Shure provides cover for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
AUSTRALIA: Shure UHF-R wireless microphones and PSM1000 in-ear monitoring systems were put to use as the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo toured Australia and New Zealand. The events took place in Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium and the Westpac Stadium in Wellington with audiences of 40,000 and 25,000 respectively, calling on the greatest number of wireless microphones utilised for a military display of this kind to accommodate performers that were constantly on the move.
Historically held at Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has visited Australia and New Zealand several times since 2000. Whereas the audio setup in Scotland’s capital city has proven challenging with approximately 9,000 spectators and a distance between performers of roughly 40m, the displays in Melbourne and Wellington posed even more of a challenge due to the larger venues and performers being placed up to 120m apart.
Coupled with the fact that performers were not fixed to static position, preventing the use of wired microphones or fixed-position foldback, a total of 60 wireless channels were employed to cater for as many UHF-R wireless mics and PSM1000 IEMs as possible. Audio facilities company, Norwest, supplied the technical services and equipment for the Australian show with a team of 12, while Wellington's Western Audio Engineering and Wigwam Acoustics from the UK collaborated for the New Zealand event.
‘Even 350 bagpipers and another few hundred musicians sound remarkably remote in such a large space, and consequently everything that takes place needs careful audio reinforcement,’ explained sound designer, Sebastian Frost, describing the difficulties encountered. ‘It's critical that the various sources within the stadium stay fully time-aligned and coherent. This might be a marching band of 50 musicians, playing with a rock rhythm section positioned 100m away and a 40-strong choir a similar distance away. Keeping all these performers playing or singing in time together is the unique challenge.’
An additional hurdle presented itself in that there was less space available in the RF frequency spectrum at the antipodean venues than in Edinburgh. ‘We needed to cram 66 channels of RF into very little spectrum,’ exclaimed Wigwam Acoustics RF manager, Katie Worsick, who created the frequency plan for the UHF-R systems, as well as other RF equipment used on Shure Wireless Workbench.
A total of 30 UR4D wireless receivers, 60 UR1, UR1M and UR2 bodypacks and four UA845 antenna distribution systems were used in Wellington. Meanwhile Melbourne saw the addition of an extra channel for the UHF-R wireless microphones and six further channels for the PSM1000s, for a total of 83 transmitters and receivers.
Mr Frost stated that this was the largest number of radio microphones ever used on a Tattoo. ‘What is certainly a record is the 944 pack-swaps performed by the deck team during every performance,’ he added. ‘This involves placing a microphone or IEM on a performer in a particular configuration before each act, and collecting and refitting to another performer for the next. The use of several buggies driving around the service road of the stadium was the only way the microphones could be collected and refitted in time.
‘The Shure systems worked amazingly, both for the live audiences and for broadcast,’ Mr Frost concluded. ‘It was something of a miracle, particularly in Wellington, where on top of everything else they were contending with, they had 100kph winds as well!’