Taking an object-oriented approach to sports audio, a new prototype microphone control system, the Studer Ball Chaser allows broadcast engineers to use a joystick to open the shotgun microphone closest to the action on the playing area, while keeping the other microphones closed.
Sports broadcasters often place 12 or more shotgun microphones around the playing area to pick up as much of the action as possible. However, leaving all 12 microphones fully or partially open for the whole match results in a lack of detail in the audio mix.
Ball Chaser connects directly to any Vista console and takes the form of a joystick mounted on a small, portable box. The operator configures the unit with a web GUI interface, setting the layout of the physical microphones around the pitch. Up to 24 microphones may be used and linked to the faders on the desk.
During the game, simply moving the joystick opens and closes the relevant faders with smooth cross fades. The operator can just watch the pitch events and open the necessary microphone without looking down at the joystick. Desk faders will respond in realtime to the joystick movement and open only the microphone fader nearest to where the action is taking place.
The Ball Chaser links via an Ethernet connection, so the operator can be some distance from the Vista desk, such as watching the action from the stand, so freeing space in the OB truck.
Studer said a key advantage of this unit is that it allows more gain to be given to the on-field FX microphones, as the unit always has the equivalent of one open microphone to air. This ‘single’ microphone can have higher gain without the crowd pickup swamping the overall mix.