio is going to need for the future.”