Norwest Productions supports 2015 Pacific Games ceremonies
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Taking place every four years, the 2015 Pacific Games was recently held at the BSP Stadium in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The friendly sporting competition has been running since 1963 but this year witnessed participation from Australia and New Zealand for the first time alongside another 22 Pacific countries. 'Spectacular' opening and closing ceremonies showcased the country's variety of cultures, languages and tribal songs. Australian production service provider, Norwest Productions, delivered a turnkey PA solution to the ceremonies, supplying equipment and crew to ensure that the 'biggest show the Pacific Games has ever staged' was carried out without a hitch.
'The opening ceremony was a big show,' said Andrew Marsh, project manager at Norwest Productions. 'In the end, there were more radio microphones channels used than any other ceremony I've ever done, and that includes the London Olympics, Vancouver Winter Olympics and Asian Games in Doha. It was very technical, colourful, interesting, and also a live-to-air broadcast. It was the first Pacific Games opening ceremony with that kind of budget and creative scope.'
The audio systems were designed and prepared in Australia and flown to Papua New Guinea two weeks before the opening ceremony, which the team credits with 'greatly reducing timeframes for installation and rehearsals'.
'The time between being awarded this job and staging was very short,' Mr Marsh recalled. 'We had to start work straightaway. We spent two weeks in the Melbourne facility preparing the equipment to within an inch of its life, so as to be quick to go in. Normally, we'd be on-site for months before doing a ceremony but this was just two weeks, then intense rehearsals, then the show. We did the bulk of the bump-in in four days. We loaded in on overnight shifts to avoid the heat and other contractors and ended up facilitating the rehearsals in the stadium earlier than we normally would have done so we could learn the show. We did this with less staff than we normally would, taking 11 instead of our usual 18.'
Norwest outfitted the BSP Stadium with an L-Acoustics audio system comprising more than 100 Kudo elements and 48 SB218 subwoofers, all powered by L-Acoustics LA-RAKs. Fold back and fill duties were handled by a variety of loudspeakers from Nexo, d&b audiotechnik, JBL and RCF, and the system was completed with two DiGiCo SD7 digital mixing consoles.
'In addition to the microphones for speech and singing, we placed lapel mics on Kundus, which are native drums,' explained Mr Marsh. 'We ran cabled mics on four towers around the centre stage where they played traditional log drums called Garamuts. We ran a main and backup patch of the playback, and main and redundant receiver for every radio microphone, so 44 channels of radio turned into 88, and 32 channels of playback into 64. We used the full complement of inputs on our 257-input DiGiCo SD7s, and most of their outputs as well.'
Norwest's dual redundant Optocore fibre optic system was deployed and patched to the main 'A' processing engine of the SD7s. A redundant analogue system was patched to the SD7s' 'B' engine for backup. Custom-built RF antennas, distribution and amplification systems provided the infrastructure for 16 Sennheiser SR2050 in-ear monitor transmitters ? with two channels sent to 200 Shure PSM200 IEM receivers. Three channels of BW Broadcast FM Transmit were also sent to 500 FM receivers. 'Our Optocore distribution and custom RF solutions are something unique,' stated Mr Marsh. 'It's one of the things that attracted me to working with Norwest.'
Graeme Whitehouse general manager of Norwest Productions' parent company NW Group, explained that, 'our bespoke RF solutions are designed and implemented entirely by our in-house team, led by Steve Caldwell. Steve's designs have influenced our entire RF purchasing, staff training and implementation for over a decade, seeing us become leaders in spectrum management. Our radios don't drop out.'
The opening ceremony offered a 'vivid explosion of colour and movement', as tribes from all over Papua New Guinea converged in a display known as a 'sing-sing', where each in turn performed their dances and songs, accompanied by their own instruments. 'It was pretty spectacular and emotional for all the local people to showcase their culture and diversity,' Mr Marsh related. 'For something so big to be executed with such grace and peace is nice. I'm excited that they had such a good ceremony go so well for them.
'Norwest have a long history of working on ceremonies and large special events,' concluded Mr Marsh. 'Especially in strange parts of the world. Our crew have the background and experience to know how to make it work under difficult conditions.'