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Heyser Lecture

Last Updated: 20070418, mei

Sunday, May 6, 13:00 — 15:30


Dennis Baxter, Audio for the Olympics
Akira Fukada, NHK Tokyo
Gaute Nistov, NRK Oslo

Three experts will relate stories of their individual experiences in broadcasting.

Dennis Baxter(14:00) will tell of his experience broadcasting the Olympics. The Olympics uses production teams from all over the world including the host country, which is currently China. Most of these production teams are considered to be the best at their particular sports coverage. For example YLE (Finland) and NRK (Norway) produce Cross Country Skiing and Winter Biathlon, the BBC has produced Tennis and New Zealand covers sailing. The host country, 2004 – Greece, 2006 – Italy, 2008 – China is favored by the Host Broadcaster to participate as much as possible but often these broadcaster lack the experience. One of the greatest challenges in the broadcast production of the Olympics is a consistency in production. With sound mixers from over 30 different countries they bring with them various levels of technical skills and personal experience that influence the way the sound is produced. Additionally sound mixing is very personal and subjective and not easily definable as to what is right or wrong. The following factors influence sound mixing: (1) Cultural interpretation of television production; (2) Psychological – Television has been dominated by video and engineers and technicians who do not understand audio. Often there has been a lack of resources and support, and sound engineers sometimes just give up! (3) Personal prejudices – Most North American sound mixers disapprove of live sound sweetening; (4) Ego; (5) Experience. The presentation will explore these areas and the subjectivity of sound production.

Gaute Nistov's (13:00) topic is location recording from the bottom of the North Sea to the Pyramids of Egypt. On the 2nd of October 2006 singer Katie Melua performed a concert over 300 meters below sea level inside one of the concrete shafts that anchors the Troll gas rig to the sea bed. In addition to being Europe’s highest selling European female artist last year this gig in the North Sea also secured Katie a world record for the deepest underwater concert. The special acoustic properties of the shaft and the very strict security measures on the platform were among the challenges for this extraordinary production.
Only weeks later in Cairo a performance of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt” was staged in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza. The combined effort of more than 30 actors and singers, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, and a 60-plus strong choir at the outdoor arena, posed a very different set of requirements for a sound production that had to accommodate both a live transmission locally on the night as well as recording for postproduction. Nistov was in charge of the TV-sound production on both occasions and will discuss the technical solutions used with an emphasis on production planning.

Akira Fukada (14:45) talks of his challenges broadcasting two concerts in Japan. Two special concerts will be presented having taken place in demanding places in Japan: One of them is the concert at which the “field of summer” was performed at the city center of Hiroshima. This is a concert which looks back upon the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing. The piece was performed at the exact place where the atomic bomb of Hiroshima was dropped. For Japan, that is a holy place. Therefore, there are many regulations and the concert was held in the severe environment of hot summer. It was not only broadcast live in 5.1 surround sound, but offered simultaneously all over the world on the Internet. The second concert took place inside of a mountain. This mountain has a huge base rock and the sound performed there produces characteristic reverberation.
Composer Isao Tomita and Fukada planned the concert using the sound properties of this space. First, music was performed by allotting a player to various places of a mountain. And those sounds are projected to the base rock using PA. The reflective sound is recorded with the surround microphone installed in the space. The performance had a destinctive sound due to this mountain’s effect. However, during this concert it, unfortunately, rained; nevertheless the sound of the rain made for an exceptional sound effect caught by the surround microphone.