May 2021 saw Faber Audiovisuals join forces with many of The Netherlands’ world-class technical production companies to deliver a hugely successful Eurovision Song Contest at Rotterdam’s Ahoy Arena.
Sint-Annaparochie-based Faber Audiovisuals were selected as official supplier for all video display technology, providing both the video hardware and the skilled team of technicians that installed and operated it. “Eurovision is an unparalleled show,” says Faber Audiovisuals CEO Cees-Jan Faber. “To be able to deliver to such high expectations during a pandemic is an achievement that makes us extremely proud.”
Designer Florian Wieder, who celebrated his seventh Eurovision set design in 2021, created an incredible set design for this year’s event. Perhaps the most eye-catching element was the 508 sq.m LED wall, which was built using the new ROE Visual BQ4, controlled by Megapixel VR Helios processing. Central to the huge wall were two 12-metre-high rotating LED doors, designed to visually echo the Eurovision theme of ‘Open Up.’
There were also two huge ROE BM4 LED floors. One formed the main, 127 sq.m, stage and the other the centrally located, 27sq.m, B-Stage. Both stages were fitted with dark glossy glass surface panels. Creating an extra dimension, the B stage also included a transparent 110 sq. m ROE Vanish8 ‘runway’ LED that could fly in and out of the arena on demand. All video content was delivered by twelve disguise media servers: 4x VX4 and 8x GX2c, while the Barco Event Controller platform was used for video switching.
For pre-programming, operation and content networking, Visual Solutions’ Jo Pauly and By-Lex’ Lex ter Heurne joined the Faber Audiovisuals team. “The scale and scope of the ESC are unlike any other,” says technical production manager for the ESC Production, Erwin Rintjema of Sightline Productions. “This year, Faber Audiovisuals managed to step up the video quality. From initial preparation through to the live shows, the Faber team were in complete control. Their team remained enormously flexible, while processing the huge level of changes and updates from the rehearsals with grace. In that, they are truly unique!”
Head of video production for the ESC, Hans Cromheecke, adds: “Faber were selected to deliver the video element of the production because they presented a well-balanced team, considerable experience and the drive and ability to give the project 100%. their passion for the job was obvious. The LED screen used was certainly unusually high resolution, 11252 x 2592 pixels. By implementing the new Helios processors, Faber was able to achieve an increase in scale without any shrinkage. With 10-bit processing, 100% redundancy, the system was remarkably user-friendly. The ROE BQ4 Black Quartz LED screen and BM4 floor were also of the same high quality.”
In addition to the more than 850 sq.m of LED screen, Faber Audiovisuals supplied over 100 LCD screens, which were deployed across the Ahoy venue, along with ten Faber executive technicians who were active on site.
It had long been the dream of Faber Audiovisuals to deliver AV solutions to Eurovision. When, in 2020, the company was chosen as the official video partner after a European tender. CEO, Cees-Jan Faber recalls: “COVID threatened our hopes for the show, but our industry didn’t sit on its hands when Eurovision was postponed. Instead, we thought deeply about how we could solve the many challenges the show presents. The result was that the show was a huge success, demonstrating that the Dutch events industry can operate at the highest, world-class, level. The audience enjoyed it, our client – the NPO, and NOS, together with AVROTROS – were all extremely proud of the production, as were we!”
“It was a huge operation, especially given all the measures demanded for the Health & safety of artists, crew, press, public and public health”, continues Sales Director for Faber Audiovisuals, Jeroen Jongenelen. “The fact that we managed to do our part so flawlessly under such circumstances makes us especially proud. The integration of all kinds of technology and the expertise of our people ensured the production reached new heights of visual magic. All the hard work was worth it to see the impact the high level of production had on the audience, both in the hall, and at home. In total, 183 million people watched this event, which brings the ESC audience close to the size of the Olympics viewers.”
For Faber Audiovisuals, the roll-out of the technology for the event began in the spring. “We started building April 11, and by the beginning of May, we were set,” Jongenelen states. “Implementation was led by project managers Ben Augenbroe and Steve Ackein.
Augenbroe concludes: “It was a wonderful, world-class project. We were able to use our team’s vast experience to execute our technical plan. It all fell seamlessly into place, both operationally and technically, thanks to our great crew. We are, of course, delighted that the production team was so satisfied and that the broadcasts looked truly spectacular, both in terms of content and execution!”
Photo: © Ralph Larman