Los Angeles, CA – Digital audio networking is rapidly becoming the new normal for signal path and workflow, and two brands in particular are at the forefront of this seismic shift in pro audio methodology: Audinate’s Dante™ networking protocol and Focusrite’s RedNet series of audio-over-IP interfaces (the pathway of choice onto the Dante highway). That strategy — RedNet as the on-ramp to Dante — has become the choice for leaders in any number of industry sectors, notably including the world of sound for film and television.
Efficient TV Sound
Sean Callery is best known as the composer for the TV action drama 24, as well as hit programs La Femme Nikita, Bones and Homeland, and most recently this season’s new breakout hit on Fox, Minority Report. He will also be composing for Marvel’s upcoming Netflix original, Jessica Jones. Callery’s two-room studio complex in Los Angeles is designed and maintained by Andrew and Chris Papastephanou, who individually and collectively as consultants have dozens of leading studios and producers as clients for their studio-technology integration services. Their implementation of RedNet at Callery’s studio reflects what Andrew Papastephanou says is a rapidly gaining trend in studio workflow.
“This is where it’s going — networked audio,” he says, “and Dante is the way everyone seems to be going. And RedNet is an excellent interface for Dante.” For Callery’s studios, Papastephanou implemented a RedNet 5 unit for each of the interfaces for the studio’s Pro Tools HDX2 systems (up to six units can be connected to one Pro Tools HDX3 system, supporting up to 192 channels at 96 kHz); one RedNet 4, which brings eight of Focusrite’s remotely-controlled Mic Pre Amps/line inputs through a single Ethernet cable; and two RedNet PCIe cards that deliver up to 128 channels I/O with ultra-professional latency.
Callery adds, “One thing I particularly admire about Focusrite is the high level of customer support they provide. This is such an important part of a business, especially with a company developing pioneering technology like Focusrite does. They are a great company and I am a very happy owner of their products.”
“Sean is using a sidecar PC, from bespoke computer supplier Vision DAW, for his samples and is using Vienna Ensemble Pro 5 in standalone mode with MIDI-over-LAN, feeding into a separate computer running Pro Tools,” explains Papastephanou, who has worked with Callery for 15 years. “It’s a great combination of tools for someone like Sean, who needs constant access to lots of different kinds of sounds. Sean chose to run Vienna in standalone vs. server mode to allow for lower latency, less Logic CPU load and additional dedicated I/O. What this combination of RedNet units does is give me a tremendous amount of signal-routing flexibility; we have two Logic computers running 64 channels over MADI in each room and we can keep them evenly split. I can route any combination of RedNet I/Os to two computers in the two different rooms at the same time if we need more horsepower. And any configuration we come up with is easily recallable. We can share mic inputs across both studios using the RedNet 4. It’s really pretty amazing what you can do. Further down the line if we choose to add more computers into the system it’s as simple as plugging in an Ethernet cable.”
Papastephanou also likes how quickly RedNet can be set up and integrated into the workflow. Noting that Callery is constantly busy, especially so over the summer as the new season of shows drew near, he said once he found an opening in the schedule, he was able to get in and get it up and running quickly. “It’s super straightforward to implement,” he says. “And if any of the components needs an update, it tells you so. It’s incredibly easy considering how much power you’re bringing in.”
At Sonic Fuel Studios, award-winning composer Christopher Lennertz’s production facility located in El Segundo, California, all of its gear connects with RedNet, increasing efficiency and flexibility while future-proofing the setup. Lennertz, who’s known for his work on film comedies like Ride Along and Horrible Bosses, and television series Supernatural and Revolution, collaborates with as many as nine composer colleagues in the 7,000-square-foot studio space. Working with assistant Alexander Bornstein and the rest of their team, the studio implemented a network of RedNet devices, bringing the efficiency of Dante to the facility.
“In order to really stay efficient and maximize the times Chris can get to compose, we print our stems into Pro Tools,” Bornstein explains, “We used to have it set up where connections were all done with analog cabling, so it would leave Chris’ computer running Cubase™ via an audio interface as eight stereo pairs that would then go into ProTools, and we could print eight channels of audio at once. It was kind of a crude setup, honestly, and we had issues such as long latency. So we looked for a solution that would allow us to simultaneously work with Cubase and ProTools with 16 stereo pairs and have more channels that we could print stems on.”
Based on a recommendation from Rich Avrach at Westlake Pro in Los Angeles, they decided to bring RedNet into the studio: one RedNet 4 8-channel remote-controllable microphone preamp; one RedNet 2 16 channel A/D – D/A unit; two RedNet 5 32-channel HD bridges for Pro Tools; and a 128-channel RedNet PCIe card. The workflow has the RedNet PCIe card out of the sequencer into the switch, and then split into the two RedNet 5 units, which act as ProTools interfaces, and then back out into the switch to a RedNet 2 for monitoring. The RedNet 4 is used for guitar tracking, DI and other input applications. First, Bornstein was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to set RedNet up.
“I budgeted two days or more to get the new setup up and running, “ he recalls. “To my shock, we had it ready in about two hours.” Lennertz adds, “RedNet has revolutionized our workflow. Not only can we produce music more efficiently and have more robust recording options, it allows for more time to focus purely on the creativity of my work. It's an amazing addition to the studio.” Bornstein seconds that, adding, “It was clear almost immediately that RedNet was going to give us a lot of recording flexibility and everything we need in terms of connectivity, plus expandability.”
The implementation and integration of RedNet at Sonic Fuel has gone so well that, earlier this year, a second, nearly identical system was installed in an adjacent production room. The new RedNet system mirrors the original system, with the exception of a RedNet 1 serving in place of the RedNet 2 on the main rig. "This past spring, Chris had another RedNet system installed at Sonic Fuel to serve as a clone of his writing rig to allow for Alex to work in tandem when need be,” Lennertz explains. “Having a duplicate system also provides Chris with no down time when his main system needs to be serviced, which further frees him up creatively and personally. RedNet has made our lives a lot simpler, which you can’t even begin to put a price tag on. I don’t know how we would be getting through the volume of work we have right now without RedNet.”