Coachella 2011

Jun 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Sarah Benzuly

THREE CHANNELS, TRIPLE YOUR FUN

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Arcade Fire—no stranger to Coachella. This is the band’s third appearance at the festival.

Arcade Fire—no stranger to Coachella. This is the band’s third appearance at the festival.

If you couldn’t jet down to Southern California for the annual Coachella festival, sitting in front of your computer may have been the next-best thing. During the three-day event, nearly 4 million views were recorded on the YouTube Coachella streaming page, which hosted three separate channels.

ONLINE EXTRAS

WATCH:
Coachella 2011 Photo Gallery

Post-event, the numbers are just as staggering: Just a week after the show wrapped, Mumford & Sons had 134,000 views, Whiz Kaleefa 75,000. The day The National videos were posted, it had, only after a few hours, 14,000 views. Long engagement times, speared on by high-quality audio and video.

Handling the audio and video streaming production was Hank Neuberger and his Springboard Productions. This is his fifth year working with Coachella promoter Golden Voice; he’s been working festivals since 2006, beginning with Lollapalooza. At this year’s Coachella (April 15-17, 2011), he led a crew of 100, which included Guy Charbonneau of Le Mobile and Chris Shepard of American Mobile.

“We’re shooting on four of the stages, almost every performance on the four main stages,” Neuberger says. “We also have multitrack audio recording for all four stages. Then we have a central video world where we have our directors working for each stage. Then our master control room, where we are producing nine hours of live content from the festival, every day, times three channels. This is the second year we’ve done that [three channels], but not every festival has done that. We did more than 60 bands, including the headliners—Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Kanye West and other major groups like the Black Keys and The Strokes—those were all live live.”

Cee-Lo Green and backing band performing for an exuberant crowd at Coachella 2011

Cee-Lo Green and backing band performing for an exuberant crowd at Coachella 2011

The members of Interpol played the first night of the show.

The members of Interpol played the first night of the show.

During the festival, there were always two bands playing on separate stages, sometimes all three stages going at once. On the YouTube site, fans could choose which band to view or sample, as well as listen to artist interviews. For those segments, Neuberger had three ENG crews working onsite doing interviews that were immediately edited and put into the Webcast. Some notable interview subjects included Paul McCartney, Arcade Fire, Lauryn Hill, Usher and many more.

THE AUDIO COMPONENT
In festivals, especially at Coachella where there are eight, nine or sometimes 10 bands playing on a single stage in one day, it moves pretty quickly. Fortunately, Neuberger had a stellar crew to help deliver audio. At the first stage was Charbonneau in his Le Mobile truck with its Neve 8060. On the second stage was Shepard engineering in his American Mobile truck, which hosts a Pro Tools system. At the third stage was a Flypack from Le Mobile, engineered by Guy Charbonneau’s son, Ian Charbonneau (who is also a veteran of the Coachella mixes). Finally, at the fourth stage was a Flypack from American Mobile with Steve Weeder engineering.

“Since [the festival] moves quickly, I need people who are festival veterans and great mixers, and I’ve been fortunate to have them here at Coachella,” Neuberger enthuses.

But before a single stream is created, Neuberger is acutely aware that there can be a misconception that audio will lag behind video, there will be dropouts, etc. To ensure he’s sending out the highest-quality stream (in the case of Coachella, it was at 24/48), their testing starts the day before the festival. “We do a clap test to dial in audio and video sync on each stage before we go on the air, and we check it every day,” he explains. “We consider that one of our key tests: from stage to Master Control [Neuberger’s domain, where all of the stages are being recorded], all the way through our tech services partner and encoding partner to YouTube. And typically on a festival, I’ll do a fax-through with a full satellite uplink to the platform partner on the afternoon before the festival starts. I’ll have an A2 onstage doing a clap test that my directors are looking at on camera so we can listen to it and guarantee the sync all the way through to our platform partner at the end of the line.”






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