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Vancouver’s Winter Olympic Spectacular Begins And Ends With Fairlight

With a worldwide audience of approximately three billion spectators, Australian production company David Atkins Enterprises (DAE) pulled out all the stops to make sure the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver were both spectacular and hitch free.

Despite a small glitch with the fourth leg of the indoor cauldron, which failed to rise during the opening ceremony, the two shows were deemed a huge success when they took place at the 55,000-seat BC Place Stadium on February 12 and February 28 respectively.

Behind the scenes, it was Fairlight technology that once again played a vital role. Already being used to edit the broadcast sound provided to German audiences by ARD and ZDF, Fairlight technology was now also a central part of DAE’s technical infrastructure.

DAE relied on four Fairlight Xynergi systems to deliver equally faultless audio for the two ceremonies. A total of four Xynergi systems were used – two for main playback and two for backup. As well as handling the audio requirements, the main Xynergi systems also provided the master time code for all other systems including video projection (from ETC), film projection, pyrotechnics, lighting, automation, lasers and show call. Even the conductor and performers relied on Fairlight as they all received their click and cue tracks from the Xynergis.

Fairlight’s Xynergi Media Production Centre, which harnesses the processing power of the company’s Crystal Core technology (CC-1), incorporates integrated PyxisTrack video and features the Xynergi controller, a desktop user interface that allows engineers to access all features and functions of the Fairlight CC-1, as well as commonly used Windows applications. Xynergi offers a much faster editing and mixing interface and has the ability to handle all widely used surround formats.

DAE’s Steve Logan, who along with colleage Rob Stefanson was in charge of the Fairlight operation, says: “The demands required for these productions utilized almost every aspect of the facilities provided by Xynergi, but most importantly Fairlight’s legendary reliability.?

Both shows were edited on the Xynergi using media imported via Broadcast Wave and OMF files. QuickTime videos were also imported for reference during editing. The Xynergi’s unique clip based EQ and level was used extensively to master and balance the many segments involved.

“The separate systems consisted of one Xynergi as the main playback while the second Xynergi was a looping and A/B roll system providing continuous audio program,? Steve Logan explains. “This allowed for easy transition between the two systems using some very clever editing and synchronization that only Fairlight could do.?

Multitrack stems were fed to front of house, monitoring and broadcast consoles via multiple MADI streams. The Xynergi’s also provided simultaneous stereo and surround submixes. To ensure that no act of God disrupted the two shows, DEA had an identical mirror system as back up, running in parallel and in sync.

Logan explains: “This precisely duplicated the front house and monitor consoles. The idea was that if a complete power failure happened to any of the main systems, we could switch to the backup without interruption. Although all four systems were running, the backup systems were powered from separate UPS power supplies.?

The Vancouver shows were not the first time DEA had handled productions of this nature therefore it was able to tap into previous experiences gathered during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Sydney 2000 Summer Games and the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006, in Qatar. The budget for Vancouver has been estimated at between $30million and $40 million – roughly a tenth of Beijing’s budget. However, unlike Beijing, the Vancouver ceremonies were held in the comfort of an indoor venue – the first time in the history of the Olympic Games that this has happened.


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March 2010
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