ESC2019 – First Impressions

This year was my second opportunity attending the Eurovision Song Contest, the last being my experience of the 2016 edition in Stockholm. Despite working in and writing about the industry for years, attending hundreds of events both as a spectator and as a professional, there are still certain events that manage to excite me as if it was my first time attending an event. The Eurovision Song Contest is without a doubt one of these events, one where the most advanced technology is at the service of creativity just as it should be: without compromise and with reams of passion.

Photo Credit – Ralph Larmann

And so, after a few years and made possible thanks to Osram, I had the opportunity to return to watching the final of contest live, alongside attending a tour both backstage and of the city of Tel Aviv. Furthermore, I found this edition of ESC to be notably improved in the quality of the songs performed, alongside impeccable organisation created by a young creative and technical team, full of talent from across the globe. This was an edition that could only possibly culminate with the appearance of a worldwide star like Madonna, with a beautiful re-arrangement of the famous hit “Like a Prayer” and the launch of the new single “Future”, sung together with the American rapper, Quavo Migos.

So, let’s start this wonderful journey of discovery into ESC 2019, with the usual numbers expected by the technophiles out there!

First of all, it is useful to know that the pavilion housed around 7,200 spectators, with 54 days allowed from the first day of load-in to the final load-out operations. Set-up took 21 days, whilst the disassembly took place in just 96 hours, with 3,000 technician shifts in total. Other numbers that demonstrate just how huge this production was: 250 trucks and vans, 37  forklifts, cherry pickers and pantographs, 250 (two hundred and fifty!) kilometres of cabling and 185 tons of material hung on roof of the main stage. Furthermore, there were 1,050 Rigging Points, 650 engines, 110 load cells and 6,500 meters of truss. As for the lights, the show was managed by 13 MA Lighting consoles, controlling a total of 71,061 parameters across the 2500 fixtures involved. With close to 225 people involved for the broadcast alone, there were over 50,000 meals served by the catering in total.

As for audio, video and lighting technologies, as well as communication systems, the lists are extensive:

Video Equipment
552 x Panels Roe CB5 – 384 x Panels of Gloshine LM 4,81 – 22 x Panasonic DZ-21 Projectors – 2200 x VER Blade 90cm – 6 x Bromton 4k led processor and distributors – 6 x Disguise d3 vx4 Media Servers – 2 x Midi distributor X4 – 8 x Bird dog studio ndi – 4 x D3 editor computer intel i9 with 64 gig ram nvidia 2080ti graphic card nvme 3.2 tera drive – 10 x D3 designer dongles – 4 x GrandMA 8port node, on PC

PA Equipment
40 x L-Acoustics K2 – 16 x L-Acoustics KS28 – 70 x L-Acoustics KARA – 10 x L-Acoustics LA-RAK – 3 x L-Acoustics LA RAK II – 16 x Luminex GigaCore 14R – 16 x Luminex GigaCore RPSU – 16 x Lake LM44 – 4 x Focusrite REDNET D64R
4 x DiGiCo SD 7 Core 2 Single Engine : Optocore – 1 x DiGiCo SD 7 Core 2 Dual Engine : Optocore – 4 x DiGiCo SD 9 Core 2 : Optocore – 3 x DiGiCo SD 11 Core 2 : Optocore – 11 x DiGiCo SD Rack : Optocore
3 x Optocore DD2 FR/FX – 3 x Optocore DD4 MR/FX
4 x Waves Extreme Server – 2 x Waves MultiRack Soundgrid (esterni alle console) – 5 x RME MADI Router – 3 x RME MADIface XT – 2 x Rosendahl nanosyncs HD – 4 x DirectOut EXBOX.BLDS – 3 x Apple iMac

Microphone Equipment
38 x Sennheiser EM 6000 – 46 x Sennheiser SK 6000 BK – 40 x Sennheiser SKM 6000 BK – 6 x Sennheiser SKM 9000 BK COM – 50 x SL Headmic with HSP silver – 50 x SL Headmic with HSP beige – 140 x Sennheiser BA 60  – 140 x Sennheiser BA 61 – 20 x Sennheiser L 6000 – EU – 17 x Sennheiser SR 2050 IEM BW-X – 112 x Sennheiser EK 2000 IEM BW-X – 120 x Sennheiser IE 40 Pro black – 120 x Sennheiser IE 40 Pro clean – 6 x Sennheiser AC 3200-II – 8 x Sennheiser A 5000-CP – 8 x Sennheiser AB 3700-JP – 2 x Sennheiser A 2003 UHF

Lighting Equipment
44 x Ayrton Bora – 46 x Ayrton Ghibli – 106 x Ayrton Khamsin – 206 x Ayrton MagicBalde-FX – 358 x Ayrton MagicBalde-R – 54 x Ayrton MagicDot-R – 66 x Clay Paky Axcor 600 – 152 x Clay Paky Sharpy Wash – 116 x Clay Paky SharpyPLUS – 72 x Clay Paky UNICO – 376 x DTS Katana – 48 x DTS Synergy  – 210 x ETC S4 LED 2, Daylight HD – 30 x GLP JDC-1 – 106 x GLP X4 Bar 20 – 28 x Goldpix 7×7 LED Matrix – 87 x Robe BMFL Spot – 116 x Robe BMFL WashBeam – 78 x Robe MegaPointe – 94 x SGM Q7 – 17 x LiteCom Spotdrive Remote Followspot Control – 8 x LiteCom Camera Ringlite – 9 x LiteCom Camera Mini Panel – 8 x LiteCom Camera Panel – 4 x MA2 FullSIze – 13 x MA2 Light – 22 x GrandMA NPU – 22 x GrandMA 8port node – 7 x MDG ATMe

Pyrotechnic
10 x Heavy fog machines – 48 x Flame Unites – 20 x Spark Machines – 18 x MagicFX Smoke Jet – 24 x 16 channel pyroracks on stage – 1 x Waterfall trusses with 40 holders – 8 x Magnum Confetti Cannons for the winning song – 2 x Universal Effects Wind Machine – 8 x MagicFX Stage Fans

Communications
175 x Intercom Panels – 265 x Analogue Radios – 205 x Tetra Radios – 20 x km of Signal fiber cables – 1150 x rechargeable battery sets – 140 x network switches – 260 x WIFI Access points – 6000 Mbit/s internet capacity.

These numbers really do start to give an impression of just how impressive this titanic production was, where the best technicians and creatives from across the world come together to work with the most internationally renowned rental companies (Agorà for audio and Danish LiteCom for lights and videos, just to name a couple). All the technical aspects of ESC were then coordinated by the ever-reliable Ola Melzeg who, together with his staff, has been managing  every phase of production for years. This starts right at product selection, carrying through to impeccable setup and interfacing with the various technical-creative figures involved.

As an official partner, OSRAM also organized an interesting initiative at the event which consisted of lighting the Convention Center and the historic Jaffa district during the final evenings, by means of a series of Claypaky fixtures that changed color based on the votes cast by millions of viewers around the world, via the ESC app. In particular, the structures of the old city of Jaffa were colored in a shade ranging from blue (negative rating) to red (positive vote).

In the next issue, we will go into the lighting and audio setups in more detail, with interviews with Lighting Designer Ronen Najar, Angelo Di Nella and the Agorà crew. Stay Tuned!

Walter Lutzu
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