BBC Sport will rely on two TSL Products SoundField X-1 Upmix/Downmix Processors during its production of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The two devices will supplement the existing six that are permanently installed at the broadcaster’s MediaCityUK base for other regional and international major events and tournaments throughout the sporting calendar.
“The various audio elements that contribute to a sports programme, from studio and location dialogue, commentary, voice overs, phone calls, music, sound effects, actuality sound, to crowd atmosphere will come into us from a wide variety of mono, stereo, and 5.1 sources,” says Dave Lee, lead sound supervisor for BBC Sport. “With such diversity of contribution quality and width, the sound supervisor is tasked with mixing a show that immerses 5.1 viewers in the surround sound atmosphere of the event whilst maintaining clear, consistent imaging of dialogue and music.
“The SoundField X-1 anchors dialogue and reality audio to the front, whilst offering near-instantaneous upmix/downmix processing. This is essential during a live, action-packed broadcast, such as the World Cup, as it helps to ensure that the sound will never fall out of sync with the associated vision."
During the World Cup, long periods of the transmissions use genuine 5.1 actuality sound and crowd atmosphere, along with panned commentary and studio dialogue. However, when broadcasting out of match play time, the majority of audio is stereo or dual mono content. BBC Sport will route this audio material through a signal path to an X-1 in upmix mode. The upmixed audio will then contribute directly to the 5.1 mix bus.
Despite being presented with an inconsistent variety of stereo and dual mono sources TSL Products’ SoundField X-1 Upmix/Downmix Processor successfully separates the dispersed crowd sound, reflections, reverb, and atmosphere – offering the user adjustable parameters to position this diffused sound as desired into 5.1 image.
The UK’s public service broadcaster has been working closely with TSL and SoundField in the development of upmixing techniques and algorithms to achieve a high quality and reliable process for use in live sport programme mixing chains. SoundField allows the BBC to ensure that the dialogue is clearly audible, and the mix is compatible for broadcast throughout the various platforms and outlets that they offer.