Merging makeover for BBC Studios and Post Production

The George Lucas Stage at Hertfordshire’s Elstree Studios used by BBC Studios and Post Production, home to the current series of Strictly Come Dancing, has been updated with a new Merging Technologies system.

‘Strictly’ was first aired from BBC Television Centre in 2004, with Merging’s Pyramix used for the early productions, along with as the successive series, but the ever-increasing demands of complex entertainment shows meant a significant to the audio arrangement was needed. Merely updating the Mykerinos-based Pyramix setup was not going to be sufficient, however. 

The decision was made to replace it completely with a Pyramix MassCore 256 Music Pack and new hardware, including a Horus networked audio interface. With the need to post-produce some of the shows, a VCube Essentials pack was also selected as part of the package.

Sound supervisor Andy Tapley opted to continue with a Merging recording rig to complement BBC S&PP’s new Studer Vista X console. Not only was the team already familiar with the Pyramix platform; the ability to handle high track counts, with the long recording times that are now the norm, was also key.

The requirement to record all of the rehearsals and the shows over two days, as well as to refine the mix and produce stems for post production means there is often the need to record as many as 152 tracks. This can be easily achieved with MassCore 256 and the 128 channels of MADI plus 24 AES/EBU I/O connectivity between the Vista X and Horus, according to Merging.

UK distributor emerging supplied all the hardware, including a new 4U computer chassis with a RAID 0 array of 3 x 1TB media drives, so that many hours of continuous recording can be stored safely.

One special show each year comes from Blackpool’s iconic Tower Ballroom. “Even when we are in the comfort of the Red TX sound recording truck on the Blackpool seafront, capturing the show is simple because Pyramix is part of their standard kit," said Tapley. "We can record here and easily transfer the project to our base in Elstree for post production work. Making the move to Horus has been seamless.”