May 22, 2024

Track sound on the Bregenz floating stage with Follow-Me

Christian “Rocketchris” Glatthor and Follow-me planned and installed a complex tracking system for sound, light and video signals on the lake stage. The Bregenz Festival attracts more than 200,000 spectators every year. The highlight of the festival is always the performances on the Lake Stage, which feature stunning sets. A piece is performed here every two years. Last year the festival was in its second season with Giacomo Puccini's “Madame Butterfly.”

(Photo: LMP/Ralph Larman)

There is still something new to report, because since June 2023 there has been fully automatic tracking of audio signals on the lake stage by integrating the Track-iT system Follow me to benefit. The application once again confirms the versatility and performance of these tracking solutions, which are not limited to light but can also automatically control audio and video signals.

Christian “RocketCriss” Glathorwhich has been in high demand as a tracking systems specialist since 2018, has been selected by Bregenz Festival He was brought into the team as an independent consultant to plan and execute complex productions with high venue requirements in terms of tracking on a very large stage and its various levels. He performed numerous on-site demonstrations and tests and provided advice on the systems demonstrated.

Already in 2021 he was with him LMP lighting technologyFollow-me's distributor in Germany and Austria, held an initial demo of the remote system 3D six was implemented, demonstrating that local conditions can be easily met using a manual tracking solution. With the support of the Follow-me technical team, a demo of what was just introduced in 2022 was presented Track IT system.

As an extension of the proven 3D-Six system, Track-iT allows users to seamlessly switch between manual and automatic tracking. Since Track-IT also transmits and receives OSC, it can also provide precise location data to any public address system. After extensive testing of different systems, automatic tracking using one of the systems was eventually chosen Track IT system. The installation, which was extremely complicated due to local conditions, took place in June 2023.

Audio tracking

Anyone who has ever considered Follow-me as a remote follow-up point or as an automatic light-tracking solution might be surprised by Bregenz's use case. “That's right, the Follow-me system has a direct integrated interface for controlling the headlights,” explains Chris Glatthauer. “But you can also have a PSN or, in newer systems, an OSC signal output from the targets in question so in addition to the 'audio,' we can also control Video signals, for example. In order to be able to control the sound systems with Follow-me, we use the interface developed by the Fraunhofer Institute on the Lake Stage.”

The sound situation on the lake stage is complex. The very large grandstand offers 6,659 seats and is divided into several sound signal zones. However, the specially developed Fraunhofer system is able to adjust position and pointing in such a way that allows viewers to feel where the performers are currently located on stage, even at a distance of 50 metres.

Tracking audio with Follow-me is just the beginning, adds Chris: “The production of Madame Butterfly does not use follow-points, so there was no urgent need for light tracking. Next year, for the production of Der Freischütz, however, the tracking of follow-points is automated.” also.”

Advanced outdoor installation

Installing the tracking system was relatively complicated. On the one hand, it is a completely unprotected outdoor environment in the immediate vicinity of the water, as the receiving masts themselves stand directly in the water. On the other hand, the planning challenge was to cover a very large area reliably, which brought with it many challenges in terms of comprehension and thinking.

The dimensions of the stage are 30 x 30 x 28 meters (width x depth x height). The tracking field is much wider. To ensure the units are protected from the weather, Chris Glatthauer designed a special casing. The entire installation, including cables, is weatherproof. The signs are packaged and protected by the specialist departments in Bregenz in such a way that even if the actor jumps into the water, they cannot be damaged. Follow-me was the only manufacturer that was able to master these special backup requirements by being able to rely on the always-available manual operation option in every situation.

25 antennas for field coverage

A total of 25 antennas (“Track-iT Anchors”) were installed: six in the mountain backdrop, 16 on the light and sound masts in the water and another five on the leading edge of the stands directly on the lake shore. On the hardware side, there are two Track-iT servers (main/backup), two full 3D-Six systems (main/backup) and several representative brands including backup.

Challenges

The installation in Bregenz is a project that presented a number of challenges: “In addition to the weather as a constant factor of uncertainty, the lighting poles, for example, have only been very sensitive poles moving in the wind since last year. The question” here was whether the system would work , and these deflectors will work stably. In addition, there was a large field with much larger distances between the antennas compared to a normal phase. The clean kit design provided no possibility of mounting it elsewhere. “

Reflections of the water and surrounding buildings as well as background absorption also played a role. How quickly can the system generate an accurate signal when the artist is performing? “It was pleasing that in all cases it quickly became clear that the system was coping very well with the conditions,” says Chris.

Manual and automatic tracking in one system

Chris confirms his choice and highlights the great advantage of using the configuration developed at Bregenz: “Of course, automatic tracking does not work underwater. If the actor is swimming through the water, he will be manually tracked at that moment. This means that we have the option in performance situations for initial guidance Or exit manually and switch to automatic tracking once we get a stable signal.

Value Added

The technical team at Seebühne is completely satisfied with the implemented solution. Chris Glatthauer monitored the system remotely during the game season and was able to provide live support in case of critical issues. Fortunately, this was not the case.

The installation brings many advantages to the Bregenz Festival. Thanks to automatic tracking, human resources can be better used. In the lighting area, there will also be a lot of options for follow-point applications in the future, because previously it was only possible to use the front follow-up points from the lighting control room. In the future, video can also be tracked in addition to sound and light. “In general, the floating stage has gained a lot of openness to the future and tremendous flexibility in terms of all control techniques,” Glatthauer adds.

When asked what he remembers about this project, Chris replied: “A lot of steps were taken and meters of height were overcome. The stage is huge. It takes ten minutes to get from the FOH lighting unit to the stage. I was very impressed by it” The complexity of the production on the Lake Stage, which It is considered one of the latest technologies from a technical standpoint. And last but not least, I remember many very nice and efficient people whom I always enjoy visiting.”

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