News Business

Shure goes dancing in the street

test 19 May 2009

UK: Equipment from Outline and Yamaha was also involved in the filming of a new T-Mobile commercial in London recently, reports Rob Speight. It’s not very often that, strolling through London’s busy streets, you see somewhere between seven and thirteen thousand people (depending who you ask) singing their hearts out to a large karaoke video screen. Yet, that is exactly what happened on the April 30 in Trafalgar Square.

T-Mobile – famous for its recent ‘Dance’ television commercial in which several hundred people danced in synchronisation at Liverpool Street station and then melted back into the crowd – created a memorable sing-along for its new commercial, which has now started airing.

The logistics behind this ‘event’ were massive and included 161 channels of Shure UHF-R SM58/Beta 58 based radio microphones, five sound engineers, four digital mixing consoles, 200 channels of Pro Tools recording hardware, as well as 2,000 dummy radio microphones – created especially for the shoot by Propshop, based at Pinewood Studios – and 160 wranglers for the real ones.

"It was sheer folly!" laughs Bryan Grant of Britannia Row, which provided the PA and mixing elements of the event. The company supplied an Outline Butterfly line array system as the main array with dV-DOSC for delays, in addition to two Yamaha PM1Ds, two Yamaha PM5Ds and one Yamaha M7CL.

"Each of the five engineers – Dave Bracey, Moritzio Genari, Carl Newton, Chris Coxhead and Ben Milton – were assigned 40 channels each to deal with. The engineers followed the pictures from CTV [the outside broadcast company responsible for shooting the event] and had to spot the microphone being used and bring it up. They were all colour-coded and numbered and they did an amazing job," continues Grant.

Britannia Row then passed 200 splits to John ‘Freddo’ Fredericks of Technical Earth to record onto Pro Tools, enabling Toby Alington of Richmond Studios to complete the post-production audio on the project.

Early production meetings with the creative team from Saatchi & Saatchi and production company Partizan saw Hand Held Audio – which provided all of the radio microphones and technical expertise for its largest-ever job – being asked for 300 initially. "We had to have a little laugh about that," says Tarkan Akdam, technical manager for the company. Hand Held then worked with UK suppliers and hire companies to source the majority of the microphones, while the others came from Germany.

"In theory we worked out that we could probably use up to 190 channels, but decided to give ourselves some breathing space and just go for 160 for the crowd and one for singer Pink," Akdam explains.

Hand Held was assisted by JFMG enabling them to block-book channels 27-69 for the day. "It was quite a challenge. We had London’s noisy RF to deal with as well as the fact that CTV had somewhere in the region of 11 or 12 wireless links and we had three theatres within 150 meters of the square," Akdam continues. This large block use of spectrum is a good reminder of potential problems that could be caused by the Digital Dividend Review that Ofcom is still working on, and the important role that BEIRG is playing to ensure availability of spectrum for PMSE users.

The event also saw 160 radio mic wranglers passing the real microphones to potential singers, providing them with their 15 seconds of fame and ensuring the security of the microphones themselves. "We didn’t get a single dummy mic back and we lost four real ones," Akdam confirms.

The event, which otherwise passed off smoothly, was certainly a sight to see but by no means a karaoke world record. For that they would have to beat the record set by Finnish Eurovision Song Contest winners Lordi, when they managed to get over 80,000 people singing a karaoke version of their single ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ in May 2006! Lordi!


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