Prior to 2020, the University of Miami in Florida redesigned its live sports production workflows to help ensure all audio feeds — ranging from field microphones to mixers — were utilizing Audinate Dante networking and audio-over-IP capabilities.
“We don’t have a single XLR patch anywhere in our workflow,” says Anthony Lestochi, Director of Production Services at the university. “Moving to Dante was clearly the better way to operate. It made building out our production really easy and effective. And, when COVID happened, Dante made it easy to quickly adapt.”
Dante allows audio, control, and all other data to coexist effectively on the same network. As productions needed to drastically alter their approach to adhere to pandemic safety guidelines, the ability to use Dante audio-over-IP as a connective fabric became clear.
“When we looked to bring production back, the first thing we did was knock walls down in our control room,” Lestochi says. “We totally rearranged the space and put up new physical barriers to allow for effective social distancing in the new control room. Because it was a Dante-backed system, we could run all of our new positions for equipment onto the network and know it would work quickly. It was a very easy change, and one that wouldn’t have been so quick if we were using traditional cabling.”
The control room continues to make use of the same broadcast technology in place prior to the change in physical layout. Two Yamaha CL5 consoles and a Behringer X32 console provide all mix capabilities for the many Dante signals on the network. Field and announcer microphones located on site are made Dante-native using Shure ANI4IN audio network interfaces. Multiple Studio Technologies 45DR Dante to 2-Channel Party-Line Intercom Interfaces – which are Dante native – are also used to allow two-way communication.
In total, Lestochi says there are roughly 60 Dante devices in use in a production – and on any given day, multiple productions can take place with around 100 Dante signals running across the local network.
In addition, remote announcers have become increasingly common as a result of social distancing and travel recommendations. Lestochi said it’s a practice that many viewers likely don’t even realize is taking place. The Miami production team’s largest events are men’s and women’s basketball in the winter season, with Dante utilized to help produce them.
Glensound Inferno commentator’s boxes – which are Dante-native kits built specifically for live announcer commentary – are sent to an announcer’s home. The system then interfaces with an in-home Mac computer using Dante Virtual Soundcard and Unity Connect software – which facilitates sending a Dante signal over the public internet.
“That setup allows for bidirectional channels and two-way communication,” Lestochi notes. “The talent can talk to each other as they watch the game, and the director and producer can also talk with the talent. Without that setup it would be nearly impossible for us to do this. It enables the talent to work the games from their home without much difference in the quality of the broadcast.”
The control room located on The University of Miami campus brings in the audio signal and provides mixing and audio-to-video embedding – using an Evertz Scorpion-4 Media Processing Platform – before sending the final product via a direct line to the university’s production partner.
Lestochi adds that with Dante, not only were changes made rapidly and affordably, but the system allowed for considerations on how to best manage the increasingly remote nature of the work. For example, he notes that he can log in to a university system remotely from his house and quickly make a change on Dante Controller software to ensure the system is working effectively.
“It’s those little moments in the process where you realize how much you’ve gained with Dante,” he concludes. “All of it comes down to confidence. And we have a lot of that right now with our system.”