Calrec Sits Down With Audio Technician Marine Martignac
As a France-based broadcast audio expert, Marine Martignac has multiple roles, exposing her to many and varied ways of working. She believes it’s in the industry’s best interest to move forward with IP technologies. “I think we’re living a revolution,” she says. Read on to find out her thoughts on this and how Calrec technology is helping to shape the future.
How did you become an Audio Technician and what inspired you to go into that field?
I graduated in 2016 and soon after I was hired part-time by an outside broadcast specialist called BOB (Boîte à Outils). At the same time, I started working as a freelancer for another company called Imagina. Working part-time for BOB, while being a casual worker for other companies, allowed me to discover and learn new working approaches and to use a variety of equipment. It also gave me the opportunity to take part in longer-term projects, such as control rooms integrations with BOB.
Are you working full-time at BOB, or are you freelancing and working for other companies?
I work part-time for BOB and with what’s left of my time I work as a freelancer for France Télévisions (for both studio and outside broadcast productions), Mediapro France and formerly Imagina EU (for beIN Sport France control rooms operations), and I also work with Masterfilms, CFRT and beIN Sport.
How long have you been working as an Audio Technician?
I started working for BOB and beIN Sport (Imagina) as soon as I left school, and then I got the opportunity to work for other companies such as Alive and Gearhouse.
In 2018, I started working for Masterfilms and Ixi Live and in 2019 I started doing freelance work for France Télévisions too. In 2020, Mediapro set up its own TV channel after obtaining L1 and L2 broadcasting rights and AMP Visual TV became beIN Sport’s technical service provider. AMP Visual TV then became my new employer following Mediapro taking over beIN Sport control rooms operations.
What do your current roles involve?
BOB handles both services and integrations. Our job is to provide services such as sporting event recordings (futsal matches, synchronised swimming championships, Roland Garros…), cultural event recordings (fashion shows, opera and theatre performances), but also control room integrations. We focus on our customer needs and then deploy every human and material resource we have in order to meet those needs. This goes from designing a flypack to a fixed control room. My job is mainly to take care of the audio aspect, whether it’s providing a service or working for the design office. This means that I listen to what our client needs in order to draft an invitation to tender. Once the company is chosen, I keep monitoring and I make sure the company is doing its job correctly, and fully satisfying the tender requirements.
At France Télévisions I am a Sound Operator which means I assist the Chief Operator during broadcasts, working on-set, mic up necessary equipment and perform other sound-related duties.
I am a Sound Operator for Mediapro for mobile. Mediapro is the technical service provider for the contribution side of the top two football leagues in France. I’m responsible for setting up the OB van as well as patching the sources, configuring intercoms before the match, and mixing the international feed during the matches.
Mediapro set up its sports channel in August 2020. I am a Sound Operator; I mix all non-voice sources like the playout servers (for example, EVS Live Slow Motion (LSM) or IP Director) music, international versions for the matches etc.). I also have to manage the intercom for the control room too. The Chief of Audio is responsible for mixing all of the voice sources (micro, skype, duplex). They use a Calrec Artemis.
AMP Visual TV pour beIN Sport
I mix matches from different European football competitions or US sports, such as the NBA.
When did you first start working with Calrec products? What Calrec consoles have you used over the years and for what projects?
The first time I became really interested in Calrec products was at an IBC show when I was looking for a console to answer a customer’s request for a fixed installation.
I discovered a new console from Calrec that met my criteria: it was the Brio 36. After several discussions, we chose this console for this project. Meanwhile, Audiopole became the French distributor for Calrec and we were already working with them on other products. For the past three years, the Brio36 has perfectly met all the demands of the TV show Clique, a daily talk show broadcast on Canal +.
Then SMPTE-2110 IP standard was released and has undeniably become the future for productions — especially for its simplicity of wiring and its flexibility. We therefore continued with Calrec’s Type R console natively using SMPTE-2110.
We were working on IP integration of different products when Covid-19 changed things and other matters became more important. We are a technical service provider with BOB for Clique. During the first lockdown, we proposed to set up a remote production in order to follow the new Covid protocols without interrupting the filming. The show had already been simplified in terms of the number of contributors and guests on set. We therefore designed a setup with the Type R and a Clearcom matrix to be able to control the console remotely without transporting audio (outside of monitoring) and providing an intercom system.
Since August, I’ve worked with an Artemis console for Téléfoot and I am working on an OB van project that contains two Calrec sound consoles.
Can you describe a remote working project you did with BOB for Clique where you’ve used Type R and what standout advantages the console gave you?
Calrec’s Type R is a modular mixer with ST2110 compatibility. All of the faders or screen are connected via IP to the core and stageboxes are connected to the core with a ST2110 feed.
This mixer fits perfectly with this use case because it’s made for IP. The 2110 connection between the core and IO boxes is not mandatory for what we do, but having the ability to network multiple IP devices for each console is very useful. All the consoles are managed via a web Interface, and in the case of a network problem at the Sound Engineer’s home, we can take control from the control room using the web GUI or a physical fader panel.
Can you talk us through the project you’ve most enjoyed working on? What have been some of highlights in your career so far?
The most exciting project was setting up remote production during the lockdown. It’s amazing how much the technology has progressed that it allowed us to do this. In theory, we knew the equipment could do it, but setting it up – especially having anticipated difficulties in working remotely from the studio – was really very rewarding. We were moving to a workflow that was wholly unfamiliar.
Remote production is a real revolution in the way we work. In addition, managing intercom feeds remotely also means having to understand problems described by non-technical users who don’t have direct access, and solving them remotely!
We had to constantly anticipate requests and each evening after the show I took a step back to
understand how to improve the way of working. It was really enriching.
The industry is moving toward IP-based solutions for audio control, networking and distribution. What is your experience with these changes and how are you pushing the boundaries with IP?
Currently, the real difficulty is the network configuration. We have used it for years for control or moving signals, but now we are using it to transport audio as well as video. SMPTE 2110 is more demanding in transport terms than it is for control. The monitoring is more complicated, and the network is very technically demanding. Timing is down to a very precise one microsecond, so you have to be very specific and there are not enough monitoring devices out there.
How do you view the current talk of moving to AoIP? What do you see as the overall advantages of AoIP? What’s the impact been in your world?
For my part, I think that IP will force us to think differently about how we work and we will have to understand new working methods imposed by using IP.
We used to work point-to-point but now we will have to think in terms of flow. This is a new language; connections must be designed as part of a bigger flow, comprising of several available channels. If the architecture is intelligently designed, this provides flexibility in the interfacing. Today we have to use several audio and video formats and each format need to support the transmission. Today we have to use specific equipment to transport these types of signals; tomorrow a single fibre and a switch will be enough and all the transport will be done using the same “container”, whatever the content. There will be interoperability between all the equipment regardless of the manufacturer. In addition, some job functions will have to change. We will have to familiarise ourselves with the closed world of IT.
I think we’re living a revolution.
The push toward IP will inevitably bring about more remote production and more flexibility to workflows. This will change the way we do things, especially in a post-Covid world. It will be necessary to work with much more solitude in a neutral space. Productions will have to adapt to this new way of doing things.
How is COVID-19 affecting your work at the moment? How has it significantly impacted a recent project that you’ve done?
Covid-19 has turned all our habits upside-down; many shows have been postponed or cancelled. We’ve all had to adapt. With BOB we set up a remote production to continue filming live TV shows. We made theatre recordings and streamed them to allow people to continue watching. With the CFRT (the French Committee for Radio and Television), we set up events in a studio instead of in churches, adhering to all the necessary restrictions.
All of the other shows I was working on were cancelled or postponed. Today more and more productions are choosing to use this new way of working in order to continue performances. The performances are streamed on the internet so everyone can continue to appreciate culture at home. It’s a really strange period and, unfortunately a lot of technicians are struggling to find work.
Women make up just 5% to 7% of audio engineers and producers, according to reports by the Audio Engineering Society. Why do you think this is the case? Are you able to share your experiences?
I think we make up more than that, but yes, there aren’t enough women in this field and it’s time for that to change! And I do see that change starting to happen. The industry’s perceptions are moving in the right direction more and more. This industry is still a male-dominated environment, but it is also a way of differentiating ourselves; we do not have the same approach and the more our vision differs, the more discussions are productive and solutions resulting from it are adapted.
How do you see audio evolving in the next five years?
In five years, IP will be omnipresent, whether for audio or for control room control, and already implemented in many control rooms. I think that productions will take advantage of this revolution to increase remote production. I imagine buildings where there are multiple control rooms will mix a number of events remotely, therefore limiting travel. Rather than moving 20 staff around for a football match, only a few technicians would travel with a smaller OB truck containing all the processing, operating as the heart of the control room.
There may be technicians in the field just to install the microphones and a technician in the OB truck would only have to connect the equipment to a fibre box in order to connect the core to the network, allowing engineers to control the technology remotely.
Specifically in terms of audio, having a standard that all manufacturers can use will allow us to be more flexible. Therefore, the flexibility of IP should simplify all installations. I think it’s a revolution. There is still work to be done, but a lot of adapting to IP is about adapting it from a human perspective. I think a lot of people consider IP as a huge box of mysteries. But it’s in all our interests to quickly move toward IP.
Do you have any mixing top tips for engineers when using a Calrec console?
I think that every Sound Engineer working with a Calrec desk should take the time to configure the wilds in the Artemis and Apollo consoles, and the LSP for the Type R, because it’s a real time saver. You can personalise the mixer however you want. The mixer can fit in your work habits. Then you can set all your inputs in all the layers available and then build your main layers cloning your inputs. And mostly, you can enjoy it all!