News Production & Post

Harlequin kits out with Calrec

17 September 2010
Harlequin kits out with Calrec

From our A4B newsletter: Sky is to install five Calrec Audio Apollo consoles in the Harlequin 1 broadcast centre currently being built in west London near the UK satellite broadcaster’s current headquarters. The contract was announced at IBC2010 and includes a Hydra2 network and supporting protocols.

Phase 1 of Harlequin 1 (pictured in an artist’s impression) is now underway, with a five studio production centre and a large post-production facility being built by systems integrator ATG Broadcast. The stated aim is for the centre to be completely tapeless and environmentally friendly.

The five 88-fader Apollo desks will be installed in the studios and connected over the Hydra2 network. This will also allow the consoles in Harlequin 1 to be linked with the Apollos in Gemini 1, NEP Visions’ audio and production OB truck that went into operation on Premier League football coverage during August.

To cope with the anticipated high volume of audio ins and outs running through Harlequin 1 Sky has bought two stand-alone Hydra2 routers in addition to the single routing systems integrated into each of the five consoles.

The Sky network has approximately 15,000 I/Os, which senior sound supervisor Martin Black knows for certain because he had to name them. The stand-alone Hydra2 units have been extended to accommodate 32 fibre optic connections, each one able to handle 512 simultaneous channels (incoming and outgoing) of audio I/O.

Sky engineers are working with Calrec to develop protocols that will integrate the audio network into Harlequin 1’s broadcast control structure. This will cover studios and production areas on all five floors of the centre.

"Calrec hasn’t just sold us five consoles – together we’re building many of the protocols, workflows and technology that will drive this facility for the next few years," says Black.

Sky began working with Calrec when an Alpha desk was installed in Studio 7, its first HD broadcast facility. Black says discussions were held with other manufacturers but Calrec was chosen because it “had the basics of 5.1 operability” through its BlueFin technology. "So we went with them and the development of that technology became an iterative, cooperative process," he adds.

Harlequin 1 is due to open during the latter part of 2011. It will house eight HDTV studios in total, with three of these coming into operation after the Phase 1 facilities. The first of the Apollo desks is currently undergoing tests at Sky, while the remaining four are still being built at Calrec’s factory in Yorkshire.

Audio for Broadcast (A4B)  is TVBEurope’s twice-monthly newsletter focussing on the audio sector of the market, delivering the very latest news and views on audio kit, implementations and announcements to the European broadcast industry. Register for free here.

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