Open Air event on the grounds of the "Saarländischer Rundfunk" with recording and partly direct live broadcast on tv and/or radio.
Special challenges / difficulties:
Big Number of artists, program changes due to late arrival of artists, infrastructure, extremely short change over times.
One of my most complex projekts was and still is the so-called "Schüler Ferien Fest"; in 1999 the name was changed to "Halberg Open Air" (HOA). This event took mainly place on a lawn and parking spaces directly in front of the administration und studio complex of the Saarbruecken based broadcaster at the "Halberg". Until 2004 this event lasted for two days(last school day and first off day) and up to 30 000 visitors came each day to the Halberg.
Until 2004, the Halberg Open Air of the Saarlaendischer Rundfunk was a major challenge mainly due to its special structure. The festival, run by SR1, stared as a radio show. The tv department of the SR joined the festival later and so the structure changed. Sometimes the complete show, of the 2-day event, went directly live on air in radio. The television department recorded the whole event and sent, most of the recorded material, time-shifted to a later date. The only exception was the year 1993 as the complete performance of the band "Fury in the Slaughterhouse" was also on tv as live broadcast.
Anyone with a little knowledge in sound issues in the broadcasting world knows that the approaches of radio and tv concerning sound, especially of live sound are sometimes diametrically opposed.
In addition till 2004, the event was set up in a way that the show (from about 11:00 to about 20:00) had to run as a continuous event for the audience on site on both days. Between 20-40 artists/groups went on stage each day. Mainly performing playback or singing back sessions, added to that were 3 to 6 complete live acts. One more complication for the planning phase was the fact that the full playback and singing back acts went straight onto the stage with no sound check or further rehearsal. The opportunity to do a sound check the night before or in the morning before the event was reserved for the real live playing artists/bands.
In the months leading to the event my main tasks were the planning and coordination of all sound- and stage-aspects and other "specials" (backline, pyro, etc.) of the artists. I also took part in the detailed planning of the stage and its infrastructure. Here, I acted and still do as an integrating interface between:
Radio- and television-editorial, marketing department, production management, manager, director, radio ob-department, television broadcast department, lighting department, SR home automation, SR house electrics, stage builders, Stage PA and monitoring, management of artists, the artists' technicians and the artists themselves.
All this requires that the work on the project usually begins 3-5 months before the actual event and is associated with a lot of phone, fax, and (e)mail work. This is the only way to solve as many problems as possible in advance.
So just to showcase one of the problems, it was always hard work to convince the groups not to use their own wireless-microphone or -monitor systems, because this could cause big problems. The reason was the large HF field strength of a transmitter tower 150m away from the stage. For my planning, this meant that a basic wireless-system had to be on site that worked well under these circumstances and was agreeable to all Acts. Such a system had to be designed in dimensions that all expected tasks could be fulfilled. In such planning steps I could throw on my years of experience in the live event field. One fact made this part even more difficult. At the tender date for the technical equipment of the stage and the stage itself only a few or none of the performing acts were known and thus none of their technical requirements.
Since a lot of the artists at the event were arriving shortly before their respective appearance on stage, we had to deal with short-term program changes caused by the delay of arriving artists. Moreover, a precise management of the backstage activities was needed because of the very limited space there. That was important to realize short change over times, which made an advanced stage management necessary. . I had most of the information from the planning phase in hands, so it was only logical that I also took over the job of stage manager during the event.
From 2005 on, the SR-tv-department, decided not to be part of the production any longer. This was mainly due to the lack of adequate broadcast slots within the ARD program. In the following restructuring of the event and the cost-cutting they decided not to use my services any longer. Therefore I was not involved in the years 2005 to 2007 in this event.
The outcome of the restructuring was a one day event with up to 12 complete live performing bands. The authorities of the SR realized it was even more necessary than before to have somebody with my previous range of functions. Therefore, since 2008, I have been a member of the planning team again.