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Behind the Scenes with Stage Tec: Producing Live Multisite Operas, Part 1

Nov 9, 2010 11:27 AM, With Bennett Liles

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That would simplify things going in-ear for the performers rather than trying to deal with some kind of a mixed minus signal through open speakers. Although, I have seen that done. The in-ear monitoring would really make a difference.
Yeah, it worked really great with in-ear systems. [Timestamp: 6:10]

And you were right in the middle of it working hands-on. What was your specific role in the production?
I was actually rented with the Aurus console. They needed to set up a third studio, and my job was to premix all the vocalists so all of the principal singers got two wireless microphones, but they were coming through different receivers. I had for every principal between four and 12 receiver channels coming in, and there were three rehearsals where I had to take the time to write down notes in the music book and program cues for this to make sure that on every scene or even sometimes just for a few bars, I had to change a singer from one receiver to the other and back that there’s audio with no interruption or weird noise starting or something like that on it, and finally I sent it out seven mixes to the OB truck that was doing the final opera mix and also to the multitrack recording and monitor mixer. [Timestamp: 7:24]

OK, and all that went over a Nexus network?
That was all done over the Nexus network. Also all communication devices were all running through the Nexus system, the commentator systems as well, and we had no issue in latency or things because for every step through the Nexus, we talk about one sample latency and then you just have to add a very short time for AD/DA conversion. [Timestamp: 7:55]

And of course that’s all on fiber-optic lines.
All the Nexus is connected on fiber-optic cable, which we can run in multimode up to 1.5km and in single-mode, we can go up to 100 to 120km. [Timestamp: 8:13]

Did you have to lay all the fiber cable just for this event or was there any of it useable already in place?
Nothing useable in place; one reason for that was that, of course, OB trucks, they have standardized fiber-optic connectors and for Swiss TV, it’s usually easier to run and lay the own fiber cables. So a standard length at Swiss TV is a 5km wheel with fiber cable on it. So all the cabling was laid from Swiss TV for the whole production. [Timestamp: 8:48]

And I mentioned earlier that this was all done in the town of Basel, Switzerland. Did you have any particular challenges as far as following local codes and regulations, traffic control, and things like that?
For sure you have some challenges on a production like that, the location of the hotel itself. All the surrounding has got very narrow roads, so that was the first challenge—that there was not really enough space for all the trucks unload in and unload out. The two OB trucks were really standing on the sidewalks, so they had to block the sidewalks for people walking by and no street was closed. The public transportation was still running even during the opera production—of course these are challenges all. There was a huge Spidercam across the Rhine River, and they had to put the cable wheels for the Spidercam they brought in with helicopters to put them on the roof of the buildings. [Timestamp: 9:51]

And you actually had some of the scenes staged in boats out on the Rhine River?
Yeah, there were scenes on the Rhine River on a boat. For that, they had a coal transportation boat, which was packed with people and this was all citizens from Basil. They cast it a few days before with citizens from Basil just to pack this boat, and this boat was coming up the Rhine River while Radames was singing and that was quite one of the biggest distances we had to make sure that audio was working all over the place. [Timestamp: 10:27]

Well moving along the river that would certainly call for a lot of two-way wireless links.
Yeah, absolutely.

Well, Christian, it’s been great having you here for part one of the Aida on the Rhine opera production, and in part two we’ll get into the details of the RF mics and the spectrum used and how the mix for 5.1 sound was done, but thanks for being here for part one.
Yeah, I appreciate it; thank you.

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