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Optocore helps bring Danny Boyle’s concepts to life at London 2012 Olympic ceremonies

James McGrath 14 September 2012
Optocore helps bring Danny Boyle's concepts to life at London 2012 Olympic ceremonies

Artistic directors Danny Boyle and Kim Gavin were at the creative helm of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympics. To help bring their ideas to life, event production company Norwest Productions teamed up with UK partners Delta Sound to provide the necessary Optocore fibre signal transport, custom RF solutions and LAN networking. Norwest’s project manager, Andy Marsh, regonised that the network system required for a new 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium would present challenges: “We needed to overcome difficult cable runs,” says Marsh. “The cable installation took us in excess of three weeks and was more akin to installing cable permanently into a venue. On top of this, the inclusion of many fully live musical acts — adding further size and complexity to the Optocore and backup systems — placed a considerable load on all the experienced audio engineers involved.” Optocore, which has long been at the heart of Norwest’s main digital systems, detailed more than 50 devices as part of the shared inventory with Delta Sound.  These included the Optocore ‘R’ series devices, which were selected for their energy efficiency, with Norwest having specified a number of the converters to accommodate the design’s high channel and node count.  In addition, the company deployed quantities of DD4MR-FX, DD32R-FX, X6R-FX-8AE/8MI, X6R-TP-8AE/8MI, X6P-16IN devices to offer increased features and efficiency, reduced power consumption (of 40%) and cost. Delta Sound also used a quantity of DD4MR-FX, DD2FR-FX, and X6R-FX devices for the event. “Optocore is unique in its ability to matrix a high channel count over large distances, plus providing the redundancy of a ring network,” states Marsh. “Most significantly, it is extraordinarily robust and reliable, which is essential to a show that is playing to 80,000 people live in the arena and four billion watching on TV.” The integration – necessary to meet a detailed and dual-redundant design – involved deploying multiple Optocore fibre networks, with full analogue back-up, principally for the main PA and Broadcast systems. The main 24-node ring collected and distributed all inputs and outputs on a 2Gbit network to a myriad of broadcast and PA locations, and Optocore also delivered both PA and monitor feeds, plus timecode and programme. In total there were 696 I/O channel feeds within the Optocore topography. This was one of the first uses of the German company’s new 2.21 protocol, which enabled 2Gbit bandwidth operation — and was crucial to meet the main requirement of a high channel count. Another unique feature of the set-up was that Norwest were using all 24 ID’s — taking advantage of the maximum capacity of the fibre ring. They also used a quantity of Optocore’s TP devices, which provided a Cat5 extension of the ring. In the transmission path, all signals were converted to digital on entering the Optocore environment, while the back-up system ran analogue from the DiGiCo console SD rack outputs. The feeds were delivered via AES to a massive FOH PA comprising entirely L-Acoustics components, with 220 VDosc, 100 Kudo, 55 Arcs, 88 SB28 subs and some 12XT fills — all driven from LA8 amplifiers. www.optocore.co.uk 

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