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Avid at PALM Expo India 2016—The Best Sound Around

Avid will be bringing its latest industry-leading professional audio solutions to PALM Expo India 2016, the leading stage light and sound, AV install and music production expo running from May 26 -28 at Bombay Exhibition Centre, Mumbai, India. We will be exhibiting with our regional partner Ansata Computer Systems in Hall 1 on Booth F39 and G39.

Visitors to the booth will be able to see live demonstrations of Avid Pro Tools | HD Native Thunderbolt OMNI system, which is widely regarded as the most powerful native DAW in the market. With ultra-fast I/O handling for almost zero latency performance, this system works as an ever-growing ecosystem for third party plug-ins and professional toolsets for demanding workflows in music creation and post production for films and television. Avid will also present the Avid Cloud Collaboration for Pro Tools, which enables audio professionals to compose, record, edit, and mix from anywhere in the world.

In addition, we will showcase the streamlined and versatile Avid Pro Tools | S3 control surface, and the Avid Pro Tools | Dock that enables users to integrate the free iPad app, Avid Pro Tools | Control. Pro Tools DOCK can also be paired with the Pro Tools | S3 to provide enhanced functionality.

For those interested in the best live sound solutions available, the stand will also present demonstrations of the acclaimed Avid VENUE | S6L 24D, the next-generation live mixing system that delivers unprecedented processing capabilities and pristine sound quality. The Avid VENUE | S3L-X will also be on display, delivering all the power and efficiency of VENUE in an ultra-compact system, and the Avid VENUE | SC48 all-in-one live sound console.

PALM Expo India 2016

PALM Expo India promises to be an exciting event – we look forward to seeing many of our customers there.

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Cloud Collaboration Beats Stormy Weather at CABSAT 2016

After a busy build-up, we were excited to see His Highness Sheikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Information, open CABSAT 2016 – the definitive event for broadcast, satellite and entertainment content sectors across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA).

With the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) media market expected to grow from US$16 billion in 2014 to US$24 billion in 2019 according to Strategy&, the global analyst division of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the organisers expected more than 13,000 local, regional and international media industry professionals to attend the event.

The exhibition took a different route this year, with camera manufacturers and resellers/distributors that focus on lower end solutions in one hall and the broadcast manufacturers and partners in another. With all the related businesses in very close proximity to one another, it was a one stop shop for customers.

While it didn’t seem as busy as previous years—which could in part be due to the rather unusual and unexpected thunderstorms and floods that hit Dubai on the second day of the show—the Avid booth was really busy throughout the show. Networking is a key part of this show, and we were able to meet many customers and new visitors to discuss the challenges they face in their media workflows.

The Avid Studio Suite graphics products and Cloud Collaboration for Pro Tools – both on display for the first time in the region – were both very popular features and generated a lot of interest. And while live sound is not traditionally a major feature of CABSAT, the appearance of Robb Allan, FOH for Massive Attack, talking about the Venue| S6L console really drew the crowds.

Visitors were also able to get hands-on with many of the solutions on show – it’s always great to see people getting excited by new technology and discuss with them what they can do with our systems.

During the show we also announced the installation of a new collaborative 4K Avid workflow at twofour54, the most awarded post-production house in the Middle East – this is a very exciting installation as it shows how companies can build open, collaborative and cost-effective 4K production environments.

All in all we enjoyed a good show, and even the rain couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm to share our latest technologies.




Melodika Celebrates the Marvels of Pro Tools | S6

Based in Istanbul, Melodika is one of the shining stars of Turkey’s increasingly dynamic post-production industry. One of the country’s few facilities to have a ‘pure’ audio focus, Melodika is particularly active in feature films, commercials and documentaries.

The firm was founded and is still owned and operated by Didem and Taylan Oguz. A veteran of Turkey’s post community, Taylan Oguz has been using Avid’s industry-standard Pro Tools package for 20 years. It was therefore an immediate choice for specification when they established Melodika in 1995 and set about carving out an enviable reputation for the quality of its audio post work.

Today the company has no fewer than ten Pro Tools-equipped rooms, and also makes extensive use of Avid control technology, including a much-loved ICON D-Control large format digital console. Whilst it continues to maintain parity with each new incarnation of Pro Tools software, Melodika’s most recent major investment in Avid technology was a Pro Tools | S6 M40 control surface.

Supplied via Radikal Technologies two years ago, Melodika’s Pro Tools | S6 has more than proven its worth.

Upgrade time

“The starting point for the S6 purchase was that it was time to update the control technology infrastructure in our primary Dolby room – although it should be noted that our ICON D-Control is still seeing a great deal of service since we relocated it to our pre-mixing room.

We needed to have a system that would be flexible and easy-to-use by audio mixers working on a wide variety of projects, ranging from Turkish-made feature films to commercials. Inevitably, we soon came to take a look at the Pro Tools | S6 control surface, which combines design elements and features from both the System 5 and ICON families—the latter being particularly familiar to our engineers, of course. So the decision was taken to acquire the S6.”

“We needed to have a system that would be flexible and easy-to-use by audio mixers working on a wide variety of projects, ranging from Turkish-made feature films to commercials.”

Taylan Oguz

Quality and features

“One of the first points to make is that the S6 looks very stylish indeed and is a great complement to the design of our main Dolby room. But more crucially it has the capabilities that our audio mixers require, including powerful networked connectivity via the EUCON protocol and extensive visual feedback on the mix being undertaken.

To give our engineers the greatest possible scope for handling complex mixes, and to help provide us with some future-proofing, we specified the top-of-the-line M40-based configuration featuring 16 faders, five knobs per channel, and TFT displays. The control surface was supplied and installed in the closing months of 2013, and I can report that it has been in constant use ever since.”

 

Advancing with Avid

“As the purchase of the S6 confirms, we are very much committed to Avid technology as we seek to satisfy the changing demands of audio post work. Quality expectations continue to grow in the Turkish market, as does the general pressure to deliver projects on a rapid turnaround basis—and the S6 has proven to be a vital asset in both regards.

Although challenging economic circumstances in Turkey have had some impact on the domestic production of feature films, we continue to undertake a lot of movie-related work, with recent projects to have passed through our S6-equipped room including Turkish feature films Git Başımdan and Hadi İnşallah, Turkish/Japanese co-production Ertuğrul 1890, and the Turkish release version of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Avid technology has been integral to our workflows since 1995, and has helped us to develop the niche that we now occupy in the Turkish post market. I have no doubt that there will be further investments in the company’s technology in the future as the needs of the market—and of our own business—continue to evolve.”

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Avid VENUE | Profile Desks Make it to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina

With almost 4,000 speakers driven by 400kW of power and in use for 20 hours a day, the sound system for the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina requires almost constant attention and upgrades. The current solution was originally installed 25 years ago, and despite the best efforts of the grand mosque’s dedicated audio team, it can be a real challenge to keep it in peak condition.

The pressure that this kind of usage can put on a system means that various components need to be regularly replaced and upgraded. This happened with the grand mosque’s mixing consoles in a project that had to be completed in time for Ramadan 2015.

Following five years of intensive use, it was time to replace the old consoles.

“Normally live consoles are used for approximately five to 20 hours per week. However, at the Prophet’s Mosque we use them every day almost non-stop,” explains audio consultant Ahmad Tekin Topuzdag, who has served as the sound system manager for the two holy grand mosques for over a decade. “That comes to around 130 hours per week throughout the year without a break. This constant use of consoles makes them very worn out within five years.”

Having logged around 31,000 hours of usage over this time, it was time to make a console change at Medina. “At the Prophet’s Mosque we cannot afford even a single second of audio loss. All the equipment should be performing at its best at all times,” states Mr Topuzdag. “We have to keep in mind that during our peak season we service almost 1,000,000 worshippers daily. Not to mention we are always live on TV and radio across the world. As the old idiom goes: ‘Prevention is better than cure’. So my principle is to change the consoles every five years, whatever condition they are in.”

The Prophet's Mosque at Medina

This prudent decision gave Mr Topuzdag the opportunity to start looking properly at the advantages a modern digital console could offer the grand mosque. “When it was time to replace our old consoles, I wanted to get the benefits of going digital. So I took the opportunity to look for something more versatile,” recalls the sound system manager. “I really wanted to have a headend that had an integrated audio analyser system, as well as a multichannel recording option. Also having plugins was a must for me. I am a keen user of notch filters, exciters, limiters, reverbs, GEQs as well as other processing equipment, so to replace all of them along with the new consoles would have been very costly. This meant that included plugin options was an important aspect.”

With these major parameters set down, Mr Topuzdag looked at potential solutions on the market. This led to the purchase of a pair of Avid VENUE | Profile desks. “Considering the requirements I had and the price point of view, Avid VENUE | Profile consoles were the perfect match,” he says. “They have a Flux analyser built in, which is not only useful for live sound but also has a beautiful GUI. Taking the step up from a good old school Klark Teknik DN 6000 to the Flux multichannel environment felt as cool as stepping on the moon for very first time. The integrated Pro Tools recording and playback as well as the virtual sound check functionality just made me smile even further.”

Ahmad Tekin Topuzdag, audio consultant and sound system manager at the two holy grand mosques

With all the work required for the ongoing maintenance of the system, it was a relatively long project to install the new desks. “Overall, the installation took more than six months as there were times when I had to completely stop this project and take care of other emergency works,” reveals Mr Topuzdag. “The installation itself was pretty straightforward. What was challenging was the need to create a total of 114 snapshots to match the various combinations of nine Imams and 11 Muazzens. That alone made 99 snapshots for every possible occasion during prayer sessions.”

The scale of this challenge makes it impressive in its own right, but what makes it more remarkable is that this part of the project had to be done live while the grand mosque was in daily use. “It had to be set up entirely in live events, without a sound check,” confirms Mr Topuzdag. “I had to do all the input gains, gates, compressors, graphic equalisers, parametric equalisers, exciters, limiters, enhancers, reverbs, notch filters, monitor speakers and routing to almost 4,000 speakers in a certain order in the live environment.”

The team had to create 114 snapshots to match the various combinations of nine Imams and 11 Muazzens

“There is no way to interrupt the ongoing services to do a sound check to set up the consoles,” he continues. “Just imagine you are live to 1,000,000 plus people in Ramadan, as well as to many millions around the world via satellite TV and you are setting up the various parameters live. Many people would say this could not be done, or that it would be an insane act. But in this case someone had to do it, it happened to be me.”

With the desks now installed and in constant use, the sound system manager is positive about the affect they have had on working life for the audio team. However, this does not mean he didn’t have reservations when they were first installed. One of the critical things that the new desks have achieved is reducing the amount of processing equipment in use at the grand mosque. While this provided an immediate benefit, it did also raise a number of questions for Mr Topuzdag.

The new Avid VENUE | Profile desks in Medina's control room

“Being free from almost a kilometre of interconnection cables and not having racks of processing equipment, yet having up to 100 new signal processers as plugins made me suspicious regarding the capabilities of the VENUE | Profiles. Was it too good to be true?” he questions. “Well, it was not. It worked like a charm.”

Away from the processing capabilities of the new system, there was also a very practical element which has proved important for the grand mosque. “One of the key points for me when I chose the VENUE | Profiles was having a dedicated separate screen. As we all know, digital consoles offer great versatility, but they also have their limitations and those limits are layers,” says Mr Topuzdag. “During sensitive live operation you never want to lose control of the VCA or input faders. But there are times when you have to adjust the GEQ and to do that you need to go to another layer. This means you can lose control of the VCA and input faders due to fact that the same fader is also used for the GEQ frequency bands,” he reasons. “However, with VENUE’s screen, while an operator is using the console during a live service, I can fine tune the system with a mouse by using these screens without him losing his VCA and input controls or breaking his concentration.”

Ahmad Tekin Topuzdag, audio consultant and sound system manager at the two holy grand mosques

A final feature that has been important in the improved systems at the Prophet’s Mosque has been the remote control functionality. “With a switch and three access points set, I can use these Avid consoles from anywhere in the vast indoor area of the Prophet’s Mosque, from its roof section or the basement, as well as the piazza area all from my iPhone,” says Mr Topuzdag. “Thanks to the VNC app, I have a copy of the screens on my mobile phone’s screen. This is every live sound engineer’s dream. Being able to hear what the audience can hear even in the remotest position and fine tune the sound accordingly, in real time. That’s clearly a “wow” factor.”

The remote control for the consoles allows mixing to be done from anywhere

As you would expect, this is not the end of the project for the audio systems at the Prophet’s Mosque. The solution deployed at Medina is in constant flux. For example, at the same time as the console installation, the grand mosque also added an Extron MAV Plus 6448 audio matrix switcher, 50 Shure Beta 58A microphones, eight Bose L1 compact portable line array powered speakers and couple of Behringer XR16 mobile digital mixers. And it will not stop there. Mr Topuzdag is always looking at what is available on the market and one technology has particularly caught his eye.

The mosque services up to 1,000,000 worshippers daily during the peak season

The move to digital has removed the need for several racks of equipment

“Now there is a new kid on the block, called AVB. I keep seeing it included in things like audio mixers, speakers, microphones, amplifiers, routers and matrices,” he states. “I think it would be wonderful to have an AVB core system here. All the gear being able to communicate with each other using nothing but Ethernet cable. Over 700 audio channels flowing within one cable. And you can just hook into the system from any point with either a laptop or a tablet and manage it. I think that’s where pro audio is heading.”

It’s clear the console change is just one small part of a much larger ongoing project taking place at the Prophet’s Mosque. The five years that the VENUE | Profile desks will be in use for are set to be very interesting indeed.

 

A special thank you to James Ling from ProAudio Middle East who conducted the interview

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Indian Film ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ Rises to the Top

In July, film fanatics in India headed to the theaters to see director S.S. Rajamouli’s latest work, a bilingual historic fiction, Baahubali: The Beginning. The film hit new heights, including its release in several languages, an ensemble cast, and being dubbed as the third highest grossing Indian film of all time, with more than $75.8 million in gross ticket revenue.

In the first installment of  this two-part drama, Baahubali: The Beginning, narrates a dispute spanning two generations between brothers Baahubali and Bhallaladeva as they fight for the throne to the Mahishmathi Kingdom.

Director S.S. Rajamouli looked to his childhood to bring the concept of Baahubali to life. “I’ve been telling stories since I was in the 2nd grade, and my storytelling has changed little since,” he said. “I fell in love with stories like Amarachithra Katha comics and the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics when I was a child, and so naturally, as a filmmaker now, I lean toward bringing that magic to the big screen.”

As with the post-production of many films, managing mass amounts of media and cutting film is not always easy. Avid editing solutions played an important role in helping the editing team overcome many hurdles on Baahubali: The Beginning. “Managing the media was a huge hurdle so we had to split the data into four systems and keep the same for a safe backup,” said editor Venkateswara Rao Kotagirivwho worked on the aesthetics. Avid editor, Thammiraju, who handled the workflow on the Avid systems says “We used DNxHD175 codec to overcome the size of the metadata and not compromise on video quality. We had a minimum of 15 layers of video tracks and seven mono tracks on audio, which were exported as 5.1 audio along with the video for the previews.”

This was a whole new playing field for director Rajamouli. “I never had the opportunity to attempt such a large-scale project before. I’m privileged to be working with Arka Media production house, and to be trusted so wholly and freely by my producers. The value and use of visual graphics and computer-generated content is something that I have more faith in than ever before,” he added. The support received by the AMD team in testing and using their 8100 & 9000 dual D700 cards on the Media Composer system for this project was really appreciated.

Sreenivasarao Mamillapalli, Associate Director and Technical lead said “I worked as Associate Director for this movie and handled the key workflows for post-production including the technical aspects of both offline & online editing. We had 4 Media Composer systems working 24/7 for around 600 days with over 16TB of storage allocated to each of the systems.  The final master output was 13TB with an Avid bin size of 6GB. Was great to be involved in this project and work closely with the great team we had.”

“Avid Media Composer has always been the trusted editing solution for the most challenging and complex projects in Hollywood. We are glad to have been chosen as the preferred editing solution for India’s highest grossing movie. We thank Director S.S. Rajamouli and the Bahubali team to have chosen Avid for this project,” said Ranjit Bhatti, Avid Territory Account Manager for India & SAARC.

Congratulations to the production team behind Baahubali: The Beginning! We’re looking forward to seeing part two of this captivating drama.

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Follow the Path of Oscar® Winning Editor Mark Sanger

Follow the Path of Oscar Winning Editor Mark Sanger

We went on the road with editor Mark Sanger while he visited different schools and held seminars in Dubai, Paris and Munich. The sessions were packed with an eager crowd that attended to hear him speak of his 22 years in the industry, how he started, what he learnt and his experience collaborating on an impressive body of work, with the likes of Alfonso Cuarón and Tim Burton. Some of his films include Children of Men, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Mummy, Troy,The World is Not Enough, and Tomorrow Never Dies. Here is an inside scoop into the life of Mark Sanger.

Mark has worked in the industry for 22 years and caught his big Oscar® win earlier this March for his work on Gravity, a project that took him 3 years in the making. Since the age of 8, he shared one dream with his brother and that was to make movies. They toyed around with that idea as kids and his determination led him up the ladder of success and landed him several opportunities on big Hollywood productions.

“I started as a film assistant in the mid-90s. I came into the industry just as there was a change from analogue to digital. I was very lucky that Tim Burton kept asking me back to be visual effects editor on his movies. I would chop and change from my filming background to effects editing. That was what Alfonso needed [for Gravity].”

He previously collaborated with Alfonso Cuarón as a visual effects editor on Children of Men and on the Tim Burton directed films Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Among other productions during his twenty-two year career, he was an assistant editor on The Mummy, Troy, The World is Not Enough and Tomorrow Never Dies.

Mark met and shared his Avid experience with Louis Lumière students and teachers and took the opportunity to visit La Cité du Cinéma where the school is based. Here he is with the Louis Lumière educational team and Didier Diaz, the head of Studios de Paris.

At Munich HFF (Academy for Television and Film) with a selected few students.

Mark During the CABSAT tradeshow in Dubai with Avid Solution Specialist Deepraj Sandhar.

Across the different sessions Mark held, as editors and students chopped away with their numerous questions, they all tried to dig deeper into understanding his daily workflow and why he’s chosen Avid.

“As an Editor, you always have to be one step ahead of the game with the technology and that is what I find exciting with the latest version of Media Composer.”

Many fans wanted to know the process behind choosing the next project after an Oscar win:

“It’s all about making the right decision on what is creatively the most interesting thing you can do, but also what is best for your family and paying the bills. I did have a wider range of choices following the win, but it’s still all about making the right choice; And having some sleep, which I don’t seem to have done since the Oscar.”

Mark with the Avid Executive team at a cocktail reception on the opening night of CABSAT.

Mark discussing his creative process and Avid workflow with an audience of post production professionals at Atlantis TV in Paris.

“There is no one answer. Take as much advice as you can from people who’ve done it, pool it and come up with your own way.”

And the obvious question on everyone’s mind was the Oscar moment and his work on Gravity. “We knew it was a unique film, but when you’re engaged in something so deeply for so long you have no way of knowing whether an audience will engage with it,” he says. “Plus we had finished it months before its release, so we’d all moved onto other things. When it finally came out the initial reaction at Venice was nice — we realized that people were engaging in the cinema experience we’d spent all that time working on, but we could never have predicted how much. Amazing.”

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