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Nutmeg Audio Post Relies on Ensemble Designs for Reference

New York, NY – 8 August 2008

When Nutmeg Audio Post made the leap to HD, the engineering team designed a solid reference infrastructure as the foundation to the facility upgrade. Ensemble Designs Avenue equipment is at the center of reference signal generation for all of the audio and video gear throughout the plant.

Nutmeg has an Avenue frame populated with several of the Ensemble Designs’ modules including the 7410 HD Tri-Level Sync Generator and the 5400 Sync Pulse Generator and Test Signal Generator. The Avenue system provides HD, SD, composite, and AES test and reference signals. “All the reference signals are coming from one source so I know all of it will be in time and at the same speed, whether we’re working in HD, SD, 59.94 or 29.97, which is critical from a timing standpoint,” said Jonathan S. Abrams, Chief Technical Engineer at Nutmeg. “It keeps the system very simple and I can rely on it.”

Jonathan Abrams, Chief technical engineer at Nutmeg

Previously, Nutmeg used a collection of equipment from various vendors for reference signals. As the need for HD Tri-Level Sync came up the engineering staff started researching the options for new reference equipment that could provide every type of signal needed. The 3RU Avenue frame provided all of the necessary signals and took up less rack space than they had been using for reference and test signals before. There is even a slot left over in the frame for future expansion if needed. With all of the signals in one frame the integration and control was simplified as well.

Nutmeg uses the Avenue PC control software for selecting test patterns, choosing signal formats and adjusting timing. “The control software makes it simple. I love that it works over Ethernet. Since it’s network-based, our house network easily connects to the frame. I like that degree of simplicity, it keeps it very reliable,” said Mr. Abrams.

Nutmeg does a wide range of work including TV and radio promos and commercials, ADR work for films, DVD commentary work, and voice casting for audio work. The facility has nine audio suites and three Final Cut workstations.

“We use the Avenue to sync up our Final Cut stations,” said Mr. Abrams. “Each audio suite is equipped with an Avid Mojo SDI video option for Pro Tools. Both Digidesign’s Pro Tools and the Avid Mojo SDI require a video reference in. The Avenue 5400 and 7410 provide a rock solid, stable sync source. We are able to use the Avid Mojo SDI with Pro Tools and know that the whole system is always locked. I don’t have to worry about that aspect of the system.”

The 5400 SPG’s black output is fed to the Avenue frame so that all of the modules are locked together. The 5405 is locked to this master reference and its outputs are connected to a 5150 distribution amplifier that feeds the suites. The 5400 bars output and second black burst output is fed to the patchbay for striping tapes. The operators toggle between the 5400 bars and bars on incoming video masters to get setup levels correct.

The 7410 Tri Level Sync Generators provides four independent HD Tri-level Sync outputs so that one output can be 720p, another 1080i, and a third 1080sF. The 7410 outputs are fed to the SRW-5500 HDCAM SR and all of the other HD gear in house.

“The tech support is good as well,” said Mr. Abrams. “I noticed something on the Tek scope on our 5150 DA that looked like drift. Ensemble duplicated our setup exactly and explained what I was seeing. They were timely in looking at it and properly assured me that my equipment was working fine.”

“In the two and a half years we’ve had the Avenue frame we’ve never had a hardware failure, which is good because when that sync pulse has to drive everything in your plant, reliability is expected,” commented Mr. Abrams.

Jonathan Abrams in the Nutmeg audio post machine room with
Ensemble Designs’ reference signal generator

About Nutmeg Audio Post – Nutmeg Audio Post is New York City’s comprehensive audio post facility that puts creativity first. Founded in 1979, it is home to an elite staff of mixers and support staff committed to providing world-class audio post production and sound design for HDTV and SDTV, film, radio, online and interactive media. For more information please visit www.nutmegaudiopost.com or call 212-921-8005.

About Ensemble Designs – Based in Grass Valley, California, Ensemble Designs is a leading provider of signal processing and infrastructure products to the professional broadcast industry. Customers include; CBS News, Sky, RAI, Olympic Broadcast Organisation, and Major League Baseball.