Riedel Communications: Leading the way in Live Broadcast

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


Riedel Communications: Leading the way in Live Broadcast

Words by Andy Lloyd-Russell

The systems and solutions behind your favourite sporting events and broader productions!

Given Australia’s endless appetite for televised sport of any kind, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the sheer logistics involved in delivering these kinds of large scale broadcasts to the viewing public. 

The seamless cuts and transitions, the dizzying number of audio feeds being mixed in real time, the crowd noise, the commentators, the onscreen graphics, the ad breaks, the clarity of transmission, the unpredictability of live broadcast in general – it’s a lot to handle.  

The vast array of protocols required to work faultlessly for an efficient production can be gargantuan, often requiring hundreds if not thousands of I/O counts, not to mention adequate redundancy within the system. 

Like any sporting team, these large scale productions require extensive communication in order to succeed and this is precisely where Riedel systems come into the fold.

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

As the backbone of some of the biggest events on the planet, including the Formula 1, the Super Bowl, and the America’s Cup to name but a few, Riedel’s real-time networking and communication solutions are the pro choice for these kind of large scale productions, providing seamless and faultless communication for some of the most complex and sophisticated productions on the planet. 

One of Riedel’s product lines, the Artist has become the de facto system of choice for the increasingly sophisticated nature of live broadcasts, allowing for multiple feeds and remote communication with a remarkable amount of flexibility. 

Jordan Hanna – Riedel Communications Systems Consultant explains: “The Artist ecosystem of products allows a user to talk and listen on a number of different mediums; for example, a SmartPanel, Bolero wireless beltpack, a 2-way radio or even an old school telephone around the other side of the world!”

These kinds of communications solutions aren’t just reserved for large scale broadcast as well, with Riedel finding a home among Australia’s many theatres and live performance spaces also. 

Michael Wade, AV Manager of Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), recently installed a Riedel system across numerous venues and spaces within QPAC. Suffice to say he was adequately impressed with Riedel’s Micron UHD hardware and MediorNet’s capabilities, particularly when compared to their old system. 

“We set up a broadcast facility which is located very close to our concert hall. But we would have to go to another venue that was hundreds of metres away and it was very difficult to get signal to and from there without having to uproot everything and moving it up there. It was very inefficient. So we’re deploying one Micron UHD per venue and the broadcast suite. So the Micron UHDs are taking care of two jobs. They do all the local routing, including conductor view at super low latency, and the broadcast patching. We can control cameras, run DANTE, plus video signals, plus synchronisation, and we’re converting our analogue 2-wire partyline comms to 4-wire and running them through an AES67 box to the broadcast suite. It’s an awesome setup.” 

Reliable signal distribution is something Riedel prides themselves on, with an unparalleled redundancy system that can protect even the most demanding setups from failure. Whether it be multiple SDI camera feeds, numerous audio streams from DANTE to MADI or comms, Riedel’s family of products is able to handle heavy workloads, and as their systems are built around expandability, there are almost no limitations as to how large a system can be. 

“Understanding the desired application, distances, locations, and personnel counts are all very important factors in specifying a system,” says Jordan. Moving forward from the initial consultation process, Riedel then prepares to present either one or a selection of possible designs for the customer to evaluate.” 

Having a product such as Riedel’s MediorNet available in today’s demanding media environments not only provides the convenience of signal transport and processing over optical fibre (ideal when integrating into an already existing optical fibre infrastructure), but as it also takes care of signal routing, it’s an industry game changer. As a decentralised network, it allows for further flexibility, particularly for multi site applications – highly desirable in the broadcast market. This allows for lightning fast setups with its plug and play workflow, being able to comfortably handle numerous real-time camera and audio feeds at the press of a button.  

This incredibly efficient system was a no-brainer for QPAC, as Michael explains: “When we used to do this (a multiple venue setup and deployment) we would have to do two days of prep. To patch analogue audio through the entire centre, include 15 points of failure, and then there might be some patching that is the wrong way around or something. So all of that communication and labour cost is pretty much now at the press of a button on a computer, it’s amazing.”

With the Riedel system installed, Michael explains what a typical QPAC setup scenario looks like for them now. “Basically we go to MediorNet, select the I/O, we’ve got a comms panel setup so we simply choose whichever venue we’re communicating with. The (Riedel) frames also deliver sync, we can also send return vision (from the broadcast suite) back to that venue if required, or a program feed to the foyer monitors. So rather than the front of house view from a balcony circle front you see the actual broadcast mix. The moment we have those cameras selected and plugged in, they all just appear in our broadcast suite.” 

Not only does the system provide enormous flexibility in operations and routing within the centre itself, but for sending broadcasts out. “Pretty much all of our broadcasts are going out via Ethernet, streaming it out to Vimeo at the moment. We’re often doing regional streaming these days, so we can send audio and vision to regional venues in Queensland.”

Having implemented this new AV system across QPAC, it promises an exciting future for the Arts Centre. “It gives us a lot more agility to do multi venue broadcasts, so more output is the biggest advantage of this system. Being able to just move cameras around and plug and play; so we may be able to do something in the concert hall one day and a different venue the next day because of the ease of this system. So the broadcast and content creation side of things have been taking off the last couple of months.” 

As Michael sums up, QPAC is firmly focused on “getting more arts to Queenslanders, and more Queensland art to the world.” 

Head to Riedel for more information on their range of systems and solutions.