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Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Mar 9

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3/9/2012 2:08 PM  RssIcon

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – March 9, 2012… A shot is fired. The target is hit. Cheering breaks out everywhere. Every hit is celebrated frenetically by the audience. Magdalena Neuner continues on to the last lap of the sprint competition which she will finish in 1st place.

For her, this year’s Biathlon World Cup is not only a goodbye gala: She also made the promise to win a total of six medals in this contest. Having already received a complete set – gold, silver, and bronze – puts her onto the right path to fulfill her promise. Host broadcaster ZDF has assigned two OB-Vans, the MP4 and the MP5, to cover this event, while BR employed its own FÜ HD1. However, both broadcasters fully rely on Lawo technology to guarantee optimum sound for this important sports event.

ZDF as Host Broadcaster

The Biathlon World Cup in Ruhpolding is a joint production of ARD and ZDF. As this year’s host broadcaster, ZDF is responsible for the creation of international signals through its two OB-Vans. But their responsibilities do not end there. The distribution of the signal and the servicing of unilateral broadcast centers and rights holders are also part of ZDF’s job. To fulfill all these tasks, a new master control room (MCR) was created and equipped with components of ARD’s and ZDF’s mobile production unit (MPE). A Lawo Nova73 HD served as the central router in this setup.

The international signal is created in the control room of the MP4. The MP5 is then added in order to control the 39 camera signals and the corresponding sound. “Since the overall sound contributes significantly to the creation of an optimal audience experience, the control room concept for a sport event of this magnitude sets very high requirements for the implementation of the sound in addition to a sophisticated and reliable intercom infrastructure,” explained Florian Rathgeber, technical director for global audio and video signals. The MP4 alone is equipped with two mc²66 consoles, one larger model with 56 faders and 288 DSP channels, the other smaller, featuring 32 faders and 240 DSP channels.

Using these OB-Vans, ZDF and ARD have regularly produced the coverage of the Biathlon World Cup since December 2010 on an annually alternating basis. In the context of this year’s contest, the MP4, with the international audio and video control room, had to be connected with the MP5, which featured a second control room for a submix, audio technology for camera control, as well as additional EVS workstations, the MCR and BR’s FÜ HD1. The signal exchange between these took place via MADI, using fiber optic cables up to 1.2 kilometers length per cable section. Moreover, the Lawo stageboxes and microphones had to be weatherproof and well protected.

Asked about the advantages of using Lawo mc²66 consoles, Heiko Bulirsch, the sound engineer at ZDF, emphasized the operating reliability, ease-of-use, as well as the Audio-Follow-Video function that is standard with Lawo’s digital consoles: “Each of the 39 cameras is embedded with the respective four-channel audio. Even the internal feed for the replay from the EVS hard disk machine has the correct sound.” This is especially important for the so-called ‘shooting trick’, for which the shooter is shown in the left half of the screen, while his target is shown in the right half.”

National coverage through BR

The BR, with its FÜ HD1 on-site, is responsible for the national signal of ARD and ZDF. This involves the use of an additional 11 cameras, including two Hotheads and one RemoteHead. One BR team alone ran a total of 40 kilometers of camera, audio, and communication cables. The mc²66 console in the FÜ HD1 is designed to be operated by a two-man crew. With a 32-8-16 frame, it features 56 faders as well as 336 DSP channels. The HD-Core, with an integrated audio matrix, is equipped with three AES cards with BNC and D-Sub connections, and offers a routing capacity of 8,000 x 8,000 crosspoints. The FÜ HD1 features a total of 12 DALLIS-I/O systems, which are redundantly connected to the HD-Core. Of these, three are used as stageboxes and offer inputs for up to 80 microphones. “Large-scale sports events require a large number of input channels since multiple events have to be processed at the same time. For example, we might have to record an interview while running a broadcast. This, among others, is the reason why the mc²66 in the FÜ HD1 is pre-configured to be operated by two sound engineers,” explained Jürgen Becker, audio production engineer for outside broadcasts with BR.

Ruhpolding’s Kurpark, renamed as Championspark (Park of the Champions) for the Biathlon World Cup, is the venue for evening events and most medal ceremonies. From there, BR already broadcast the opening ceremony as well as a “Blickpunkt Sport” (Focus on Sport) on March 5. “In addition to cameras along the tracks and in the Championspark, we will of course also have some EB teams covering the stadium as well as the Championspark and general area of Ruhpolding to follow the athletes as closely as possible and to provide the most exiting shots,” said Jürgen Kreissl, director for outside broadcasts with BR’s technical TV-operations division. These contributions are created in an editing unit with three networked AVID interfaces stationed in the Chiemgau arena.

About Lawo

Lawo is a manufacturer of digital audio networking systems and consoles for a wide range of applications from small to large scale audio production in television and radio, post production, and live sound. Established in the 1970s, the company’s manufacturing center is located in the Rhine valley town of Rastatt, Germany. For additional information on all Lawo products, visit the company online at http://www.lawo.ca.

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