Despite playing low-key venues rather than stadia, Coldplay’s recent international tour mixed live and pre-recorded content in a show that worked in the more intimate settings but also produced a visually stunning finale at the Royal Albert Hall. Supporting the release of Ghost Stories, the band called in Video Director Ben Miles from Mixed Emotions for visuals.

Ghost StoriesTaking care of cameras and content for the main video screen, he used Roland’s V-1600HD multi-format live video switcher, chosen for ‘its versatility, compact design, high channel count and the ability to accept a variety of video input formats.’

‘XL Video suggested the V-1600HD to me while I was on the road with Elbow,’ he explains. ‘I liked the sound of the functionality so I did some reading on the specs and XL sent one out to me on tour so I could test it out. I was keen to check the latency between input and output and how fast you could cut between feeds as well as the usability of the menus. All of these functions performed really well and the size of the console was excellent for the type of tour we were doing where I needed to compress the amount of kit being flown around and also real estate onstage. We played some tiny theatres and shoe horned tons of equipment in so it was essential my control setup was small but still had all the required functionality.’

The V-1600HD was used as a hub to take in all the camera feeds and a feedback from a Catalyst content server. Four broadcast quality, manned cameras were supplied locally at each show and plugged in on BNC via their PPU at either 1080i or 720p, at either 50Hz or 60Hz. Three Bradley Robocams toured with the V-1600HD, which were connected on BNC at 720p as well as two Gnat Minicams on BNC at 720p. The Catalyst content server was plugged into the DVI input on the V-1600HD.

One of the Minicams was connected via DVI from a scaler so that the content could be resized and the scaler properties used. The V-1600HD was also used to output tallies to the four manned cameras with no need for extra converters. On some of the shows the V-1600HD was used to generate the Ref Sync while on others an external reference was used to sync up. The output was mostly at 720p in order to feed the Catalyst to mix with content, which was then fed to the LED screen in front of which was a rear projection screen. The loop outs of the eight HD BNCs were used to feed a multi viewer giving pips of the camera and then the V-1600HD screen as preview and TX monitor.

On shows such as the Radio 1 Big Weekend, the preview output on the V-1600HD was used to feed the side screen as a second cut so the main TX could be used on the upstage LED wall mixed with content and effects and a clean cut to the IMAGs.

‘The ability to take in different sources at different resolutions and frame rates on different connectors was a massive bonus,’ Miles says. ‘I would have needed quite a few scan converters to perform the same task. Plus knowing that I could take in most broadcast resolutions directly meant a lot less conversations in advance of shows prepping kit as I knew that the V-1600HD could deal with most variations. As we went between the UK, US, Australia and Japan, that just about covers all the different power, frame rate and frequencies out there and the Roland had all the options covered. The built-in preview monitor is really handy to get you up and running quickly to test feeds and make sure the system is running without the need for everything to be up and running.

‘The size of the kit on tour was another consideration. We had to fly the gear in and out of shows with a quick turnaround and having an all-in-one box was a massive space saver. Also the onstage space was very limited and I like to see the screen as well as the band, which means I need to be on or near stage. If I had a bigger desk I doubt this would have been possible. I tended to put the local PPU backstage somewhere and send the feeds to and fro remotely. I was concerned that all this functionality in one small unit was going to get really hot but we didn’t find this at all. The V-1600HD ran smoothly without a hitch at every gig and some of the shows it was really hot in the venue and the kit was up against it.’

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