The production of live events for TV are very demanding on audio resources, particularly in relation to the requirements of the mixing consoles that are utilised for this type of work.
VAV is a Spanish company with more than 20 years of experience in the Broadcast sector, providing all types of television production services with specialised technical personnel and equipment. Amongst their portfolio of work we find high-profile sporting, social and artistic events. Examples of these are the company’s mobile unit services for the production of the Goya 2018 awards for RTVE, and the coverage of more than 55 hours of live broadcast of Carnival 2018.
Víctor Melendo is a sound engineer at VAV. As he tells us in this interview, he began working in live sound many years ago, allowing for a growth of experience before coming to work in Broadcast productions. Víctor tells us what his work is like, sharing his opinions on topics such as the training of those looking to work in the Broadcast sector, and on his work with digital audio consoles for this type of work.
LightSoundJournal: How did you get to work on audio for Broadcasting?
Víctor Melendo: After several years working on live sound, and thanks a former partner of my current company, I was contacted because they needed people. I started studying sound at the end of the 90s, with the same school giving me the possibility of doing an internships in a major live sound company after my studies. I spent several years here, making more and more progress and working on more and more important jobs with more responsibility on different tours and productions. Later, after having acquired some experience, I started working with bands directly, that is, traveling directly with the group being their own technician. I spent several years with a very popular rock band in the country. I then had the opportunity to expand my knowledge in sound and started working at VAV, a company that is dedicated to the production of TV.
LightSoundJournal: Could you describe the tasks you perform in an average day at work?
Víctor Melendo: It depends on the production. We do all kinds of events, from sports programmes to galas, but we always start by locating the place where the event will take place and what positions we have to cover according as far as audio is concerned. I coordinate with the assistants as to what material will be required, and during this time I configure the console and the intercom. Once the assistants have everything assembled, I do tests to verify that everything is working correctly. Later, just before the production goes ahead, we go back to make tests, but this time with the journalists and presenters who are going to be present during the event. Once live, I run the console and, depending on the production, create summaries and highlights afterwards.
LightSoundJournal: What features do you look for in a digital console?
Víctor Melendo: Basically, I am looking for accessibility, that is to say that it is simple and that everything I need is in sight. I don’t want to have to scroll through different menus to adjust and process the audio.
LightSoundJournal: With how many mixes, on average, are you working during a show that is broadcast live?
Víctor Melendo: It depends on the production, but ordinarily a minimum of ten. This would be an example of a production for a soccer game:
- 3 mixes at commentator’s booth.
- 1 in the field position.
- 1 special zone or VIP zone.
- 1 in flash position or mixed zone.
- To help the director give orders to commentators and reporters, we must prepare pre-fader mixes and send them to the control room.
- Generally, you must also make specific mixes to send to the mobile unit that is producing the international signal. For example, the audio of clean commentators without ambient sound.
The final audio production in the mobile unit is where they customise the signal. This also consists of several mixes that we upload to the satellite, for example:
- Audio 1 and 2: PGM (commentators + ambient)
- Audio 3 and 4: international audio (ambient sound only)
- Audio 5: commentators without ambient sound
- Audio 6: English commentator (if any)
LightSoundJournal: What is the difference between a console designed for Broadcast and another designed for live shows?
Víctor Melendo: There are many differences, but in short I would say that consoles for live shows put more emphasis on dynamic processing (compressors, gates) and signal processing (multi-effects), whereas the broadcast consoles incorporate more monitoring possibilities, more mixes, more functions, more busses and autofaders, amongst other factors. In short, they facilitate the jobs required when running production for TV.
LightSoundJournal: Can you describe what Broadcast work was like before working with digital consoles?
Víctor Melendo: Believe it or not, many things were the same. The main difference is just that the digital console incorporate all the signal processing, meaning you do not need a rack with a lot of external devices. In short, it is more convenient.
LightSoundJournal: I understand that you work with Calrec consoles. What are the benefits offered by Calrec consoles?
Víctor Melendo: They are accessible and easy to use; they sound excellent and incorporate all the functions that are needed for a TV production.
LightSoundJournal: What is your opinion on the debate between analogue and digital equipment?
Víctor Melendo: For me there is no debate, each side has it’s pros and cons. I am lucky to have started when there were only analogue consoles, and this helped me to better understand the digital ones. In my opinion, the main difference is that analogue systems can have a warmer or sweeter sound, however, the digital ones allow you more possibilities of manipulation and production.
LightSoundJournal: What can you tell us about the level of training required for those new to working in broadcast audio?
Víctor Melendo: Academic training is important, but it is equally or more important to start from before this. Before operating a desk, you have to know, for example, how to coil or run a cable. I remember that when I left school and started my internship in the live sound company, I had mates who wanted to operate the consoles first without worrying about what it really means to work live production. You have to start from the beginning, learning how to connect the power; how to position a PA, where the signal cables go and how that signal makes the audio reach the desk and the power amps. Then you move onto how to place a microphone for optimum reception of the audio, etc, before moving onto the console.
LightSoundJournal: Can you share any suggestions or advice for those who wish to work in audio for broadcast?
Víctor Melendo: Start from the bottom, ask questions, and try to listen to good advice!
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