Valentina Lisitsa takes to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall
On Tuesday 19th June at 8pm, NEP Connect (formerly known as SIS LIVE) became part of internet history, delivering the first live high definition (HD) stream of a classical music concert through YouTube. This very special performance by the Ukrainian-born virtuoso pianist Valentina Lisitsa, signed to Decca Classics (Universal), took place at the Royal Albert Hall. As well as streaming the concert live on the internet on Valentina’s YouTube channel, NEP Connect captured the whole event in HD for a DVD/Blu Ray release.
To add to the pressure the NEP Connect team had only 60 minutes to complete the rig which typically takes 4 or 5 hours, due to the fact that the venue was in use until 5pm on the same day for a Q&A with the Dalai Lama. This meant that NEP Connect had to pull out all the stops to set up this 7 camera show, which included 2 Jimmy Jibs, a Remote Smart Head and two separate camera track lengths, ready for the 8pm broadcast.
At the centre of operations was Unit 12HD, NEP Connect’s double expanding, fully-integrated digital production unit with VT edit and slo-mo areas. At the heart of Unit 12’s audio facilities is a Calrec Sigma sound desk fitted with a “Bluefin” upgrade, giving it the ability to handle surround inputs and a much greater number of channels. Transmission to the internet was handled by NEP Connect’s specialist IP team based in Milton Keynes.
David Meynell, managing director, NEP Connect says, “Key to the successful delivery of this service at short notice was our state of the art teleport, encoding facilities and talented operators. We have the capability to access a wide range of satellites from around the world and fibre connections for signals originating further afield. Downlinking and transcoding an HD satellite uplink from Central London is “bread and butter” work for us. NEP Connect is a recognised CISCO Broadcast Partner and as such has made significant investment in encoding equipment, networks, know-how and experience in operating such equipment in demanding live transmission environments. Many customers recognise our live broadcasting pedigree and apply this philosophy to their webcasts with great results. We are always pleased when new customers comment that their webcasts look just like a TV show but on the web.”
Steve Chapman, engineering manager, NEP Connect who oversaw the whole transmission says, “This event demonstrates the increasing interest in broadcasting events to a public who enjoys the immediacy of live shows transmitted through a range of devices. This high profile recital was watched by thousands of people around the world, and so providing a typically faultless service, and under massive time constraints, was essential.”
Valentina has, in part, built her reputation and following by uploading video recordings of her rehearsals to YouTube, allowing fans to enjoy her music across the world. Her videos have had over 44 million views in total, and this live concert stream has only helped to enhance her reputation. The replay of the recital picked up 55k views within 48hrs on YouTube. The live album of the concert is released in digital download, CD and DVD/Blu Ray formats through Decca Classics in July.
Alexander Van Ingen, Executive Producer for Decca Classics says “This was a remarkable start for a very talented pianist. Thanks are due to the NEP Connect team for their fantastic work, putting together the crew, equipment, and know-how to make the whole thing happen. Valentina’s live stream went exceptionally well, a testament to NEP Connect’s assiduous preparation and skill. We very much hope that we will be able to repeat the experience again.”
Matt Woodward, Freelance OB Director for the concert says “It was a pleasure working with Steve Chapman, all the OB crew at NEP Connect, and a fab group of the best freelancers. With no access to the Royal Albert Hall until 4.45pm it was always going to be tight to rig, but I felt in very safe hands with NEP Connect and a team that knew the venue and made it all happen efficiently and smoothly. A live HD transmission on YouTube and local recording for DVD – no rehearsal, all as-directed – I needed a crew with the skills and experience to make it look and sound brilliant straight-off. Thanks to everyone – a very successful night.”