Case Study: BRICS Summit, China

Orchestra chorus Dream from the Sea
Orchestra for Dream of the Sea and BRICS Summit 2017

Hurrairah bin Sohail discusses the audio deployment at the Banlam Grand Theatre, handled by Eastern Acoustic Development, for a performance that was attended by the heads of state of the BRICS member nations and broadcast live.

BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The BRICS members are recognised as leading developing countries and as of 2015 accounted for 41% of the world’s population. Leaders of the BRICS nations meet annually to discuss matters of political, economic and social importance to the members. The ninth such BRICS Summit was held in Xiamen, China on September 3, 2017.

The next day, the Chinese leaders provided a reception to the attending heads of state at an evening gala held at the Banlam Grand Theatre. The gala evening consisted of performances which included ‘Wind from the Sea’, ‘Sky and the Sea’, ‘Rhythm of the Sea’, ‘Tide and the Sea’ as well as ‘Dream from the Sea’. The performances were broadcast live to audiences on China Central Television including the channels CCTV- 1, CCTV-3 and CCTV-4.

Tian Chensheng, chief acoustic designer, worked on making sure audio for the gala was handled without a hitch. He prepared a detailed audio design proposal in April 2017 in conjunction with input from Chen Chen, director of the audio department at CCTV as well as the audio retransmission team from CCTV. Situ Guangwen, general manager of Eastern Acoustic Development (EAD), was also included in the discussions to give his input regarding equipment configurations.

Chensheng was given access to the performance site at the Banlam Grand Theatre on July 30, 2017. This led him to further refi ne his design as he made adjustments. EAD Digital Technology was given the task of deploying a wireless microphone system and the work was headed by Cheng Yulin, chief technical engineer. Work was completed over a two month period before the BRICS Summit.

In the evening gala, 200 channels of Beyerdynamic TG1000 digital wireless microphones were used by piano ensembles, Chinese instrumental ensembles and other musicians and vocalists. An additional 20 channel wireless provision was made available for backup and redundancy. Collectively nearly 240 channels of wireless microphones and 100 channels of wired microphones were deployed on site.

Seeing that the heads of state of the BRICS member nations were in attendance at the gala and a global TV audience was also watching, failure was not an option. The technology had to work without glitches. EAD is proud to report that all the 200 channels of TG1000 digital wireless microphones were fi red up and on standby mode, and none of them were powered down until all performances were completed. The Golden Hall of the Banlam Grand Theatre can accommodate approximately 1,500 audience members in a shoe box layout.

Eight WA-ATDA active directional antennas were installed on both sides of the stage, ensuring that the numerous TG1000 bodypack transmitters used by the chorus would always be within the coverage of signals. After being amplifi ed on WA-AMP2, the signals were transmitted to WA-ZPAD for integration, and then sent to 24 TG1000 digital receivers via fi ve WA-AS6 signal distributors. A cascade connection for antennas offered by TG1000 digital receivers was employed to make sure that the system worked without any problems or complications.

EAD and the audio team had their work cut out. The wireless frequency conditions in the performance venue were notoriously harsh given the vast and intense security intercom system deployed for such an important international event. Using the 470MHz to 789MHz wide- band spectrum scanning technology provided by TG1000, EAD engineers initiated strict monitoring of on-site radio frequency variations, followed by numerous system adjustments. The stability and fl exibility that the TG1000 system provided enabled experienced engineers from EAD to manage the project.

Special considerations also had to be made for each individual performance. The second chapter ‘Sky and the Sea’ was a piano and violin duet. With a mechanically elevating stage being used, the piano was required to be moved horizontally to the centre of the stage. Thus, wired microphones could not be used for picking up the sound. Ten TG1000 bodypack transmitters were ingeniously concealed beneath the piano and inside the costume of the violinist. In addition, there was almost no signal compression thanks to the digital transmission technology applied in the system.

In the Banlam-fashion chorus ‘Rhythm of the Sea’, the actress leading the song was dressed in national costume and her performance was accompanied by music played by instruments with distinct Chinese characteristics. The 40 channel TG1000 bodypack transmitters equipped with TG L58 clip-on microphones were used to record audio for this performance.

In the following chapter, ‘Tide and the Sea’, a children’s chorus, 36 channel TG L58 clip-on microphones and TG1000 bodypack transmitters were also used. To fi t with the different costume colours of the performers, skin-toned and black TG L58 microphones were respectively deployed. In this way, the clip-on microphones wouldn’t be easily spotted even in zoom-in camera shots, thus ensuring zero infl uence on the visual effects on the stage.

In the fi nal chapter, the orchestra chorus ‘Dream from the Sea’, TG1000 bodypack transmitters equipped with 54 channel TG L58 clip-on microphones were used for the vocal chorus.