Universal Remote.tv, a company set up by Production Audio Engineer (A1) and Audio Network Engineer Sean O’Gorman and A1 Shawn Peacock, has just concluded a successful remote mixing proof of concept (POC) with the Professional Fighters League (PFL).
Sean and Shawn both have considerable audio industry experience behind them, and have established Universal Remote.tv as a company only recently. They recognised a growing issue across the industry in the US and globally. Sean said, “One of the results of the pandemic has been that many companies have built out regional pod-based production facilities to handle remote productions (REMI).
“A challenge these facilities face is hiring high-quality, experienced Audio Engineers at a competitive pay scale to handle the huge number of events they have to cover. Often, the inexperience of local engineers has led to networks having to fly experienced engineers out to the remote facilities, which is not ideal for either party. Currently, the REMI model isn’t always working properly.”
Therefore, Universal Remote.tv proposed their proof of concept to show how remote mixing could solve this problem, while leaving the overall transmission chain unaffected. Their idea was to bring the audio mixing capabilities of the OB truck to the engineer. PFL agreed to let them trial this concept on the world feed of its recent pre-season build-up event held at Universal Studios, FL, from late January to late February 2023.
Universal Remote.tv sent a request to Calrec for their Type R audio console to carry out this POC. Shawn said, “We really wanted to work with Calrec because its gear is in the majority of the trucks in the US. It is also innovative, tried and trusted and rock solid. Another critical aspect is the form factor of the Type R, making it economically viable to ship the control surfaces to wherever the A1 is.”
Calrec Type R Large Soft Panel
Type R’s flexible, integrated IP core supports automated broadcasts in radio and TV environments, as well as full remote control from anywhere in the world over a web interface or Type R's dedicated hardware. SMPTE 2110-compliant, Type R for TV includes hitless redundancy and is compatible with various station automation systems and a range of integrated control protocols.
“The core remains in the OB truck, and they can then set up in a control room in their house. This is coupled with the fact that it’s IP based, of course. The Type R really fits this purpose as it is compact and modular, allowing us to keep all the digital signal processing at the OB truck onsite and then feed the control signals from the A1’s site to the truck.”
Universal Remote.tv emphasised that they are not shipping the audio signals to a remote console – the audio is not leaving the site. Instead, this system is concerned with control signals. The only audio that has to come to the A1 is what hits their monitors, and these control signals do not affect transmission.
Calrec supplied Type R control surfaces for the project and, as the Type R is modular, the cases only needed to be packed with fader panels, or Large Soft Panels, and some cables. “It’s a very minimal setup, and includes a router and a POE (power-over-Ethernet) switch. Once the A1 plugs in, he or she is online via our proprietary Universal Remote.tv VPN,” said Sean.
The Type R was integrated on Universal Remote.tv’s network over the Dante protocol – that is, everything that went in and out of the Type R core was on a Dante network. A low latency WAN-compatible codec is used to ship the control room output of that core to the engineer at their home control room.
Modularity and Flexibility
For this POC, that engineer was Shawn Peacock. Just like in a truck, he was listening to whatever was routed via the console to the Control Room monitors. Universal Remote.tv fixed the latency at 175ms – this fixes the delay between an A1 selecting the source and hearing it. All signals go over the public internet with a VPN sitting on top.
The goal of the POC has been to demonstrate the potential of bringing the work, tools and resources to experienced A1s, and passing the shows to them. The modularity and flexibility of the Type R has shown itself to be well suited for this process. Sean said, “Being able to do this using public internet rather than dedicated connectivity is a huge boon. We aim to increase the time engineers are able to practice their craft, and to supply them with the tools to make the most of the product they deliver, instead of taking time out for travel.” calrec.com