NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien hit the road recently for a series of shows taped in San Francisco. XM Productions-Effanel Music’s L7 truck captured the music/production and sent the final edit to NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City for broadcast. Chief engineer John Harris (pictured) and lead engineer EIC Joel Singer manned the faders of L7’s Digidesign ICON D-Control integrated console.
“For Conan in San Francisco, we did voice-overs during the day,” says Singer. “On it’s simplest level, I had a mic hooked up to an Mbox 2 Mini for that. Joel Goddard, the voice-over talent for the show, came in, I opened a Pro Tools session on my MacBook Pro, recorded his voice into it, processed it a little bit, and then sent it over to the editing trailer for placement in the show where it needed to go. Even though we were three time zones away, we were still able to get the files back to 30 Rock to be rebroadcast in time.”
For the show’s San Francisco stint, XM/Effanel deployed a system similar to the ICON setup used in the show’s television studio in New York City. “NBC has a full D-Control system, and they record the live, hot mix right through the desk,” Singer explains. “We did the same thing here in San Francisco. We had two house setups: one for the house band and another for the guest band. We assigned 48 channels to one side and 48 to the other. We dialed in the mix during the day and were able to change almost instantaneously.”
As with most TV production schedules, quick turnaround was required. “When Conan is in New York, they tape from 5:30 to 6:30, it gets edited and that’s it,” explains Harris. “In San Francisco, if the producer or the director needed something after we were done taping—maybe we missed a cue, or there was an RF hit, or something needed to be redone—we simply dropped it into the system, replaced that segment and shipped it over to editing. They then dropped it where it was supposed to go and continued editing the show. The ICON/Pro Tools combination made the whole thing much easier.”