As Optocore dealers fac365 end the year, they can reflect with satisfaction at having further helped to establish the company’s portfolio, notably Festival Box—not merely during the festival season—but for major international tours with bands like The Killers and Coldplay … with four Festival Boxes making up Coldplay’s control package and network infrastructure.
One major source for this success has been fast-expanding rental house, Solotech UK—which has a historic relationship with Optocore—supporting production with gear supplied from four warehouses spread across the UK.
“We have sold a large number of items to Solotech over the past two years,” confirm fac365 operations manager, Richard Newall, “most recently an M8 [MADI] package for a touring playback rig and X6Rs for their Control/Drive racks.”
In the north of England, prior to becoming part of the Solotech Group, Wigwam had become the first rental house adopter of Festival Box, while down south Optocore has long formed the backbone of the extensive delay network on the two-week BST Hyde Park event in London.
The device itself comes in two versions—the Grand (with 12 SFP ports) and Petite (with six SFPs)—Solotech now holding six Grandes and eight Petites across the group.
So what exactly is Festival Box and why has it proven so popular on tours ranging from Coldplay, to Billie Eilish and the Spice Girls? Essentially, it’s a point-to-point converter, which enables all signals and protocols to tunnel over the same fiber—ideal for productions requiring a substantial number of connections between stage and FOH or where a succession of artist engineers are rocking up with different consoles, operating on a variety of protocols. Deployed as a data tunnel, comms, video, the support band console and remote aerials can all be put through it, thereby substantially reducing the number of cables at front of house. So the advantages are self-evident.
Robin Conway, Solotech UK’s Senior Account Manager, is in no doubt why Optocore devices have played such a major role in the company’s rental inventory. “Optocore continues to form large parts of Solotech returns systems in the UK—generally when specified by the client—and we are more than happy to roll it out in these instances.”
He reports that that the Petites have been used at festivals this summer to run various house desks (such as Avid S6L’s) and communication networks. They have also been deployed with The Killers as the core connection between FOH and monitors—carrying MADI, SSL Blacklight and Network between each of these positions.
Solotech then hired an M8 MADI device for use at this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo to meet the audio design requirement.
“A lot of the Optocore equipment is specified, although given the shortage of DD2/DD4 units, the M8/M12 is now the go-to solution when production needs to bring external MADI sources onto a DiGiCo/Optocore network,” confirms Conway.
In summary, the Solotech man sees Optocore as a robust solution, providing a solid working platform for both audio and data. “It is used and spec’d by many techs and PM’s at Solotech in the UK,” he concludes, “and it will continue to be used when required and when specified for both loudspeaker returns systems and as a way of bringing additional I/O to DiGiCo networks.
“We will continue to lean on fac365 for support when needed.”