2022 World Figure Skating Championships

Held at Montpellier’s South of France Arena, the 2022 World Figure Skating Championships saw technical specialist GB4D provide a communications network for all technical elements – including Optocore and BroaMan routing.

This year, GB4D provided the entire audiovisual network, as well as Intercom; sound system; sports and production lighting (including bridges); stage structure and sideo for the four-sided LED screens. The GB4D team worked alongside Patrice Burle from Concept-Group for the structure and lighting accessories, while lighting creation was the responsibility of DoP, Tony Weber and sound design by Titou Victor and François Iund.

Under the direction of proprietor Gilles Bouvard, GB4D has previously worked on the European Championships in Lyon in 2006, and the 2012 World Championships in Nice. For nearly two decades, the company has also been involved in the televised Les Étoiles de la Glace, the French Federation’s skating gala. GB4D looked to a combination of Optocore and BroaMan interfaces, with DiGiCo digital mixers and L-Acoustics Kara K2 PA – as it has for many large-scale events.

2022 World Figure Skating ChampionshipsThe greatest challenges faced were the restricted assembly time (seven semi-trailers of equipment needed to be installed and ready to operate in 12 hours), and the trim height, with more than 80 motors at 22m height, to provide full visual clearance.

Bouvard emphasised that there had been no room for improvisation, since once the assembly was completed, and all compliances met, access to the ice was forbidden.

The network was formatted and designed by François Iund. The entire video element was distributed by BroaMan interfaces, including Mux22 Madi and Mux22 IC444, along with Repeat48 and Route66 devices. This provided distribution of the signals from the OB broadcast, as well as all the timing element and the insert capture camera, with video management under the direction of Emilien Vaast.

The Optocore network allowed 320 inputs and 384 outputs, and was in redundant five-point star design. Optocore M12 and DD4MR-FX interfaces provided all Madi connectivity, with X6R-FX and TP 16-channel converters at the heart of the system. For the BroaMan element the network was configured as a non-redundant star. The IP network was managed by redundant Gigacore Luminex PoE interfaces for, among other things, lighting and intercoms.

Sound sources included music for the skaters – broadcast by two Mac Mini players equipped with Q Lab software – as well as ads and other presentation background music or jingles processed by a Broady Solutions MT128 multitrack machine. This came out in Madi 128 I/O via Optocore M12s, allowing different streams to be routed on several simultaneous outputs. Other sources included video soundtracks, managed from the two video control rooms. There were also ‘official speaker’ mics for the ISU, plus UHF microphones for interviews and animations.

GB4D gets in shape for World Figure Skating For mixing and managing audio streams, GB4D installed a DiGiCo SD12 for the main mix (including broadcast) and SD11 for the ‘Player’ control room. Flow management in the Optocore network for broadcast was managed from FOH via the SD12.

The network was managed from the FOH control room. The flow distribution from the star system included: Diffusion systems hung in the walkways with three distribution points; Players management; AMP Visual OB broadcast Van and the Press Centre. All these locations received audio, video and IP. The international signal was provided in Mondovision since it is a world championship, while France Television was the broadcaster for the domestic audience.

‘The judges, positioned at the edge of the track, and skaters who use the entire 60m x 30m ice, had to share the same listening experience,’ Bouvard says. ‘If a skater were to complain about the sound, it would have become a very big problem – so everything had to be perfect.

‘My audio technical team carried out a top-notch acoustic study so that the sound was uniform from the centre of the rink to the top of the stands. Titou Victor and François Iund implemented this plan to perfection.’

Key to the technical success had been the functionality of data distribution: ‘Optocore and BroaMan provided the essential tools to construct a star network; the Route66 and Optocore AutoRouter operated between the five points, all of which received audio, video, data, intercom networks and 22 DMX lighting universes,’ he reports.

The network also had to be sufficiently robust to provide feeds to other partners, such as Swiss Timing for the competitive element, and international TV broadcasts. ‘For these partners, we had to be able to share data flows – and we could do this with ease thanks to the ‘hot’ routing possibilities which Optocore Madi grids or BroaMan Route66 video routers allowed. This gave everyone complete peace of mind.’

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