Q&A: Fairlight CTO Tino Fibaek on the new 3DAW platform and returning the company to ‘full strength’
Showcased at IBC 2014 and due to be made available from the end of this month, Fairlight’s sports-friendly 3DAW platform enables operators to use a VR-style input to position and control images in a 3D space. CTO Tino Fibaek discusses the platform’s development as well as the current resurgence of Fairlight itself after a challenging couple of years.
Some reflections on the use of Fairlight technology at the Winter Olympics… in what ways was this a valuable showcase for the Fairlight brand?
Providing an excellent audience experience at major sporting events such as the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil requires broadcast technology that is fast, reliable and offers no margin for error. It must also be capable of seamless integration with other production elements. Fairlight delivers on all of these criteria, which is why our editing and playback systems were used on both of these events – and many more including the Olympic Games in 2010 and 2012, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and the European Soccer Championship 2012 in Poland. The reason Fairlight systems are so often chosen for mission critical applications is because they have elegance, simplicity and robustness that is second to none. The Fairlight platform is very intuitive to use and highly customisable. It also offers full compatibility with all open audio, video and sync standards, allowing it to deliver high quality 5.1 surround sound recording and exceptionally fast workflows without time consuming format conversions.
IBC 2014 saw a demo of a new 3DAW solution with relevance to sports broadcast. What can you tell us about the potential applications of this solution, and when might it come to market?
The object-orientated nature of the emerging immersive formats will allow for a high degree of user-control of the listening experience. For example, imagine being able to select, from an audio perspective, which team you want to hear the match from. This will soon be a reality, while for other sports – golf, for example – viewers will be able to balance audience and atmosphere mics against the main commentary line. Fairlight’s 3DAW platform, which is available from the end of October 2014, allows operators to use a Virtual Reality (VR)-style input to position and control images in a 3D space. Once again we have gone for an open platform approach so 3DAW supports VST and RTAS plugins, as well as ASIO for I/O and sync sharing. This will give sound mixers a post-production solution that delivers immersive sound capabilities within an existing digital audio workstation and remains fully compatible with an established workflow. Even by Fairlight’s high standards, 3DAW is one of the most exciting products we have launched in many years.
Changes of ownership have led to some industry perceptions of instability at Fairlight over the last five years. Moving forward, what can be done to correct these perceptions and ensure people that Fairlight is now back to ‘full strength’ and a strong player in the broadcast systems market?
Fairlight has really turned a corner and from our point of view this is very satisfying because we always knew we had an exceptional product range. Our new sole owner, KFT Investments Pty Ltd, are backing us with investment capital for R&D, production and customer support so that we can continue to develop innovative technologies and services for our clients around the world. The fruits of this investment are already evident – in the past 12 months we have launched a raft of new products including new live consoles in EVO.Live and QUANTUM.Live, a new version of our operating software and CC-2, a brand new second generation audio engine that incorporates 1000 playback channels, 100+ output buses and 100 live inputs and our 3D Audio Workspace platform. In addition, we are winning major industry awards, we are expanding our presence in new territories, particularly Asia, and we are getting fantastic feedback from the market. Fairlight is definitely back to full strength and well positioned for a period of significant growth.
How important a contributor is sports broadcast to the overall Fairlight business?
The sports broadcast sector contributes a large proportion to our overall business. Customers such as NFL, WWE and MLB are good examples. And of course sport features as a major component of programme delivery from pretty much all of our worldwide broadcast customers.
How do you approach the strengthening of contacts with OB providers, broadcasters, etc, in terms of making them aware of what Fairlight can bring to their set-ups?
We are in frequent contact with broadcasters large and small around the world. This takes place both on a local level from our dedicated distributors, as well as visits from Australian HQ and our presence at industry trade shows. We are also increasing our marketing efforts to increase awareness of new innovations.
Finally, are there any current or forthcoming projects involving sports broadcast that you can tell us about?
Part of the feature set of our forthcoming V5 software and the new CC-2 audio engine was designed in direct response to the needs of some of our larger broadcast customers. This includes added capability to handle multiple simultaneous multi-format deliveries, more advanced compliancy metering and higher source signal count. These are features that sports broadcasters in particular have been asking for and we are delighted to be able to meet their needs.