France Télévisions has upgraded and future proofed its audio and video post production capabilities with a digital audio workstation (DAW) solution based on Fairlight.
With the support of Paris based reseller Magic Hour, the broadcaster has implemented 31 Fairlight Advanced Consoles in two bay systems, across 24 regional newsroom hubs throughout France for various work.
“Our requirements for the tender was to guarantee on air continuity for our 24 newsrooms with a solution that would ensure the production of our regional broadcast news in a fluid and rapid manner,” begins Gregory Vital, head of engineering and technical services.
Adding: “The previous solution was no longer fit for purpose. Furthermore, the amount of time devoted to supporting it was considerable and as was the cost.”
Extensive testing across multiple locations with close liaison between engineering and support teams gave France Télévisions the ability to push Fairlight hardware and software in simulated environments, supported by Blackmagic Design.
According to Vital, with extensive workflow automation in place, the solution had to offer a future proof audio and video toolset while seamlessly integrating with the broadcasters’ existing media and production asset management (PAM) pipelines across their entire news operation.
“Fairlight met all our immediate requirements while also supporting our need to expand in to 4K workflows in the future. Access to DaVinci Resolve’s API also ensured we could quickly interface Fairlight with our existing systems and workflow automation, ensuring a smooth transition for our operators.”
There are two types of import workflows for broadcast news. These are automated by sending out API requests from iMedia to DaVinci Resolve using Python scripts that create and load work sessions from templates. “As for output workflows, we can deliver AAF, MXF or sound alone via the delivery presets,” says Pascal Arnold, sound board operator.
France Télévisions was also impressed by the quality and standard of the Fairlight control surfaces. “They afforded our operators more direct access to essential features and controls such as EQ, for example. This is crucial when working in a broadcast newsroom environment where speed to air is critical,” explains Amandine Doucet, AV project manager.
Antoine Flinois, senior project engineer adds: “The fact that the consoles are modular and can be integrated into custom furniture or the Blackmagic Design chassis is a real asset. It allowed us to make it work in various mixing environments.”
The ergonomics of the Fairlight Desktop Audio Editor is a real asset, according to Kamel Founas, IP Applications engineer. “Once correctly configured, it allows the operators to use a large number of shortcuts and macros easily and speeding up the mixing process, which is a real plus in the news workflow.”
Working closely with France Télévisions Université, a dedicated, certified training program was implemented to support current and new staff education. “With help from the manufacturer and reseller, we’ve created a group of certified Fairlight superusers,” explains Vital. “This effectively support internal training and ensures regional self reliance and speed.”
The openness of DaVinci Resolve was another decisive factor in the broadcasters’ decision to implement Fairlight. “The integration of a modern and more open platform means we’ll have a greater choice of systems when we want to renew them, without being blocked by any incompatibility,” says Vital.
According to Vital, the project has been a significant undertaking. “We had less than 18 months to integrate Fairlight into our workflows, train 190 users and make 24 centers operational throughout France, all amid COVID.”
“Critical in this project tender was our ability to deliver Fairlight consoles to a rapid roll out schedule across all 24 regions,” concludes Tim Siddons, director, Blackmagic Design. “Working closely with Magic Hour, our authorized Fairlight reseller in Paris, we have been able to achieve France Télévisions vision across all regions on time and within budget.”