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Britannia Row Productions move mountains at Rugby World Cup Opening

Britannia Row Productions move mountains at Rugby World Cup Opening
Britannia Row Productions move mountains at Rugby World Cup Opening

UK – As earthquakes go Japan arguably has the edge in terms of World Cup Rugby and seismic shocks. Yet the opening ceremony, conceived and executed by Take That’s creative director Kim Gavin firmly focused the attention of the world’s TV cameras upon the contest in uncompromising terms.

“I’m really pleased with what we did at Twickenham Stadium,” said production manager Steve Nolan of Chromatic Productions Ltd, which was contracted to manage the event. “We put 14 truck-loads of gear on the field without damaging the turf. When the Opening Ceremony was over it took just nine minutes and 26 seconds to clear the ground so the teams could enter for the warm-up. That’s all down to planning, and Tom Brown from Britannia Row Productions Ltd (Britrow) who provided all the audio infra-structure in the stadium and to broadcast, was highly instrumental in realising that plan.”

“The pitch system was relatively straight forward,” explained Brown. “The earthquake sequence demanded additional weight in the low end so we doubled the Subs for the occasion. The pitch system which stays in for the duration of the competition, comprises 14 stacks of L-Acoustics K2 and SB28 Sub, but for the ceremony we doubled the subs to 28. The Twickenham house PA system is still used, but naturally it doesn’t have the power and fidelity of a K2 system, so we just fed audio to the upper tier, the Britrow pitch system covering lower two tiers. But it was in the realms of show management where the challenge lay.”

Gavin drew on his experience with the ceremonies for the London Olympics in 2012, with all cast members and event controllers taking their cues over an in-ear monitoring system. “Some 320 IEMs to stage manage them all,” informed Brown. “Steve Lutley who ran monitor world is easily the most experienced man with these sorts of ceremony events and did a superb job. Add in the skills of Gary Bradshaw who did an equally superb job front of house, and such enormous events quickly transform into entirely manageable proportions.”

Bradshaw did express some reservations just before the event. “I must confess I was a bit nervous, a live broadcast to 80 million people gives you a different perspective. But with Kim Gavin directing, Steve Lutley beside me on monitors, and Britrow providing all the sound I was on firm foundations. I must have worked with Britrow hundreds of times, and Kim and Steve on Take That only a couple of months ago. I mixed from up in the press gallery at the top of the first tier. The system did look a bit small from up there but I had a good walk around in the run up to the show day and the coverage was excellent. You might have spotted all the subs on TV? That was Kim Gavin’s thing, ‘when the ball hits I want the ground to shake’ he said, and it did. Yes, the system had to go flat out, just two or three K2 at each stack position, but it did remarkably well. When we made the final test the night before we did some music playback and some speech stuff and the clarity was really good.”

Nolan pronounced himself well pleased with the event: “We had volunteers as they did for all the Olympic ceremonies, one hundred and forty of them for us to help clear the pitch, and they did a fantastic job, they really got involved. Likewise, the Twickenham ground staff were really helpful, enthusiastic even, and their knowledge with products like Enkamat (a soil erosion protection product) really contributed to us not damaging the turf. Steve Lutley and the Britrow monitor crew worked like Trojans. The amazing thing was Tom Brown had to leave a few days before the ceremony to concentrate on the sports presentation systems Britrow are providing at the other stadiums, and Lez Dwight took over. You wouldn’t have noticed the difference: that’s a very slick operation.”

photos: Lez Dwight

2nd November 2015

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