Dante Networking an Integral Part of Microsoft Production Studios
MICROSOFT PRODUCTION STUDIOS, REDMOND, WA UNITED STATES
Microsoft Production Studios is the largest full-service HD and 4K production facility in the Pacific Northwest. With three sound stages, three audio rooms and numerous editing suites among its 65,000 square feet located on the Microsoft headquarters campus, the impressive facility is well-equipped to accommodate multiple in-house projects while providing rental space to outside productions. Thousands of productions and events are created in the studios each year.
In mid-2013, the Microsoft Production Studios engineering team began to investigate how an audio over IP networking solution could transform the possibilities in their production operations. After consulting with Audinate’s team in Portland, Oregon, the MPS team recognized they could deliver multi-channel across their existing Cisco network switch fabric, while providing greater flexibility with the Dante networking solution.
“The transition to a Dante audio over IP environment just keeps generating steam, and I don’t see any end in sight,” said John L. Ball, systems engineer, Microsoft Production Studios. “It’s turned into a situation where it’s about who can think of the next cool idea on how Dante can transform and simplify our production while maintaining tight synchronization, and ultra-low latency to reduce the time and complexity for setting up the gear and sessions. We’re working toward a total networked environment for audio, communications and eventually video. Dante is core to making this easy by making every step a significant timesaver in setup, integration and network programming.”
Dante was initially installed to support in-store audio experience at Microsoft retail stores. Ball uses the software based Dante Virtual Soundcard to stream audio to a Symetrix Edge router, enabling playout of unique audio channels from PCs across multiple retail zones.
Microsoft Production Studios then upgraded its RTS ADAM intercom systems, which are integrated with Dante. This has vastly simplified the ease of use of the intercom communications across the greater Microsoft campus, ensuring production teams can reliably move audio between the studio and any remote location. Microsoft expanded the system with a multi-vendor interoperable Dante solution including RTS Intercom, Shure ULX-D microphones and Yamaha CL5 mixing consoles. The system was then extended by integrating Focusrite RedNet 6 MADI bridge units to an existing Grass Valley Miranda audio/video router.
Ball is now in the design phase of complete Dante network upgrades for all audio control rooms in the facility. Moving forward, Ball ultimately expects to upgrade their network infrastructure to a 10Gig pipe to enable the existing virtual LANs, or VLANs, to essentially extend the Dante network and its production capabilities far beyond Microsoft’s Redmond campus.