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Wacken Open Air Rocks with TVN GROUP Film & TV Production

Summer 2009 saw loads of music festivals come and go, many of which used Steinberg software and hardware in some way or other. One fond memory that comes to mind was this year’s Wacken Open Air, a three-day heavy metal festival in Germany which was solely produced by TVN GROUP Film & TV Production on Nuendo. Early on, TVN turned to Nuendo and has stayed with it ever since, using Nuendo at numerous German events such as Rock am Ring, Hurricane Festival and Coca-Cola Soundwave.

Steinberg interviewed Stephan Thyssen, TVN's sound engineer for mobile production, to find out more on mobile live recording and how he puts Nuendo to use.

Please give us a short insight into TVN GROUP Film & TV Production. What are your main activities and production areas?
The companies of the TVN GROUP cover the entire chain of production — from cinematic image film to web-based company television, from 3D animation for film up to the complete broadcasting — of course also in HDTV. We employ sophisticated technology and qualitified personnel alongside outside broadcasting trucks, satellite technology and camera equipment. We also install and run production and editing rooms plus studios across the whole of Germany. Editors, graphic designers, directors and producers develop and realize customized solutions in the areas of business TV, educational films, web TV, television formats, new, shows, commercials plus product and image films. TVN has branches in Berlin, Bremen, Frankfurt/Main, Hamburg, Hanover, Kiel, Cologne, Leipzig and Wolfsburg.

Apart from Wacken Open Air, which festivals and music shows are on TVN's list for 2009?
We produce festivals including Rock am Ring, Hurricane Festival, T-Mobile / MTV Extreme PG (in Oberhausen, Pinneberg and Berlin), VIVA Comet, Coca-Cola Soundwave, a massive event, right next to the Brandenburg Gate which took place on October 3, the closing concert of the European Music Award in Berlin, recording the opera Carmen in Zurich, Idomeneo in Klagenfurt, Beethoven’s Seventh in the Musikzirkus in Vienna, and much more.

Compared to transmitting sports events and shows, what special requirements are you looking for in technology and crew when it comes to festivals the likes of Wacken Open Air?
Having a stage-experienced crew that works well together is crucial. There are many different tasks which are performed simultaneously and the time pressure is enormous. Co-workers need to be team players and know how to set up microphones for a band — this is completely different to the sports and show business. I am very happy that we employ long-term, professional teams who know exactly what they are doing and always keep their cool.

What's more, we need to be able to perform post-productions at short notice, such as going over live mixes used for recurrences and time-shifted broadcasting. Personally, I like to check the entire transmission path for possible limiter and mastering units. There is nothing worse than a badly set limiter in the broadcasting center.

As for technology, the control room needs to be equipped according to the task, with effects, outboards and, of course, Nuendo. At TVN, this approach is unique in that our OB trucks' control rooms are equipped accordingly in advance. Just to give you a quick overview of the capacities involved: we set up up to 85 state-of-the-art microphones for the Vienna Opera Ball, but this was also one of our most elaborate productions to date.

Describe you recording setup in short?

Each OB truck of TVN has a PC running Nuendo 4. All inputs are realized using the MADI format and RME Hammerfall cards. A wordclock generator provides the clock from the Blackburst or Tri Level Sync from the video fraction. We convert the timecode (LTC) into MIDI timecode. That’s why our recording format is Broadcast Wave. My portable backup solution is an RME MADIface connected via PC Express card to the laptop also running Nuendo. Here we also convert LTC into MTC which we then distribute via a MIDI/USB converter.

For which production phases do you use Nuendo and why did TVN choose Nuendo in the first place? Does the sound quality of Nuendo play some sort of role?
I primarly use Nuendo as a recording system at big shows and live events. A show the likes of Willkommen bei Carmen Nebel on ZDF (ed. note: a public-service German television channel) is sometimes also shown on ORF (ed. note: Austrian television channel), etc. By clearly defining what each microphone picks up, I am able to re-adjust mics that may have been “affected” during the live recording at a later stage. As for using Cubase, we decided not to use it early on since the implementation of video signals was essential to us. I believe that future broadcast mixing consoles will accommodate for this feature. We have invested in Nuendo with its video features. We aren't using plug-ins extensively, however, this will change in the future so that Nuendo's audio quality will also be more important to us.

Are there any special features in Nuendo that help you during live recordings?
Our customers often turn to Broadcast Wave as the required audio format, which is ideal for post-productions. The compatibility with various soundcards like RME and DIGIGRAM as well as the Nuendo's PC connection are essential, allowing us to seamlessly integrate the program into the peripherals on our outside broadcasting trucks.

Will you be releasing a CD and DVD live recording of the festival?
As always the WOA 2009 will be released at the beginning of the 2010 festival — this year we published last year’s.

Many thanks for the interview.

TVN website: