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Optocore triumphs at London 2012 opening and closing ceremonies

Daniel Gumble
Optocore triumphs at London 2012 opening and closing ceremonies

The London 2012 Olympics opening and closing ceremonies saw Norwest Productions and Delta Sound provide Optocore fibre signal transport, custom RF solutions and LAN networking across both events.

Australian company Norwest Productions teamed up with its UK partners Delta Sound to put in place the requisite Optocore fibre signal transport, custom RF solutions and LAN networking, which realised the sound design conceived by fellow Australian Scott Willsallen (of Auditoria) in conjunction with theatre sound designer, Bobby Aitken.

Norwest’s project manager, Andy Marsh, was all too aware that the network system required for a new 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium would present certain challenges. “We needed to overcome difficult cable runs,” he said. “The cable installation took us in excess of three weeks and was more akin to installing cable permanently into a venue. On top of this, the inclusion of many fully live musical acts — adding further size and complexity to the Optocore and backup systems — placed a considerable load on all the experienced audio engineers involved.”

With the specification demanding all Optocore R Series devices, Norwest invested in a number of the new converters to accommodate the design’s high channel and node count. They added quantities of DD4MR-FX, DD32R-FX, X6R-FX-8AE/8MI, X6R-TP-8AE/8MI, X6P-16IN devices to their inventory, which are designed to offer expanded features and efficiency, reduced carbon footprint, power consumption - of 40 per cent - and cost. Delta Sound also purchased a quantity of DD4MR-FX, DD2FR-FX, and X6R-FX devices for the event.

“Optocore is unique in its ability to matrix a high channel count over large distances, plus providing the redundancy of a ring network,” stated Marsh. “Most significantly, it is extraordinarily robust and reliable, which is essential to a show that is playing to 80,000 people live in the arena and four billion watching on TV.”

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In order to integrate Auditoria’s detailed and dual-redundant design, multiple Optocore fibre networks were deployed with full analogue back-up, principally for the main PA and broadcast systems.

The main 24-node ring collected and distributed all inputs and outputs on a 2Gbit network to several broadcast and PA locations, while Optocore also delivered both PA and monitor feeds, plus timecode and programme. In total there were 696 I/O channel feeds within the Optocore topography.

This marked one of the first uses of the German company’s new 2.21 protocol, which enabled 2Gbit bandwidth operation and was crucial to meet the main requirement of a high channel count. Another unique feature of the set-up was that Norwest used all 24 ID’s, capitalising on the maximum capacity of the fibre ring. A quantity of Optocore’s TP devices, which provided a Cat5 extension of the ring were also used.

With multi-mode distances of up to 350m between nodes, and single-mode distances running anything up to 1000m between nodes, the scale of the complete fibre network topped 5km, with Dolby Lake processors providing the main system switchover between networks. Meanwhile, the broadcast tied the main system to the Delta Media truck for all necessary I/O, and Delta Media delivered downstream mixes of playback, live and atmos mics to both CTV and OBS for their broadcast of the ceremony.

All signals in the transmission path were converted to digital on entering the Optocore environment, while the back-up system ran analogue from the Digico console SD rack outputs. The feeds were delivered via AES to a FOH PA comprised entirely of L-Acoustics components, with 220 VDosc, 100 Kudo, 55 Arcs, 88 SB28 subs and some 12XT fills - all driven from LA8 amplifiers.

Marsh credits his own crew, in particular Justin Arthur (Optocore and Patch Engineer), as well as the Delta Sound crew, led by overall project manager Steve Lutley, plus Senior Systems engineer from Autograph, Rob Tory. He concluded: “We all worked seamlessly together to make this a huge success, and the relationship between us could not have been better.”

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Tags: Installation, Live Sound, l-acoustics, optocore, 2012 olympics, danny boyle, london 2012, london 2012 opening ceremonies, london 2012 closing ceremony

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