Calrec Consoles Power Networked, Fiber-Based Audio Mixing at OU’s SoonerVision

NORMAN, OKLA.—The University of Oklahoma (OU) is home to one of the most storied athletics programs in the U.S., so it’s fitting that the OU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics would have a world-class video and television operation. As the department’s in-house video production arm, SoonerVision produces award-winning content for Sooner Sports TV, the university’s multiplatform network covering 12 varsity sports including football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and gymnastics.

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James Wade, SoonerVision A1 (photo credit: Ty Russell)

Over the past decade, SoonerVision has undergone a complete transition to a fully digital HD operation—much to the thrill of OU fans and viewers. The centrally located SoonerVision master control facility receives signals over a 100 percent fiber network from eight sports venues across the OU campus, including the Gaylord Family—Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, the Lloyd Noble Center and the McCasland Field House.

Audio was one of the last missing links in SoonerVision’s move to all-digital operations over fiber, but that changed a few years ago when the operation brought in a Calrec Artemis console for its main live-production audio mixer. The Artemis console provides the audio mix for up to 130 live broadcast feeds every year for a variety of Fox Sports outlets including Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports Southwest, and Fox College Sports.

A few months ago, SoonerVision added a Calrec Brio desk in its Studio B to drive audio for a broad lineup of original programming and studio productions, including coaches’ shows, weekly magazine shows and press conferences. Calrec launched Brio just a year ago to address the market requirement for smaller audio consoles that offer pure live-broadcast features. Brio’s compact size means it is extremely portable and quick to install, making it ideal as a general-purpose workhorse that offers connectivity over Calrec’s Hydra2 network.

Together, the Artemis and Brio are used to produce thousands of hours of SoonerVision sports content annually. Calrec Hydra2 I/O devices at each venue provide seamless transport of audio signals to a central router and then the Brio or the Artemis and the two consoles can exchange signals over a Hydra2 network. SoonerVision’s use of the Artemis and Brio is a prime example of how two audio desks can complement each other to provide maximum flexibility, reliability and seamless fiber-based signal exchange in a complex production environment.

“By replacing our old analog mixer, the Artemis really sealed the deal with our broadcast partners, who expect the level of technology you’d find in the most advanced broadcast truck,” said Brandon Meier, assistant athletic director for broadcast operations, OU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. “And now, the Brio takes us even further down the road as a state-of-the-art digital operation. It delivers everything we love about the Artemis—the robust faders, the ease of use, the outstanding ergonomics of the screen layout—in a compact and cost-effective package that’s perfect for the types of shows we produce in our smaller studio.”

He added, “With the Artemis and Brio talking to the Hydra2 field boxes and processing audio signals over a few fibers, rather than thousands of copper wires, our operation has been simplified immensely. And the Calrec desks are allowing us to do things we never dreamed of before; for instance, we can put 16 different audio sources behind a single camera feed to supply separate submixes, like submixes for radio shows that include English and Spanish tracks.”

As an added bonus, the consoles are giving OU broadcast students hands-on experience with professional audio mixing equipment they’re likely to encounter in the real world, since Calrec desks are widely deployed for live broadcasting.

“We have a big responsibility to make sure our broadcast journalism students are ready for jobs in the radio and television industry when they graduate, and a big part of that preparedness is to give them hands-on training with industry-standard equipment," Meier noted. “Solutions like Calrec’s Artemis and Brio have helped us build a collegiate broadcast operation that rivals anything in the professional world.” 

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