Sky sound supervisor Carlton Waghorn
(left) and operations manager Keith Lane.Wakefield, Yorks., UK (November 12, 2009)–UK satellite broadcaster Sky made broadcasting history over the summer with the first live transmission of a series of TV plays in HD with 5.1 audio.
Helping to create the 5.1 ambience during transmission of the Sky Arts channel series from Sky Studio 6 in Isleworth, London, was one of the broadcaster’s eight recently acquired SoundField UPM-1 stereo-to-5.1 upmix processors. Originally designed to allow HD broadcasters to create 5.1 audio in real time from stereo-only archive material, the UPM-1 has been used on live broadcasts since its arrival at Sky’s HQ in the early summer. However, the series of live plays, transmitted as Sky Arts Theatre Live!, marked the first occasion on which the UPM-1 has been used on a drama production.
The sound supervisor for the entire series was Sky’s Carlton Waghorn, who explained some of the thinking behind the use of the UPM-1: “This was a very exciting project, blending some of the old skills from the heyday of live black and white transmission with the latest in 5.1 surround and high-definition broadcast technology.
“It was a question of trying to make the most of the 5.1 experience for our viewers. We produced some opening titles with 5.1 theme music, and were creative with the mics, but I was concerned that the viewers would get the opening titles in 5.1, a round of applause in surround at the start, and then an essentially ‘flat’ stereo performance until the applause at the end, with the exception of the commercial breaks. We wanted to avoid that.”
The approach was to put all of the library-sourced atmospheres and most of the spot effects and occasional stock music, which were from stereo libraries, through the recently installed SoundField UPM-1.
“It brought the whole thing to life, and meant we had some 5.1 content all the way through the performance,” says Waghorn.