Oprah’s Lifeclass Production

harpo_icon_100Renowned for their award-winning production teams, Chicago, IL-based Harpo Studios drew from their Roland (S-4000S, S-0808, S-0816 and S-1608) digital snakes, along with the S-4000M REAC Merge Unit and S-MADI REAC MADI bridge, for Oprah’s Lifeclass.

Producing one 2-hour live, plus one 2-hour taped, interactive talk shows with Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Iyanla Vanzant and Bishop T.D Jakes from Toronto required overcoming the distance limitations of Cat5e by converting to fiber.  Harpo Studios’ audio production manager Gerry Formicola reports that for most of their stops on the multi-city tour, cable limitation was not really an issue because the runs they had to work through were 100 meters or less. Cabling from the Dome Productions broadcast truck to the stage was over 1200 feet.  With standard fiber converters they were able to use the Roland gear exactly as they had at other locations -  plug-and-play.

The System
Harpo Studios’ audio director J.R. Chappell indicates there were three Roland snake-enabled systems relied upon. First, they had the Roland S-4000S-3208 digital snake that fed the FOH console using the S-4000H interface and the broadcast truck using the S-MADI bridge.  The 2nd system implemented a pair of S-0808 snakes at each end, used for a separate set of lines back-and-forth for intercom purposes.  For the 3rd digital snake system they used an S-1608 and an S-0816, one in the truck and one backstage for miscellaneous audio feeds back-and-forth between the truck and the stage.

Harpo Studios chose the Roland equipment for the tour because they knew it would simplify the run of cables.  “We liked switching to digital when we were doing the remote shows,” says Chappell, “because oftentimes, with analog snakes, we would have problems with hums and buzzes or bad lines, and going digital completely eliminated those issues.  We plugged in, and everything worked the first time and sounded great.”

Formicola states that what made it easy was that “we were able to get MADI, straight out of the system, and integrate that directly into the Calrec console(s) on-board the broadcast truck(s).  That was really helpful, as well.”  He appreciates that the Roland S-0808, S-0816, and S-1608 digital snakes are “small, lightweight, and easy to put into a Pelican (or their own) case and move to a location.”  In addition, he reports, they’re “simple, straightforward and super-easy to use.”

Formicola attests that, having only had the units a short time, they’ve been rock-solid.  “We’ve moved them from a studio environment to out in the field and back multiple times, and have not had one issue.   Also, not having to pull cables makes things faster for us”.

Accounts Chappell:  “The Roland gear just makes the entire process of setup incredibly easy.  It also cuts down on remote show setup time, and makes troubleshooting non-existent.”

System Integration