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When was the last time you used ISDN?

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Drew Lahat
When was the last time you used ISDN?
on Dec 22, 2010 at 7:00:44 pm

Our company has its own PT bay, most of our mix work is in-house trailers & promos. We still keep an ISDN line but it's been a long time since we needed to hold a remote session this way. AT&T happily charges almost $1,000 a year just to keep the line alive, and that's money that could go to, say, new plugins or a PT9 upgrade ;-)

How often, if at all, are remote sessions over ISDN happening these days? Any recommendation on a alternative professional internet-based solution? I'm also looking into 'ISDN-over-IP'.


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Jean-Christophe Boulay
Re: When was the last time you used ISDN?
on Dec 22, 2010 at 7:51:42 pm

It depends on the studios, really. We did two yesterday and one today. Some places haven't done any in a year. You seem to be in the second group. In that situation, I don't think it makes much sense to keep it, since the alternatives are now up to par.

A good alternative to ISDN is SourceConnect from SourceElements (http://sourceelements.com/source-connect/). We've been using it for a few versions already and it's now very stable and seamless. It behaves like a Skype-on-steroids, with your contact list and connection parameters in a single window. You even get a chat window to diss the talent with the other engineer. Fun!

Most studios we connect with get by fine with the Standard version. The Pro version adds higher bitrates and functions to automatically replace compressed audio with the uncompressed audio when you aren't recording. Really, the compressed audio sounds fine. The Pro versions can be purchased with an option to use the APTX codec, but it isn't worth it, as almost no one has it.

If you have to connect with studio that are still running ISDN, most bridging services now offer SourceConnect-to-ISDN connections. If you have few remote sessions, the bridging costs will be a small fraction of the money you're not spending on ISDN lines anymore.

On the cheaper side, I've run lots of sessions through Skype, with the client directing through that. We then send the session over for the engineer on the other end. That's more of a replacement for a phonepatch than for an ISDN, but works well in a pinch. The client can be absolutely anywhere, with this method, not necessarily in a studio, which saves them loads of money. They tend to like that.

IHTH,

JC Boulay
Technical Director
Audio Z
Montreal, Canada
http://www.audioz.com


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Peter Sartwell
Re: When was the last time you used ISDN?
on Dec 22, 2010 at 8:09:38 pm

I haven't setup a bridge to ISDN since I started here, 2 years ago. We use Source Connect exclusively with a phone patch backup. For remote sessions we look exclusively for studios who run Source Connect, or are willing to install. You can rent Source Connect for $250 for 1 week.

SC does need a decent network that's not dropping or colliding packets, so it's not free if you have to do some network or ISP upgrades to handle your throughput. But the network upgrades are useful to your business in other ways, whereas an ISDN line and equipment are dedicated to a single task.

$1k per year for ISDN seems cheap to me, as far as ISDN goes. In our remote studio, we will soon have a dedicated DSL line for Source Connect (no other high speed service available), and we can justify the added expense because it'll pay back in spades. It runs okay on the existing 7M/0.6M service, but other users in the studio can clog the upload pretty easily.

Skype, huh? It's hard for our directors to give up that almost-live Source Connect experience, but I like the idea of using Skype for backup. I'll have to give that a try.


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Drew Lahat
Re: When was the last time you used ISDN?
on Dec 23, 2010 at 6:01:24 am

Thanks for the input, SourceConnect has come up in my research and sounds like a good option, along with a per-session bridging service.

Our broadband connection should be perfectly suited for it, we invested in an 8Mbps dedicated (guaranteed) symmetrical link - expensive but worth it.

Drew Lahat
Precision Post
Los Angeles, CA


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Ty Ford
Re: When was the last time you used ISDN?
on Dec 23, 2010 at 9:11:02 pm

Hello Drew and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

It's been about 2 years for me. I still have an APT DRT128 Reporter, in case anyone wants one.

There are still a few studios in Baltimore and DC that use them. One in VA Beach. I still get a call from time to time from NPR looking to get someone in front of an ISDN line.

I have tried the Source Connect system and find it does a pretty nifty job without the ISDN line.

Still most of my narration work gets recorded here and I am allowed to work unsupervised. I also use a POTS line or Skype and then forward the edited tracks to a server.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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Peter Groom
Re: When was the last time you used ISDN?
on Dec 24, 2010 at 10:38:37 am

An interesting thread. I think there seems to be a US divide here.
In the US I think quite a lot of studios have adopted source connect. It is very good and Id love to switch to it, but here in the UK, few studios are currently using it and NONE of the voice overs that Im aware of have it. (I know there must be one, but Im not aware). So were still heavily using ISDN. Most days have 5 or 6 sessions where it is used, and in the run upo to Xmas that was doubles easily.
I guess it really does depend on your work type too. Commercials rely on it very heavily in the UK.

Cheers
Peter

Peter


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Peter Groom
Re: When was the last time you used ISDN?
on Dec 24, 2010 at 10:45:07 am

Hi Ty.
Its interesting that you work unsupervised and upload files. That just isnt the way here (or at least on the sort of projects i get nvolved with).
Directors / producers want to come to the studio and direct every quater syllable in a magnitude of styles, all live. They want to do it to picture 99% of the time, ideally with the VO having slaved pictures their end too.
I just dont see the non live session idea working here.

I think another UK/US thing is that we seem to be way behind on out internet speeds here than the US. So ISDN (say 4 lines at 64kbps) gives a great , guaranteed, non variable bandwidth. IP solutions here are shared, so in the course of a 2 hour session the amount of users coming and going off the IP cell will vary dramatically and therefore so might the audio, which cant be allowed to happen.

Cheers
Peter

Peter


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Ty Ford
Re: When was the last time you used ISDN?
on Dec 24, 2010 at 3:07:42 pm

Peter,

I'm a little different than some talent in that I also have the editing chops.

I've been doing VO a long time. I teach voiceover for the local AFTRA/SAG Conservatory. Most folks can read OK, but bringing it to life off the script is very different. My class is called, "Finding The Writer's Voice." Words and phrases have to be considered way more carefully to make it sound as though you're not just reading. Maybe that's the syllable-by-syllable direction to which you refer.

Of course, there are also producers who are relatively inexperienced and can't direct their way out of a wet paper bag. e.g.





Or feel they are not doing their job unless they wring every ounce out of a talent. "We're paying this talent more money than I make hourly! That ticks me off. I'll show him who's boss!" That's not good direction. That's abuse.

I don't work unsupervised on all jobs and I have no problem being directed. On long narrations, it's actually beneficial to work with someone because they can pick up a dropped or incorrectly replaced word that I would only catch after listening to the whole thing again.

Working to picture can be OK, but I think it's an inefficient way to work and doesn't always result in the best read. Over here, copy is typically overwritten (too long) because someone who isn't a talent reads a scratch track and has no sense of what to do with the script. Emphasis requires elongation of words and phrases. if the video is edited to the scratch track, there's no room for expression. So now I have to jam the words in because there isn't proper room.

Regards,

Ty

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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Peter Groom
Re: When was the last time you used ISDN?
on Dec 24, 2010 at 5:17:14 pm

I accept all your points, but dont think it will become "the way" over here. When an agency is making a National or international TV campaign and are paying the VO possibly 5 figure sums (before the decimal) after tvrs, they will have the whole creative team in on the session and will spend hours getting it right. Its not because theyre incompetent (although not all are brilliant too) but the stakes are so high. Theyll also often have a particular engineer who they want to work with, and a particular mixer, composer etc.

I think the picture sync thing is more for tv programmes. The vo will be listening for what the in vision person is saying, and reflect that in their delivery. So viewing the programme in context can be very important, as you know.

Interesting different ways of working though across the water.
Peter



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Ty Ford
Re: When was the last time you used ISDN?
on Dec 24, 2010 at 5:38:42 pm

Peter,

You're spot on with the national ad campaign thing. I'm not advocating solo work for all occasions and I always enjoy the working together when it's a good collaborative effort.

I was called in to do a VO for a Geico radio spot. It was a donut; a music bed with a sing in and out. I had to fill the hole exactly. This was some time ago when 1/4" tape ruled the world. We rolled hot, the music bed on one machine, my mic on the other, rolling to a second machine. I asked to hear the bed first so I could find the in and out points of the donut.

There were 3 guys, agency and client probably, as well as an engineer on the other side of the glass.

Take one: I'm doing it and feeling it. Hearing the music and me in the cans. Good read going. As I get close to the end, I'm thinking, "nailed it!" I did nail it, SOLIDLY. In my mind I'm doing the Snoopy Dance and giving myself the high five.

The guys were very quiet for a few seconds and then said, "Well, I guess that's it. Thanks."

They looked a bit down, but I didn't learn why until later when I talked to the engineer. He said they were expecting to spend some fun time out of the office and I had spoiled it for them by getting it right on the first take. They were done. They had to go back to work. :(

What are you going to do?

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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