Bill Young Productions, a more than 20-year-old facility located in
Sugar Land, TX, has a balanced workflow that includes radio and
television commercial production, film trailers, print and a growing
new media wing that specializes in Web design. The president of BYP,
Steve Kelly, has a long history in radio that dates back to his work as
a disk jockey in the 1960s.
While radio is the facility's main format, a tremendous amount of TV
production is also handled here, particularly in the concert area. For
example, the studio will take existing footage of Fleetwood Mac and
build a 30-second commercial for a theatrical release. The facility has
also done some Broadway work, using 35mm film to produce a spot, but
radio still accounts for about 60 percent of the company's
Six of the facility's eight recording suites, which were designed by
Russ Berger in 1990, have recently been revamped. Protools digital
audio workstations and Yamaha DM2000 digital production consoles have
been installed in each room.
“The move towards an all digital pathway is irreversible, for
radio as well as television and video,” said Kelly. A long time
digital recording and editing proponent, Kelly recommended that the
company purchase an AMS Audiofile DAW in the late 1980s. At that time,
the $100,000 AMS system was the real workhorse. When BYP moved to its
current location in 1990, Kelly realized that the firm had to look at
other digital editing systems, and investigated everything that was on
the market. Protools, even in its early stages, impressed them from the
start, and the studio has continued to upgrade its systems. There are
plans to purchase some Protools HD systems soon.
While Digidesign, the manufacturer of Protools, has converted many
large-format operators to its streamlined mixing surface, BYP chose to
use a traditional-style console in the control rooms. The Yamaha DM2000
was the choice.
Inside the control room of the
The Yamaha DM2000 is a fully digital console with 96 input channels.
It is fully compatible with the surround sound work that is not
necessary for the radio work BYP handles on a daily basis, but surround
sound is critical to its television and theatrical productions. The
console's tight integration with Protools was a major factor that led
Kelly to purchase multiple DM2000s.
The console features a built-in interface that interfaces with
Protools via MIDI. One side of the DM2000 is dedicated to Protools.
Track punch-ins, scrubbing and all of the other common Protools editing
functions are laid out clearly on the console. The combination of the
console — even though it is a full-format production board
— has a much smaller footprint than the analog consoles the
facility had been using. After extensive research into all the
available console choices, the decision was made.
Like many others, Steve Kelly is surprised and frustrated at the
slow pace of digital technology in the radio broadcast area. He
expected that digital transmission would grow more quickly than it has.
He expected that a system would have been approved by the FCC by the
end of the 1990s. Consumers are taking notice of the improvement
provided by digital TV, Kelly anticipates that the same improvement
will be made to radio when the system's details are established.
BYP distributes more than half of its radio content via the Internet
using Fast Channel. Productions are encoded in MPEG2 and sent to Fast
Channel, along with tracking paperwork that includes the name of the
spot, its length and who needs to receive it. Fast Channel takes it
from there distributing the spot to every station to which it is
assigned. Everything is done online, including the transmission of a
thumbnail version in MP3 if a client needs to hear the spot in
The facility maintains some legacy equipment as well. Some clients
still want reel-to-reel tapes. DAT tapes are rarely used, but the
facility might get one or two requests a year for them. Kelly said that
distribution via Fast Channel is gaining in popularity among his radio
“MP2 is the audio quality you get on a DVD. A lot of our
clients request MP3 at 192kb/s, and that sounds very good. It's not
audiphile quality, but it is perfectly satisfactory for commercials. I
also do a lot of freelance production work for car dealerships, and I
send them all MP3s without any problem,” said Kelly.
Tim Triche, a systems engineer at Bill Young Productions, says that
the company is in the process of developing its own delivery system.
Triche hopes to have it up and running in a few months.
|The work of Bill Young
Productions can be heard on several recent radio spots including
concert productions for the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, the Dixie Chicks,
Tim McGraw and Brooks and Dunn, as well as the recent ad campaign for
The facility's own delivery system will use a commercial MP3 encoder
that has been customized for their needs. A final production is
mastered as a 24-bit, two-channel Protools file, which is fed into a
server. The server then automatically processes the spot into a 16-bit
stereo. WAV file. Another program then converts it into MP3 format.
Although BYP's recent upgrades did not include retrofitting an
existing room to accommodate surround mixes, this will happen in the
near future. The DVD projects handled by the facility include the audio
and video post work, but the Protools tracks are sent to a 5.1 facility
in Nashville or Los Angeles for completion. BYP would like to keep the
entire project in house.
Still, in this world of digital technology, there is a place for the
tried and true, according to Steve Kelly. BYP still uses its trusty
Otari MTR12 four-track tape machines on a daily basis. The machines
were purchased in 1985. Except for routine maintenance, they have
proven to be indestructible. Kelly feels that they're so much better
than any digital recorder for voice-over work, producing a fatter,
warmer and punchier sound. The final mix is dubbed in into
Yamaha DM 2000 digital console
TC Electronics Finalizer
Symetrix 528 mic processor
Pro Tools Mix 24 system
Otari MTR 12-4 track
Otari MTR 12-2 track
Otari DTR-7 DAT recorders
Meyer Sound HD-1 monitors
Manley Vox Box mic processor
Lexicon MPX 1 reverb
Eventide H3500 Harmonizer
Denon DNC-680 CD player
DBX 166 compressor/limiter
Avalon VT-737SP mic processor
AKG 414 BTL II mic
Eskow is a composer and journalist who lives in central New
Jersey. He is a contributing editor for Radio magazine's sister
publication Mix magazine.