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Behind the Scenes with Stage Tec: Producing Live Multisite Operas, Part 2

Nov 23, 2010 10:30 AM, With Bennett Liles

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And coordinating a lot of people working right there with the performers and able to quickly swap out anything that stops working. In a period piece that would be tough. Was this done with period costumes with hidden microphones or was it done in a more modern version?
[For] the principles, we had DPA headsets, plus the Sennheiser MK1 on it. It was, for the director of the show, it was absolutely OK to see the headset microphones because the opera was made quite modern so like Radames and Aida, they were smoking, they were drinking whiskey, things like that. Or as I said, Radames came with a big motor boat with the slaves from this war up the Rhine River. It was a modern production of this opera, so it was not an issue to see the DPA headsets. [Timestamp: 8:07]

Oh, well that made things a lot easier then.
Yeah, much easier.

So how was all the multitrack recording done? Did you have all the gear for that in your location or was it fed to a separate truck just for recording?
Recording was done on a 64-track Pyromix system, and this was in the OB truck that made the final live broadcast 5.1 mix. And we just routed all the signals directly from the Nexus inputs into the Pyromix system; except off the microphones, I pre-mixed so into the multi-tracks there went my final premix. But all the other feeds, all the microphones from the orchestra, ambience mics, and also the video play backs during the broadcast, this audio was feeded one by one directly by our MADI into this multi-track machine. And guys are doing the down mix right now and the DVD of this show is supposed to be released early November so they have to speed up a little bit. [Timestamp: 9:13]

Well at least you’re in a controlled situation once you’ve got all that on the multi-track. Now it’s one mic, one receiver, and you’re taking the output of that and distributing the signal external to the mixers so that all the consoles are independent; they don’t affect each other?
No, they don’t affect each other. Each console, even if it is the first generation of a Cantus, which was also involved on the production on one of the OB trucks. They have a total separate input gain on their DSP channel; that’s a plus/minus 6dB gain, and this doesn’t affect the Nexus input at all. By the way, we don’t have analog gains on our converters in any way. [Timestamp: 9:59]

Well, you had a lot of things set up and a lot of plates spinning at the same time. How long did the whole set up take from the very beginning when you went into the town?
The whole technical set up took a bit longer than one week, but as usual on TV production, lights and video is the first to come in. They had the hardest work to do because lights, they’ll have to run a whole lot of copper cable and they had to set up lights all around the Rhine River on both sides of the river site, so they were working many days and that was, yeah, a bit more than a week for them. And all sound and communication part took a bit more than three days to set up, so on the fourth day, we had our line check in the early afternoon. And this was a sound crew of about 20 people. [Timestamp: 10:51]

A lot of work by a lot of people, and we’ll see when the DVD is released very soon how it all came out and we will all have had a little glimpse behind the scenes with this. Christian, I sure was glad to have you give us all that behind the scenes look at the production of Aida on the Rhine in Basel, Switzerland. Sounds like it all worked well.
It worked absolutely well so everyone was happy but from everyone involved in the production a lot of stress went off; the production was successfully done. [Timestamp: 11:20]

Thanks for telling us about it.
Thank you very much for your time.

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