REVIEW: The Eurovision Song Contest 2011

The Eurovision Song Contest 2011 took place in Dusseldorf from 10 to 14 May

• The Technical Realisation • The Video Concept • The Audio Concept • The Stage Concept  • The Graphics • The Intercom • The EBU Switch • The Power Concept • The Voting


The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s biggest non-sporting live TV event and a strong household name among hundreds of millions of people in Europe. Every year, 100 to 125 million people in over 45 countries watch the televised competition. Famous former participants include Julio Iglesias, Olivia Newton-John, Céline Dion, ABBA, Johnny Logan, Alla Pugacheva, Secret Garden, Philip Kirkorov, t.A.T.u., Lordi and Patricia Kaas.

In 2011, the visual identity of the Eurovision Song Contest was under the theme ‘Feel your heart beat!’. The theme refers to the great emotions which music can evoke – and which belong to the distinctive character of Europe’s favorite TV show: Enthusiasm, heart beating, excitement, love and passion. “There are no limits to these emotions, there are no language barriers. The theme also refers to the fact that every song has its individual rhythm,” Thomas Schreiber, Executive Producer Show of NDR explained. To follow this guideline was an exciting challenge for the whole Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) team to design, produce and broadcast one of the most spectacular events in 2011.

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Featured Companies

A&O TechnologyCape CrossClay PakyCreative TechnologyJünger AudiolunatXMA LightingMovecat NeutrikPresteigne Charter • Riedel • SachtlerSennheiserStagetecStudio Hamburg MCIVizrtYamaha

A&O FALCONs Shine on Eurovision

The FALCON® FLOWER made quite an impression at the 56th Eurovision Song Contest recently held at Düsseldorf Arena in Germany. The show is known for making technical leaps and bounds and this year marked the biggest Eurovision in history with regards to lighting equipment and live audience. Germany had not hosted the show since 1983 but when Lena Meyer-Landrut won Eurovision 2010 in Norway with her song “Satellite”, Germany was determined to show the world how a show should be done...big. 24 FALCON FLOWER 3000W made a massive impact at floor level with 4 placed on each side of the stage at its widest position and another 12 lined along the back LED stage wall. 4 more were placed on the catwalks in front of the stage.16 FALCON FLOWER 7000W were placed in the ceiling, with 8 hung on moving truss directly behind the stage. Lighting control was delivered via grandMA2 full-size consoles, triggered via timecode.

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Eurovision Song Contest 2011 | Cape Cross

Cape Cross was responsible for the largest-scale technology package of the 56th Eurovision Song Contest. Approx. 135 trucks carrying 40 tons apiece were used to deliver the lights, the LED equipment, the rigging and the power supply to the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf. Well over 300 Cape Cross employees took part in the construction and installation of the massive technical set-up. Over 2,200 spot units were used to create over 31,000 lighting effects. These included over 1,100 moving, automated light sources and another 1,000 multi-functional spots, including LED lights mounted on trusses totaling almost nine kilometres in length. The LED wall was 60 meters wide and 18 meters high and, including the spotlight equipment surrounding it, covered an area of over 1,300 square metres.

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Clay Paky at the ESC 2011

Clay Paky delivered the majority of winning looks with over 300 automated luminaires at the 56th Eurovision Song Contest held in Düsseldorf, Germany on May 10, 12 and 14, 2011. The legendary production continues to grow every year and 2011 was no exception, with the show breaking several of its own currently held records. Lighting Designer Jerry Appelt, known for large-scale events in music, TV, industry, art and architecture, included over 2100 moving lights for the massive Düsseldorf Arena, of which over 300 were Clay Paky fixtures used primarily for the stage area. No stranger to big effects, Appelt created a completely new and exciting design for all 43 songs, plus three interval acts and an opening to the Final – a challenging undertaking. The rig extended to every square metre of the arena and was carefully chosen by Appelt in order to handle the wide assortment of looks needed.

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Creative Technology at the ESC 2011: Seeing Beyond the Vision

Its easy to hide behind a wall of superlatives, bigger, heavier, brighter, bolder, sharper; and for Creative Technology this years' Eurovision Song Contest was all those things and more; but it's the little details that put the polish on this project. "The spectacular creative design from Florian Wieder and Jerry Appelt stretched us in places we'd never been stretched before," said head of CT's Dusseldorf Office, Alex Klaus, and the man responsible for running the project. The Wieder/Appelt design was dominated by a 1250m² expanse of Spider 30 LED screen; at twice the size of the infamous U2 Pop Mart screen, it completely filled one end of the Esprit football stadium in Dusseldorf. "That's almost the entire worldwide inventory of Spider30," said CT's MD Dave Crump, over from England to witness the event. "We've pulled in resources from the US and UK to support CT Germany, but as Alex said, it's the small stuff that really stretched us." The 'stuff' might have been small, but without it this show was never going to happen.

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Jünger Audio’s New T*AP at the ESC 2011

Jünger Audio’s T*AP Television Audio Processor played a key part in helping German public broadcaster NDR deliver stunning audio from the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. Ulli Fricke, sound engineer from NDR and Head of Sound at the Eurovision Song Contest 2011, who was responsible for the audio output, says four of Jünger Audio’s T*AP Television Audio Processors were used for the international broadcast where they performed dynamics control across both the stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes. Two were deployed for the music mix and two for the final mix and in all cases they were used in conjunction with Stagetec Aurus consoles. NDR also used a fifth unit for national German transmission out of Hamburg.

Read the Jünger Audio Story


lunatX Supplied all Special Effects for the ESC 2011

7,000 firing channels in the roof construction and a further 2,000 in the stage were implemented by the technical service provider, in order to have sufficient channels available for the jury rehearsals, dress-rehearsal, semi-final, final as well as opening and closing ceremony. The major challenges were the minimal safety distances to the artists and to the audience. Appropriately large-scale effects had to be used due to the size of the stage. This circumstance posed absolutely no problem, as the effect machines and effects used by lunatX all fulfil the highest safety standards.

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A galaxy of lights: grandMA2 masters 42,000 parameters at ESC 2011

100% control for all lighting and video came from MA Lighting. 4 x grandMA2 full-size consoles, each with a full backup, as well as 5 x grandMA2 faderwings ran all lighting and video, triggered via timecode. 11 x MA NPU (Network Processing Unit) devices handled all traffic in one session on the MA-Net2. “It’s not even practical to do a show like this without timecode and grandMA2 is the best,” said Appelt, “Absolutely every millisecond is cued and then rehearsed again and again and again. There is no room for an error in a show of this size. The MA system delivered a great result.”

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Movecat supplies kinetic solutions for the ESC 2011

To satisfy the very stringent safety guidelines governing this type of event, Movecat equipment from partner Stage Kinetik of Castrop-Rauxel was employed – a tribute to the exceptionally mature functionality and BGV C1 and SIL 3 safety features of the kinetic equipment from Movecat. For the Eurovision Song Contest in the Esprit Arena, Stage Kinetik deployed inter alia ninety-two VMK-S 500-24 chain hoists and V-Motion Power Packs compliant with SIL 3, four Expert-T II system controllers, as well as a various network distributors and boosters – all  from Movecat.

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ESC 2011 | 12 points for Neutrik‘s opticalCON

No show event was as exciting and impressive as the Eurovision Song Contest in Düsseldorf this year. Even the technology behind the event was impressive. The audio, video, and lighting designs made extraordinary demands on the equipment - no wonder Neutrik products could be found everywhere. At two critical interfaces Neutrik's rugged and reliable opticalCON fiber system was the product of choice. Neutrik supplied opticalCON products to connect the movecats for the stage kinetics and the Stagetec AURUS mixing consoles for the TV sound.

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NDR Appoints Presteigne Charter for their Broadcast Equipment Needs at ESC 2011

Presteigne Charter will be supplying a diverse range of broadcast equipment for the event, ranging from Sony HDC-1500 Camera Channels to SMPTE firbecables. Our relationship with Eurovision Song Contest is long-lasting, having previously utilised our RF expertise and our experience in developing HD for live entertainment.With major events like the Eurovision Song Contest to add to our portfolio there’s no wonder Presteigne Charter is at the forefront in broadcast rental solutions for the entertainment industry!

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Riedel MediorNet Rocks the Eurovision Song Contest 2011

The organizers of this year's Eurovision Song Contest, EBU and NDR, used a comprehensive fiber-based MediorNet system from Riedel Communications to distribute video, audio and communications signals at the event. Riedel, one of the leading manufacturers of real-time networks for HD video, audio and communications, installed a versatile system comprising of MediorNet, RockNet, Artist and Performer components, turning the former football stadium into a 15,000 square meter TV broadcast studio. To provide the broadcast infrastructure and the signal distribution backbone the German specialist for real-time networks installed a comprehensive system that distributed 70 HD/SD-SDI video signals, 1,200 audio signals and 734 communications ports. A total of 70 MediorNet mainframes were used to integrate the various positions and departments into a single system, including the TV compound, commentator positions and the press center.

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Eurovision Song Contest with Sachtler artemis

"At the Eurovision Song Contest, as well as in the case of all other live events, I especially appreciated the Hot-Swap technology," emphasizes the operator. With this technology, an uninterrupted power supply is guaranteed when changing batteries. The camera, monitor, and transmission path do not have to be turned off – a feature that only the artemis systems provide. "Apart from that, I also really like that the artemis system can be used very compactly if required. In doing so, the total weight of the camera rig can be significantly reduced."

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Sennheiser Wireless for the ESC 2011

Markus Müller from MM Communications was responsible for frequency planning throughout the ESC. He and his team not only had to manage the 163 frequencies for the microphones and monitoring, but also an additional 120 frequencies for talkback systems, remotely controlled equipment and cameras. “Throughout the production, a 20-strong team guaranteed the strict time scheduling, as a show like this requires a really high level of reliability,” explained Markus Müller, Managing Director of MM Communications. “In Düsseldorf, we had not only the stray pick-ups of the gigantic LED wall to contend with as a source of interference, but also the large DVBT transmitter stations in Cologne , and radio signals from a trade fair that was taking place close by at the same time. With our frequencies, we exploited all the gaps in the entire UHF spectrum between 470 and 790 MHz in order to guarantee interference-free operation.”

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ESC 2011: 25 Finalists, 120 Million Spectators and Four AURUS

“As 'Official Supplier' and partner of German public broadcaster NDR, STAGETEC provided all the mixing consoles used to broadcast this years Grand Prix,” says Dr. Klaus-Peter Scholz, one of the MEDIAGROUP’s managing directors. Four AURUS’, each with 48 faders and a full complement of DSP were on site. Three were installed in mobile control rooms the NDR had set up on the Arena campus, the fourth was in one of NDR’s HD outside broadcast trucks. In this set-up two of the four sound control rooms undertook all the broadcast sound mixing. The first did the music mix and passed its output to the second which produced the international sound feed. The third and fourth sound control rooms acted purely as backups and were therefore equipped with identical hardware and were able to take over seamlessly in case of any failure of the main system.

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ESC 2011: Stages were Built by Hamburg Workshops

The workshops were engaged by Brainpool TV with the construction of the center stage, the presenter’s stage, the side wings, the crosspiece connections as well as the ‚Green Room’, the area for artists and performers. In cooperation with the project managers Fabian Bäter and Benjamin Neuen, about 40 carpenters, metalworkers, decorators, painters, electricians and technical draftsmen realised a stage as big as a half of a football pitch. From the planning and the final design to the construction, the delivery of the working material, the assembly and finally the dismantling only took four months.

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Vizrt at the ESC 2011

On behalf of the NDR Vizrt in co-operation with Molden Media has supervised and implemented the real-time graphics for the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) 2011. The design templates for the ESC graphics were created by Wieder Design (Munich) and Turqoise Branding (London). The implementation of the graphics was carried out with Vizrt’s  Viz Artist software. In order to “fill” the graphics with actual data a Content Management System was necessary. For this purpose, the software Viz Content Pilot was used. Because the input masks/templates of Viz Content Pilot had to be “filled” dynamically, a corresponding programming of the templates had to take place. The programming of these templates was carried out by Molden Media. Digame was responsible for the collection of the voting data and forwarded these data continuously to Vizrt/Molden Media.

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More Than 20 Yamaha Digital Consoles Mix ESC 2011 Spectacular

Yamaha worked closely with rental company Neumann & Müller to provide an audio system that would provide both high quality sound and cast-iron reliability. The event’s Senior Sound Engineer (PA), Jochen Jensen, approached Yamaha’s Arthur Koll, with a view to using a system which had a great focus on redundancy. “I came up with a concept for the show in June 2010 and we worked on it through to April this year, when we set it up at Neumann & Müller’s premises for four days of testing,” says Arthur. “On 19th April the rig was set up at the Esprit Arena and from then on it was 24 hour working, through the two semi-finals on 10th and 12th May, until after the final on 14th May.”

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