UK-based high-definition broadcast specialists Bow Tie Television has installed a SoundField DSF-2 and DSF-3 digital 5.1 microphone system into its refurbished and rebuilt outside 5.1 studio truck with the cooperation of Sky’s satellite broadcaster for Sky Sports’ premier league darts coverage.
“We recorded the world championship darts event to multi-track at Alexandra Palace using two analog SoundField systems,” explains Keith Lane, Sky’s operations manager. “The broadcast itself was in stereo, but we took the multi-track recordings back to HQ to see whether we could produce 5.1 coverage of a game to the standard we wanted using the SoundField approach.
“The experiment went so well that we decided to make all of our darts coverage high-definition with 5.1 sound. We will be using that vehicle regularly for our Premier League darts coverage.”
Despite its origins as a simple bar game, darts has proved a challenge to present in 5.1, as Keith Lane explains. “There were 7,500 people at the darts event in Liverpool. Taking into consideration play-on music, the dartboard noise and crowd atmosphere, it all results in a fairly complex audio mix.
“SoundField’s DSF-2 and DSF-3 combination is now our standard way of originating 5.1 audio for HD transmission from football matches and other sporting events, but we weren’t sure if it would deliver for coverage of such a wide variety of sound types spread over such a large area. We were prepared to consider using multiple mic arrays if necessary, but once we started experimenting with the SoundField systems, Adan Brewer, our sound supervisor, was completely won over.”
SoundField supplied Sky with the DSF-2 and DSF-3 directly, and also provided bespoke cable drums and a hard case for the DSF-2 to Keith Lane’s specifications, to facilitate speedy assembly and breakdown of the systems at each championship venue. “It’s tempting to see the DSF-2 and DSF-3 as off-the-shelf products, but Ken Giles and Pieter Schillebeeckx at SoundField always work hard to tailor the systems we need to our specific requirements,” concludes Lane. “They were as responsive as ever on this occasion.”
Sky’s first HD broadcast from the darts premier league using the DSF-2 microphone and DSF-3 digital 5.1 decoder followed in early February 2009, and the SoundField systems will be used on all of the matches through to May’s championship final at Wembley Arena.