Houston, TX (May 31, 2023)—It has usually been mentioned that all the things is greater in Texas, and the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is right here to show it. Held over three weeks starting in late February, the occasion attracts properly over 2 million guests yearly and presents a rodeo competitors purse of greater than $2 million, the most important on the championship circuit. Oh, yeah, and the nightly concert events can draw greater than 70,000 music followers.
RodeoHouston is a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association cash occasion, which implies that the prize cash—the measure by which opponents are ranked—counts towards eligibility to compete within the National Finals Rodeo. To attain rodeo followers past Houston’s NRG Stadium, the place saddle bronc using, steer wrestling, tie-down roping and different occasions are held, the Cowboy Channel, regional sports activities community Bally Sports Southwest and TeleXitos Houston, a sister station to Telemundo Houston, broadcast the 2 hours of competitors dwell nightly.
“We have to be the very best rodeo broadcast there may be—and I feel we’re,” says James Davidson, Managing Director, Broadcast and Audio Visual, a 25-year veteran with the HLSR.
To obtain that purpose, Davidson says, he brings in folks reminiscent of Jason Martin of Jason Martin Audio, a supplier of A1 broadcast distant audio companies and a boutique RF gear rental home. As an skilled sports activities broadcast A1, Martin “brings to us the newest broadcast strategies, little tips and new gimmicks that maintain the viewers engaged,” Davidson says. “I’ve received the equal of Jason on the manufacturing aspect, sports activities producers who weave a narrative in order that even in case you’re not a rodeo fan, you may maintain observe of what’s taking place. That’s how I maintain our present and our manufacturing strategies present with the remainder of sports activities manufacturing.”
Those strategies are supported by the newest know-how, which this yr included the set up of an 80-fader SSL System T S500 mixing console within the broadcast manufacturing management room close to the stadium. Last yr, HLSR added a 48-fader model of the desk in a music management room the place Malcolm Harper, proprietor and operator of Reelsound Recording, combined the concert events nightly—as he has for almost 30 years— for distribution across the 350-acre NRG Park and to a multitrack recording system.
“You give a man like that the fitting instruments to make use of and the outcomes are going to be nice,” Davidson says. “We had a very good expertise with Malcolm’s desk and thought we must always return and do the subsequent room with the identical system.” Both techniques have been built-in by Bill McKee and his crew at Houston-based Broadcast Technical Services.
This yr’s occasion was Martin’s first expertise with the System T. “It was difficult in that it’s a Dante-integrated desk and there was rather a lot to wrap my head round,” says the A1, who has combined the RodeoHouston broadcast for greater than 25 years. “But it was a really comprehensible workflow.”
Back when the pandemic first impacted dwell occasions, Martin started collaborating on the present with one other A1, Terry Sanders, with whom he additionally works on NBA, MLB and different main sports activities broadcasts. “He was invaluable in serving to make selections, how we have been going to do issues and closing compression, EQ and dynamics settings,” Martin says.
THE AUDIO BACKBONE
The newly put in SSL console platform helps 420 paths, into which Marin launched about 215 inputs, over two dozen greater than the earlier desk within the room might deal with. In configuring the System T for 10 stereo teams and a few mono announce teams, he says, “We created two mono packages, 4 stereo packages and a 5.1 program.”
Davidson and his crew applied a big fiber optic community when the primary System T was put in, linking I/O on the stage and within the announce cubicles and patch room within the stadium with the constructing housing the published and music combine rooms. “We at all times knew that Dante was an inevitability. We simply didn’t know we’d be doing it in an enormous method this quickly,” he says. “When we began designing a sign circulation to accommodate the brand new System T, we ended up with this huge community—and also you higher have redundancy in-built, so we constructed two parallel networks.”
At the SSL console, Martin and Sanders have been within the eye of the storm, pulling in sources reminiscent of announce, crowd and results microphones from the stadium and across the complicated over the community, together with mic sources from LD Systems, the Houston-based AVL supplier, within the rodeo ring. “There are fairly a number of issues going , relying on the necessities of the present,” Martin confirms. “Oftentimes, whereas the live performance’s occurring, I’m additionally doing a submix of one other wrap-up present.”
For the primary time, the A1s additionally managed the IFBs and manufacturing comms by way of Dante interface playing cards within the desk. “That was most likely one of many more difficult facets of the present,” Martin reveals. “I’ll say this—in Dante Controller, while you label the transmits and receives, it mechanically reveals up on the labeling on the desk. There was nonetheless numerous paperwork to be completed, however that helped rather a lot.”
Dante-enabled Glensound announcer packing containers, one other first this yr, have been additionally managed by means of the desk, together with routing the talkback circuits in order that announcers might speak to one another. “Being in a position to distant management all entry of the packing containers by way of GUI was a pleasure,” Martin provides. “Not solely do they deal with the audio properly, however the headphone drivers on the different finish sounded actually good, too.”
Martin’s greatest problem was that the announcers and the results are additionally within the P.A. “My announcers are usually not within the P.A. for many of the work I do,” he explains, “so we’re doing all the things we are able to to take the P.A. out of the combination. We use a mix of de-essers and enhancers; we play with a Rupert Neve enhancer on a few of the RF microphones on the grime or on the sector announcers.”
MIKING THE RODEO RING
Martin used numerous mono and stereo shotgun mics and RF gear, equipped by means of his personal firm, from Audio-Technica, Lectrosonics, Sennheiser and Shure, based on the applying. Like any massive metropolis, Houston has a dense RF atmosphere. “We moved all of our announcers’ wi-fi microphones to the 941 band, which allowed us to don’t have any worries about interference,” he studies.
He paired a mono Sennheiser MKH 60 shotgun, in an RF configuration for mobility, and a stereo Audio-Technica BP 4029 digicam mic on the chutes, the place the riders put together to be launched into the ring. “We discovered that stereo shotguns on the hand held cameras, particularly within the bull using and horse occasions, have been nice,” he says. “You have folks speaking to the athlete on the opposite aspect of the digicam, so it actually enhances the stereo picture.”
Eight auto-mixed dynamic mics have been positioned low to the bottom on the chutes, he continues: “You hear the animals bellowing or kicking. I’ll maintain these mics open to offer a generic enviornment sound, they’re so unidirectional. They’re gated, so I’m not getting the P.A.; I’m getting extra pronounced sounds.”
In truth, he continues, “There are 10 or 14 mics I’m in a position to go away open with out getting numerous P.A. leakage. It’s usually just some microphones at a time the place I’m challenged with leakage. Unfortunately, that features the group mics. I are likely to dip the group actual low once I’m into extra intimate moments. The opponents speak actually low and so they’re stoic, and so they’ll go from nearly whispering to slapping themselves.
“There have been a few events the place the bulls have been bellowing and making numerous noise. One cowboy turned to his companion and mentioned, ‘Thanks for the directions,’ simply clear as day. He was joking. That was actually a key second. There was some neat audio this yr.”
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