Optocore on track for London Olympics

Friday, 14 September 2012
Optocore on track for London OlympicsThe sound and lighting designers were also faced with enormous technical challenges
UK - The awe-inspiring - and completely distinctive - Opening and Closing Ceremonies, which spectacularly book-ended the London 2012 Olympics, were a triumph for the respective artistic directors, Danny Boyle and Kim Gavin.

Described as the most creative yet, to ensure the realisation of these ambitious concepts, the sound and lighting designers were also faced with enormous technical challenges.

Specialising in this scale of event production for more than a decade, Australian company Norwest Productions again teamed up with their UK partners Delta Sound to provide the necessary Optocore fibre signal transport, custom RF solutions and LAN networking. This sophisticated connectivity realised the sound design conceived by fellow Australian Scott Willsallen (of Auditoria) - another with a string of Games Opening/Closing events on his CV - in conjunction with theatre sound designer, Bobby Aitken.

Norwest's project manager, Andy Marsh, knew that the network system required for a new 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium would present 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."

Optocore has long been at the heart of Norwest's main digital systems - and more than 50 devices were deployed in an inventory shared with Delta Sound.

Since the specification had called for all Optocore 'R' series devices, Norwest purchased a number of these new energy-efficient 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 - these offer increased features and efficiency, reduced carbon footprint, power consumption (of 40%) 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," states 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."

The integration necessary to meet Auditoria's detailed and dual-redundant design involved deploying multiple Optocore fibre networks, 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 a myriad of broadcast and PA locations, and 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.

(Jim Evans)

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