Five outside broadcast trucks, 12 cameras including a high end super speed camera (red epic), a total of 98 individual audio mixing tracks, 1km worth of cabling, 2 edit suites running 24 hours a day, 2 separate encoding facilities in Sydney, satellite up link and downlink, downstream studio in Sydney, “and lots of grey matter (always the best equipment)” is exactly what it takes to make the Virgin Mobile Splendour In The Grass Live Stream happen, according to the producer for the event, Andrew Lord.
We’ve all tuned into Cochella, caught up with the acts at Bonnaroo and dipped in and out of Glastonbury, the fact is, live streams are fast becoming a staple element of the festival experience and are yielding a broader audience access that wouldn’t normally be possible. The great democratizing power of the Internet has meant that punters who couldn’t get tickets (Splendour sold out in a record 43 minutes this year) or can’t actually physically make it to Byron Bay (think of ex-pat fans living overseas, or anyone living more than a 10 hour road trip from the beach-side city) can watch it online. And it isn’t just all about the bands. As Andrew Lord told Groupie, “The music coverage is just one part of the stream. Our idea is to give viewers an insight to the whole festival. So we’re taking cameras around the festival to show all the arts, fashion, food and people. Plus we’ll be backstage interviewing all the bands/celebs… In terms of the music we’re moving between stages. The plan is to bounce the coverage between Supertop and Mix Up Stages.”
This will be the third year Virgin Mobile and Splendour have teamed up for a live stream. For the debut stream in 2010, The Temper Trap set was broadcast and then, in 2011 they increased the number sets covered. In fact, last year, a record audience viewed the live-stream of Splendour acts including Coldplay, Kaiser Chiefs and Elbow to 285,150 homes across the country. And this year, they’ll be increasing the stream to include 9 full hours of coverage and are hoping to attract a similar number of virtual punters, as Lord explains, “according to Youtube stats it [2011’s stream] was the 2nd biggest live streamed music event in Australian history (behind the Youtube Symphony from the Sydney Opera House early last year). So I’d reckon a similar amount this time round.”
For those curious about trouble-shooting such a massive undertaking, we asked what problems he anticipates. “We don’t – it’s gonna be perfect. Nah, to ensure a seamless coverage, we have a rock solid satellite feed from the festival site sending back our signal to be encoded at our studio facility back in Sydney. We looked at doing a genuine internet stream by plugging straight into several online portals at the festival, but with amount of traffic using data and bandwidth at a remote location such Belongil Fields, we thought it best to isolate our signal. We also have a back up content recorded over the weekend to roll in from our Sydney studio if things go belly up in Byron.”
So if you see a stressed out guy with a clipboard this Saturday, chances are it’ll be Andrew Lord, attempting to execute the most innovative stream project in Australia thus far. And for those of you watching at home, spare a thought for what seems as simple as following a link.
The Virgin Mobile live stream returns on Saturday night this year featuring MIIKE SNOW, KIMBRA, BAND OF SKULLS, LADYHAWKE, THE CAST OF CHEERS, LAST DINOSAURS, BLEEDING KNEES CLUB and some more to be announced. View on www.youtube.com/user/VirginMobileAus