You are here

Glastonbury article ?

For performing musicians and engineers: stagecraft, engineering and gear.

Glastonbury article ?

Postby Chaconne » Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:38 am

Just thinking it would be cool to have an article about Glastonbury. It must be the biggest live / broadcast operation on the planet, yet the live feeds always sound good. How is it done? Just a thought. Well, maybe July 2019 might carry it....if man is still alive.
Chaconne
Frequent Poster
Posts: 803
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2005 12:00 am
Location: Oxford

Re: Glastonbury article ?

Postby The Korff » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:46 am

Already dunnit! Well, kinda... SOS's sister publication Performing Musician (RIP) published just such an article in 2009. You can read it here:

http://www.performing-musician.com/pm/f ... onbury.htm

It's a really good article actually (I remember editing it at the time), and it's got some great pics too. Although much will have changed since then, it's still an excellent overview of what it takes to put on a stage like that (the article focusses on the Pyramid Stage).

It may well be time to revisit the subject in SOS — the only problem is, the people we'd want to speak to about it are currently knee-deep in mud and gaffer tape at the moment, so it's quite tricky to get an article about festivals out at an appropriate time of year to catch the 'festival hype train', if you see what I mean.
The Korff
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1865
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:28 am
Location: The Wrong Precinct

Re: Glastonbury article ?

Postby The Korff » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:47 am

Oh, and I've just found this one about the BBC's festival outside-broadcast team:

http://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/ ... dcast-team

Happy reading!
The Korff
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1865
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:28 am
Location: The Wrong Precinct

Re: Glastonbury article ?

Postby AlecSp » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:51 am

I think you'll find other rather bigger live broadcast operations - The Olympics, anyone...?

And, while there are some great broadcast mixes, there have been plenty of really shonky ones too.

That said, the BBC generally do a fantastic job on Glastonbury, letting most of the country watch in dry comfort, and able to wade through the performances over the week or two following.
AlecSp
Regular
Posts: 194
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Glastonbury article ?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:30 am

It's usually around this point that the Red Bladder comes on and tells how it's done so much better in Germany... ;-)

Getting adequate access to the BBC enclave to observe something like Glasto is extremely difficult, and getting the write-up approved through their PR department even harder! Not only are the logistics very tricky, but these are rolling live broadcasts so security is very high on the minds of the management, and those directly involved are always way too busy to talk. All of which means that no one is keen to have 'journalists' hanging about in the OB trucks.

In terms of the size of the event it's big, of course, but really nothing that unusual. Wimbledon is similar if not bigger in terms of trucks, mics, cameras, and cabling, and some of the other major sports events can be more technically challenging in some ways -- like the Boat Race which has OB trucks covering many different parts of the river at the same time with lots of radio links.

I don't know the detail for this year's Glasto rig -- it usually evolves slightly each year -- but in general the sound mixes for the bigger stages are done in dedicated TV sound and big Radio trucks which handle alternate acts, all feeding into conventional TV OB trucks to handle the cameras and vision mixing, and to mix sound for the links and interview platform etc. There's usually a VT truck to edit packages together too, and then radio link trucks to get the signals out into the broadcast chain. Most of the OB sound trucks these days run digital consoles, typically Lawo, Stagetec, Studer, or SSL.

The stage OB sound trucks generally take a couple of shared MADI feeds from the live sound rig on the stage (might be moving into Dante feeds now), and supplement that with some audience mics to add a bit of atmosphere for the TV/Radio audience.

Everything is usually multitracked for future potential DVD releases (and training purposes), but mixed live straight to stereo and/or surround there and then, in the truck. No rehearsals, no retakes, no remixes. It's a seriously challenging job with a hyper-critical audience expecting studio-quality mixes, and its quite remarkable how good those guys can make it when it's all working well. There's a small team of very experienced pop-music balancers drawn from the Beeb's TV and radio music programme strands.

Unfortunately, as with any live event, it doesn't always work well! From what I've been told, the most common issue is when the live sound guys have a problem and change lines between stage and FOH, but forget to tell the broadcast people what they've done, resulting in a missing source for a few moments until they figure out what's gone on. Not so bad if it's a tom-tom mic, but devastating if it's the lead vocal -- which has happened! I gather there's often a lot of backing (and sometimes front-line/vocal) stuff coming off PT rigs too.

The other issues are external acoustic noise in the trucks and fatigue. Even though the OB trucks have very good sound isolation for what they are, a lot of PA bass still leaks in through the walls, which can be quite misleading when trying to mix. Turning the monitoring level up to try and overcome the external leakage inevitably results in a poorer mix when auditioned at normal domestic levels at home. And the mixing engineers have to work relatively long and intense shifts so ear fatigue can become a factor, too.

Overall, though, I think they generally do a really impressive job under extremely challenging circumstances.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 18686
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Glastonbury article ?

Postby Chaconne » Wed Jun 28, 2017 3:28 am

Thanks for that Hugh. I am surprised that the BBC would come across as 'difficult' with a request from a publication as 'straight' as S.O.S though. I mean it's not like there is much sensational journalism to be gained from live sound !?

Also, I take your point about Wimbledon and other big events, but in terms of live sound I don't think it has an equal. I can't think of many problems over the years, occasional drop outs, but any mix sounding subpar has always been a stage issue - signalled by musicians frantically pointing upwards generally.
Chaconne
Frequent Poster
Posts: 803
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2005 12:00 am
Location: Oxford

Re: Glastonbury article ?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:34 am

Chaconne wrote:I am surprised that the BBC would come across as 'difficult' with a request from a publication as 'straight' as S.O.S though. I mean it's not like there is much sensational journalism to be gained from live sound !?

They are extremely sensitive to anything that might come across as endorsement of equipment or companies, as well as criticism or anything that might be interpreted as casting a bad light on their practices, no matter how innocent or benign! They are also very wary about the obvious security issues surrounding 'unknowns' lurking around their technical facilities etc, as well as people trying to get freebies into major events through the Beeb. You can imagine the headlines and the parliamentary committee questions when the Daily Mail discovers the Beeb have handed out loads of free passes to Glasto for 'journalists'. They get enough stick for the crews!

I take your point about Wimbledon and other big events, but in terms of live sound I don't think it has an equal.

Other major events present different types of challenges, but often the scale or the rig, the numbers of channels involved, and the technology is not too dissimilar.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 18686
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Glastonbury article ?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:41 pm

I've just acquired a (reasonably) complete list of all the sound consoles involved in the broadcasting side of Glastonbury which shines a light on the size of the thing:

BBC Radio are responsible for most of the music mixing facilities, with the mixes being distributed for radio and TV broadcast -- the latter often being supplemented with sound for in-vision links and presentation etc.

Pyramid Stage: BBC Radio OBs Sound 2 - SSL C200 digital console with 48 fader surface (music mix) plus Arena OB 8 with a Calrec Sigma 64 fader surface (TV pics
and presentation)

Other Stage: BBC Radio OBs Sound 1: SSL 9000K Series (analogue console) with 40 fader surface (music mix) plus Arena Calrec Sigma 64 fader surface (TV pics and presentation)

John Peel Stage: BBC Scotland Digital Sound Vehicle - Digico SD7 (music mix) working with CTV OB14 Calrec Omega 40 fader surface (TV pics and presentation)

Park Stage: BBC Radio OBs Sound 6 - Stagetec Aurus with 40 channel surface (music mix) working with Arena OB ? Calrec Apollo 72 fader surface (TV pics and presentation)

Sonic Stage - BBC Radio OBs Sound 9 - Digico SD9

West Holts - Sound Alliance truck Stagetec Cantus 72 fader surface working with Telegenic OB truck 48 fader Calrec Apollo

Introducing Stage - BBC Radio OBs Sound 7 - Stagetec Aurus with 40 channel surface working with Vivid Broadcast (not sure what they had)

Hub Switching truck, compliance etc. - BBC Radio Outside Broadcasts Sound 3 utilising large Stagetec Nexus switcher with lots of MADI!

BBC 2 TV Transmission (including acoustic performances at the Park presentation area) used Arena OB 11 Calrec Artemis Beam 56 fader surface

BBC 4 TV Transmission used Arena OB 10 Calrec Artemis Beam 56 fader surface

So, there ya go!
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 18686
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Glastonbury article ?

Postby Folderol » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:00 pm

{looks at tiny 4 channel mixer and sighs} :cry:
User avatar
Folderol
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5519
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:00 am
Location: Rochester, UK
You know, and I know, but they don't know... So keep your mouth shut!


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests