Automated Vocal Localisation and Effects Panning

The market-leading TiMax Tracker (TT) uses ultra-wideband (UWB) radar technology to track the actors, performers or presenters around a stage or event arena in three dimensions. TT controls a TiMax2 SoundHub delay matrix to achieve continuous audio localisation of the actors’ radio mics as they move around stage, maintaining realism and enhancing intelligibility.

The TT system can also be used to make sound effects follow the movement of actors, animatronics or stage scenery, within immersive 3D audio panoramas created by the TiMax2 SoundHub delay-matrix. TiMax Tracker’s real-time showcontrol outputs can also control other media such as lighting or video servers.

TiMax Trackers multi-sensor UWB localisation is more accurate (~15cm/6”), responsive and reliable in challenging environments than any other UWB or WiFi based RFID technologies.

The system consists of three components:

• Battery powered miniature UWB pulse transmitter TT Tags worn by the performers;

• TT Sensors mounted around the performance area which receive the signals from the tags;

• Software platform which analyses the data from the sensors, generates an animated image of actors moving around the stage, and sends location control data to the TiMax audio matrix or other media, all in real-time.

The TT Tags transmit UWB pulses of extremely short duration in the license-free 6-8GHz band which are received by the TT Sensors around the performance area. The tags are located using a combination of Angle Of Arrival (AOA) and Time Difference Of Arrival (TDOA) measurement methods. These combined measurements coupled with the broad range of frequencies contained in the UWB pulses make TiMax Tracker inherently less sensitive to multipath reflection errors than other single-frequency, carrier-based RTLS systems.

 

Features

• Radar-controlled audio and showcontrol

• Tracks multiple performers in 3D space

• Unparalleled UWB tracking accuracy and speed

• Precise vocal localisation as actors move around the stage

• Improved intelligibility, greater dramatic impact

• Operator-free realtime imaging

• Indoors or outdoors, any sized venue

 

System Scaling and Redundancy

For a large-scale performance “in-the-round” such as arena operas and pageant-style events typically six TT Sensors would be mounted around the auditorium perimeter. A conventional proscenium stage configuration would usually need only three or four sensors. Smaller proscenium stages and studio theatres can achieve good results with just two sensors. The TT Tags only need to be seen by two sensors at any time to maintain accurate 3D localisation. Additional sensors help cover a larger performance area and add redundancy by eliminating tracking errors caused by body blocking and stage scenery.

For very large outdoor events covering several hundreds of metres, or site-wide such as in a theme park, the TiMax Tracker system can be scaled up indefinitely by configuring adjacent groups of Sensors as cells which interact as one large system. These are combined via an Ethernet network to a central Location Server computer. The server can have multiple clients so that the sound engineer, stage managers and radio mic handlers can all monitor stage action, tag signal strength and battery levels at the same time. TiMax Tracker is ideally suited to roof-less outdoor shows by mounting TT Sensors around the perimeter of the performance space.

TiMax Tracker Software and TiMax2 SoundHub Matrix Intelligent Location Software

The TiMax Tracker software displays the TT Tags locations across multiple stage Tracking Zones and maps them to TiMax audio matrix Image Definitions. These are pre-programmed at system setup to create delay-matrixed audio localisations corresponding to performers’ positions on the stage, to create true Source-Oriented Reinforcement (SOR) performer-focussed vocal localisation. Alternatively, quick-fix plug ‘n play panning setups with simple variable upstage delay offsets can be employed for less critical localisation situations.

The TiMax Tracker tracking software communicates with the TiMax2 SoundHub matrix via a stream of MIDI messages containing the TT Tag numbers (i.e. TiMax Inputs) and their stage locations (i.e. TiMax Image Definitions). The TiMax delay-matrix applies continuously varying level and delay values to the actors’ microphones as they move around the stage, delivering seamless, unobtrusive and authentically localised vocal reinforcement to the whole audience.

This all happens in real-time without intervention from the operator, greatly reducing pre-programming time in rehearsal. And the TiMax2 SoundHub software and audio matrix can handle continuous TiMax Tracker automated vocal localisation at the same time as running other manually or automatically blocked Cues, including its fully-integrated TimeLine sound effects playback and editing environment.




 

TiMax Tracker incorporates a sophisticated Location Engine configuration which self-calibrates the system after entering a few simple location details. An intelligent Calibration Wizard automatically orientates each Sensor’s AOA and TDOA tracking resources in a few seconds. The Location Engine includes an RF analysis tool to quantify any local interference and gate it out selectively for each Sensor.



There’s also a record function which allows you to store a trajectory as you walk around the stage and up and down ramps to check the consistency of tracking. Individual TT Tag statistical filters allow you to iron out any slight anomalies at the limits. TiMax Tracker tells you exactly what’s going on and provides intelligent tools to optimise system performance and deal proactively with challenging environments.

The Sensors are networked via CAT5 back to a POE Ethernet switch which provide their power. The switch is connected to a PC running the TT Location Engine platform and TiMax Tracker Map application which is used to control and monitor the TT Tags during the show.

The Map screen displays an outline representation of the stage in 2D or 3D, and additional elements can be created and rendered within the TT software. The Map also lists the TT Tags and displays next to them a real-time indication of their signal strength (QoS), battery level and the current stage Zone they’re in.

 

 
If a tag fails or strays out of range it is placed into a user-defined Default Zone and this state is displayed on the Map. In case of failure Tags can be hot-swapped during a show, and a Performance mode is included to disable their default battery saving time-out function.

Multiple three-dimensional Tracking Zones are superimposed onto the Map either as user-defined square or oval regions, or individually tailored shapes to represent any complex shaped Zone to be covered on stage. This is useful for extending Tracking Zones onto thrusts and ramps, or up to balconies, staircases and stage-lifts. Proprietary algorithms in the TiMax2 SoundHub matrix create seamless level and delay crossfades as performers move between zones, delivering uncompromised source-oriented vocal localisation at all stage positions and for the whole audience.
 

 

Simple 2D or 3D coloured icons show the location and movement of performers in 3D space. Recently introduced is Tracker Newman, a three dimensional avatar in a neutral bodysuit which can be customised by the user. To get you started a number of default Newman’s are supplied with different-coloured heads for easy identification. Unique name identifiers can be applied to each one, and the 2D representations can have jpeg imports of actors faces or costumes.

The bandwidth of each TiMax Tracker cell can accommodate up to 25 TT Tags, or an indefinite number across multiple interlinked cells. Each tag’s refresh rate can be individually adjusted to suit the performer’s movements, so bandwidth can be reduced for sluggish movers and allocated more liberally for roller-skaters or dancers. For very large-scale environments the system can be set to automatically vary individual tag refresh rates based on continuous analysis of their movements. Statistical data filtering can also be applied separately to each tag to compensate individually for any spurious reflections or interference.

 

TT Sensors Technology

The TT Sensor is a precision measuring instrument containing an array of internal antennae and ultra-wideband (6-8gHz) radio receivers. The sensors calculate the location of the TT Tags based on reception of the detected UWB signals transmitted from the tags. Each sensor also has a bi-directional 2.4GHz control and telemetry link for instructing and monitoring the tags.


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Each TT Sensor independently determines both the azimuth and elevation Angle of Arrival (AOA) of the UWB signal, providing a bearing to each tag. The Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA) information is determined between the network of sensors interconnected with a timing cable. Touring Range systems include a flightcased TiMax Tracker POE Combiner Hub which handles all POE power, data and timing signals via rugged Neutrik Ethercon interconnects. Touring Range TT Sensors also have fully weatherproofed cases and Ethercons.

This unique combination of AOA and TDOA measurement techniques delivers a flexible, powerful and robust location system, enabling a precise 3D location to be determined when only two sensors receive the signal.

TiMax Tracker therefore offers a very low entry-level cost which can be scaled incrementally to provide a high degree of redundancy and reliability for more complex or hostile environments. TT Sensors are environment-resistant to IP30 as standard and the weatherproofed versions are rated to IP54.

Technical Specification

Size and Weight:
Dimensions: 20cm (8”) x 14cm (5.5”) x 6cm (2.4”)
Weight: 650g

Operating Conditions:
Temperature: Standard: -20°C to 60°C (-4F to 140F)
Extended temperature ranges available on request

Humidity:
0 to 95%, Non-condensing

Enclosure:
Standard IP30, Touring Range weatherproofed to IP64

Operating Range:
Standard up to 160m (500 feet) OFM, about 100m indoors

Precision:
Achievable accuracy better than 15cm (6”) in 3D

Radio Frequencies:
Ultra-wideband 6GHz – 8GHz Telemetry channel 2.4GHz

Certifications:
FCC part 15; EU CE Intrinsic Safety – Class 1 Div 1, Zone 1 on request

Power Supply:
Power-over-Ethernet IEEE 802.3af Low voltage 12V DC @ 10W

Mounting Options (supplied):
Adjustable mounting bracket, heavy-duty trussclamp or screw plate

 

TT Tags Technology

TT Tags employ a unique dual-radio architecture. At the command of the TT Sensors, the tags transmit ultra-wideband (6-8gHz) radar pulses for the sensors to use as location data. They also have a bi-directional which is used as a control and telemetry channel.

A 2.4GHz two-way communication function allows the system to instruct and dynamically manage the tags; vary update rates, and monitor battery life. TT Tags are water-resistant to IP63 as standard.

Technical Specification

Size and Weight:
Dimensions:38mm (1.5”) x 39mm (1.5”) x 16.5mm (0.65”)
Weight: 25g

Operating Conditions:
Temperature: Standard: -20°C to 60°C (-4F to 140F)
Extended: -30°C to 70°C (-22F to 158F)
Further temperature ranges available on request

Humidity:
0 to 95%, Non-condensing

Enclosure:
Standard IP63

Peripherals:
LED (user programmable)
Push button (user programmable)
Motion detector

Radio Frequencies:
Ultra-wideband 6gHz – 8gHz
UWB pulse Update Rate 0.01Hz - 20Hz
Telemetry channel 2.4GHz

Certifications:
FCC part 15, subpart F (pending); EU CE
Intrinsic Safety – Class 1 Div 1, Zone 1 on request

Power Supply & Battery Life:
3v coin cell (CR2477)
Over 5 years at a continuous 5 second beacon rate
3-4 months under typical show conditions