2009-04-29

Yes We Can.

SWR broadcasted NATO summit with Lawo equipment.

The most rigorous safety regulations are required when Barack Obama is about to arrive on a visit to Europe. Particularly when his destination is the NATO summit, meeting other high-ranking heads of state and government. Understandably, the technical and logistic demands were particularly high on the 3rd and 4th April 2009 for the host-broadcaster Südwestrundfunk (SWR) when SWR broadcasted this event with up-to-date news, interviews, reports and background information. SWR handled this ambitious task in a superior style, and provided viewers and listeners all over the world with stunning pictures and superb sound. With regard to the audio equipment, once again SWR put their trust in Lawo products. One of SWR’s OB units, FÜ2 HD, was SWR’s outpost, located behind the spa hotel (Kurhaus) in Baden-Baden that was used as the venue for the grand opening of this event. The truck broadcasted the arrival and welcome of the state guests, the dinner party and the post-dinner concert featuring Anne-Sophie Mutter. Speeches by the guests of state were broadcasted for international video and audio distribution. 'For reason of reliability, the complete production was carried out using a self-sufficient power supply system, which was guaranteed by the use of 256 kVA twin-pack generators. During the actual production, access to the location was greatly hindered by safety precautions, and only possible if accompanied by the federal police', reports Matthias Eberhardt, the SWR Head of Engineering responsible for coverage from the spa hotel.

Audio sources in the building were gathered by Pool Production, and supplied via a splitter to the FÜ2 HD truck. Speeches and associated output from the interpreters for German, French and English versions were inserted into the international video and audio feeds. The FÜ2 HD truck provided the international feeds as 4-channel signals, as per the EBU specification ─ one channel for speeches in the original language, music and atmos, and the other three for the interpreters. From the original audio signals, two international feeds were produced using Lawo’s Audio-follow-Video function. Matthias Eberhardt comments: 'The AfV feature in particular very much facilitated production in FÜ2 HD and, most of all, in the international picture OB truck at SWR’s main facility. Many events were produced simultaneously, saved on an EVS server, and then time-delayed broadcasted with the international picture feed. Only in this way was it possible to show the arrival of a president or foreign minister, or even Obama’s landing, when Chancellor Angela Merkel was already shaking hands outside the spa hotel in front of the international press.'

In addition to the OB trucks positioned outside the spa hotel and at Südwestrundfunk’s facility, in Baden-Baden and between the spa town and Kehl, additional SNGs and three SWR motorcycle teams with editors and cameramen were on the road, ready to react quickly, and reach an event location in the fastest possible time. All signals, including those from Strasbourg and from the field SNGs, were supplied via fibre-optic or multi-downlink connections to the central OB truck at the broadcasting centre.

It took two days to prepare the FÜ2 HD unit for this task, followed by a set-up on Monday and a technical check on Tuesday, the security check on Wednesday and an SCR and MCR line check on Thursday. Finally, on Friday the production and broadcast of the NATO summit took place. At the spa hotel alone, 20 cameras were used, which required elaborate cabling ─ some of the cameras were positioned up to 3.5 km from the FÜ2 HD truck and connected via fibre-optic links.

One of SWR’s SNG vehicles was also parked close to the spa hotel and produced, among other programmes, a nation-wide broadcast of the popular ARD Morning Show. This van is equipped with the following Lawo equipment: a zirkonXL console with Nova17 matrix, and a z4 editor’s console. The zirkonXL ─ in spite of its compact size ─ offers all the functions required for TV sound production. With 12 physical and 12 virtual faders, 24 channels are controllable within a small space. VisTool software gives a display of ‘Multi PPM’, as well providing control of the matrix, which facilitates efficient workflow-oriented operation with a clear overview.

A Lawo mc²66 is installed in SWR’s FÜ2 HD OB truck. The Lawo desk features 140 microphone inputs, 192 DSP channels and 56 faders, while the router, with its redundant routing card, offers 8,192 x 8,192 crosspoints. Four program feeds are available, making the simultaneous transmission of multiple feeds possible. In the event of a failure, backup is provided not only for the program and transmission audio paths but also for the monitor system and all auxiliary sends via Digidesign’s Pro Tools. The mc²66 and its 80-button user panel had been comprehensively pre-programmed to provide, among other features, the above-mentioned Audio-follow-Video facility.