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Thu 29 Jul 2010 04:00 AM

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The first World Cup on African soil is not only showcasing the world's best footballing talent but also the country's cutting-edge sporting stadiums equipped with the latest professional AV technologies.

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Jo’burg’s Soccer City Stadium.
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Loftus Versveld Stadium.

The first World Cup on African soil is not only showcasing the world's best footballing talent but also the country's cutting-edge sporting stadiums equipped with the latest professional AV technologies.

Powerhouse sound

Nine of the 10 World Cup stadiums were fitted out by South African pro audio specialist TDC Prosound.

Mark Malherebe, technical director at Prosound, says the company was actively involved in the audio system specifications for the 2006 bid, experience which the task team was able to leverage to great effect when bidding for the 10 2010 contracts, each of which was individually specified and presented for each stadium.

"Over the past thirty years we've worked closely with architects and contractors on most of the existing stadiums in South Africa and have the experience and knowhow to get involved in the design from the start," he says.

Highlights of the company's work in this time include Wanderers and Ellis Park in the 1970s and 1980s respectively, as well as the first upgrade to Loftus Versfeld in 2004.

In addition to Soccer City, the company scored SI contracts for Cape Town's Green Point stadium, Johannesburg's Coca Cola Park Ellis Park stadiums; Nelspruit's Mbombela stadium; Bloemfontein's Free State stadium; Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth; Loftus Versveld in Pretoria; the Royal Bafokeng near Rustenburg and the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane.

The company specified common kit across many of the stadiums, specifically Peavey MediaMatrix audio processors, Electro-Voice and Dynacord loudspeakers, Electro-Voice microphones, Midas mixing consoles and Crest power amplifiers.

More than 2,300 Electro-Voice and Dynacord loudspeakers and a variety of EV REV-D wireless microphone systems were installed across the nine venues.

From compact, direct-radiating modules beneath balconies to line-array systems designed to cover long distances, a wide variety of enclosures have been installed, with all components fine-tuned to one another. Dynacord alone supplied more than 1000 loudspeakers from its DL800 series for the mammoth project.

Each venue features a comprehensive FIFA-approved emergency response and voice evacuation audio system.

"Long reverberation times, asymmetric architecture and boisterous fans require sound reinforcement systems and voice alarm systems to be combined, and strict TÜV-certified conformity with international standards is imperative to ensure that fans will be able not only to hear but also to understand safety announcements in case of emergency," says Oliver Sahm, director of EVI Audio's technical support team. "Our tech support team in Straubing, drawing on its many years of experience, developed solutions and honed them to the needs of this year's tournament venues."
Jo'burg Soccer City: a landmark AV installation

Johannesburg's 88,000-seat Soccer City stadium, which is hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and final match of this year's World Cup, features a cutting-edge High Definition IPTV and digital signage video distribution system complete with outdoor LED screens.

South African firm System Solutions was responsible for the installation.

For the network hub, the company specified Vista Spyder video control architecture, running in conjunction with Christie's Vista Universal Routing Switcher (URS-1608), configured 16-in/8-out. The control system was designed for maximum flexibility, with all common formats accommodated at the input and output stages.

The Vista devices feed two 86m² Lighthouse R16i/o-II screens, which relay live action, sponsorship graphics, ad stings and scoreboard info.

In setting out the specification, a basic design brief had to be met incorporating HD displays throughout, and independent master control from a central touchscreen interface.

An intuitive and compact distribution and signal processing solution was therefore required. "We specified the URS because it simplifies the routing and standards converting process," says senior video technician Mike Tempest. "Without the URS, we would have had to install various matrix switchers, scalers and standards converters."

The URS is deployed as a matrix switcher/format converter, with the added functionality of layering four inputs onto an output, enabling the Spyder to be bypassed in the event of a failure.

"Combining the matrices and scalers in a single unit reduced our rack space considerably, which coupled with the multiview monitor capabilities, makes the URS [ideal] for a limited space installation."

The network interfacing capabilities of the Vista products means that the Spyder and URS can be controlled directly from any network point in the stadium, even wirelessly.

"This has major advantages in the programming stages of the project as we have been able to literally sit on the field and design the layouts with the end client from the best possible viewing position," says Tempest.

The processors take a complex series of feeds. Eight HD SDI inputs are received from the OB compound and pitch, a further four HD DVI feeds from System Solutions' AV Stumpfl Wings Platinum media servers and two HD component feeds from Blu-ray players.

Meanwhile, four outputs from the URS feed the Spyder 344, two outputs feed a pair of HD IPTV encoders which broadcast two dedicated stadium channels, with live coverage of the game and infotainment/emergency channels respectively. There are also further outputs dedicated to a Source multi-monitor and a utility output presently used for source configuration. However, this could be redeployed for use in other areas, such as scoreboards.

Video is relayed to either the digital signage, for public information display, IPTV in approximately 200 private suites - and to the LED big screens in the stadium itself.

The relays to the concourse areas are handled directly through the digital signage system, as this system can decode the IPTV streams generated within the stadium.

AV Stumpfl ISEO was selected as the main control platform pulling all the elements of the installation into one master control system.

ISEO also controls the video mixing and switching as well as all playback devices in the system and allows a single input to control the entire video flow to the main LED screens, digital signage and IPTV systems.

Also controlled by the ISEO touch control system is a Christie HD 6K-M series projector, installed in the auditorium and used primarily for press debriefings. Lamp life is reported to the manager's ISEO interface.

Tempest believes the entire system places the stadium at the cutting-edge of modern AV technology. Approximately 130 digital signage systems are provided in all public areas of the stadium for general information and commercial advertising purposes.

"The scale of the project and its locational logistics proved major challenges," says Sally Penney, who led Systems Solutions' systems integration team. "But it provided a great chance to work with some of South Africa's leading suppliers in all fields, to help bring the stadium to life."
Technical audio highlights

Loftus Versveld Stadium, Tshwane/Pretoria

In 2006, Prosound completed an upgrade of Loftus Stadium's original sound system, which consisted of Electro-Voice ZX5 and SX100 loudspeakers.

The upgraded system featured a mix of EV Phoenix loudspeakers, ZX5 and SX100 loudspeakers, and Crest Audio Cki-series power amplifiers, upgraded for voice evacuation purposes. At the heart of the system is a Peavey MediaMatrix Neon 3 digital processing system, which distributes audio across the facility including its private boxes, which are fitted with EV EVID 4.2 loudspeakers.

A new evacuation system featuring Dynacord installation-series loudspeakers also features.

Control room highlights include an AEQ BC500 audio console and two EV RE20 microphones for commentary purposes.

Unlike Cape Town and Durban, which both feature an ADA Design, Loftus Stadium's sound system was designed in-house by TDC Africa and Prosound's Systems Engineering departments.

Soccer City, Johannesburg

A key technical highlight of Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium is the installation of 128 EV Phoenix loudspeakers suspended 60 metres above the pitch. The speakers provide 325,000 watts of power with an average SPL of 105db.

The colour-coordinated speakers are installed above the venue's roof membrane. A challenging installation process saw six men crews suspended by harness above the pitch due to restricted weight load factors.

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

The 50,000-seat Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, which was specially constructed for the World Cup, features the latest audio technology as a result.

Prosound were contracted by Di-Data to do the full design, supply and installation of the sound system as per FIFA requirements.

The design utilises Electro-Voice X56 FRX 15-inch Horn Loaded Coaxial loudspeaker systems driven in passive and Bi-Amped configurations. Crest Audio Cki-series power amplifiers fitted with NX-CobraNet cards and a total of 136 Electro-Voice FM4.2 speaker systems feature across the venue. A Peavey Media Matrix provides control.