For the 27th consecutive year, Broadcast Technical Services’ founder, CEO and president Bill McKee, will be serving as de facto chief engineer of television facilities for the 2019 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™, held from February 25 through March 17 at NRG Park. This year, to make sure that audio sources are precisely fed to both front-of-house and the television production facility, McKee will rely on the Clear-Com® ProGrid® Audio Network Solution.
Taking place over the course of three weeks, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world’s largest livestock show and rodeo, and encompasses a wide variety of events, including concerts, a carnival, a barbecue contest, and a variety of special events.
“For the 2018 Rodeo, Clear-Com provided a ProGrid system for testing, and Rodeo management was so impressed that they purchased a system for this year’s event,” said McKee. “We use a total of three 16-channel PG16-AUDIO ProGrid I/O boxes, two transmits (32 Channels) and one receive (16 Channels) in the announce booth and the opposite setup in the South Communication room — where the audio signals are split for front-of-house and the TV mix — all tied together with redundant duplex single-mode fiber.”
“We run 32 channels 1,500 feet between the announce booth and the south communication room and then 3,000 feet from the south comm to the Rodeo TV studio,” explains McKee. “While we’re mostly using line level, the ProGrid software allows us to enable phantom power for the mics if we need it. And the software is great: we can label all our inputs, monitor inbound audio and since everything is paired together, we can see the secondary receive site. That way we can change the input or output gain on the fly. We can also remote network into the system and take control from the TV studio across the street, so if an input is clipping or overdriving, we can remotely adjust it instead of having to make on-site changes.”
“This is a complicated show,” said McKee. “There are lots of events, not just the rodeo, which is just a part of the bigger event. We’ve got 20-plus cameras for the rodeo, but 32 total cameras for all the events, including the concerts. We needed a solution that could deal with the variety of audio boards being used, as the TV mix board is very different from the concert board or front of house mix. ProGrid gives us the control and monitoring confidence that this event demands.”
Although McKee is using ProGrid for analog mic and line level audio signals, the platform can transport, route and convert them to and from MADI, AES/EBU and four-wire intercom — independent of manufacturer or brand — as well as proprietary interfaces such as Yamaha YGDAI cards quickly, cost-effectively and easily over a fiber.
ProGrid offers mission-critical redundancy, robustness and reliability for small to very large infrastructural requirement for installed as well as portable applications, scaling up to 192 units — with an industry-leading low latency of only 41.6 microseconds. Adding BroaMan allows the addition of uncompressed SDI video transmission to any ProGrid system.
“We’re really glad we got that demo last year,” added McKee. “The ability to monitor and adjust analog signal gain without converting from digital is really nice, especially with a show that is constantly growing and improving every year. And ProGrid really makes that easier.”