WheatNews November 2020

WHEAT:NEWS NOVEMBER 2020  Volume 11, Number 11

Benefits of a Scriptable Mixing Console

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by Robert Ferguson, Support Engineer, Wheatstone Corporation

Consoles come in all shapes, sizes and forms these days, from legacy hardware surfaces to the newer virtual mixers on a laptop and everything in between.  

What worked in your studio yesterday might not work today and what works today might not work tomorrow. That’s where scripting comes in, both in terms of custom scripts for virtual mixers as well as newer hardware consoles with software configured controls. 

Creating custom scripts to change controls on console surfaces such as our LXE or GSX models or to create entirely standalone mixing UIs is one practical and affordable way to meet these constantly changing requirements.

Nearly every broadcast mixing surface or console manufactured has a set of standard features that cover 90% of the workflow or use requirements for a studio. Generally, these are: input faders, control room and studio controls, mix-minus sends, and logic I/O for tallies and remote control.

Fortunately, the world of audio over IP enabled us to make several improvements on these features. The change from legacy console, where one wires everything to the chassis of the mixer, to a distributed or routed environment with Blades or other I/O units becoming termination points for routing, replaced miles and miles of cabling in some cases. But even with all of the enhancements that the AoIP routed studio brought us, at the end of the day the console (or what is now called a “surface”) is essentially doing the same job. That is, mixing your content together and sending that mix on to the next process in the chain.

The job of the console remains the same, but what has changed is how the job is done – and on what.

For example, with scripting, you can change the default behavior of any hardware button, fader, encoder or OLED screen on the LXE or GSX console surface. This can be done in easy-to-use setup software and changes to the surface generally do not require a restart of the surface itself. In addition to a full array of surface standard functions, users also now have control over button colors as well as the behavior of that button. A person could also actually write custom code using the Surface Setup GUI and the Wheatstone scripting language to have the hardware button do more than one function, and then change LED state (such as color) based on the status of whatever it was they intended to control or change.  

A simple example of this is to set up a button to fire a salvo.  

This is a simple point-and-click procedure in the LXE or GSX Script Wizard in the Surface Setup GUI. 

SCRIPT WIZARD LXE

Once the change is sent to the surface, the button becomes a Fire Salvo (macro) button. In addition to firing the salvo to change the audio routing, we can also change the state of logic pins on another Blade in the system and at the same time, change the button to a different color when that logic pin is in the ON state or activated state. 

What’s more, you can go beyond the Script Wizard and into creating a custom piece of software that executes the salvo and changes the state of the logic pin when the button is pressed, plus change the LED color of the button when that logic is active. 

Read More Scripting

All you’d need is to open the Script Editor and add a few lines of code, as follows: 

CODE LXE

As workflows and requirements change, you can modify salvos and more, and the surface will automatically update without the need to restart it or the mix/DSP engine.

In addition, with scripting tools such as ScreenBuilder, you can add custom screens directly on the console GUI itself. One of the main benefits of being able to build custom screen interfaces directly on the console is these UIs don’t have to run on a PC in the studio, which is probably already doing triple duty as an Internet/edit/playback PC.  

Screens can be developed using drag-and-drop widgets such as buttons, labels, and meters that can be set up with logic controls that change various aspects of the system for modifying  audio routing, on/off logic and tallies.

You can set up screens for not only one specific studio, but all of the studios in a WheatNet-IP audio networked system as a whole.  

Let’s say you have five stations in a location, and there’s one person in the facility for overnights who monitors all five stations. From one control room, the overnight talent could call up a screen to see the status of all five stations at once and swipe through a menu to monitor audio from those stations and to get data from various points in the system. This can be done directly on any LXE and GSX console surface in any studio, so if the overnight talent is not in his normal position or studio he or she can still see the system from any room there’s a GSX or LXE. 

Also, these new scriptable consoles have OLED displays for each input fader and two or more for each output module.  Each of these displays can be configured independently to display different data sets about sources assigned, program assignments, mix assignments and can be further customized for your own text and graphic displays. You can even add station logos or other images to reinforce station branding, and provide at-a-glance data to the operator.

Another software benefit is the LXE and GSX’s ability to have up to 32 inputs and 16 outputs in their mix engines. This means broadcasters have access to ample inputs and outputs yet are able to keep the physical fader or surface size down to a minimum. By carefully deploying layers to the surface, they can page a smaller layout surface of say 4 to 16 faders to get access to those additional inputs and outputs. This allows studio designers to keep a smaller footprint on the furniture and make additional room, or clean up an already crowded space.

When off-site, operators can also remote in to the studio or physical console using apps such as Remote LXE/GSX, ReMIX or Glass E. These are software extensions of the AoIP network or physical console that can mirror what’s happening at the studio. In some cases, remote operation can be done on an entirely standalone virtual console that contains custom scripting, all of which could be the blocks of the all-virtual studio of the future. 

Our support engineer Robert Ferguson has been in radio for more than 25 years, with experience both behind the board and in front of it as a broadcast engineer and on-air personality. 

SCREENBUILDER SCRIPTER'S FORUM

ScreenBuilderRebuild

Are you a ScreenBuilder or ConsoleBuilder power user? Register and log onto our Scripters Forum. This is a new meeting place for anyone interested in developing new screens and workflows for our WheatNet-IP audio network. Share scripts, screen shots and ideas with others also developing virtual news desks, control panels, and signal monitors. You’ll find documents, starter scripts and a whole knowledge base available to you for making customized screens like those pictured.

Click to register for our Scripters Forum (it's free)

Home Studios and Setting up Bus-Minus, Mix-Minus

AssociatedConnections

Setting up confidence monitoring and mix-minus or bus-minus feeds for home studios can be as simple as setting bus-minus assigns. All of our IP console surfaces have bus-minus sends from the fader and these provide an automatic mix-minus of program content minus the source, so in most cases it’s a simple matter of pairing faders to the codec. 

But if you have a smaller plant with a limited number of AoIP I/O units feeding a small console, you’ll want to know about a WheatNet-IP feature called Associated Connections. 

Associated Connections can be used to route several home studio feeds and their respective bus-minus presets along with assigned codecs using shared hardware I/Os and faders. 

With this, you can build a set of rules to automate routing for predetermined backhaul, IFB feed or mix-minus for each device based on its location in the system or on a fader. When a base connection is made, up to 10 additional connections can happen automatically. 

Loudness Monitoring

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Here are three critical things to watch on the mixing desk and what you need to know about them for effective loudness monitoring.

1. VU indicator. The VU meter has been around for 80 years for a reason. It’s predictable, with predictable integration times and predictable release times so you can predictably read volume units. Remember it is an averaging meter and the peaks are far higher than indicated. For this reason you can expect to have about 20dB of audio headroom above 0dBVU to encompass them.

2. Peak level indicator to read the transient peaks of the signal. This indicator tells you if peak levels are in danger of overloading the dynamic headroom limitations of the console. The clipping point is usually at 0dBFS. Peak signal levels run usually at or above -20dBFS, with transient peaks kicking up to about -6dBFS occasionally.

LoudnessMonitor3. Loudness indicator for compliance with the ITU BS.1770-3 and similar television loudness standards. This indicator came about initially in response to the need to assess and regulate the loudness of adverts compared to regular programming. The Loudness Unit Full Scale (LUFS) or Loudness K-weighted Full Scale (LKFS) measurement shows the averaged loudness level of audio over time, usually much longer than that of a VU meter. The average loudness target level is -24 LKFS or -23 LUFS. By the way, you can’t miss this on a Wheatstone audio console – the LKFS/LUFS numbers are two inches high on the display screen. One LU (loudness unit) is equivalent to 1dB, so there's a direct correlation between how far the meter says you're over/under and how far you move a fader to compensate.

How to Create a Salvo

If you've never worked with salvos, you're missing out! They're a great way to automate repetitive multiple audio routings in your WheatNet-IP system. This video shows you how easy it is to create your own salvos.

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Video: Littoral FM, France!

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The Wheatstone online parts store is now open! You can purchase spare cards, subassemblies, modules and other discontinued or out-of-production components for Wheatstone, Audioarts, PR&E and VoxPro products online, or call Wheatstone customer support at 252-638-7000 or contact the Wheatstone technical support team online as usual. 

The store is another convenience at wheatstone.com, where you can access product manuals, white papers and tutorials as well as technical and discussion forums such as its AoIP Scripters Forum

 

Featured Demo Gear In The Wheatstone Store Right Now:

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Compare All of Wheatstone's Remote Solutions

REMIXWe've got remote solutions for virtually every networkable console we've built in the last 20 years or so. For basic volume, on/off, bus assign, logic, it's as easy as running an app either locally with a good VPN, or back at the studio, using a remote-access app such as Teambuilder to run.

Check out the chart below, and/or click here to learn more on our Remote Solutions web page.

Remote Solutions Video Demonstrations

Jay Tyler recently completed a series of videos demonstrating the various solutions Wheatstone offers for remote broadcasting.

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Click for a Comparison Chart of All Wheatstone Remote Software Solutions

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MANAGING MORE CHANNELS, MORE MIXES, AND MORE REMOTE VENUES

For this FREE e-book download, we've put together this e-book with fresh info and some of the articles that we've authored for our website, white papers, and news that dives into some of the cool stuff you can do with a modern AoIP network like Wheatstone's WheatNet-IP. 

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-- Uncle Wheat, Editor

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