TWiT Brick House Equipment

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Jammerb (John Slanina) at the controls.
The TWiT Equipment below the control desk. Jammerb's baby.

Switching at the new Brick House studios is managed from a central turret in the studio. There, a single engineer (dubbed the Technical Director) controls lights, graphics, camera switching, audio mixing, recording and playback, screen shots, video calls, and all other elements of the live production. The turret can be rotated to face the active set and is equipped with its own lights, cameras, and mic so that the TD can participate in the show. Leo continues to switch his own shows in his office with a satellite keyboard and mouse and Axia Radius console.

Contents

Internet Connections

  • EFM: Sonic.net Flexlink Ethernet in the First Mile (also known as IEEE 802.3ah). This connection is 35Mbit/s symmetrical. Dedicated for most of the Skype calls during the netcasts and to stream out the BitGravity, Ustream and Justin.tv video. The Studio has 2 EFM connections, one for the streams, and video calls and the other as the studio LAN.
  • ISDN Line: AT&T ISDN. Used to stream studio audio to and from the Premiere Radio Network studios for The Tech Guy show.
  • Cable: Comcast Fiber Optic and copper provide a 100Mbit symmetrical connection in conjunction with the EFM.

Audio

Leo in the TWiT Cottage with Axia console under his right hand
The Axia console early in the install process
  • Audio Console (mixer):
    • Telos Axia Element control console and accompanying Powerstation processing unit. This equipment is on loan to Leo from Axia. Cost of the Axia Element console and PowerStation is about $22,000. The backup power supply and extra audio I/O ports add about $6,000. New Telos Xstream and two Omnia audio processors are worth about $13,000. Additional IP-Audio software including drivers, logging, and management software sell for about $3,000. Axia IP-audio consoles typically cost $12,000 up to about $24,000, according to Axia representative Kirk Harnack.
    • On August 18 2009 (prior to the installation) Leo interviewed Kirk Harnack of Axia Audio, who provided a good description of the new digital audio system's features and advantages; the interview is available here (YouTube).
    • Kirk Harnack posted a collection of photos taken during installation at the cottage to PicasaWeb.
    • Kirk Harnack posted a video of installation highlights to YouTube. Shot and edited by Erik Lanigan of TWiT.
    • The Axia is the console originally installed in the TWiT Cottage. Before moving to the new studio, it was removed and taken to the new studio. For that interim time, Leo used the old Mackie analog mixer that was used before the Telos. After poor audio quality, the current Telos Axia Radius consolewas put into Leo's office set.
  • Monitors:

Video

Visible Computers

  • Leo's Desk Computer: 27 inch iMac
  • Leo's Laptop: 11 inch MacBook Air
  • Many of the TWiT hosts use various sizes/models of MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, but with exceptions like Brian Brushwood (often seen with a 17" Windows-based notebook PC).

Production Computers

  • Dell Precision Workstations
    • Dell Precision R5400
      • Skype Machines (1-4)
      • Axia Management -- Allows remote access and serves as an NTP server
    • Dell Precision R5500
      • Vidblaster Machine
      • Streaming Machine #1 -- Running Wirecast to stream to Ustream, Bitgravity, Justin.tv
      • Streaming Machine #2 -- Streams to HLS stream for iOS, HTML5, and Roku
  • Mac Minis (4)
    • Videohub Control
    • Chatomatic (on-screen chatroom feed) -- Running X-Chat Aqua for OSX
    • TD Station Computer -- Used for general browsing, e-mail, etc. by the technical director/producer of the live show
    • Unknown
  • Mac Pros (2)
    • One machine runs Final Cut Pro 7 which records directly to the SAN for editing after recording finishes/
    • Another machine in the rack was to be a re-run machine with just:play by Tools on Air, but didn't meet TWiT's needs.
  • LiveU Endpoints

Infrastructure

  • SAN (Storage Area Network):
  • Ethernet Wiring (Data):
    • Yellow: Production -- Used for host's computers and prioritized for high downstream bandwidth (for web browsing, etc.)
    • Orange: Editors -- Used by editors to upload mezzanine files for distribution and prioritized for high upstream bandwidth
    • Red: Streaming -- Used to serve streams to TWiT's streaming partners and prioritized for mission-critical high upstream bandwidth
    • Blue: Office -- Lowest duty network, for general producers and office staff which is a lower priority
  • Ethernet Wiring (Audio):
    • Green: XLR Inputs -- Run XLR over Cat6 to digital Axia system
    • Pink: Line-Level Inputs -- Run line-level inputs (Computer, iPad, iPhone, etc.) over Cat6 to the Axia, must be powered

Lights

The studio uses over 140 different lighting fixtures purchased, installed, and configured by Brent Bye of Ocean Studio, Santa Monica including:

and numerous LED fixtures for color.

Remote Calls/Avatars

When TWiT moved to the new studio, they hoped to use Vidyo as a replacement to Skype but they experienced many issues with it. For this reason, most remote guests are brought in using Skype. TWiT utilizes four Dell rackmount machines that reside in the basement and can be routed to any place in the studio. The Axia Element console provides a mix-minus back to the Skype machines over LiveWire.

Miscellaneous

Live Remote Events

Additional equipment

Getting it back to the studio

  • TWiT had a partnership with LiveU and used their streaming backpacks for floor coverage at trade shows like NAB and CES. Two LiveUs would be used: One returned video to the stage for mixing in a TriCaster, and one lived on stage to send the remote TriCaster back to the Brick House. Newtek provides loaner TriCasters for remote TWiT events.
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