Just for the record

Tucked away discreetly amidst the verdant lawns of Dubai’s Nad Al Sheba club is a private AV recording studio and editing facility that recently underwent a major revamp. Digital Studio takes a look at its system design.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  April 6, 2004

I|~|studiob.jpg|~|The AV recording studio at the Nad Al Sheba club|~|Owned by Dubai’s ruling family, this private recording studio is a comfortable little haunt, where family members drop by every now and then to view footage of private events, edit and make video or digital copies for friends. The studio, which has been in use since 1988, recently underwent a US $135,000 revamp. A whole new system has been carefully planned, designed and deployed to ensure that the new equipment would be state-of-the-art, completely integrated with each other and also capable of accommodating future upgrades and integration with newer solutions. Moreover, the solution has been designed to ensure that the end user would have complete flexibility to record from one format to any other and use linear or non linear editing facilities as well. New equipment includes solutions from several vendors including JVC, Panasonic, Sony and Pinnacle Systems. “The whole objective was to have a studio that would be simple to operate and convenient to use,” comments Ganesh Gurpur, project engineer, professional projects division, Oasis Enterprises. Oasis was responsible for planning, designing and integrating the whole system at the studio. Although used primarily for recording live events and copying source materials from one format to the other, the studio is also used as an editing facility, where private events such as birthday parties, bird hunting and horse racing are recorded and given a professional touch at the studio before being distributed among friends. To ensure that all of these objectives can be met, the recording studio is equipped with a complete, integrated solution that includes a Hard Disk Drive (HDD)/S-VHS recording system, an AV playback & recording system, monitors, a projector & 5.1 surround sound system, AV duplication as well as S-VHS editing and non-linear editing solutions. The hard disk drive (HDD) recording system comprises six sets of HDD/S-VHS recorders and 14” CTVs for which six RF inputs from the cable TV system are provided. This HDD recording system uses the JVC HM-HDS1, a versatile 2-in-1 solution with both HDD and S-VHS recorders. This has also been designed with a provision to connect six digital satellite receivers in future should the need arise. Currently, a programme can be recorded directly onto the hard disk while it is being played or the system can be automated to record a programme while the operator is away. With an internal storage capacity of 40 G/bytes, the HDD can record up to 40 hours of programming and supports MPEG-2 digital recording. It also comes with four optional settings for recording, including the SEP (2.2 Mbps for 40 hours), EP (3.2 Mbps for 28 hours), LP (4.5 Mbps for 20 hours) and SP modes (6.4 Mbps for 14 hours). “Provisions have been made to allow both random assemble editing from the HDD to the S-VHS and non-linear editing as well,” says Gurpur. “It also allows us to do parallel recording of two programmes — one programme from an off-air source and another, from an external input source such as a set-top box or a digital satellite receiver,” he adds. ||**||II|~||~||~|The JVC system includes an Index Picture Navigation System that enables the user to view recorded programmes as thumbnail displays. The HDD/S-VHS recorders are also fitted with six Y/C and audio outputs that terminate to a six-input, two-output (6x2) AV Matrix Switcher. Any of these six outputs can be routed to the two outputs of the AV Matrix Switcher which, in turn, is connected to an AV cross-point Switcher. This 16 X 16 cross-point AV Matrix switcher is connected to the studio’s AV playback & recording system. All the playback equipment in this system is connected to the switcher’s inputs and all the recording equipment to its outputs. AV playback equipment connected to the inputs of the Cross-point AV Matrix Switcher include a DVD player, a professional VHS / S-VHS recorder player, a mini DV / S-VHS player, a DV/mini DV recorder player, a multi system VHS recorder player and a professional VHS/S-VHS player. Connected to the outputs of the cross-point AV Matrix Switcher are a D9 professional recorder, a DVD recorder, a DV/Mini DV recorder player, a mini DV/S-VHS recorder player, a multi-system VHS recorder player and a professional VHS/S-VHS editing recorder. Additional inputs and outputs are also available in the cross-point AV Matrix switcher to accommodate more formats in future. Meanwhile, the two outputs from the 6x2 AV Matrix switcher are connected to the first and second inputs of the cross-point switcher. This is an Extron cross-point 1616 HVA AV switcher, which comes with analogue RGBHV matrix switchers that are meant for switching RGBHV signals. It can switch HDTV, component video, S-video, and composite video. These cross-point series switchers allow users to set the level of audio gain or attenuation from -15dB to +9dB. Individual input audio levels can also be adjusted to ensure that there are no noticeable volume differences between the sources. The cross-point series is a single box solution meant for 200 MHz (-3dB) routing applications. Each input and output is individually isolated and buffered, and any input can be switched to any one or all outputs with virtually no crosstalk or signal noise between channels. Housed in a rack-mountable, 19” wide enclosure, the crosspoint series includes RS-232/422 capability. The systems integrator has also taken care to ensure that the outputs of the recording equipment can be routed back to the input of the cross-point AV Matrix switcher. This has been achieved through the YC/Stereo Audio 12x1 switcher. A 1x5 AV Distribution Amplifier has also been included for the simultaneous viewing of the AV switcher output in a 21” colour television. The AV Matrix has been designed in such a way that any programme sources played in any of the playback or recording equipments can be viewed in any of the monitors, 21” CTVs or projectors, and this system is housed in four 19” distribution racks. From the playback and recording equipment, the material can be viewed on any of the studio’s five monitors — four 14” colour monitors and one 19” colour monitors. Each of these monitors have two input options — one for the recording equipment and the other for the playback solutions that have been routed through the cross-point AV switcher. Apart from the monitors, the studio is also equipped with a projector and a 5.1 surround sound system to check the performance of all recorded AV content, whether it comes from a DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RW, D-9, professional DV, mini DV, S-VHS or a VHS. This is made possible because two of the outputs from the Cross-point switcher are connected to the projector, thereby linking all the AV equipment in the studio to the projectors. ||**||III|~||~||~|The projection system consists of a 100” motorised 2 mt W x 1.5 mt H screen and a ceiling mount 2200 ANSI lumens LCD projector. The motorised screen can be rolled up when not in use. The 5.1 surround sound system consists of a Dolby Digital/DTS AV receiver 100W x 5 channels with five high power, wall mounted two-way studio quality speakers and a down firing 250 W powered subwoofer. Although earlier, most content was recorded on VHS, now there are several other options as well. The studio is equipped with an audio cassette duplicator, a VHS video cassette duplicator and a DVD duplicator. The two audio cassette duplicators can record five to six audio cassettes simultaneously. The two, three-in-one Hi-Fi VHS duplicators can record five to six VHS cassettes simultaneously and the DVD Duplicator System has the potential to make eight copies at a time. Much effort has been taken to integrate older equipment into the new solution instead of discarding them. An existing S-VHS Editing System, for instance, which consists of an S-VHS player, editing recorder, editing controller and monitors has been incorporated into the new solution. A 15” monitor is connected to the S-VHS Player. The S-VHS editing recorder’s video monitor output is connected to the A-input of the 19” colour monitor. At the end of the whole setup is a non-linear editing (NLE) solution, which runs on Pinnacle’s Purple. The NLE system includes a PC, interfaces, a 17” LG Flatron monitor and a 19” colour monitor. An RGB Interface is used to interface the PC with the cross-point switcher input for displaying the computer display on to any of the monitors or even the projector. Electronic technician Biju Abraham, who has worked at the studio since 1988 and oversaw the whole installation along with Gurpur, points out that the studio does not just have an impressive front end but an equally well planned way of handling the back as well. “Usually, when such installations are done, all the wires get entangled and it’s such a mess. If you need to troubleshoot at any time, it’s a nightmare trying to figure out which wire is connected to which device. But in this case, each of the wires have been neatly labelled on both ends to ensure that no time is wasted,” he explains. In fact, the studio is not just fully equipped with flexible solutions, it has also been designed to prevent fatigue for the operator. Although the bland interiors throw you into brief doubt, the state-of-the-art equipment and the intricate planning that has gone into the system design leaves you in no doubt that this studio has been built for kings.||**||

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