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Lawo drives remote TV production with Formula One

German broadcaster RTL set up in Cologne

Formula One has diverse broadcast requirements dictated by the variety of its courses and widely spread race locations, with Lawo speeding in to provide the equipment for German station RTL.

Sound engineers involved with broadcasting the worldwide, multimillion-pound behemoth the Formula 1 circus have previously spoken of the challenges involvedand the difficulty of competing for a slice of the available radio spectrum.

With RTL, instead of setting up a mobile facility at each track, it located its production control at the broadcast centre in Cologne.

With a Multiprotocol Label Switching network linking the race venue to the Cologne Broadcast Center (CBC) facility, all live video and audio signals were delivered and made available in the control room in Cologne. This was achieved by using a Lawo Nova17 router and DSP engine plus an IFB mixer, along with a Riedel intercom system.

Production of the live races and accompanying coverage is managed using a touchscreen remote control for the IFB mixer, as well as a Lawo mc² audio mixing console in the CBC production control room.

“The main task was to find connectivity that could bring all relevant live signals and ENG-footage to Cologne – it was important to keep the performance and quality at least on the same level as before,” CBC’s production engineer Fritz Behringer explains. “The second big issue was the handling of signal delay, originating from distances and codec latencies.”

Essential to the remote production was the low-latency IFB mixer setup, running on a Nova17 router and operated with two VisTool panels – one on-site for setup and testing and the second for the sound supervisor in Cologne to manage the EQ, dynamics, dimming, and other processing. In case of a failure of the MPLS network, VisTool provides fader access to provide a simple emergency mix.

Usually the Nova17 is remotely controlled from the Lawo mc²90 audio console at the audio control room in Cologne, with virtual GPIs flying over the network to the racetrack. This setup provides a perfect low-latency audio mix for presenter, reporter and two interviewees in the pit lane or paddock, and two race commentators. A Virtual Studio Manager system on-site controls all routings in the local SDI router, the Nova17 and Lawo V_pro8 processor, which is used for video and audio.

The new production operation went live-to-air from the first race of the season at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit and has since visited the Middle East, China, Russia, Europe, and North America.

“Besides the pure signal transport, the main focus was on the functionality of equipment and mainly on workflows so that everybody in the team became aware of the different handling of the production, especially the communication between venue and the Cologne production center,” adds Behringer.

“In front of the cameras, the reporters were unaware of any changes to their work as a consequence of using remote production. All talkback and TB mixes were as good as those from a conventional production with OB van or container control room,” concludes Felix Krückels, Lawo’s director of business Development.