Innovation in Film Voice Dubbing

First STAGETEC installation for highly specialised film versioning 

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Everything is new and up-to-date with this installation: the rooms, the technology, the concept — and the choice of AURATUS consoles, tailored to the needs of a dubbing studio

Hitherto, the film versioning industry seems to have been pretty unimpressed by the digital revolution in audio technology, apart from DAWs taking over from analogue mag film or tape. Outdated studios, equipped with last century technology and interior design, dominate the scene. The new Film- & Fernseh Synchron GmbH (FFS) premises in Berlin are more remarkable. Opened in November 2011, a real passion for design is evident here in each and every detail. For example, in the rooms themselves. Five all-new studios together with their control rooms and a lounge occupy 700 square meters in the loft of an industrial building from the twenties, all of which is worthy of gracing the pages of an international interior design magazine. The entire ceiling was raised in order to achieve ceiling heights of up to four and a half meters. These major building works were executed not only for the sake of design aesthetics, but also to facilitate acoustic isolation and optimum room acoustics. All areas were acoustically separated from each other using room-within-a-room construction with acoustic insulation and vibration-isolating bearings.

Acoustic Clones

Even inside the rooms acoustics set the tone: »Pretty much the only requirement we gave the architect and the acoustician was to meet specified values for the room acoustics. Otherwise we gave him a free hand in most areas,« explains Rainer Ludwig, managing director of FFS’s Berlin branch. The result is five studios and control rooms, all of which are almost identical acoustically. »Thus we solved one of the problems of film dubbing,« continues Rainer Ludwig. »For example, we may begin by recording the voice for a trailer in one studio. Once the entire movie is available for dubbing, we can continue in any other studio without the sound changing.«
The audio files are stored on a networked audio server which is accessible by all the DAWs in the building. The server also provides access to the recorded voice files for the mixing studios, usually one of the two FFS mixing studios at the Munich branch.

Much to Monitor

The technical equipment in the control rooms has also been harmonised and specified to the highest level. Lars Lächel, head of audio engineering, outlines the basic idea: »We consciously decided on a mixing desk and DAW solution instead of a DAW Controller because we believe in high-tech and speed. This ensures that our studios are a real exception in the film dubbing field!« The choice of console came to rest on AURATUS, the smallest of the STAGETEC production consoles.
For language dubbing purposes, voices are usually recorded as single tracks, i.e. mono. Stereo recording with multiple artists and microphones at the same time is much less common. In contrast, the monitoring requirements are much more complex. For a start, the actor needs to hear the original dialogue in order to replicate the performance accurately. While recording it is better to listen to the original sound without the dialogue, i.e. the M&E (Music and Effects). Both mixes are available in 5.0. AURATUS also takes care of the downmix in order to make the surround sources available in the artist’s headphones instead of just in the control rooms, which are equipped with surround-sound systems for monitoring.
The AURATUS design engineers have used this installation as an opportunity to further extend the desk’s surround capabilities. It now supports two independent 5.1 buses, including one group bus and one sum bus. For FFS this means the freedom to choose to record in mono, stereo or in 5.1. All other AURATUS customers will benefit from this development and after the next update will have the extended 5.1 functionality.

It’s logical

An actor may also want to switch back and forth between the original voice and his recording which is very important for picking up cues. This manual control of the NEXUS monitoring is selected by a user assignable button in the AURATUS channel strip. Several other defined routings are triggered automatically, which is why the NEXUS systems are equipped with XRI interfaces which receive external trigger signals and can trigger external devices themselves.
For revoicing a so-called 'taker' system is usually used. This controls the video and sound playout, displays a countdown clock and or wipes, and can initiate automatic punch-in to record and punch-out. The picture is displayed in takes, i.e. pre-programmed loops. The loops are repeated as long as necessary until the sound engineer marks the new recordings as good. The NEXUS XRI interface is also connected to the taker system. Once a DAW recording starts, NEXUS selects the artists microphone as the monitoring source automatically. This is controlled by its logic circuits and triggered by the taker system.
With these functions, the AURATUS and NEXUS combination is optimised for the specialised voice dubbing workflow. Compared with external relay circuits, the close integration of all logical functions offers much greater flexibility because they can be re-programmed at any time. Not to mention that this bespoke solution is very fast and easy to use — a real advantage in this business! The talkback and cueing functions between control rooms and studios also rely on this solution, with NEXUS being responsible for control signals as well as audio routing.
The NEXUS logic functions, together with a feature available as an option for all STAGETEC production desks, meter display switching, has made a slightly more unusual application possible. Here, this combination is used for access control. If the doorbell rings, the NEXUS logic routes the view of the door camera to the sound engineer’s monitor for about five seconds, who can then open the door if necessary.

Small Islands — Big Archipelago

A small 3U NEXUS Base Device in each control room hosts the necessary AURATUS DSP cards. Since these NEXUS units do not require fans — power consumption of each device with all the modules used in FFS is only 40 Watts — one could even be installed directly into the control room’s desk, which was neccessary for construction reasons. As access to this hardware is not needed in normal use, it is installed at the back, out of sight.
The five AURATUS and NEXUS units operate completely independently. They are not networked for audio; file exchange is achieved via the DAW-Server.
One extraordinary feature of this installation is that no operational changes to the NEXUS or AURATUS are necessary. FFS worked intensively to develop a configuration to suit a fixed pre-programmed setup scheme suitable for all recordings. This makes perfect sense for a voice dubbing studio running thousands of loops where speed and seamless interchange between control rooms are vital. The learning curve for freelancers is low and the administration overhead is reduced almost to zero.

A showpiece

Visitors to the new FFS Berlin premises are immediately struck by the high quality of everything in this facility. In fact, it is rather surprising that this trend has no yet gained more traction in the versioning industry. In any event, this installation sets the agenda for the entire industry, finally getting away from the quaint charm of DIY solutions and archaic decor, onwards into the digital age!
»Even choosing the right microphone pre-amplifier is indeed a science — or a matter of faith. We were very strongly opposed to analogue gain adjustment and are very happy with the NEXUS 32-bit microphone converters«, says Lars Lächel. »We also see a lot of potential in this plant for future development. If, for example, a transition to 96 kHz sampling rates is needed, we can easily convert our system. My personal hobby-horse is that I would love to replace the last remaining analogue devices, our mics, with digital ones, which I would like to connect to NEXUS via AES42. This would already be possible with our NEXUS today.«

TV and Radio Broadcast

AVATUS & NEXUS/NEXUS STAR

  • HSE24 Home Shopping Europe AG  Ismaning, Germany
  • RSI Broadcast Center  Lugano, Switzerland
  • tpc Metechno, Broadcast Center  Zurich, Switzerland

AURUS & NEXUS/NEXUS STAR

  • Antena 3 Madrid (TV)  Madrid, Spain
  • ASTRO (Malaysian satellite television) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Anhui TV  Hefei-Anhui, China
  • Auditorium Rai di Napoli  Naples, Italy
  • BBC Scotland Glasgow, United Kingdom weiterlesen blau 2019
  • BR Bayerischer Rundfunk  Munich, Nuremberg, Germany weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Canal 9  Valencia, Spain
  • CCTV  Beijing, China weiterlesen blau 2019 weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Crow TV-Studio  Tokyo, Japan
  • Deutschlandradio  Berlin, Cologne, Germany
  • Deutsche Welle TV  Berlin, Germany weiterlesen blau 2019
  • FM 802 Radio  Osaka, Japan weiterlesen blau 2019
  • FRANCE 2  Paris, France
  • Fuji TV  Tokyo, Japan  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • HSE24 Home Shopping Europe AG  Ismaning, Germany
  • HR Hessischer Rundfunk Frankfurt, Germany
  • J.V.E. facilities   Almere, The Netherlands  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • MDR Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk  Leipzig, Germany weiterlesen blau 2019
  • NDR 2  Hannover, Germany
  • NDR Norddeutscher Rundfunk Hamburg, Hannover, Kiel, Schwerin, Germany
  • Plazamedia TV&Film Produktion  Ismaning, Germany
  • Phoenix TV Station  Bonn, Germany
  • RAI  Rome, Milan, Naples, Torino, Italy  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Radio Bremen  Bremen, Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RAI Radio  Rome, Italy  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Rom TV  Rome, Italy
  • RTS Radiotelevisione svizzera  Geneva, Switzerland  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RTBF Brussels, Belgium  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RTM Kuala Lumpur  Kuala Lumpur, Perdana, Seremban, Malaysia  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RSI - Radiotelevisione svizzera  Lugano, Switzerland
  • TAI Television News Agency  Warsaw, Poland
  • Television de Galicia  Galicia, Spain
  • TVP Telewizja Polska  Warsaw, Poland  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Tianjin Radio Station  Tianjin, China
  • tpc zürich ag  Zurich, Switzerland  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • TSR Télévision Suisse Romande  Geneva, Switzerland
  • TVE Radio Televisión Espanola  Madrid, Spain
  • WDR Westdeutscher Rundfunk  Cologne, Bocklemund, Dusseldorf,  Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019

CRESCENDO & NEXUS/NEXUS STAR

  • ASTRO  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Anhui TV  Hefei-Anhui, China
  • CCTV  Beijing, China
  • CBC Cologne Broadcasting Center  Cologne, Germany
  • Formosa TV  Taipei, Taiwan  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Fujian tv  Beijing, China
  • Hangzhou TV  Hangzhou, China
  • HR Hessischer Rundfunk  Frankfurt/Main, Kassel, Germany
  • HSE24 Home Shopping Europe AG  Ismaning, Germany
  • HBTV Hubei Broadcasting Group  Wuhan, China
  • HNTV  Zhengzhou, China
  • JiangSu Broadcasting Corporation (JSBC)  Nanjing, China
  • Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) Yeongdeungpo District, Seoul, Korean
  • Life News TV, Moscow, Russia
  • M6 TV  Paris, France
  • Media Prima Berhad  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • NDR  Hamburg, Germany
  • NOSPR Narodowa Orkiestra Symfoniczna Polskiego Radia  Katowice, Poland
  • ONE TV / Dorna Sports Management Rome, Italy
  • Plazamedia TV&Film Produktion  Ismaning, Germany
  • Rede Bahia de Televisao  Salvador, Brazil
  • RTBF  Brussels, Belgium
  • RTM  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • RTS Radiotelevisione svizzera  Geneva, Switzerland
  • SBT Sistema Brasileiro de Televisao Sao Paulo, Brazil  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Shenzhen TV  Shenzhen, China
  • Sveriges Radio  Stockholm, Sweden
  • tpc zürich ag  Zurich, Switzerland
  • TSR Télévision Suisse Romande  Geneva, Switzerland
  • TVE Radio Televisión Espanola  Barcelona, Spain
  • Vatican Radio  Vatican, Italy  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Videohouse  Brussels, Belgium
  • VRT Brussels, Belgium

AURATUS & NEXUS

  • ASTRO TV  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Bernama News TV  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • BR Bayerischer Rundfunk  Nuremberg, Germany
  • CCTV  Beijing, China
  • CJ E&M Brodcasting Centre  Seoul, Korea
  • EPTV  Campinas, Brazil
  • FFS Film- & Fernseh-Synchron  Berlin, Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Henan  Zhengzhou, China
  • HBTV Hubei Broadcasting Group  Wuhan, China
  • Moscovia Broadcasting Company  Moscow, Russia
  • OMTV - Olympic Marseille Football Team  Marseille, France
  • Plazamedia TV&Film Produktion  Ismaning, Germany
  • Radio Kuwait  Kuwait
  • RTBF Brussels, Charleroi, Belgium
  • RTL Radio  Paris, France
  • RTM TV  Sarawak, Malaysia weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RTM TV  Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak, Malaysia
  • SBT Sistema Brasileiro de Televisao  Sao Paulo, Brazil  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Shenzhen TV  Shenzhen, China
  • Tele M1  Aarau, Switzerland
  • Tele 1  Luzern, Switzerland
  • VRT  Brussels, Belgium
  • WDR Westdeutscher Rundfunk Siegen, Bonn, Cologne, Essen, Wuppertal, Aachen, Münster, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Duisburg weiterlesen blau 2019  Germany

ON AIR flex & NEXUS/NEXUS STAR

  • ABC Australian Broadcast Corporation  Sydney, Canberra, Hobart, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, all Australia
  • Al-Watan Radio Kuwait  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • ASTRO (Malaysian satellite television)  Cyberjaya, Malaysia
  • CCTV Movie Channel  Beijing, China
  • HR Hessischer Rundfunk  Frankfurt, Germany
  • HSE24 Home Shopping Europe AG  Ismaning, Germany
  • NDR (tv station) Kiel, Hannover, Germany
  • Plazamedia TV&Film Produktion  Ismaning, Germany
  • Radio Pilatus   Lucerne, Switzerland  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • SDTV QILU Channel  Beijing, China
  • Shanghai Education Television  Shanghai, China
  • tpc Zürich  Zurich, Schwitzerland
  • WDR  Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Wuppertal, Germany
  • Xiamen Travel Channel  Xiamen, China

NEXUS/NEXUS STAR

  • All India Radio New Delhi, India  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Antena 3  Madrid, Islas Baleares, Spain
  • BBC  London, United Kingdom
  • BBC North Manchester, United Kingdom  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • BR Bayerischer Rundfunk Freimann, Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Cadena SER  Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Spain  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Canal Mundo Radio  Madrid, Spain
  • Canal+: Paris, France  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • 20th Century Fox  Los Angeles, USA
  • CBS  New York, USA
  • ESPN  Bristol, Los Angeles, USA
  • ETABETA  Rome, Italy
  • Eurosport 2  Paris, France
  • HR Hessischer Rundfunk Gießen, Fulda, Darmstadt, Wiesbaden, Kassel, Germany weiterlesen blau 2019
  • HR Hessischer Rundfunk  TR 3  Frankfurt, Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • IRT Project Hybnet  Munich, Germany
  • NBC  New York, USA
  • NHK  Tokio, Japan
  • n-tv  Berlin, Germany
  • ORB/DVB-FSZ Ostdeutscher Rundfunk  Potsdam, Germany
  • ORF Eisenstadt, Dornbirn, Austria
  • Onda Cero Radio  Madrid, Spain
  • ONE TV / Dorna Sports Management Rome, Italy
  • Polskie Radio S.A.  Warsaw, Poland weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Portuguese Broadcasting Service  Lisbon, Portugal
  • PTT  Madrid, Spain
  • Public Radio of the Ukraine  Kiew, Ukraine
  • Radio Caracol  Bogota, Colombia
  • Radio Cope  Madrid, Spain
  • Radio 9  Valencia, Spain
  • Radio France  Paris, France
  • Radio Traffic  Paris, France
  • Radio Marca  Madrid, Spain
  • RBB FS Berlin, Germany
  • RPP Radio Programas del Peru  Peru
  • RTS Radiotelevisione svizzera  Geneva, Switzerland   weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RTL Berlin, Germany
  • SAT 1  Zurich, Switzerland
  • SFB Sender Freies Berlin  Berlin, Germany
  • Staatlicher Rundfunk Usbekistan  Uzbekistan
  • Studio Hamburg  Hamburg, Germany
  • SWR Südwestrundfunk Stuttgart, Baden-Baden, Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Tele 5  Madrid, Spain
  • Televisión de Galicia  Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • TF 1  Paris, France  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • TV 1 Napoli  Naples, Italy
  • Unitel  Unterföhring, Germany
  • Vatican Radio Vatican, Italy  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Yunnan TV  Kunming, China
  • ZDF Mainz, Berlin, Germany
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