Olympic-Size Sound

Pro audio emerged from behind the scenes this year at the Winter Olympic Games when Thomas Riedel, founder and managing director of Riedel Communications, was selected to carry the torch during the ceremonial Olympic Torch Relay.
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Pro audio emerged from behind the scenes this year at the Winter Olympic Games when Thomas Riedel, founder and managing director of Riedel Communications, was selected to carry the torch during the ceremonial Olympic Torch Relay. With 5.1-channel sound now commonplace alongside HD picture, there were plenty of other pro audio manufacturers also represented in the broadcast centers and remote vehicles in and around the Vancouver area.

Riedel Communications, which has been providing communications solutions to the Olympic Games since 1994, was officially honored with the “Friends of the Games” title this year. Riedel reportedly provided more than 70 Artist digital matrix intercom systems and 10,000 digital radios with over 500 control panels and beltpacks, supported by 40 Riedel system specialists and engineers on-site in Canada.

RTS digital matrix intercom systems were also in abundance, with the company’s new KP 32 CLD compact, fully programmable color keypanels making their Olympic debut. Tri-bus, multiframe ADAM (Advanced Digital Audio Matrix) systems were used exclusively by the largest broadcasters, including CTV, the Canadian host and NBC.

NBC has broadcast 11 Olympics—the most Olympics broadcast by any network— the 2010 Vancouver Games the sixth of an unprecedented seven consecutive Olympic broadcasts by NBC Sports. At the International Broadcast Center (IBC), for NBC’s presentation of bobsled and luge events at Whistler, the broadcaster relied on the newly expanded 240-channel version of Calrec Audio’s Omega, which, in turn, fed the Calrec consoles at NBC’s Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in New York. Calrec Audio supplied several 56-fader Omega with Bluefin audio consoles to NBC for the Games. Elsewhere, Calrec consoles numbered well into double figures in remote facilities provided by NEP, NCP, Dome Productions, Game Creek and Corplex.

According to Bob Dixon, director of sound design for NBC Olympics, “Our broadcast of the Winter Games in Vancouver has discrete 5.1 audio, promising the ability to bring more of the feelings of the action and the sense of being there to the homes of our audience. Each of our audio mixing engineers is very familiar with the Calrec consoles, and this allows them to focus on the artistic qualities of the show.”

Audio-Technica, involved with the Olympics since 1996, fielded over 3,000 microphones in Vancouver. Olympic Broadcast Services Vancouver (OBSV), the host broadcaster, was responsible for producing and distributing audio and video coverage of the Games. OBSV used a variety of A-T models, including AT4050 large-diaphragm, multipattern and BP4025 X/Y stereo field recording microphones to create the 5.1 surround sound ambience. Detail was added through the use of Audio-Technica shotgun, subminiature lavalier and boundary mics, as well as RF equipment.

At Universal Sports’ Westlake Village Studios facility just outside Los Angeles, a 106-channel Euphonix System 5-B digital audio mixing system and high-performance SH612 MADI Studio Hub digital router were central to the delivery of five, one-hour daily live news and information shows. This central production and broadcast center connected with two on-site remotes, for live and recorded programming for Universal Sports.

During the opening and closing ceremonies Australian production company, David Atkins Enterprises (DAE), relied on four Fairlight Xynergi systems—two playback systems with two backups. The main Xynergi systems also provided the master timecode for all other systems, including video and film projection, pyrotechnics, lighting, automation, lasers, and click and cue tracks for the conductor and performers.

Media Logic, Fairlight’s German distributor, provided speech-editing equipment to German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, including three audio workstations. The system allowed native playback of HD formats directly from the Avid ISIS System to assure a fast workflow, without format conversion.

ARD and ZDF both had a control room in the IBC and a studio in the Mountain Broadcast Center (MBC) in Vancouver and Whistler outfitted with Lawo digital consoles. The mobile units fed a Lawo mc266 in ZDF’s new HD control room in Germany.

Swiss Television SRG Suisse reported 16 hours per day from two control rooms— in Vancouver and Whistler—and a main switching room at the IBC in Vancouver, all outfitted with equipment from by Salzbrenner Stagetec Mediagroup. Each location featured a Nexus network. The Vancouver location control room also housed Stagetec’s recently introduced Crescendo mid-size console.