"Inside the Convention ..."

Mel Lambert's reports for "The AES Daily"

Day #1/Friday 10-29 Edition: Overview of Special Event Program

What an interactive program it's going to be. "We have selected a Special Events program that will promote interaction and participation by attendees," concedes Convention Chairman John Strawn. "Game Audio is a major focus for multichannel sound, so each day's gAmEShowcase will feature hands-on access to the latest game consoles - have fun while you carry out some 'industry research'." Today's showcase follows the midday Convention keynote address - "The Music Business Today: The Perfect Storm"- by Ron Fair, president of A&M Records.
   And, staying with the games connection, this afternoon's Grammy Recording Soundtable, organized by NARAS' Producers & Engineers Wing, is entitled "Game On! Videogames: The Future of Music & Entertainment." Moderated by Dave Adelson, the SoundTable features Buzz Burrowes, Niles Rodgers, Brian Schmidt, and Game Audio Network Guild's Tommy Tallarico, discussing their experiences in this thriving multimedia industry.
   "Tomorrow," Strawn points out, "we have 'Audio Profesional En Latinoamerica,' moderated by Elmar Leal, technical director of Taller de Arte Sonoro, Caracas, who has gathered together a panel to consider the challenges facing audio professionals working in Latin America." Discussion topics will include audio education, career opportunities, musical production trends and distribution of technical information in Spanish.
   Broadcast audio also comes in for special attention later today during "Opportunities For The Engineer In The Digital Broadcast World," moderated by John Casey from "Radio World," and addressing job opportunities and training needed for audio professionals in digital broadcasting. And tomorrow's "Digital Radio Broadcast Forum," moderated by David Bialik, will discuss Eureka, IBOC (HD Radio), Satellite Radio, Tomorrow Radio and the proposed Broadcast Flag.
   Tonight's Organ Recital at Grace Cathedral features our regular virtuoso, Graham Blyth, with a program that includes Louis Vierne's "1st Organ Symphony" and Cesar Franck's "Chorale No.2." AES President Ron Streicher will also present a tutorial prior to the concert, focusing on recording concert organs. Other tutorials include "Basics Of Digital Audio" by Jürgen Wahl, "Audio Post Production" by Tom Holman, "Recording & Looping" by Craig Anderton and "Mastering For Stereo & Surround" by Bob Ludwig.
    The Platinum Series, coordinated by the ever-capable Lisa Roy, this year comprises no less than four panels. Tomorrow's "Platinum Producers," with moderator Ron Fair, will feature Howard Benson, Jack Joseph Puig, Phil Ramone, Chink Santana and Mark Wright addressing the type of continually evolving technical and creative issues they face today. Later tomorrow "Platinum Engineers - The All-Star Mix Engineers Panel," moderated by Jack Joseph Puig, will feature Bob Clearmountain and Tom Lord-Alge discussing the challenge of working on projects with multiple media, producers and engineers, and making them sonically consistent and radio-ready.
   Saturday's "Platinum Minds: From Stereo To Surround," moderated by Nathaniel Kunkel, will enable a team of seasoned industry professionals to analyze a number of recent surround projects. Finally, later on Sunday Clive Young from "Pro Sound News" will moderate "Platinum Road Warriors: Live Sound," which will consider the latest trends, techniques and tools that shape modern sound reinforcement.
   A full program of Special Events, co-organized by Valerie Tyler and Van Webster, that offers something for everyone.

Day #2/Saturday 10-30 Edition: Technical Tours ... and More.

With such a variety of interesting venues throughout the city, San Francisco offers a rich choice of Technical Tours. Ably organized by Larry the O, attendees will be able to visit some expected and maybe some unexpected locations. "In particular, I think that today's tour of Audium will be particularly fascinating," Larry tells me. "It was built in the mid-Sixties by composer Stan Shaff as a purpose-built, multichannel playback environment." During improvised performances, Shaff guides the music to an array of 300 speakers around the audience. "For those who think that live performance of multichannel sound is new," Larry suggests, "Mr. Shaff will show you how it's been done for decades."
   Tours are also available today to Meyer Sound Laboratories, an independent, family-owned business since its founding 25 years ago, and Fantasy Studios/Saul Zaentz Film Center, one of the Bay Area's largest recording and post facilities. Saturday's tours include Ex'pression College for Digital Arts and Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) and, in the afternoon, Skywalker Sound, the world-famous post facility built by George Lucas on his Skywalker Ranch.
   Other must-see Special Events during this Convention include tomorrow's "An Afternoon With Bob Moog," moderated by Craig Anderton, "EQ" Magazine's Editor-at-Large. Bob Moog showed his first electronic music modules to the 1964 AES Convention in New York; 40 years later he returns for an informal, interactive discussion. Later on Saturday the "SPARS Mentoring Session," moderated by Executive Director Paul Gallo, will feature an elite group of studio owners/managers and recording industry professionals who will explore strategies for adapting business to changing times.
   Saturday's Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture by Walter Murch is entitled Edison's First Sound Film and The Three Fathers of Cinema. The unique event will include a presentation of Edison's first sound film from 1894, thought to be lost for many years. Murch will explain how he resynchronized the recently re-discovered and repaired sound cylinder with the nitrate picture, despite there being no start mark, no standard frame rate for film, nor cylinder speed. Then, using Edison as a springboard, Murch says he will examine a hypothetical question: "What would have happened to cinema if film and sound had been invented 100 years earlier?" (Imagine Beethoven composing for a 10.2 soundtrack.)
   On Sunday, "Streaming DSD Audio Comes to The AES," moderated by Jeremy Cooperstock and Wieslaw Woszczyk from McGill University, will demonstrate the real-time streaming of six channels of DSD-format digital audio from a live jazz performance at McGill University, Montreal, to the University of California San Francisco's Genentech Hall. Complementing the experience will be an SDI digital video projection, transmitted using McGill's videoconferencing system.
   Student Activities during the Convention include two series of entry-level tutorials, and today's Education Fair during which institutions offering studies in audio will be represented in a table-top session, followed by Education Forum Panel: "Education in The Field of Audio Production," moderated by David G. Christensen from The Art Institute of Seattle.

Day #3/Saturday 10-31 Edition: Making the Most of Networking.

Conventions represent a unique opportunity for networking with current and prospective customers, as well as forgathering with old friends. But in hardware terms, networks enable audio files to be transferred from location to location, and control surfaces to implement a range of audio functions in remote processing engines.

   While the major digital console manufacturers are making much of reaching deep into DAWs to control level, EQ dynamics, plug-in settings, etc. - check out the Euphonix MC and System 5 MC (booth 926), Solid State Logic AWS 900 (booth 1002), Yamaha (booth 801) and Fairlight DREAM Constellation XT (booth 1018) - a new offering from Australian company Smart AV (booth 334) is wowing AES attendees with its remarkable Smart Console controllers for Emagic, Pyramix, SADiE, Klotz, Fairlight and Yamaha machines. Ethernet is the name of the game, running proprietary or open-architecture protocols, such as EuCon, RAPID and Smart AV's yet-to-be-published offering.
   DAW makers also benefit from connectivity, including Merging Technologies (booth 920), whose Pyramix system can be commanded from a number of external controllers, Steinberg (booth 226), whose Nuendo Series offer a high degree of connectivity (also check out the new WK Audio ID Controller), and Apple (booth 910), whose Logic offerings feature similar functionality. Digidesign (booth 712) currently supports open and closed architectures, offering HUI-based solutions at the low end, as well as its own command protocol for the top-of-the-line ICON and VENUE integrated console systems. The firm is also supporting open-architecture AAF and MXF file and transfer formats for Pro Tools, as are a growing number of DAW manufacturers.
   In terms of data-transfer schemes, a number of vendors are offering elegant interconnect topologies, the majority based on Ethernet protocols. While Aviom (booth 642) uses conventional CAT5 hardware, its proprietary A-Net architecture carries up to 64 channels of uncompressed 24-bit/48 kHz audio across a single cable with blindingly small latency delays. Studio Network Solutions (booth 1244) is offering a new IP-based topology that uses conventional SCSI hard drives to provide network-addressable file storage via the firm's iSANmp volume sharing or Apple's Xsan file software. Now, the company says, six independent Pro Tools users - under Windows or OSX - can simultaneously access up to 128 channels of 24/48 playback over conventional Gigabit Ethernet pipes. (Alternatively, the same system will provide 32 channels of DV or eight streams of uncompressed SD-format video.) SNS also offers fiber channel-based network solutions that provide sustained data transfer rates up to 200 MB/second.
   And Digigram's proprietary EtherSound protocol (booth 1236) is being used by a growing number of licensees, including Fostex, Nexo and InnovaSon, to provide plug-and-play connectivity between audio components on a conventional WAN or LAN topology.
   Although most AES attendees may not realize it, the Swiss firm BridgeCo (booth 1338) has been quietly developing specialist ICs that are used in a number of audio products. The firm's new DM1000E processor will enable such OEMs as M-Audio, Editrol Presonus and Apogee to offer enhanced channel capacity via conventional Firewire connections. A new BeBoB 2.5 software developer's toolkit should also help shorten product development.

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