Lawo FOH set-up for 2020's Concert de Paris

The events that took place all over France were as every years, but the effects of the coronavirus pandemic ensured that this year’s 14 July Bastill Day National Holiday was quite different due to the pandemic felt everywhere in the world.

The traditional Concert de Paris went ahead on the Champs du Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower went ahead, however, and marked Lawo’s sixth successive year serving both the live and broadcast sound requirements.

The FOH consoles used were a 48-fader mc²56 production console for the orchestra mix, and an mc²36 all-in-one console for the soloists. A 48-fader mc²56 took over the monitor tasks in a set-up with a 16-fader mc² extender that was used in order to allow social distancing between the two operators. Working over the Optocore fibre-optic network deployed by Radio France for the live sound system to connect the event’s mixing consoles and I/O systems, the proved again to raise audio standards and operating efficiencies to a new level.

Separate preamp control for FOH and monitors and a split to the Lawo mc²66 console used for the broadcast mix in a Radio France OB enabled use of the on-air console’s own stageboxes and Dallis mic preamps.

The Concert de Paris is one of the largest classical music events held anywhere in the world with as many as 500,000 spectators on-site in pre-pandemic years, and is followed by a grand firework display. The show – featuring the Orchestre National de France and the Chœur de Radio France, along with internationally renowned soloists – was relayed to 2,84m TV viewers in France and an estimated 10m audience in Europe using the Lawo set-up.

The Optocore network

Having created an immersive environment for Radio France with 152 Optocore preamps and MUX22 IVT/Madi connectivity in 2019, technology contractors GB4D set up an elaborate optical broadcast network topography on the Champ de Mars in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower for 2020.

Lawo FOH set-up for 2020's Concert de Paris ‘Playing without an audience due to Covid-19 was certainly weird,’ comments GB4D owner, Gilles Bouvard. ‘We felt really alone without the 500,000 spectators.’

Bouvard was clear in what the challenge represented, and it was essentially to produce an advance multi-format broadcast signal flow to the Radio France and France TV OB trucks from the FOH and monitor positions, as well as from the pyrotechnics position. ‘We had to provide Radio France’s sound engineers with all the necessary tools,’ he says.

This year that again included 144 Optocore microphone preamps (both X6RFX and TP) as well as Madi stream connectivity between the Lawo, Yamaha and Studer consoles being used for the event, via BroaMan MUX22 Madi and Optocore M12 and DD2FR-FX devices. In all, GB4D created a distribution universe of more than 600 audio streams between FOH and monitor consoles, and broadcast facilities for Radio France and France TV.

Additionally, GB4D provided Madi audio streams for virtual soundchecks to radio technicians in charge of HF control for the soloists. ‘This made it possible from the Wavetool software to conduct Madi monitoring of the 155 pickup microphone preamps,’ explained Bouvard. Finally GB4D constructed a BroaMan link for the firework finale that was, once again, produced by Groupe F.

Optocore stagerackExplaining this final deployment, Bouvard says: ‘The request was to retrieve the audio streams from the firework soundtrack, to give the pyrotechnician a video stream from the France TV finale, and to link everyone together with an intercom network for orders.’

This was via a pair of BroaMan MUX22 IVT/IC444, which carries different video, audio, IP, comms formats and other data on fibre system. The sound of the fireworks was wired to the four line inputs of the MUX22, with other Optocore audio interfaces in a redundant optical loop. All audio was shared across the Optocore network.

The cable distance between the two MUX22s – stationed at the Eiffel Tower and the France TV OB van – was approximately 450 metres, with SDI signals passed between the fireworks base and France TV control room for the grand finale, with the four IC444 audio line inputs, and LAN for the IP intercom.

From the fireworks control room under the Eiffel Tower, the audio signals for the soundtrack had to be connected. For this, two Apple computers were equipped with sound cards, which were connected to the four line-level audio ports of the MUX22. An SDI output, connected to a 32-inch screen, broadcast the final image of the France TV production. The pyro technician wanted to have the image direct from the OB van in order to avoid the six-to-eight seconds delay from the satellite.

Thanks to the MUX22 LAN, we were also able to create an order network between the fireworks technician and the France TV script manager,’ Bouvard says. ‘This GreenGo IP order network consisted of a portable station on the pyro side and a four-wire box for the interface with the France TV communication grid.’

‘The choice of MUX22 for this application was simple,’ Bouvard reflects. ‘Everything I needed, in terms of format transmission, was contained in one box.’

‘We are delighted to have been able to collaborate on this landmark event once again this summer, with a more prestigious solution than ever,’ he adds.

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