Presteigne Broadcast Hire Supplies Calrec Audio Console For “TFI Friday”

Presteigne Broadcast Hire, based in the UK, helped One-Ten Productions revive the once popular weekly television show “TFI Friday,” supplying studio and production facilities that included a Calrec Artemis audio console.

Known for its anarchic energy, “TFI Friday” was broadcast from the Cochrane Theatre in Holborn, London, where the set was rebuilt from the original program’s last broadcast in 2000. Most of the presentation was set in the bar area, a small, crowded room with a low ceiling and loud air conditioning. The sound can go from a whisper to a cheering crowd, which required a great deal of headroom to manage, and the Calrec Artemis' Automixer was a critical tool in ensuring a tight, clean mix.

Howard Nock, sound supervisor on the show, said he’s mixed many live shows, such as “The Voice” and the BBC’s 2014 Brazil World Cup coverage, but ‘TFI Friday” is unlike any other show he’s done to date. “It is very challenging and chaotic, and you have to be ready to change direction at a moment's notice using the kit at your disposal,” he said. “The dimensions of the bar area [set] aren’t ideal, and with a lot of Omni-directional lavaliere mics faded up next to a rowdy crowd, it can make balancing the sound in this area a bit tricky to control at times.”

“The Artemis has a nice saturated, analogue sound, and unlike most other digital desks, it has lots of headroom, which is a huge benefit in this environment,” he said.

Nock particularly liked the Automixer feature on the Artemis console, given the acoustics of the room and how loud the air-conditioning unit was. “The console played a big part in reducing that noise to a more acceptable level, and I also used it to give the PA mixer in the bar a premixed, cleaned-up feed of the 14 guest mics.”

Prestige worked with One-Ten on the initial setup, and Nock said he could easily change the routing configuration to meet the show's requirements. The mics were allocated differently from week-to-week, so the routing was never static. In fact, even after the desk was set up, the mics and routing changed by the minute; often live on air. One minute a radio mic might be on someone's lapel, and the next it could be on the end of a trumpet.

Mixing the sound for "TFI Friday" was a partnership between Nock and Kevin Duff, who have worked well together on other shows. Nock dealt with the bar area, which included mixing everything from presenter and guest mics, EVS server “play-ins,” and Skype calls, to a mariachi band and a keyboard made from bananas. Duff mixed the downstairs stage area, which featured several live performances per show by some of the biggest names in music.

Interestingly, David O'Carroll, Head of Technology at Presteigne, got his first job in broadcast working on “TFI Friday” when it first aired in 1996. 

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