DANTE DRIVES V8 SUPERCARS
Held over four days from 26 February to 1 March 2015, the Clipsal 500 is a massive V8 Supercar street race that brings over 285,000 people through its gates. Run on a 3.7km long circuit through Adelaide’s beautiful East Parklands, the Clipsal 500 attracts a huge audience both at the track and via broadcast. Staging Connections’ Adelaide team has been involved with the race since it was first run in 1999, and in 2015, radically upgraded its production infrastructure.
“The South Australian Motor Sport Board had been talking to us about taking the event to the next level in terms on technology,” said Trent Parkin, sales manager at Staging Connections, “so we started looking at the different platforms available to run the audio system, and new ways to upgrade the TV reticulation system.” Tatu Murch-Lempinen, Staging Connections operations manager in Adelaide, assisted Trent as they designed a new system to make the event’s backbone the equal of any event in the world. “We began looking at options as last year’s event ended,” Tatu explained. “Up until 2015, we’d been running the audio around the track over PSTN telephone lines. It went through a main distribution frame and was all copper cabling that ran from point-to-point. Trent and I started researching the option of running the audio system via fibreoptic cabling. In the end, Audinate’s Dante network, with its star topology, perfectly suited our needs.”
For those at the back of the class: Dante allows audio devices fitted with a Dante interface to send and receive audio channels over standard Ethernet infrastructure. This means off-the-shelf Ethernet switches, fibreoptic cabling and standard Cat6 cabling can be used to move audio over large distances and to many devices with a minimum of equipment, time and investment. Best of all, a Dante network’s channel capacity is only limited by its Ethernet switch’s bandwidth; a single standard gigabit Ethernet switch can carry a whopping 512 channels of audio.
“The more we plotted out what we needed and where we needed it, the more it fitted Dante,” confirmed Trent. To form the core of the system, Staging Connections acquired and rolled out an entirely new Ethernet platform. “We purchased a large quantity of fibreoptic cables and Cisco switches,” continued Tatu. “The longest fibre run around the track was about 1.2km. There were eight lines run previously, which we’ve had upgraded to 24 lines. We also have some temporary military-grade fibre running through underground pits.”
All audio devices required to run the event, including mixing desks, inputs, outputs and power amplifiers, were connected back to the Cisco switches via Cat6. For mixing duties, Trent and Tatu decided on Yamaha’s CL5 digital mixers. Tatu: “We ran two CL5s, one main and one redundant which was slaved via MIDI and mirrored what the main desk was doing. We had a laptop running the Dante controller software, and in the case of any issues, we would have swapped the patch and made the secondary desk active. The changeover time would have been 20 seconds, if we had needed to do it.”
Deployed around track were a range of Yamaha’s R-series remote input/output interfaces. These ranged in size from the Rio3224-D 32-in/24-out unit positioned at the media compound to the 16-in/8-out Rio168-D, right down to Ri8-Ds and Ro8-Ds that offer eight inputs and outputs respectively. With a fully integrated Dante network now available for all audio services on site, a variety of tasks became simpler. Outside broadcast provider Gearhouse Broadcast connected its HD-5 truck directly to Staging Connections’ audio system with two cables by using Yamaha’s new RMio64-D Dante-MADI bridge.
Over four days, through Adelaide summer heat and all the demands of a vast outdoor event, both the audio and video systems performed flawlessly.
Mark Warren, CEO of the South Australian Motor Sport Board, saw a significant improvement in the quality of the audio at the event. “It was clear to us that the previous analogue audio system was in need of some attention. Staging Connections fully fibreoptic backbone gives us greater flexibility to adjust audio levels to each different patron’s needs.”
Audinate Dante: www.audinate.com
Staging Connections: www.stagingconnections.com.au