So we've taken a moment to chat to John Stevens, the Head Studio Engineer, at Global Access studios. His career spans the three great technical migrations - from film, to beta, to digital. He's been at Global Access since 1997, ensuring that the three studios and the mobile studio run smoothly, and keeping them up to date with current technology trends.
GA - Global Access has been upgrading its studios to full HD capability - What has been done? JS - Well, two of our studios have already been at full HD capability for some time now, but studio one has just received its new Tricaster Broadcast system, three HD cameras, and a digital audio desk. All of which are just amazing HD quality devices.
GA - What makes the new Allen & Heath audio desk so exciting? JS - It is a full digital audio desk with equalisation, delay, limiter/compressor on each channel as well as the master output (O/P). It has 16 outputs that are fully routable i.e. any input can be routed to these outputs including program. The desk has a multitrack recording facility i.e. each input and master channel can be recorded to an external hard drive. So you can master mix at a final mix studio later if you like. And of course, music can be played from a USB stick - which makes it nice and easy to bring in music into the studio.
GA - The Tricaster has achieved quite a bit of fame already - how so? JS - It is a complete broadcast system that will mix and match SD, HD analogue and SDI inputs and will give you multiple outputs in the various formats as well. We chose it because it will record all the input sources plus your master mix to an internal hard drive. Tape is gone, hard drives are here. And coupled with our massive greenscreen studio it can run all your virtual sets. It even has a full graphics suite for straps and whatever overlays you want.
GA - What does it mean for Global Access studios and mobile studio to have one of these? JS - It means that Global Access can do full HD productions with master and slave recordings at the touch of a button. It also means we are competitive with the other top HD facilities available in southern Africa. It's also a cool space for people to work in because the limit is your imagination, the equipment will get you there without a problem.
GA - The new camera's will work with the Tricaster, anything special about them? JS - The new Sony PMW-400 cameras are full HD cameras. It has 1000TV lines and a sensitivity of F14 at 2000 lux which means they have excellent characteristics under low light conditions eg. If you shoot a night scene. The picture is beautifully sharp, and the detail is amazing. We've already had vision control engineers talking about the quality.
GA - All this new gear must be quite a challenge to install and maintain - is it just you? JS - Given Motha is my assistant, and together we keep things running. Although the technology is advancing, caring for it is the same - if you look after your gear, it will look after itself.
GA - Let's talk studios - how many do you have and how good are they? JS - We have three studios varying in size from 245m² to 565m². They all have lighting grids, ample power and are all totally sound proof. Our generator and UPS back up system ensures no disruptions during recordings or live broadcasts. With the make-up, green/VIP and crew rooms as well as space for catering and production offices. We also have ample secure parking. I believe we have top-notch facilities to offer. Remember our state of the art HD mobile studio is available to do any production at your venue i.e. live or pre-recorded.
GA - Are the studios busy? If so what with? JS - We are extremely busy with sit-coms in the biggest studios nearly on a permanent basis. This is the studio where we use a Sony MCS-8M video mixer with a Yamaha M2v digital Audio mixer. We record in this studio to AJA Ki-Pro recorders. The smaller studios with the Tricaster just finished shooting a children's program and there are various talk shows, a sit-com and corporate broadcasts in the pipeline. One of our clients from the USA booked us specifically because of some of the new equipment we're installing.
For more info regarding our facilities, please contact Amelia Thiart, Head of BTV at 011 350 2258 or
The only component missing from all these devices is creativity. Read our other article this month for some insight into that topic.
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