Behind the tech at Splendour in the Grass

Streaming this year’s Splendour in the Grass music festival will require a few kilometres of cable and more than a terabyte of data, according to Golden Duck Productions director, Andrew Lord.

Virgin Mobile will stream pre-recorded highlights from the Byron festival on its YouTube channel starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, 28 July.

It will include backstage interviews and live sets from nine artists including Mumford Sons and Empire of the Sun. Fans can view the streams on YouTube or through the Virgin Mobile’s apps for smartphones and tablets.

Last year’s stream had more than 500,000 views, making it the third-most watched YouTube live stream in Australian history. With this year’s Splendour in the Grass quickly selling out of tickets, Lord said the video stream will be a great option for music fans that are not able to make it to the festival in person.

Unlike last year, this year’s stream won’t be live. Golden Duck will produce eight hours of video content for Virgin Mobile, cut from about 15 hours of footage shot over the three days of the festival, said Lord.

The video is to be shot with cinema lenses in 1920x1080 resolution, “which is the highest possible quality we can get,” said Lord. The video will then be compressed and streamed at 720p high definition, he said.

“It does take a lot of macro-management because of the amount of data that’s being shared around,” said Lord. “It’s more of a post-production workflow this year, allowing us to have more control of what’s being streamed. We’re effectively building a network server on site to data manage 15 hours of high-resolution content,” totaling about 1 to 2TB of data.

Golden Duck will have about 25 crew and 10 video cameras on site filming the music and interviews.

“Backstage, we run a cable to facilitate various departments, from the audio guys through to the promoters watching the streams as we record it.”

In total, Lord estimates the crew will use “a couple kilometres worth of cabling.”

“We’ve looked into wireless solutions, but it’s still not quite what we want,” he said. Wireless increases the chances of latency problems, he said. “It’s a bit risky.” While providing less mobility for the crew, cabling is a “sure thing,” he said.

Once filmed, the crew must edit the footage from 15 hours to eight. “We’ve got four editors working pretty hectically over the weekend to create some good, fun stories for fans to get an insight into what’s happening backstage,” Lord said.

Next, the crew will send the video via satellite to Golden Duck’s office in Sydney, which in turn will handle encoding and uploading the video to YouTube. The company uses satellite transmission because it’s “the most consistent way of delivering the signal,” Lord said.

Wearable RFID

Video streaming isn’t the only role for technology in this year’s Splendour in the Grass. In an Australian first, visitors to this year’s music festival will wear wristbands equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags.

Intellitix will provide the wristbands, which are designed to prevent fraud and can integrate with social media for wearers who opt in.

The RFID chip inside the wristband allows visitors to check into Facebook and share status updates at “Live Click Stations” scattered around the festival site.

In addition, music streaming website Deezer plans to make customised music playlists to ticket holders based on which live sets they check into at the festival.

“The intelligent system aligns with our philosophy of always aiming to provide new and enhanced experiences for our ticket holders,” according to Splendour in the Grass co-producers Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco.

Splendour in the Grass takes place from 26 to 28 July in the North Byron Parklands, Byron Bay.

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