Storyline Molkenbur Mixed Cinema, Norway
Storyline Studios is a Scandinavian film production company that offers camera rentals, editing, effects, sound design and more in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. As the leading film production facility in Norway, the company has around 50 employees that cover the entire creative process from production and post-production to mastering and finalization. With studios in Mølleparken and Akerselva connected via fiber, Storyline wanted to upgrade the sound system in its premier screening room and mixing studio to provide an elegant and intuitive environment for finishing projects.
Storyline turned to leading distributor Lydrommet to outfit the facility with AV networking and control solutions from AMX and BSS. To ensure a stable platform and audio network, Lydrommet deployed a BSS Soundweb London BLU806 modular I/O device equipped with Dante as the backbone of Storyline’s screening cinema. The AMX control system consists of a PR-0402 matrix switcher and audio de-embedder, an NX-2200 controller and an MT-1002 touch screen. PR-0402 has four HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs with resolution up to 4K60 4:4:4. An open API and a user-friendly HTML5 web interface make it possible to integrate it with third-party equipment. The NX-2200 is the brain of the system—a programmable network device for the control and automation of medium-sized rooms, in terms of AV and building technology.
Through a combination of robust equipment and clever programming, Boels and Lydrommet were able to integrate presets for load-calibrated reference sound levels, trigger various settings and video setup in the projector, select input source, control the DMX cinema lighting and more. Though Storyline’s projector has only two HDMI inputs, the AMX-PR-0402 enables control of four HDMI sources up to 4K DCI 4:4:4. The projector settings are controlled via macros in the Barco software, and Boels defined custom macros for all the touch panel buttons, which can be triggered by the AMX controller. Staff and clients can play content from multiple input sources and quickly jump between color space and gamma settings with a single button press.
Andresen spoke to the importance of collaboration between himself and Boels to make easy what was once complex.
Storyline’s associates and clients alike have expressed a fond admiration for the new-found simplicity and improved user experiences offered by the HARMAN control solution. With the previous set up, users had to go upstairs to the projector booth and manually swap cables to reconfigure the system. Storyline staff reported that clients and colleagues are really impressed with the new setup and that they’ve never experienced a solution as easy in any other studio.
The most frequent user of the mix cinema is film sound titan Gisle Tveito. As a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he also uses it a lot to watch movies for voting purposes in addition to mixing projects.
After such a successful upgrade and integration, Boels hinted at plunging ahead with more HARMAN-powered upgrades in Storyline’s other studios.
“At Storyline Studios, we do everything from production to post-production,” said Jesse Boels, Head of Technical Development, Storyline Studios. “As part of that, we have a cinema review room that doubles as a grading studio and sound-mixing studio, complete with a 4K projector. We wanted to make the review theater an easier and more efficient place to work for people who aren’t as technically minded. The main goal was to implement an intuitive setup that anyone could use to operate the projector, sound system and lights from a single basic touch screen.”
“When we first got the request from Storyline, it wasn’t obvious how we were going to be able to solve this,” said Mathias Andresen, System Architect, Lydrommet. “HARMAN’s strength lies in the fact that they have different manufacturers that can be integrated crosswise. This made it possible to add the functions we wanted from the BSS DSP onto the AMX panel, via a communication module from AMX. One of the challenging and exciting aspects of each project is how the control system will communicate with third-party equipment from all possible manufacturers, and we always aim to make use of already existing functions. The projector had built-in macros that could perform a series of parameter changes in one and the same button/preset, which could be triggered from the AMX. At the same time, we also added the possibility of full control of the projector via its built-in web interface with the browser on the touch panel.”
“We made preset buttons to control source selection, gamma, aspect ratio and DMX lighting,” said Boels. “On the sound settings page, we have presets for level (85dB or 79dB) and format (stereo, 5.1 surround or 7.1 surround). All you have to do is press a button and it sets everything correctly. Power users can also fine-tune the settings for even more flexibility, but the presets make it easy for users without as much technical background.”
“The cooperation and communication between the customer and us as an integrator is always a decisive factor for the end result to be good, especially when it involves customer-specific custom solutions,” said Andresen. “Jesse Boels at Storyline has been an excellent project manager and sparring partner in this context. He himself is also behind the elegant graphic design of the touch panel, which dazzles right into Storyline’s visual profile. For us, it was very exciting to develop a user experience together with Jesse that is both intuitive and stylish, but at the same time exclusive and exciting. This was a playful project where we had both time and the right professionals to create something completely unique. We are very satisfied with the collaboration and the result.”
“Ease of use has increased enormously,” said Boels. “In particular, being able to quickly control our projector settings and have fine-resolution sound control for the various sources has been great. We’ve designed the touch panel so that the most used presets and settings are easily accessible, and then there are additional picture and sound displays for more advanced control if needed. There are fewer steps to double check and less need for me or another technician to come in to assist. It even looks more professional. Lydrommet was also able to implement custom sound meters on the panel for quick reference. A special thanks to Mathias and Roger from Lydrommet, who were very dedicated to making everything work according to our needs.”
“First of all, I am very happy to have only one unit to operate,” said Tveito. “It appears as a separate product, and has the functions that we want. We have defined our standard settings, but have full opportunity to adjust the details. Audio over Dante also makes it possible to quickly connect any studio. Combined with screen-share, this gives us fantastic flexibility.”
“This was my first experience with AMX. With the help from Lydrommet and everything provided, it was pretty straightforward,” said Boels. “The HDMI switcher, the NX2200 and the touch screen were quick to talk to each other. The touch panel is very snappy, very responsive. It’s been up and running for a while now and we haven’t had any issues with it. We plan on using AMX to similarly upgrade some of our other facilities.”