dlb Research Behind the Scenes at General Conference

As the LDS General Conference once again approaches, we see references to the translation facilities in the press. We thought we would post some additional information for those who may be interested in more about the facility.

On March 25 an article was posted on lds.org called "Behind the Scenes At General Conference"

Part way down the page there is a video showing conference preparations in the Conference Center. At the 1:42 point our ATM-2000 Automatic Translation Mixers are shown in automatic ID mode, sending a pre-recorded ID message for each language enabling operators both inside and outside the Conference Center to check the language feeds.

An additional set of photos is also provided showing conference behind the scenes here.

We have downloaded Images #5 and #6 from that story which show our equipment in use.


This first image shows two interpreters wearing a headset/microphone combination similar to those worn by sportscasters. On the table in between the two interpreters one of our booth modules can be seen where the interpreters can turn on their individual microphones, adjust their headphone volume, and also contact the main control room.

ATM-2000 MIxer

This second image from the lds.org website shows our ATM-2000 Automatic Translation Mixers in operation in the Translation Control Room. In reality the green displays showing the language name does not have the gaps in the letters which is an artifact of the digital camera used.

Conference Center Click for Hi Res Version

This photo shows the equipment rack holding 48 ATM-2000 mixers in the translation control room. Some of the units are used to service the 58 interpreter's booths that are present in the Conference Center. Each ATM-2000 mixer handles 2 languages. The balance of the ATM-2000 units support the in-country interpreters. The original program is sent over high speed network connections to the individual countries where native speakers interpret the program which is then sent back and inserted into the standard set of languages by ATM-2000 units. The output of these devices is the sent to headphones in the Conference Center, Recording devices, and to the master control room where it is then fed to the Satellites and internet distribution by another dlb Research device, the OAC-2000

Monitoring Station Click for Hi Res Version

This photo is the translation control room monitoring station. This Windows based control surface allows the operator to monitor all 96 languages, see at a glance the status of microphones and signal levels, as well as use a talkback system to speak to individual interpreters or all at once. Before dlb Research designed the first ATM mixers in 1991, individual operators were needed to manually adjust and check each language individually. dlb Research was formed as a business entity to design the first generation ATM-1000 mixers which were used in the Salt Lake Tabernacle from 1991 until 2002, when they were replaced with the ATM-2000 in the new Conference Center Building. The ATM-1000 mixers are now in use in the MTC in Provo, Utah.

The ATM-2000 mixers automatically adjust the microphone volume of each interpreter, fade the live program up and down for the musical numbers, and provide intercom to each interpreter's booth. They automate the creating of each language feed eliminating the need for manual microphone adjustments. With this monitor station one operator can easily handle a full broadcast replacing the dozens of operators that were needed prior to our work.

Conference Center Master Control

As part of the Conference Center broadcast facility, a master control room is used to control and monitor all the broadcast feeds to the Church Satellite system, broadcast facilities, other LDS Church campus buildings, and the internet. In 1999 dlb Research was also commissioned to design and build devices known as the OAC-200, which stands for On-Air-Controller. The purpose of these devices is to switch and condition the language feeds to the Church Satellite system and the internet. These new devices were designed at the same time as the ATM mixers, and use similar technology and software, but perform a very different purpose.

200 Audio Channels of audio processing for Master Control Room Click for Hi Res Version

This photo shows the four Satellite banks installed in equipment racks. There are 51 OACs installed in the Conference Center arranged in five banks, each handling 4 language feeds. The five banks of OACs are as follows:the Domestic Satellite, the European Satellite, the Pacific Rim Satellite, the Latin America Satellite, and the Internet. The Internet bank of OACs are located elsewhere. Mounted underneath the OACs are satellite encoders that combine the video and audio channels for each satellite transponder.

 Master Control Audio Monitoring Station Click for Hi Res Version

This photo shows the windows based central monitoring software workstation position. This is Windows based PC application that allows the operator to see the status of all 204 audio channels, as well as control and switch any language source as a group or independently. Switching is done by a single operator using the computers screens. Each monitor in the workstation corresponds to the banks of OACs mentioned above, with the Internet bank on the far right.

Simply clicking on the name of a language allows the operator to automatically hear the language feed or other sources for each output channel. The OACs also provide pre-recorded ID messages that are used for setup of the language feeds in each individual down-link location.

The ATMs were installed in October of 2002, and the OACs the next General Conference of April 2003.

Copyright © 2011 David L. Bytheway