Weli Media, a specialist in cross cultural events between the UK and China, chose Trafalgar Square as the setting for a new Chinese TV advert, with Britannia Row Productions handling audio duties.
The project required a recording setup for a large group of singing performers, as well as foldback to provide tracks for dancing. Sound designer Zhe Wu explained: “We had to record 200 singing in the middle of Trafalgar Square; there were eight camera to capture the visuals. We only had a slot of one and a half hours to do everything and just to add to the madness, everybody speaks Chinese as well! I thought it was going to be a catastrophe because there were so many things that could go wrong. But as soon as the Britannia Row Productions truck arrived and seeing the speed and competency of their work, I knew I was in safe hands.”
Inside the truck were FOH and recording engineer Gavin Tempany and stage techs Paul Gardiner and Joe Standen, along with an L-Acoustics KIVA loudspeaker system, a couple of Yamaha MSP5 monitors, a Midas Pro2c console, Sennheiser G3 EW500 IEMs for the main singers and a portable 6KW generator.
Tom Brown, client liaison at Brit Row, commented: “The job was to provide a location record for an advert to be broadcast on the Chinese equivalent of ITV. We only had a one and a half hour window to record and get off site at Trafalgar Square, so everything had to be ready to go and fully tested in advance; there was no room for error on this job at all. We had to provide realtime multitrack record of performers who would also be recorded in the studio again separately, so the ability for multitrack in Pro Tools was essential. In the playback rack along with the 32-channel Pro Tools Multitrack system was an SSHD two-track recorder; a MADI Multitrack record computer and a DN9650 AES50-MADI network bridge.
“We used a Midas console and provided four stacks of L-Acoustics KIVA to provide foldback for the performers to dance and sing to; the KIVA is ideal for this kind of application as it is small, light, quick to put up and delivers a quality of sound that is much more than its size would indicate. There were four main soloists who had IEM systems for their own bespoke monitoring. ?There was no audience, apart from some very curious passers-by.”
Zhe Wu summed the event up: “This was the kind of job where the possibility of disaster seemed almost inevitable given all the variables of location, language and the number of performers who required direction. The efficient and friendly professionalism of the Britannia Row Productions (BRP) team swept all those concerns away. I know that BRP is known for handling all the really big shows but this job clearly shows that every job gets the same enthusiastic service and attention to detail – even when there’s no audience!”