FIX8Group was part of the team operating the stunning video content for all 43 competing acts as well as pop megastar Justin Timberlake’s performance at the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 (ESC 2016).
The 61st edition themed ‘Come Together’ was held at Stockholm’s Globe arena and hosted by last year’s Swedish champion Måns Zelmerlöf alongside returning host Petra Mede.
We were live to over 200 million viewers around the world as they tuned in to watch the grand final. This total included the USA, where the show was broadcast live for the first time in the show’s history.
Neil Trenell and Fraser Walker were out representing Team FIX8 having been asked to come on board by returning Video Designer Mikki Kunttu. This was Neil’s second outing as video programmer having been part of the team with Mikki in Malmö in 2013. Our team was also boosted by Pekka Martti who brought the compliment of programmers to 3. Having 3 programers all working in a single session allowed us more flexibility for making quick and concise changes during the fast paced rehearsal weeks. For example one would be working on a projector line up, another tweaking colour in the multiple LED surfaces with the third adding all this into the cue stack or timecode tracks to ensure everything was frame accurate during playback.
It was an incredibly large-scale project. There was around nine terabytes of content, and seven and a half thousand files. Each output required seven different media maps to get a single image on the screens so the team wrote a series of macros in order to quickly be able to grab any of the 200 media layers in use at any time and quickly put it into the correct bank and it’s associated surface specific media within that bank.
The carefully crafted video content which was a mix of loops, stills and locked timecode files was displayed across the stage’s 900 metres of LED screen, which included the super high resolution floor of 71 million pixels, and 10 Barco HDQ 40k projectors each fitted with a High End Systems MMS 200 moving mirror system.
Mikki would also work closely with the show’s 2 multi camera directors and the delegation representatives to ensure that the visuals looked perfect in every shot. He would then feedback any changes that needed to be made. This could be either major changes or the smallest of tweaks such as “adding 4 extra stars to the bottom right LED wall in shot 24.”
The creative process saw several versions of video content for each nation, for example, Cyprus had as many as ten versions in total. Revisions were constant, right up to the final broadcast but this was easily managed by the team who utilised the MA2’s powerful timecode engine to quickly switch between versions of tracks or to mute any accents that were no longer needed.
The visuals were powered to the screens using Green Hippo Hippotizer-V4 servers which were controlled by MA Lighting GrandMA2 consoles. The consoles were supplied by ESC 2016 official technical supplier [LITE]COM. The LED and projectors was supplied and installed by Mediatech and the servers themselves were supplied by Swedish company Pixel Flood.
Hippotizer-V4 worked really well – the engine was stable throughout. Green Hippo were also very helpful in adding features to the servers to suit our needs, from being able to control the Visualiser’s views over DMX to adding a colour based time stamp to every single piece of encoded media. This allowed us to keep track of the adjustments and manage our media a lot more effectively as we could see with a simple glance at our Zookeepers if new content had been uploaded or not and with so much content coming in at an hourly rate, this was an invaluable addition to the software.
Ola Melzig, technical director of Eurovision 2016, comments: “The FIX8Group team are incredibly good at what they do and know how to get the maximum effect out of the Hippotizer. If you give Neil the simplest video clip he will turn it into million-dollar content, just with his MA2. He does a lot of effects on the fly and brought the whole thing to life.”
The Eurovision 2016 grand final took place on Saturday 14th of May. The Ukraine came out on top, with their entry from singer Jamala.
This project was a real team effort with everyone going above and beyond the call of duty in order to make it happen. As programmers we were incredibly well supported by our Head of Video Morgan Brown, Mediatech Project Manager Casey Bennett with his team and our fantastic server techs from Pixel Flood, Anders Granström and Magnus Grönberg. We were incredibly proud to be part of such a great event.