Norwest Extends Optocore Capacity for Pan Arab Games

Around 5.5km of multimode 4-core tactical fibre was deployed to link all nodes

The 12th quadrennial Pan Arab Games took place in Doha, Qatar recently — the first time that the country had hosted the multi-sport event. Khalifa International Stadium was the main venue for the competition — as well as the Opening & Closing Ceremonies, which were attended by around 40,000 people.

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Norwest Productions again worked alongside event sound designer Scott Willsallen, fielding a specialist crew including Ian Shapcott, Steve Caldwell, Trevor Beck and Justin Arthur. Another familiar presence at the stadium was the giant Optocore fibre ring.

According to Norwest Project Manager, Andrew Marsh, “The designs for these Opening & Closing Ceremonies almost always use Optocore for the signal distribution. We have a great investment in the Optocore brand and we hold many of the devices in our rental inventory. Optocore is a very unique product that has placed itself at the top of the signal distribution pile.”

Prior to the event Norwest purchased an additional six of the new X6R-FX network converters with Ethernet to add to their already considerable Optocore stock. This enabled them to facilitate the 19 nodes that were required — five of which five collected the bulk of the inputs on the Optocore network.

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To achieve the distribution architecture the network was constructed around a mixture of Optocore DD32-E, DD32R-FX, DD4MR-FX, DD2FR-FX, X6R-FX, X6-16 In, X6-16 Out, X6-8 In/8 Out interfaces — deployed across the 19 nodes.

Around 5.5km of multimode 4-core tactical fibre was deployed to link all nodes, enabling Norwest to use the last two cores in the cable to connect Gigabit fibre switches at each node for the purpose of running an audio LAN.

“All nodes were used to deliver system outputs of some kind,” confirmed Marsh, “whether it was PA system outputs, time code, paging etc.”

AES and MADI signals were sent to line array clusters distributed around the stadium. The main L’Acoustics PA comprised 116 x L’Acoustics Kudo and 36 x SB218 subs with 16 x EAW BH760 subs, 28 x dV Dosc, 8 x dV Sub. The system was powered via 54 x L’Acoustics LA8 amplifiers, 36 x Lab Gruppen PLM10000Q amplifiers, and mixed through a pair of Digico SD8 digital consoles.

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Inputs were split at the source to enter both Optocore and analogue networks at each node and outputs were fed back from the patch to Norwest’s Dolby Lake switching processors, which acted as switching devices at each node. While Optocore MADI devices were used on the primary system Digico Digirac’s were used on the parallel analogue redundant system.

A pair of Merging Technology Pyramix Mass Core DAW's delivered the show audio to the Optocore network using MADI splitters and SRC’s to enable both the playback machines to feed the Optocore and back up networks simultaneously.

Each project brings its own set of challenges and in this instance Norwest’s main task was to get the equipment to site and installed in time, within a stadium that presented its own logistical difficulties. “In general, as people push for increased efficiency, we find that there is less and less time to install events like this. The beauty of Optocore is that it is fast and incredibly flexible in these situations plus the new generation of products has a very high I/O capability.”

The show theatre itself created a dramatic spectacle and went without a hitch. The cultural section included a number of performers from the region such as Jordanian performers Nadim Sawalha and Abeer Issa. There was a solo performance from Egyptian singer Ehab Tawfiq who performed during the pre-show. During the main ceremony there was performances from Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi and Syrian singer Asala Nasri.

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Andrew Marsh attributed the success of the show to the technical design and implementation of the distribution system. “We were happy with how our crew and equipment performed and are looking forward to the next challenge. From our client’s point of view, it sounded great and nothing failed … so I think they are very happy.”

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