Central to the Paris celebration of the 1789 storming of the Bastille in Paris is the Concert de Paris, held at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. It is one of the largest classical music events held anywhere in the world and is followed by a spectacular fireworks display, attracting thousands of live spectators. The concert is broadcast on France Inter, on France 2, and to 3.13m people, and upwards of 10m around Europe. The 2019 concert also celebrated Lawo’s fifth successive year serving both the live and broadcast sound requirements.

Concert de ParisWorking 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 Concert de Paris continued its relentless technical advance in pursuit of higher audio standards and greater operating efficiencies. With 200 musicians performing and 450 technicians in support, the 2019 Concert de Paris broadcast involved 22 cameras, a helicopter and seven OB trailers.

Previous years had seen a Lawo mc²96 console used for the event’s FOH mixes with an mc²36 for monitors. This year, Lawo again raised the stakes for the live sound with a third-generation mc²56 console for the orchestra mix and an mc²36 dedicated to the soloists at front-of-house. For monitoring, the engineers opted for an mc²56, with two operators manning the console to cover the orchestra and soloists. Separate preamp control for FOH and monitors and a split to the Lawo mc266 console used for the broadcast mix in Radio France No 5 OB vehicle enabled use of the on-air console’s own stageboxes and Dallis mic preamps.

Specialising in the delivery of large-scale shows globally, Gilles Bouvard Events and Shows (GB4D) has been working on this event with Radio France since 2015. This year, following a successful experiment, the established site-wide Optocore redundant optical fibre loop was expanded with an additional 152 Optocore X6R preamps.

‘We had conducted several experiments with Radio France prior to the event, including the recording and capture of a jazz concert at La Maison de la Radio, with immersive sound, using a 22/2 multichannel mix,’ Bouvard confirms.

Nuage controller with BroaMan videoThe idea came from Radio France’s Pascal Besnard and Bruno Lompech, as Lompech relates: ‘Before thinking about mixing 22:2 specifically, I thought of the huge possibilities of audio network coverage that Optocore offered, and suggested it as an alternative to other more audio-oriented IP systems. We could envisage something far more innovative than a simple stereo mix to our FM transmitters.’

The audio recording was made using 48 Optocore preamps wired to the Lawo console for the antenna sound. The concert was mixed by a Yamaha Nuage postproduction console for the immersive sound, all connected via a MUX22-IVT/Madi, for audio and video from Optocore sister company, BroaMan. Tuning in to the live concert in Studio 105, listeners were immediately immersed in a 16:2 sound field. Distribution of audio stems to the 18 inputs of the immersive sound converter was handled uniquely by the MUX22 IVT/Madi.

Meanwhile, a BroaMan Route 66 16/24 video router retrieved HD SDI camera signals, distributing video to the sound engineers in all studios, and broadcasting the concert to the Dailymotion video-sharing platform, with images and sound immersively mixed in 22:2. ‘We distributed to other studios because ultimately we wanted to be able to operate any of our studio mixes to any or all of the mixing booths,’ Lompech explains.

The opportunity for such an elaborate mix both on the net, and simultaneously for Radio France’s FM antennas had been the brainchild of Radio France’s Hervé Desjardin. ‘This was all made possible by the quality of the Optocore preamps, and the speed of distribution of audio channels from one studio to another, with almost zero latency,’ Lompech says.

Once proof of concept was established, this BroaMan/Optocore topography was considered perfect for the Grand Concert in Paris.

GB4D detailed 144 preamps for the stage: 120 for FOH and 24 Dual Mic preamps for solo monitors. In addition, eight FOH preamps were used for the on-site public ambient sound, in addition to the live radio and television sound recording; at the same time a multitrack recording was performed on a 128-channel Pyramix from the FOH console, facilitated by the additional Madi ports on BroaMan’s bidirectional Video and Data MUX22-IVT/Madi converters, and M12 – an Optocore Madi router with eight Madi ports.

Bastille Day Concert de ParisThe 5.1 OB truck on duty is already equipped with 120 Lawo preamps and is generally supplemented with Optocore preamps. ‘The quality of the Optocore preamps is extremely high, and so it makes no difference to Radio France’s sound engineers whether they use Lawo or Optocore preamps, especially when Optocore gain and phantom can be controlled directly from the Lawo console,’ Bouvard says.

Laurent Fracchia, one of the sound directors at Radio France, realised the final sound mix for radio and TV. He had prepared a rescue mix of four stereo groups that was distributed in Madi in the Yamaha DM1000 as a back-up if necessary. The console was implemented on the Optocore network to manage TV commercials and wireless microphones for pre-show presentations, and was also used to broadcast the soundtrack of the fireworks.

In addition to X6R-FX-16MI and X6R-TP-16MI preamps for stage capture, GB4D used V3R-TP-8MI for ambience mics, while the Optocore network also distributed audio stems for the Adamson broadcast systems.

The France TV television channel was also connected by Optocore, the FOH broadcast processor interfaced in the network via a DD32R-FX for AES streams, and an X6R-FX for analog backup. The four mixing consoles were connected to the Madi network, with BroaMan MUX22-IVT/Madi and Optocore M12 interfaces.

Lompech says that the Paris experiment had been a complete success: ‘We were able to prove that from a dedicated event to a media source, thanks to Optocore’s intelligent and transparent distribution we could create a multitude of events simultaneously.

‘All this was made possible thanks to the commitment not only of Radio France, but also the control of the technology by the teams of GB4D. The possibility of passing the video via the network between all the mixing and listening points has brought us great satisfaction and convinced us of the quality of the Optocore and BroaMan devices.’

The concert’s extensive programme of music included the works of Hector Berlioz, Charles Gounod, Georges Bizet and Giuseppe Verdi among many others. Riding high on the spirit of France’s independence and the excitement of some 300,000 spectators was the closing performance of ‘La Marseillaise’, featuring the Chœur de Radio France and Orchestre National de France under conductor Alain Altinoglu.

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