Pope Benedict XVI’s State Visit Supported by XL Events

PLSN Staff • Projection Connection News • October 7, 2010

BIRMINGHAM and GLASGOW, U.K. – XL Events supplied LED Screens and camera systems to Pope Benedict XVI's recent state visit to England and Scotland, including video support at three of the four major sites where the Pope made formal appearances. The sites included Cofton Park in Birmingham for the beatification of the now Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman; Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, celebrating an open air Mass; and for a meeting of religious leaders and school students at St Mary's University College in Twickenham, Surrey.


XL Events was working for production companies WRG in Birmingham and Twickenham and DF Concerts in Glasgow and had been involved in the planning for this project for over seven months. XL's Guy Vellacott was lead project manager for the Papal visit and also co-ordinated the site at Cofton Park, with XL's Steve Greetham and Dave Lawrence taking care of Glasgow and Twickenham respectively.


"The production requests were both specific and fluid as they unfolded," said Vellacott. "We put a lot of energy and detail into getting everything organized in advance so it would flow smoothly on each of the sites."


Cofton Park, Birmingham

International Event Agency WRG was the event organizer and contracting body for The Cofton Park site. The event was managed by executive producer Alie Tilley, technical director Cliff Zenker and produced by Justine Catterall. The 135-meter-wide main stage held some 2,970 people during the Papal mass and beatification ceremony, including 2,340 choir members, 580 Bishops, 50 Cardinals, plus his Holiness The Pope and his entourage.


This was the biggest and most complex site for the XL team, which also required full integration with the BBC, who televised the Beatification Mass live in HD.


A total of eight screens were installed in the Park – two columns of Pixled F11 as the backdrop behind the Altar, two 9-meter-wide Lighthouse R7 I-Mag screens behind the choir, with another Lighthouse R7 and a Mitsubishi DV8 screen for disabled Pilgrims offstage left and right, along with two field delay screens of Mitsubishi DV8. The delay screens all required video delay lines so the audio could be time-aligned.


XL supplied one of their HD Grass Valley Kayak PPU systems along with 14 cameras for the I-Mag mix that was fed to host broadcasters, the BBC. In turn, the screen mix directed by Nick Fry received eight additional camera feeds from the BBC for integrating and outputting to the live screens.


Of the 14 Sony HXC100 HD cameras that XL supplied, four were fitted with long lenses for in-the-field coverage, and three consisted of hot head cameras on stage. Positioned backstage, there were two RF backed cameras and one wired camera to capture the excitement of The Pope's arrival. An additional three cameras were used to cover the Morning Service on the B-Stage, and another was locked-off in the Orchestra tent for conductor monitoring.


Nick Fry cut his mix using a GV Kayak console. Additional playback content for the main stage screens was stored on two Hippotizer media servers and XL also supplied an Aston Cap Generator at the racks position for titles and on-screen text.


Twelve different monitor feeds were supplied to 22 different production areas around the Park.


In total, XL provided a total of 7,000 meters of triax camera cable, 10,000 meters of HD BNC and five 45-foot trailers of video equipment.


The Birmingham show was technically managed by XL's broadcast director Malcolm Whittall and engineered by Dicky Burford and Simon Lyon. XL's in-house editor Jack Dickinson took some pressure at the end of the live show, when he had to create an instant replay highlights package for relay on the screens within 30 minutes of the close of proceedings.


St Mary's University College Twickenham

The Great Assembly at Twickenham was again event managed by WRG, coordinated by Howard Craig, Simon Warne & Ron Gallagher.


This celebrated Roman Catholic education and took place on the college's athletics track, attended by around 2,000 school students and prominent officials in the Catholic education establishment.


The Event stage featured a central area for the Pope, with two Mitsubishi DV8 screens left and right, each measuring 7 by 4.5 meters, plus a 3.5-meter-wide Pixled F11 screen onstage behind the Pope.


A compact four-camera HD PPU was supplied, complete with a Panasonic HS400 mixer and four Sony HXC100 cameras directed by Chris Keating. A TX feed of the cameras was sent to a webcast provider, and during the show, they received a live link from Gambia, which was fed into the XL system and output to screen.


Glasgow Bellahouston Park

Scottish promoter DF Concerts was the event organizer for the Papal Open Air Mass in Bellahouston Park, managed for them by Graham Filmer and Keeley Wills.


Approximately 70,000 pilgrims packed into the site on a clear, sunny but very cold and windy day to hear the Pontiff celebrate an open air Mass and Homily along with pre- and post-Mass entertainment with performances from Susan Boyle and Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus.


XL supplied two Lighthouse R7 LED I-Mag screens, each measuring 8 meters wide, together with a 50-square-meter truck-based screen, which acted as the field delay screen. The three surfaces were connected to the broadcast system via two fiber links and a microwave back up for double redundancy.


Commenting on the whole event, XL's Guy Vellacott said, "It was a privilege for XL and myself to be involved in such an influential project broadcast on a global scale. The event management at Cofton Park and the professionalism of all the crews involved made it exceptionally memorable."


For more information, please visit www.showsupport.co.uk.

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