Students who graduate from S.I. Newhouse School of PublicCommunications at Syracuse University, Department of Television, Radio& Film will now have access to facilities that were recentlyupgraded to handle fully digital projects with 5.1 surroundcapability.
Key to the new setup were three Yamaha DM2000 Digital ProductionConsoles, Digidesign Pro Tools 5.1 hard disk recording systems, andYamaha center-channel speakers and subwoofers. All equipment wassupplied by Boynton Pro Audio of Kenmore, N.Y.
The department uses 17 studios that include two large TV studios,four AVID and eight Final Cut Pro post-production facilities, plusthree audio-only production and post-production rooms. There is also anextensive array of TV, film and audio equipment available for locationproduction.
The three audio-only studios house the DM2000 consoles and the ProTools systems. Some analog outboard gear and a 24-track analog taperecorder remain, but, according to Dr. Stan Alten, professor and authorof Audio in Media: The Recording Studio, "all of the studios arenow completely digital and capable of surround sound. In the past, eachof our studios had a different array of equipment, including consoles,so that if a student took a course in one studio and then anothercourse in another studio, they would have to be re-taught. We werespending too much time with the learning curves, so the idea was tomake the audio facilities uniform.
"The studios were all originally analog, with Pro Tools systemsadded later. We figured that we really had to make the completeconversion to digital, not only for instructional purposes, but also tomake our students more marketable."
Alten chose the Yamaha DM2000 because "the flexibility isextraordinary, plus the capability of having 96 channels in a compactchassis, the signal processing, the automation and the ability to useSmartCards to save and restore settings. Also, the console’ssurround sound capability was pivotal in the decision. Practically allof the features of the DM2000 are being utilized, except for thetape-transport functions, which we don’t need because we use ProTools. The Yamaha Studio Manager software enables the students toeither use the console or Pro Tools as their central platform and workgoing one way or the other."
Although the Yamaha consoles offer 96-input capability, Alten feelsthat beginning students should be limited to 24 channels at first."Working with more may be too overwhelming. In more advanced courses,they can obviously handle more [channels]."
To complete the upgrade to surround, additional speakers were neededfor center channel and subwoofers. The department was happy with itsexisting KRK speakers but needed compatible speakers. "We found thatthe Yamaha NS AC40X center-channel speakers and YST-SW305 poweredsubwoofers worked extremely well. We may bring in an acoustician to runsome tests, and we also want to explore the possibility of puttingvariable acoustics in the studios."
Each studio is equipped with a Korg General MIDI-synthesis systemand Hafler power amps. The installation was handled by theschool’s technical support staff and supervised by senior supporttechnician Mark Schnell. "Mark is a brilliant technician who alsounderstands the creative aspects of production," notes Alten. "PaulFitzgibbons [Boynton Pro Audio] was helpful as there were a number oftechnical questions, and he was more than forthcoming in hisassistance."