Australia’s Norwest Productions returns to the Games
AUSTRALIA: Australian audio supplier Norwest Productions is no stranger to the Olympic Games, having played a central role at the Sydney Olympics opening and closing ceremonies back in 2000. This year the company took its expertise in major event ceremonies to Brazil, where it was responsible for providing the audio solution for both ceremonies at the Rio Olympics, designing the solution in-house and partnering with local company Loudness for the supply. Norwest director and founder, Chris Kennedy, was on hand at the opening ceremony as he has been for over 35 major international ceremonies events since the Sydney Olympics.
‘When we did the Sydney Olympics, I had no idea that this would be an ongoing business that has now become part of the company’s DNA,’ explained Mr Kennedy. ‘We have now done every summer Olympics’ opening and closing ceremony this millennium, other than Beijing. I am sure that’s a record that will be very difficult to surpass.’
Many of the Norwest team working in Rio started at Sydney 2000, including FOH engineer and head of audio at NWG, Ian Shapcott, and Steve Caldwell, Norwest’s spectrum specialist who designed and managed the implementation of radio devices with more than 3,500 individual frequencies. However, the company partners with local companies at all of its international events. ‘We believe that we should be sharing the experience and the economic benefits with local suppliers and crew,’ Mr Kennedy continued. ‘We hope this leaves a lasting legacy after we leave the country, and that we make a lot of great friends over the world.’
Over the previous ceremonies, Norwest has developed custom specialist equipment and systems, intended to ensure that the service is provided as smoothly as possible. ‘It’s all about backup,’ Mr Kennedy said. ‘With few exceptions, the only things that don’t have a backup are the things that have two backups, such as the protocol lectern which feeds into the digital audio system, the analogue backup system and the third RF transmission system. Combined with multiple capsules in the custom-designed Røde microphones, a great many things would have to go wrong before we lost the IOC president Thomas Bach’s important words.’