Riedel Communications - RIO Olympic ceremonies

The system has
14    Artist 64 Nodes
125 Panels about half RCP1028 and half RCP1012
60 expansion panels
69 IN/OUT ports
56 C3 ports
160 C3 Beltpacks
101 4-wire ports which connect to:
   24 Semi Duplex Motorola radio repeaters
   20 Simplex Radios TX/RX
   16 VOIP Trunk lines to rehearsal site
   16 Madi ports to OBS trucks
   16 analog ports to OBS trucks
   3 Announcer panels
10 Mediornet modular Nodes


This 2016 summer, Riedel Communications hired me to work on another mega event, the Rio opening and closing Ceremonies for the Olympics and the Paralympics, like I have done for them before.   This will be my 17 and 18th time doing Olympic events events this size and experience paves the way to do more.  

Each time they provide the pinnacle of comms systems.   The massive communications system allowed very comfortable and vital communications during rehearsals and the actual show.  Everyone has access to almost all channels and usually communicate to me for any changes in their panel.  Of course the equipment is only the tool. 

The real greatness is the caliber and friendliness of technicians that Riedel hires to do the work.  We always have a good time and, because of the attitude, work hard. 

The overriding goal
is facilitating communications
for the show,
of course. 

Athletes are in Stadium stadium here.  This part of the show is always the most tedious and yet, the most important.  This is their night.

Radouan Assadi <info@radouanassadi.com> who was my co programmer in London was here 2 weeks before me and did all the initial programming.  Needless to say he has more buttons (and more table space) which essentially allows him to barely use the second page.  This picture was taken during closing ceremonies rehearsal which takes place in a huge parking lot across the railroad tracks from the stadium.  There I am sitting on 2 Nodes for about 15 panels and a handful or 2 of radio channels but it is trunked together over 16 lines in the main stadium.  You can see my system file open in the upper left monitor and his in the center.  Trunking is via 2-VOIP cards in each system on the local internet which was extended via a P-P microwave across the street.

In the hallway outside the first 6 control rooms are the 2 nodes for this area.  Six UPS provide at least 2 feeds of AC to each control room with panels evenly divided between them.  In additions panels are distributed over multiple cards in the frames.  i.e.: the 6 Choreographer panels plug into 3 different COAX108 cards for redundancy.  In the event of power loss the entire comm system must continue to work.

These Socomec Masterys BC 40 kV UPS are for the radio systems which consist of 24 semi duplex channels, 20 simplex channels, and 6 FM transmitters.  They weigh 152 kG plus the weight of batteries!  All UPS, totaling 30 were monitored via SNMP for operation by Thomas Doman in the comms main control room.  Each Artist frame had one on each PS.


Closeup of the combiner wiring.  on bottom right is a 5 point starpoint.  This antenna combiner was designed by Steve Caldwell (steve@norwestproductions.com).

HERE is the design for the system from Steve. 
The diagram does not include frequencies since they are propitiatory.

Implementation, calculations and layout was done by Torbeg Begeman (torsten.begemann@riedel.net).

This is the FM Broadcast system from BW Broadcast.  The top 5 are DSP FM processors and the bottom 5 are the FM Transmitters

Each department has their own SHOWCALL channel which are stacked on the SM and ASM panels.  This addresses two issues:  First there is a limit on the listeners to a conference of 100.  This system is way over that.  Second, by splitting the SC channels each dept doesn't hear the other and traffic is less on all channels.  Note that there is a listen only SC channel (TALK on this button).  This is the most used and shows up on C3 beltpacks and most secondary panels. 

The logic function facilitates adjustable listen levels between The SM and ASM even if they are listening to the same party line.

Another view of the SM control.  Carola, the PSM (that's her on right) and Guido, the ASM have the 2 panels on the right, TD, ops, medical and security makeup the rest with Valerio, the Back Of House caller in the second row to my right.  He organizes all cast to be at the right place at the right time for Carola to G-O.  Video screens are either program or PTZ monitors where the user can select from 30 cameras around the stadium.  All of the PTZ and video cameras are interfaced via the MetorNet Modular frames.

...Beginning layout of as built drawings showing C3 and Radios...never finished drawing because I ate the icons.

This is the power distribution for the control booths.  Each power strip is the output of a UPS.  Each column of connectors is assigned to the control rooms and the Nodes.

Combiners for the 44 transmit radios using manifold starpoint combining.  Maximum loss for any one TX is 6dB from TX to antenna.  Each TX has a circulator and a filter and then combine via coax connected where the length of each coax between the T-N adapters is based on the next frequency.  Read about the technology HERE

TAIT radios were used for the semi duplex repeaters.

over 100 panels were used.  For the most part they were single channel panels.  Some carried LTC time code for local displays and others had program audio for local speakers.  about 10 of the panels had dual headsets so more people could work on the same channel.

Most of the 2 headset panels are just sharing the same keys, no second channel.   I usually add a second audiopatch to turn on the second headset to minimize its use with a "2nd HSon" button on the panel.  

There are 2 CCP commentator panels each with 2 announcers for the verbal descriptive audio channel (for blind audience).  They are programmed for 2nd ch use of the comm system.  B and A buttons are for local comms.  Sidetone is set for separate control. 

To announce the ONAIR button is pressed.   Announcer audio is connected analog and the 2 comms channels connect by the Artist 2 channel panel coax.

This is a Technical director Panel with Time of day and show Timecode.

Here is the main and shift page on a choreographer panel.  A-E talk to the Level 2 In ears which are professional IEM systems.  FM1-4 are the Riedel FM receivers for the mass cast - about 8000 for this show.  Each of these keys listens to the mix which goes to the monitors.  The talk keys go to the monitor console and are routed and mixed with the audio.  Routing is programmed against Time code.  The AUDIENCE channel is the mix of audience reaction mics from audio so that the choreographers, inside a closed booth, can get a feel for whats happening in the stadium.  SHOWCALL is a listen only key and ,GUIDO goes to the ASM's 2 panels main and Backup.  Carola, the show caller also has 2 panels.  The backup panels are on a shelf directly behind them and have cables long enough to move them, if needed, to the front table.

This is the view from my back of the room vantage point.  There are 2 rows in the booth. 

There are 8 control rooms - 6 in the stadium control area and a separate temporary booth for Lighting and Projection

Projection and

Radio racks showing filters in the top half of the racks.  Simplex radio channels used 1 radio for TX and 1 radio for RX since each was on a different antenna system.  We used a special LOGIC program devised by Radouan which muted the RX channel when a panel was transmitting - otherwise you would hear yourself back.  Read about it HERE.

That large black roadcase at the far end is completely full of the FM antenna combiner, isolators and filters.

USA Enters.....YEA!!!!!

... Show is a wrap!  The rehearsals for the end of the show all week long, were held after normal rehearsals around midnight after all cast and press were out of the stadium for secrecy.

Another view of the front row in the SM booth with ever-vigilant Carola , the showcall SM at her panel.  The SHOWCALL channel is almost totally a listen only channel.  Floor Stage managers talk on it only to give confirmation that they are standing by....

Just like a famous movie, it reminds me of that great moment the Deathstar is attacked:
VOM 10 standing by.
VOM Seven standing by.
VOM Three standing by.
VOM Six standing by.
VOM Nine standing by.
VOM Two standing by.
VOM 11 standing by.
VOM Five standing by

This shows Carola's position.  She has Time of day as well as show Timecode displays.  The upper right video monitor is her access to the 30+ video cameras in the venue and below it is OBS Program feed.

Control position in radio room including PTZ camera system

These are the Video record servers for the 30 PTZ and fixed cameras around the stadium.  All the cameras network using MediorNet nodes.

Looking for Pokemon with my Spectrum analyzer.....

Looking for Pokemon with my Spectrum analyzer.....

Calculating comms channels here.......Photo from Ryan Penny.  Comms has an inordanate amount of slack time compared to all other departments (except RF).  Once it's running there is almost nothing to do except the occasional additionof a key to a panel, shifting position of keys or turning on/off key lock latching.

Thomas, Paolo, and Philipp stuck at stadium after show for strike....Aren't they happy?  Strike of the staging in the venue begins immediately so all field level comms needed to be taken down right away.

Here's my little corner in the back...note mosquito flypaper behind monitor....The wooden frame is to prevent me hitting the Sprinkler with my head...Ceiling is 6'...I hit my head so much on the wooden frame my hair turned GREEN!  Without much table space I had to almost totally use my second shift page.  See my panel key layouts below.

This is my main page.  The key on the right gives some idea of the use of the keys.  CR4 is the control room for Stage Management, Tech directors, Operations, security, medical, Back of house caller, and me, in the corner behind the second row - out of sight, out of mind.  The keys are arranged in the layout of the panels in the room, 7 in front row and 8 in second row.

The shift screen has many port volume controls, usually on the same key that is controlled on the main shift page.  As usual I have my vintage dBx 81W extended range analog meter on the panel to watch levels.

I make good use for the monitor function on my NORM key to switch a panel to listen to meter it.

Additionally I set BEEP to copy my reply key to a nearby regular key.

Lastly my <REPLY> (or as I call it <ECHO>) is set for scrolling to be able to get back to a recent caller.

YOU must guess what each of these mysterious buttons do...

► Prefaced with #, it's a radio channel,
► ALLCAPS it's a P-P,
► comma prefaced is a group since that person had more than one panel in their name,
► mrc are 2 TETRA radio channels,
► lower case conference, mixture ???. 
► Buttons listed monNAME are Clones of their panels so I can hear what they are hearing. 
► Alarm ON indicates that any panel which goes offline will beep my panel and flash their key. 
► MS ON (see HERE for detailed diagram) indicates that alarm is on for the auto transfer of MADI 4 wires to analog for the TV compound. 
► DIM keys will dim -18dB the RX on the key radio channels if someone sits on a key but insure that Carola's calls are heard. 
► Every panel has a group called COMMHELP which goes to me, Radouan and Thomas so that even when we leave our position someone will be there to answer.

To the left of the sunset view on the right is the TV Compound With the Olympic Broadcasting trucks as well as NBC and other foreign broadcasters.

This is the evening view out the back of the control rooms on level 5.    That is the local metro station in right center.

The Artist 12 nodes are distributed around the stadium close to where they are needed.  The radio interfaces for simplex and duplex repeaters are spread over 3 nodes for convenience of wiring.

This is the monitor for the online status of each panel.  The source is put on the ALWAYS virtual button.  The destination beeps me as well as flashes the LEDs above the key.

This is the control of the simplex radios which mutes the RX when thew TX goes on.

This is a simple peep function to notify me of panel loss.  The timer changes the dee-doo-dee-doo of the panel beep to a simple short beep each few seconds.

This is the same beep function with an added delay function at the end for monitoring the midi/analog switch-over of feeds to the TV truck.  Every time a madi channel is used the analog channel is momentarily on line and a really short beep is created so this function only lets it beep if the error is over 200 ms.