The Clean Sound of Dancing on Ice

UK broadcaster ITV’s award-winning show Dancing on Ice presents several acoustic and noise suppression challenges in getting a great sound for the viewer at home. Needing a large space to house the main ice rink, a training rink, the audience and the rest of the set, the show is shot in a vast hanger of a building on the disused airfield at RAF Bovington. There is minimal acoustic control on the walls, and the ice and video wall (which makes up the whole of the back of the set) present hard surfaces for any sound in the space to bounce off.

According to Sound Supervisor Richard Sillitto of RS Sound, “Fortunately, we have a very controlled PA and foldback system run by the careful hands of Josh Miles of Plus 4, so we can achieve good levels in the room both for the audience and as foldback for the performers on the ice. But despite this, there’s still a fair amount of coloration on the personal mics of the presenters, judges and dancers, and this is combined with background noise from the many fans in the lights and video wall cells around the studio.

“With all of this unwanted noise there are two tools that are essential to allow us to get clean and tight audio to the viewer at home. We employ two CEDAR DNS 8 Lives to give us 16 mono channels of noise reduction, and these also serve to tame the coloration of the PA on the microphones. Deploying multiple channels of DNS enables us to reduce the noise at source before the channels are combined with other elements, and this gives the most effective results.”

In using the noise suppressors in such an environment, Sillitto says, “I tend to learn the noise floor and then turn the active learning algorithm off so that I’m dealing with a known quantity. This probably doesn’t give the ‘best’ noise reduction in all circumstances, but it keeps the effects of the noise reduction predictable so that I can EQ for what I hear consistently.

“All of this has to happen in real-time without any loss of lip-sync, and in this environment we couldn’t obtain the same quality of results without CEDAR.”

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