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Author Topic: Motorized fader automation?  (Read 7654 times)

jazzius

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Motorized fader automation?
« on: May 01, 2004, 04:46:09 am »

Like the stuff from Uptown or GML.

Does anyone here know how it works?

Are the faders passive attenuators?

Could you build a custom motorized fader box without a traditional console?

Has this ever been done?

John Klett

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Re: Motorized fader automation?
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2004, 12:10:23 pm »

The current moving faders systems to look at are Flying Faders, Uptown and GML.

I am not certain GML is still available as a new system but it is certainly a good one.

Flying Faders is pretty much the most widely used moving fader system that one can drop in as a retrofit.  This is the system that Neve used after Necam and before Encore.  There is supposed to be a new system from MartinSound/Martek that, as I understand it, uses the same faders and servo rack but replaces the old  platform and operating system with a new one.

Uptown is also a full featured moving faders system and does pretty much everything the others do.  The main difference is that in the most popular and affordable version there are no local function buttons so you have to go the the little master panel to change fader states...  generally this is no impediment to normal use.

All of these systems turn up used.  Generally the issue is always the computer platform.  GML uses a dedicated set of boards - not sure of the buss standard - so they just run.  A Mac (or PC, I guess) is used as a terminal and stores all the data.  

Used Uptown and Flying Faders system are now running on older platforms.  I think it is easier to upgrade the Uptown.  You buy new software and move the card over and I THINK that's it.  

Used Flying Faders systems have an issue that is harder to deal with.  The software MAY run on a newer platform but the card(s) do not want to run on a fast bus...  they run on the oldest PC standard buss...  actually not the oldest...  I think it's the one that was standard in 286 and 386 machines - an AT style bus or some close derivation?  Whatever it is it is OLD and slow.  If you remember the older PC's that had the TURBO button on the front that change the bus speed from 8MHz to 16MHz?

When the Flying Faders computer or drive craps out you better have another computer already on hand that you have tested with the system.  I can take months of looking to find that computer geek who has a great stack of these machines in a dusty corner of his shack and maybe only one out of five will work.  We have been through this a couple times and it was a problem.  You COULD upgrade to the new system, keeping your servo rack and faders but I am not sure of what is really involved with that or what the cost might be...  other than it would not be cheap.


YES to your second question.  Self standing moving faders systems have been done.  They need to be balanced and buffered to really work well because these would normally slip into the insert loop.  You would patch gear in front of the faders and that would be pretty much the same path as the console.  You have to "cal" the faders of whatever console you connect this to for unity gain.

The first system I saw that was like this was Phil Ramone's Necam system.  I had to fix that thing once.  I can't say that Necam travelled very well but it did solve the problem of moving from studio to studio when moving fader automation systems were scarce.
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jazzius

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Re: Motorized fader automation?
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2004, 02:49:38 pm »

John, thanks very much for the info!

I looked into the flying faders.....it seems there is a new system called Flying Faders II that attaches by USB to a PC running WinXP, so forget those crappy old 486's or whatever!

Here's the blurb from the Martinsound site....it seems it's not yet released.



Flying Faders II has taken
‘Just Mix’ to the next level
with powerful features
showcased in a cutting-edge user interface. This
next-generation moving fader automation system
builds on Flying Faders’ heritage as the ‘must have’
console automation system along with feedback
from its enormous worldwide user base.
The original Flying Faders made great analog
consoles even better. Its ‘Just Mix’ philosophy
allowed users to get on with the job of engineering
without the automation getting in the way. Ease
of use, comprehensive features and a creativityenhancing
user interface kept Flying Faders on the
cutting edge of automation technology for over 12
years. Adding the most sought-after automation
system lets console owners attract more work, at
higher rates, extending the life of their console
investment. Flying Faders II further enhances
that investment, offering a quantum leap in
performance, while preserving the reliability of
the original core engine and software.


Flying Faders II retains its familiar ‘Just Mix’
user-friendly operation and raises the bar with
many new productivity enhancements including:
• Next generation graphic user interface
• Multi-monitor desktop support
• One-click access to any function
• Interactive tool tips and help
• Customizable toolbars and menus
• Personalized work environment
• Intuitive automation control
• Quick learning, even for first-time operators
• Local event control from fader panel
• Auto-save backup
• Simplied file system using standard tools
• Translation software opens legacy mixes
• Printer support improves documentation
• Fully integrated V Series console recall option
• Latest Windows XP operating system
• Works with current PC technology
• External USB to Flying Fader fiber optic adapter
• No internal cards inside the computer
• Uses the same Flying Faders console hardware
• Low cost plug and play upgrades install quickly
• The power needed for future expansion

Keep up to date with the latest developments
of Flying Faders II. Just fill out the response card or
call for more information on the next generation
of ‘Just Mix’ automation. Ask about Flying Faders
II for your console. It’s available as an upgrade to
your existing Flying Fader system, or as a turnkey
system customized for any new or existing
console. ‘Just Mix’ just got better. But don’t just
take our word for it. Ask your customers if owning
Flying Faders will get you more of their business.
Then surprise and impress them with the new
look and enhancements of Flying Faders II.

seriousfun

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Re: Motorized fader automation?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2004, 06:46:55 pm »

Thanks for asking!

Flying Faders II isn't out yet (we had to go back and re-complile a half-million lines of code), but we're working on it daily. It consists of a new software version of Flying Faders that runs on Windows XP; this has many features that were developed for Neve but never incorporated. The automation data and timecode connect to the new computer through a little box via USB - nothing changes on the console or servo automation card-cage.

The new system will be an easy upgrade from the old, and relatively cheap. There will be a software utility to convert old mixes to new, but there's no going back.

Current FF, v.3.1, installs with Windows 3.1. We build new 486-based PCs for new FF systems (yes, you can still get parts), and we have been able to ressurect ancient computers with good success. The HP Vipre card (a co-processor card) can't run on a fast computer bus, and these are long discontinued and difficult-to-impossible to fix.

FF faders have always been proprietary P&G dual-track faders, one track for audio (stereo or mono) and one track for automation data.

GML systems were great, but it doesn't seem to be easy to get support these days. Uptown works, but (you'd have to ask them) I believe API is moving on to a new system that they developed for their Vision console. Neve will, of course, add Encore to your existing console, but it will be expensive.

We actually make a FF equipped sidecar, the ACX, with 16-32 inputs, 8 aux sends, eq per channel, etc. (no summing bus or monitor section). This is used to extend an existing FF equipped console or to automate a mix through a non-automated console or DAW (FF syncs with timecode, of course).

I think Digi has it right when they see the need for a large-format control surface, but there are still many engineers who will prefer to work on a moving fader controlled analog console.
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John Klett

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Re: Motorized fader automation?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2004, 09:16:20 pm »


seriousfun wrote on Mon, 03 May 2004 18:46

Thanks for asking!
The new system will be an easy upgrade from the old, and relatively cheap. There will be a software utility to convert old mixes to new, but there's no going back.



all that sounds great...  I generally don't update myself until there is some compelling reason (like someone is paying me) otherwise I would never sleep, so thanks for that.

Now...  here is a question...  is there a ballpark, somewhere in the neighborhood, general concept on what an upgrade would cost? and do I buy this and slap it onto a pc I supply or do I buy it pre-configured from Martinsound?  You may not want (be allowed) to answer that so it's okay if you side step that one.

The next question is...  do I move my mixes across on floppies?  because if there are a number of them to do that could get really boring... or...  is there some way to transplant the drive from a dead computer and move the files across? ...  practical things like that.

Some time soon the Neve 80something-between-an-8048-and-an-8078 is going to move from our shop into the control room and if the upgrade is not too traumatizing it may be a good thing to do as part of that move... yes yes...  well...  studios often have tech shops so why can't a tech shop have a studio - right?  and, of course, since we try to talk everyone who comes into our shop saying "I wanna build a recording studio" OUT of doing it...  and most people don't listen but, we feel a need to say it as a public service...  it makes perfect sense...  knowing better...  that we do a studio
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seriousfun

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Re: Motorized fader automation?
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2004, 02:35:41 pm »

john klett wrote on Mon, 03 May 2004 18:16


...

Some time soon the Neve 80something-between-an-8048-and-an-8078 is going to move from our shop into the control room and if the upgrade is not too traumatizing it may be a good thing to do as part of that move... yes yes...  well...  studios often have tech shops so why can't a tech shop have a studio - right?  and, of course, since we try to talk everyone who comes into our shop saying "I wanna build a recording studio" OUT of doing it...  and most people don't listen but, we feel a need to say it as a public service...  it makes perfect sense...  knowing better...  that we do a studio



ha ha

We haven't decided whether to include a computer or not, yet. It should run on any garden-variety PC, but we may throw in our PC for early-adoptors just so we are sure that the motherboard and RAM are compatible, the OS is installed correctly, etc....
We may go the route of increasing the price and including a dedicated rackmount PC.

We are projecting (and I trust this as much as I trust my release date projections) US$7500 for the upgrade.

Floppies are still really your only choice to transport mixes - a limitation of the old software and computers. I suppose you could remove the hard drive from the old PC and install it into the new pc (you're on your own, here) and transfer your saved mixes from there, but I would only do that after I had full confidence in the new system.

We're writing the code to make future upgrades easy, so some exciting features can be added.







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jazzius

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Re: Motorized fader automation?
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2004, 04:04:59 pm »

Thanks for the info, Doug.

I'd also like to ask you a question.

....i don't know if you're aware but there's a bit of a mania going on at the moment for analog summing....

....people are running their mixes out of their PT rigs, into some choice outboard and then into a (or more) summing busses like those supplied by

http://www.dangerousmusic.com/2bus.html

or

http://www.apiaudio.com/3124.htm

or

http://www.spl-usa.com/index.html#md

and so on.

But it strikes me that the one thing people are missing (between their outboard and summing busses) is analogue level automation.

You guys have got the (new) software, the hardware, the know-how......wouldn't it be interesting for you to put together a stand-alone automation box (modular in linkable 8 channel banks)?.....input - automate level (or pan) - output......i reckon you'd sell a load of these.......

whadayathink?

John Klett

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Re: Motorized fader automation?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2004, 03:59:58 pm »

Ideally you want one or two stereo busses and some aux sends.  

The passive loss summing mixer that Purple Audio makes can be configured with a fader loop that would put a transformer in front of the fader.  Normally the mixer uses a rotary pot on the bottom of the module but it's set up to make that go away and use an external fader instead.  The fader loop returns back into the mixer channel and hits a buffer and a panner.  

The Purple mixer is pretty configurable....  There are a total of eleven busses (one's a solo) that can be used a number of different ways.  It's modular - 16 inputs in 4RU rack mount chassis - six of these can sum together to make a 96 input line level mixer.  Circuitry is all discrete transistor w transformer i/o - the amplifier modules can be taken out and replaced by IC's and the i/o can be active transformerless if you like - saves some money.  You still have a transformer on the summing buss - can't loose that.  You also have a couple options with regard to master sections.

Martinsound makes a small side car mixer that can do this and more.

Flying faders in front of the original Dangerous boxes will work too.  They have NO level controls.

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