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February 1995: Volume 3, Number 6

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Networking with Sonic Solutions

at CBC Radio Drama and Sound Effects

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AES What's Inside


AES This Month's Meeting Preview

The Topic:

Radio dramas have been a part of CBC programming from the earliest days of the corporation. From live- to-air performances through to multi-track productions, the technology involved in getting a radio drama to air has changed along with the rest of the audio industry. The recent move to the Broadcast Centre combined with advances in digital audio workstations afforded the opportunity for a radical change in production techniques.

The new Radio Performance Production Suite centres around a network of five digital audio workstations. The 100 Megabytes/sec FDDI (Fibre Distributed Data Interface) token ring network connects one 24- track, two 8-track, and two 4-track systems. Soundfiles can be shared between the various stations simultaneously allowing the elements of a show to be built in separate suites. Cast recordings are made directly to the hard drives of one system and the performances edited at another station. Commissioned music may be similarly recorded and edited or production music may be used. Meanwhile, sound effects are recorded and assembled at other stations. The various resulting EDL's and soundfiles are then pulled across the network in real time to the main control room for final editing and mixdown. The non-linear nature of the technology allows for detailed last-minute changes to the show.

Other highlights of the facility include a spacious studio designed specifically for recording radio dramas; an AMS/Neve Capricorn digital console used for completely dynamic, fully automated mixdown; sound effects devices from the 1930's; Kurzweil samplers; sound effects recordings on every format from softcut 78's, NAB carts and CDs; and other contrasting but effective technologies.

The Presenters:

On hand to tell us about their facility and their work will be: John McCarthy, Studio Manager for the Radio Performance Production Suite; John Stewart, Coordinating Technician for Radio Sound Effects; Don Paterson, Systems Technologist.

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AES Last Month's Meeting Review

The January section meeting held at the Harris Institute for the Arts was a great success. The evening's guest speaker, Dr. Wieslaw Woszczyk, is well known to many member of this section. Dr Woszczyk, who teaches at McGill University, visited our section to speak about the research he conducted recently while at Bang and Olufsen in Denmark.

This research was aimed at assessing the effectiveness of various permutations of Dolby Surround Sound systems and television monitors. The emotional impact of these combinations on the listener / viewer were assessed by a questionnaire that allowed the participants to rate their preferences on a sliding scale. The results were then analyzed statistically in order to isolate the significant factors in listener / viewer enjoyment.

Dr Woszczyk went into detail regarding the combinations of equipment and loudspeakers (Bang and Olufsen, of course) and the structure of the tests, as well as the material presented during the evaluations. It will come as no surprise that large screens and powerful subwoofers were shown as the most significant factors in enjoying the viewing experience.

Loudspeaker placement also strongly affected the experience. Front channel loudspeaker separation was significant in producing natural and believable correlation between auditory and visual cues. Counter- intuitively it was shown that exaggerated (for video) loudspeaker separation degraded the effectiveness of the surround system.

It was also demonstrated that the placement of surround speakers greatly affected the feeling of spaciousness created by the surround system. The best location was suggested to be at a somewhat more elevated position than is commonly seen with surround speakers.

All in all a very well presented talk, shedding some real light onto a subject often hotly debated from a small store of fact.

Denis Tremblay

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AES Editorial

It's here. Horizons is officially open to all who have a modem installed on their computer. Simply call in the number (905) 451-5613, jump through a few hoops, set bits and bytes and bauds, delve through several layers of bewildering subdirectories and instructions, and voila, you're in.

Those who have not logged on to a bulletin board must feel somewhat Neanderthal, these days. Statistics certainly support the fact that the numbers of people using this technology are increasing.

I use the Internet daily, and Horizons has become the best tool you could imagine for creating the Bulletin. Contributors (those who are Net-literate and capable) can easily upload their articles, and a whole flock of armchair editors can comment on everything from grammar, syntax, spelling and content in the final product.

However, I can still remember feeling somewhat intimidated by the concepts and jargon associated with electronic communications... intimidated just enough to keep on putting off using the modem I had had in my computer for the previous five years.

For those of you still on the other side of the wire, so to speak, we will try to help you over the coming months to get the settings on your modem right, and provide you with a guide to what you will see when you first dial up Horizons.

And if you are looking for the Bulletin on Horizons, it will be in a folder in the Library called AES Newsletter, along with all of the back issues.

Enjoy!

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AES Special Features

AUDIO CAMPFIRE TALES

with Tom Shevlin

Once again the Past Chairman reaches into his own personal history to produce tales of

on-the-job horror and wonderment....

OUCH!

In the mid-70s there were a lot of Canadian band tours making appearances in the sort of places that now feature video DJs. This, combined with the fact that house sound systems usable for rock acts were few and far between, provided a lot of opportunity for small-to-medium sized sound companies to hit the road with truckloads of gear to be schlepped out for one-nighters. Some surprisingly big names in that early CanCon era played a lot of high school dance/concerts, and this is a story about one of those nights.

The crew of my recently-formed sound company was set up at a high school just outside Toronto at the start of a tour with a Juno-award winning group. Several varieties of long- and short-throw speaker boxes were set up on scaffolds at either side of the gymnasium stage.

The show began, and, although mosh pits hadn't yet been invented, many of the attendees crowded near the stage. A small group of highly-lubricated young males began pushing one another around boisterously near one of the scaffolds. Suddenly one of them bumped hard into the scaffold, causing a 75-pound box to fall...directly on his head. As he slumped to the ground unconscious, I ran from the console to the fallen lad.

While his friends attended to him, it dawned on me that I had neglected to take out liability insurance for this sort of thing. Flashing before my eyes was the vision of a line of bailiffs taking away my gear.. my trucks... my house... my wife......

In the midst of this bleak moment, the young man was grandly hauled to his feet by his fellow revelers, and with his arms around the shoulders of his buddies, he walked away... never to be seen by me again. Undoubtedly the layer of pure alcohol surrounding his brain had cushioned the blow.

The moral... let your insurance agent be your friend.


ZZZAP!

One of the usual stops on rock tours for my sound company was Sault Ste. Marie. I don't know if this is still the case, or whether with modern gear this is still a problem... but in the mid-70's there was an extremely powerful radar installation just across the US border.

Despite all my efforts, honed by experience in trying to keep CBC TV out of Massey Hall setups when their tower was on Jarvis St., every single piece of gear on that stage would emit a very loud ZZZAP.. every 30 seconds, all night long.

Moral: sometimes it helps if the musicians can work an ambient rhythm into the music.


SWEET REVENGE

Still in the 70's... I had for about a year and a half done a very interesting gig, providing the PA system along with operation, live broadcast mix and multitrack recording for a biweekly live concert show. There were no problems with the quality of the job, but at some point the leader of the house band demanded of the producer that his business partner should get the job. Said partner owned a small stereo shop, and so was, of course, well-versed in matters of live professional audio.

When the band threatened to walk if this guru didn't replace me, the producer, fearful of losing the continuity of his series, called me in for the bad news. Friends on the theatre's stage crew told me what happened on the new crew s first show...

Understand that this show was done in front of an audience of 1500 people, with as many as 10 acts in a 2-hour program, with about half of the acts using their own band rather than the house band. The show went live to air locally, with later tape playback on a syndication network of over 30 stations across Canada.

When our man from the hi-fi shop turned over the tape at the end of the night, it was found to contain... nothing. The record safe button on the multitrack had been left on all night. After many frantic phone calls, all the performers were called back to do a dummy show in the hall two days later, with applause tracks dubbed in, and, of course, the record light on.

I guess the producer really liked the house band, since the new crew kept the job. I hated to lose that gig, but at least I got a big-time chuckle out of that fiasco.

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AES The Horizons Mission Statement

by Glenn Specht, Co-Sysop, Horizons

"Knowledge is becoming the currency of exchange. But how do you find the information that you seek?

There are some people who believe that "knowledge wants to be free" (usually people who want to gain from the knowledge you have). I believe that knowledge is hidden, in words, in symbols, in ideas and now in bytes. It needs to be coerced, shoved, pushed, reshaped, reformed until it finally reveals itself.

This media that we have tapped into is one way to allow knowledge to become available. But how do we sift the information from the noise? That is why I have created this space. It is a place to learn, experiment, and find out what all the hype is about.

The On-line community is expanding rapidly. There seem to be articles in papers and on TV about the Net a least once a week. This has caused an exponential growth in usage. As this awareness expands, BBS's like "magic" grow as well. These general purpose Boards are great. To use the magazine analogy, they are equivalent to LIFE magazine. Full of general purpose information aimed at the masses. Being a member of the masses, I enjoy several parts of it. But I have trouble finding the information I am really interested in.

I would like to think of this board as a specialized magazine, a cross between Popular Mechanics and Scientific American, with a bit of Wired thrown in. My interests are in the growth and use of the new technology. To this end I have created a Board that is dedicated to the exploration, the emergence, uses and abuses of technology. For this reason there will be no "Seinfeld Fan club" conference. These conferences are best left to the mass-appeal boards.

My purpose is to have a place where the discussion and information centers around the changes happening in our society. It can be argued that they changes are being driven by the growth and development of science and technology. A lot that is developed is good, some isn't.

Civility is very important to me. In communication internally or externally (through the Nets) cyber courtesy will be maintained in this space.

We all have areas of expertise and experience. My personal areas are Audio & Electronics. We also have areas of interest (mine are varied, Astronomy & Space, Computers, Photography, Music, Technology, Woodworking). What I hope to do is learn from other peoples expertise to increase my knowledge in my areas of interest. I may even develop new areas of interest.

I appreciate any and all comments.

Rules of the Board

1. This is an experimental board. Use it as such. Try out things with the net, with this board, without fear of upsetting a massive group of people. To this end I will also be experimenting, with tying into the Nets, conference interfaces, etc. What we need to do is communicate our findings. Learning is what this is all about.

2. Flaming is not allowed. Discussions about deeply held beliefs or opinions can become heated. In this electronic media, where inflection and body language can not be communicated, this is especially true. As long as the discussion continues on an intellectual level (discussing ideas) it is acceptable. When it slips into a personal level then it is NOT acceptable. Discussions of ideas is OK, of people is not.

3. Questions are allowed. If you don't understand, ask questions. If someone asks you a question that you may think is dumb, remember you had to learn the answer sometime.

4. Access is allowed 1 hour per day (to start).

5. Information is to be shared. If you discover something interesting, that fits the parameters of this board, please let us all share this knowledge.

This media that we have tapped into is one way to allow knowledge to become available. But how do we sift the information from the noise? That is what I have created this board for. To learn how to set up noise filters.

gspecht@tor.hookup.net

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Logo Copyright 1995, Audio Engineering Society Toronto Section Bulletin

Articles may be used with the Author's Permission. Contact the Bulletin Editor: earlm@hookup.net

Editor: Earl McCluskie

The Bulletin is prepared in print and on Horizons and the Internet by Earl McCluskie.