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JiveMiguel 30th September 2016 11:50 AM

Hi Robb, I am interested in hearing about some of the challenges of mixing live TV.

"Later" seems especially tricky since there are so many different bands that all have to sound like themselves and work for broadcast.

What is the strategy when tackling a gig like that?
What kinds of boards do they use?

Thank you v much !

robballan 19th October 2016 11:42 AM

Hi Miguel
Yes very different challenge. TV is a visual media. Sound is slave to the image. Often a vocal, for example has to be mixed higher than you would ordinarily choose to have it in your mix because directors always insist on zooming in on the singer. Its a disaster if there's a camera shot of something guitar solo etc. that you can't hear clearly. I bumped into Mike Skelton recently who is my tv sound guru. He's mixed Later from the get go to now. I learned so much from him over the years about what works and doesn't in TV sound. I remember the first couple of times I mixed a band at Later there was all kinds of desks plumbed in to various different types of multis just to cover all the channels. Ay first I'd just get to sit at the back and make suggestions, after a few years I'd get to ride FX and vocal levels, eventually i was allowed to mix the band properly. The challenge is trying to mix something that is huge through a massive PA to fit the limitations of broadcast audio. Its filtered and compressed after your mix. Listening off air in a live show helps to get the general feel but the delay involved is horrible. You just have to get the balance right and trust your ears. Its was always nerve wracking watching a show like later a day after it was recorded in a hotel room with the band members and crew. I'd get some stick on occasions! Everyone knows their gig and sound!!
One of my favourite ever shows to mix was Massive Attack live at Abbey Road with a full string section. I mixed the band and vocal FX on my Avid Profile and the orchestra and vocals were mixed on the house Neve and summed together. Its such an iconic space to work in. Some much musical history steeped in that place. The version of Teardrop with Liz Frasier singing still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. You should google it, its on Youtube or Vimeo. Awesome performance. She has the voice of an angel.
I also have mixed festivals live to air on radio. Thats great fun mixing all day long band after band with little more than a line check and a quick listen to their last CD as a guide.