Now Hear This: No Compromises for BCS 3D Audio Mix

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Football fans heading to the 3D viewing of the BCS National Championship game at local theaters are in for an audio treat: an uncompromised discrete 5.1 surround-sound experience delivered via Dolby Digital. “The nice thing about mixing for the theaters only is, we don’t have to worry about how the rear surrounds will fold into the downmix,” says Fred Aldous, audio consultant. “I’ll be able to ride the surrounds much louder than usual.”

That isn’t the case for the typical surround-sound production for TV viewers. Because the viewers at home could be listening in mono, stereo, or surround sound, the audio has to be mixed so that all listeners will have a quality experience.

“If you mix the surrounds too loud or heavy, that can cause unpleasant things in the two-channel downmix,” Aldous explains. For example, the audio can be out of phase and suffer from flanging.

“But working in discrete 5.1,” he adds, “I can push the surrounds and make them as much of a focal point as I would like.”

Aldous will put together the mix with the help of Audio-Technica 835 microphones mounted on six of the eight 3D camera systems. The effects mix Kevin McCloskey will build for the Fox Sports 2D production will provide a solid audio bed for the additional mics and the announcers to be layered on.

The 3D audio experience will differ from the NFL Network 3D production last month in one important way: the lack of umpire mics. The BCS committee does not allow for umpires to be miked during the BCS Championship Series. Aldous, however, says that crowds at college football games are much louder than at NFL games, giving him an opportunity to focus on delivering the vocal punch of rabid fans to the theater.

“College crowds are much more vocal,” says Aldous, “so we’ll lay out the excitement of the crowd.”

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