Wire-Lists #39: Distancing with Dante

Social Media WireLists39 300With many of us getting back to work, "covid compliance" requires that all staff working on a production to be distanced. Many of you have shared your creative solutions and new working protocols with us. For example, we're hearing that some production sets are becoming their own "quarantine facilities," where staff live and work dorm-style in a sanitized area onsite, with no one new coming in or out until production is over. Some directors will also have only necessary talent on set, and locate the sound personnel and production staff in other rooms or parts of the facility. This need to distance is very much a "figure it out as you go along" world right now.

In our last list, we discussed how to do a solo walk test on set. We also discussed the custom tuning range capabilities of Wireless Designer, which allow you to preplan your set-up, to minimize your contact with the set. So, what do you do when you have to plan to work at a distance from the talent? Enter Dante.

Dante is the protocol for transferring audio over the network cable. It is "plug and play" and is so reliable that many companies, including Lectrosonics, have made it a standard built into their equipment. In our case, D2 and M2T are both Dante systems. In the past, if the engineer had to be far from the talent, the only solution was either to run audio cable - one line for each channel or a multipair snake – or, to run long antenna lines. As you can imagine in a standard production environment, this can be unwieldy and unsafe with cables snaked everywhere, but also potentially unreliable, depending on how far you had to bridge. If you had to run a long length of line, say, to an antenna, the signal suffered as well. The main advantage to Dante is that you can send as many as 500 channels (audio and video) over a single fiberoptic cable. Depending on the type of cable (CAT 5e or greater) you’re using, you can achieve distances of 300+ feet and even more with the help of a booster. Many sets and professional buildings have network ports built into the walls that you can easily plug into, using the building’s network. The building’s or set’s IT personnel can advise you of the IP address and access credentials.

Like our Wireless Designer software, Dante has its own Network Controller that allows you to monitor the devices connected to it:

Units hooked up to Dante

Dante Controller receiver transmits and transmitter receives

An example of how you can use Dante would be:

  1. Arrive on set with a 300-foot length of Cat5e, Cat 6 or fiber cable (converter boxes required for fiber). That length will cover most situations. Use a rack case for your equipment and place it in the same general area as the talent. 
  2. Plug into the available network.
  3. Use Wireless Designer (which can map not only Lectro equipment, but can include units from other vendors via custom channels) to set up your system, and the Dante interface to see all of your connected devices and set your outputs and links
  4. The Dante network can then be the bridge between your department and others on set via IFBs or Duet IEMs. This will enable you to distance while at the same time delivering good sound to all the stakeholders.

Do you have suggestions for distancing or creative uses for Dante? Share them with us on our Facebook discussion page.