Founded in 1975, the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA) was established by the French Government with a four-fold mission – to archive all public radio and television productions; to research new audiovisual techniques; to offer training courses for A/V professionals; and as a production facility in its own right. Today, it is one of the largest repositories of digital audio and video in the world, accessible to everyone.

NAINA is also one of the most important centres in France for A/V research and training, and  has invested in a 48-fader Lawo mc²56 console as part of an upgrade to its audio production training facilities at its HQ just outside Paris.

‘The two consoles we had in the studio were starting to get old, so it was time to replace them,’ explains INA Head of Audio Production Training, Francois Coyault. ‘Even though they still worked perfectly well, as a training centre dedicated to teaching people how to get the most out of modern technology, we owe it to our students to be up-to-date ourselves. The question was finding a console that met all of our requirements, and that was a tall order as there were four people we had to satisfy. I called Radio France to see what they were using, and they suggested we look at Lawo.’

As Head of Live Audio Training, Delphine Hannotin was one of the console’s four specifiers: ‘We looked at a lot of consoles, but the mc²56 was actually the only console of all those we researched that satisfied everyone, so ultimately it was a very easy choice,’ she says.

‘First, it had to be a latest-generation digital console that will remain current for several years, not an old design with just a few updates. Second, it had to perform well in four different environments – live, postproduction, recording and surround sound. In other words, multifunctionality was really the key factor, and because we are all highly demanding professionals, all of us required that the console perform as well in each separate area as if it were a console dedicated to the task. This was the criteria that caused the most disagreement amongst us, as most consoles invariably had a weakness somewhere which meant that one of the four vetoed it.’

‘The mc²56 met all of our requirements,’ Coyault  continues. ‘It’s completely modular and can be configured for live multitrack recording or postproduction, depending on requirements. We’ve got it cabled in both analogue and digital, depending on what we want to connect with and where, and furthermore, we are linked to all the other studios via fibre-optic cable as well. That means that we can send anything anywhere. For example, Delphine can be on stage with a classic live FOH/monitors set-up and a third feed can go straight to the studio for mixing and postproduction. We’ve also found the console to be very comfortable to use from an ergonomic point of view and generally very well thought-out. Back-up and storage is easy to manage, project management is good, and it’s quick and easy to set up.

‘We are very pleased to have a Lawo console as part of our facility as the brand wasn’t represented until now. We have consoles from most major brands, and it’s important that Lawo is now part of our portfolio. Our training courses are designed to train people to do a job, not to learn how to use a particular piece of equipment, although that will happen by default. We’re therefore delighted that Lawo now forms an important part of the range of equipment that we are introducing to the next generation of engineers.’

Networking and comms 

INA Control RoomINA has also adopted Riedel MediorNet to link its technical facilities and distribute broadcast signals and intercom. The system supports real-time transport of all types of signal, including 3G/HD/SDI video, cameras, audio, Ethernet, RS data, GPIO, sync and intercom. An optical-fibre ring runs between the various control rooms and TV studios with a MediorNet Modular frame in the main control room and MediorNet Compact frames in all other locations.

MediorNet’s TDM (time-division multiplexing) optimises the use of bandwidth, while optical WDM (wavelength-division multiplexing) limits the number of fibres and provides a common interface for equipment that might be hired for larger projects. With its fibre network architecture, MediorNet not only allows real-time transport but also routing capabilities for each video or audio signal to one or several outputs. This point-to-multipoint routing is a key feature of the project.

MediorNet also provides integrated broadcast-quality signal processing tools, including frame synchroniser, audio embedder/de-embedder, video test generator, on-screen display, time-code inserter, video conversion (up-, down- and cross-conversion) and quad split.

‘Our MediorNet network operates on a 760m optical ring,’ says Gilles Forlen, multimedia engineer at Ina Expert. ‘The TV studios and control rooms are interconnected, giving each access to the available media resources that it needs including video channels, remote control of the video servers, conversions of formats, etc. The possibilities are such as we can implement a practical exercise for the trainees using two TV studios and one control room, just as the TV broadcasters do it. We can also rent a fibre connection from our site in Issy-les-Moulineaux in order to tie in that studio with our Bry-sur-Marne facilities. I am sure that all our trainers will make the most of this set-up.’

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