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LIPA installs Calrec Brio 36 broadcast mixing desk in new campus TV studio

The new TV Studio's Sound Control room consists of the Calrec Brio 36 mixer, ProTools, Neumann speakers, and a Bricasti M7 reverb

The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts has installed Calrec’s Brio 36 broadcast audio console for its newly established campus TV and recording studio.

LIPA was created by Sir Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty (founder of the BRIT School) in Paul McCartney’s old school on Mount Street.

“We had been developing elements of this module over a six year period, building up the students’ understanding, but a lot of the opportunities were extra curricular,” explained Jon Thornton, head of sound technology at LIPA. “We had a small fly pack that we could deploy for specific events – that culminated in a full multi-camera shoot, to televise a two week festival in the main auditorium last summer. All outside of a formally accredited module.”

“We’ve been offering core modules in Performance and Sound Technology for years, but with LIPA graduates finding employment in places like Gearhouse, Riedel, and at Wimbledon, we started to think that we should update our ‘couple of cameras and gaffer tape’ approach to vision. We want to produce graduates with the necessary skills to enter the world of broadcast, and hit the ground running.”

“So it was time to create a module catering for vision. Because we’re an Institute for the Performing Arts we wanted to cover several aspects of vision work, ranging from traditional multi camera capture, through non traditional uses of vision combined with theatre, and on into the growth areas of AR and VR.”

The decision was made therefore to repurpose one of the theatre spaces, The Sennheiser Studio, into a multi-purpose TV studio. “Everything here has to be flexible”, Thornton continued, “because every space has to be useful to multiple courses. This TV studio is used as part of the Sound Technology course, but also the new Creative Technology and Performance course. Having a TV studio allows students to practise the specific skill of acting to camera in a multi-camera setup, as well as to live audiences, and there’s also motion capture for dancers. All of this helps to justify the investment, because the spaces can be of benefit to so many different courses.”

The new facilities are comprised of the TV studio with a full TV lighting grid, four Black Magic cameras and green screen, and a Vision Gallery with Black Magic vision mixer. Picture is recorded to Black Magic Hyper Decks. Laid out a bit like an OB truck, the Sound Control Room is at the end of the Vision Gallery. Then there are separate rooms for Colour Grading (featuring DaVinci Resolve), Motion Capture, and a small post-production room with ProTools and a 5.1 Neumann speaker system. The design of the acoustically important spaces was carried out by consultancy firm Whitemark.

Simon Roome training on the console

The new TV Studio’s Sound Control room consists of the Calrec Brio 36 mixer, ProTools, Neumann speakers, and a Bricasti M7 reverb. Unlike an OB truck, or the majority of sound rooms in large studio complexes, there is a window through to the studio floor. “That’s all part of the multi use requirement” explained Thornton. “We can use the TV studio as a live space, and the Calrec for normal sound mixing, with direct contact between the mix engineer and the artists.”

Elaborating on the decision to install the Brio, Thornton said: “I’d insisted that LIPA invest in a product from one of the ‘big broadcast audio brands.’ In this way, students leave LIPA having used real software from a real broadcast company, and have experience of a console they are very likely to encounter in the real world. It’s the same reason we feature SSL in our main music mix room, and an AVID S6 in the main post-production suite.

“LIPA already has a good relationship with Calrec, who have always been helpful in offering students tours of the factory in Hebden Bridge, and at least two of our LIPA graduates have ended up working there.”

On the specific attributes of the Brio36, he detailed: “We wanted to be able to do real TV work, so we had to have a desk with all the dedicated broadcast features you need. We also needed the space to be flexible, and to that end we were looking for a single box, small-format solution that features a significant number of on-board mic pres for live work (24 in the case of a Brio 36). The Brio is a unique offering that ticks all of the boxes.”

The new rooms are all equipped with 10 Cat6 and 12 fibre pairs for communicating with the main technical area, meaning the desk is already fully integrated with LIPA’s existing infrastructure. With Calrec’s option card structure and networking capabilities, the desk is also future-proofed for any formats LIPA may decide to migrate to in the future.

Training on the console was provided by Synthax UK’s broadcast sales manager, Simon Roome, which Synthax offers to all of its Brio customers as part of the sale.