Case Study: RTS+ OMNEO at Microsoft Production Studios

Dante-based audio networking brings a new era of digital audio routing and control to video broadcast production

Looking back, it can be difficult to remember that many of the technologies we now see as having been inevitable were not long ago in their infancy, their future prospects uncertain. In 1996, for example, with the World Wide Web only a couple of years old, few people outside of academia and the military had much understanding of what “Internet Protocol” (IP) was and how it could be used. Digital audio, meanwhile, had been around in various forms for a while, but the AES/EBU standard had only recently been fully embraced by the audio industry as a common means of digital interchange. “I often think to myself,” says John Ball, who began a career at Microsoft that year, “how cool it was to have seen how AES changed the future of audio by enabling a full transition to digital. And now I’m here to witness the next phase in that evolution, which is changing the world of digital audio from AES to IP.”

Ball isn’t merely observing this transition; he’s actively participating in it. A systems engineer, Ball has been working since 1999 at Microsoft Production Studios, an extensive, fully-equipped video production and post-production facility housed in one of the 40-plus buildings at Microsoft’s 300-acre corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Since its inception 26 years ago, MPS has relied on RTS intercoms for communications throughout the complex as well as between on-site staff and production crews working on location. Now Ball is leading the facility’s communication systems in a new direction, extending the familiar reliability and flexibility of the RTS ADAM digital matrix system onto the now-ubiquitous platform of IP over fiber and copper cable.

The key enabler of this move toward IP is OMNEO, a media networking architecture co-developed by RTS parent company Bosch that combines device monitoring and control capabilities with audio transport via Audinate’s Dante™, a fully-realized system for the transmission of high resolution/low latency digital audio over standard IP networks. Ball is finding that the integration of OMNEO into the RTS comms environment isn’t simply improving the comms system itself, but is also redefining how ADAM can be used to acquire and route all types of audio for production and post.

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