2008-06-07

A Summer’s Fairy Tale Reloaded

mc²66 the nerve centre of ZDF’s Euro 2008 studio with public viewing in Bregenz.

Among the finest memories of the last World Cup in Germany (immortalized by the 2006 documentary Deutschland. Ein Sommermärchen or "Germany. A Summer’s Fairy Tale") is the good-natured euphoria of the fans gathered in their thousands in the front of giant screens for the public viewings. People of all nationalities not fortunate enough to get tickets for the stadiums combined on those occasions passion for the game with sportsmanship and restraint in a manner the world’s press judged exemplary. Already in 2006, ZDF was drawing huge attendances for its giant screen transmissions, which in a sense offered the best of both worlds: close-ups of the action and big-stadium atmosphere. For the EURO 2008, ZDF is taking things to the next level. Against the spectacular backdrop of Lake Constance, Bregenz’s lakeside stage has been turned into a giant studio with presenters Johannes B. Kerner, Juergen Klopp and Urs Meier providing expert analysis of events as they unfold. The matches themselves are being shown on two giant LED screens on which thousands of boisterous fans can follow the action.

Since last year, ZDF has relied for all such projects on a container solution ─ the container village comprises four containers, which with their image control room, sound control room, main control room and editing suite provide a complete studio solution. The advantages of this arrangement are obvious: any tractor can be used to transport the containers to the event and valuable space is spared on location ─ especially when two containers are arranged vertically.

Since an OB truck using analogue technology can no longer satisfy the demands of a modern control room, ZDF purchased a digital sound mixing console for the sound control room. They chose an mc²66 from Lawo, a fully-fledged broadcasting console with compact dimensions ─ ideal for mobile use. The desk boasts 48 faders, 196 DSP channels and a router with a capacity of 3,072 x 3,072 mono channels. A positive side-effect is that the sound engineers already know the console and its operating philosophy because many OB trucks are already equipped with mc²66 desks. In retrospect, ZDF praises the swift and flawless manner in which this project was handled and the good cooperation with Lawo. The service and remote maintenance are also beyond reproach.

For ZDF’s live broadcasts, the onstage show is mixed by an additional OB truck before being sent to the sound container, which in turn gathers all the international signals from the stadiums. An mc²66 is used there to mix the transmission sum, which is retransmitted to Mainz by the main control container. Furthermore, in the event of the OB truck failing, the sound container is perfectly capable of substituting as a control room and producing the show. The sound container is, in a sense, the nerve centre of the entire studio for all stadiums.