OSA and SES Support "Oprah's Surprise Spectacular"

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The gear supported the last episodes of the 25-year-old show, produced before a live audience of 13,000 people.
With combined production support from Special Event Services (SES) and On Stage Audio (OSA), Oprah's Surprise Spectacular was taped May 17 before 13,000 lucky fans, bringing together some of the biggest names in movies, music and television in a one-time-only farewell to celebrate the 25-year legacy of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
At Front of House, two 96-input Yamaha PM1Ds were supplied (cascaded together for over 200 inputs), as well as an M7CL-32 digital console, plus a DME64N digital mix engine. Monitor world consisted of dual 96-input Yamaha PM1Ds, plus a dozen of NEXO's new 45 N-12 line monitors, powered by NXAMP 4x4 TD Controllers.


"The PM1Ds at FOH and Monitors were chosen by Harpo's mixers due mostly to familiarity with the control surface," said OSA Vice President Jim Risgin. "In conjunction with Audio Director JR Chappell, FOH mixers Jimmy Ostrom and Scott Ragsdale, and Monitor Engineers Brad Galvin and Ian Kuhn, we all decided early on that the PM1D was by far the best choice for this event," stated Harpo Studios Audio Production Manager Gerry Formicola. "Its ultimate reliability and versatility allowed us to make changes on the fly as the ‘oh by the ways' came up in our tremendously tight time frame from load in to load out." Harpo Productions also has a Yamaha PM1D installed in their primary studio.


Risgin explained that the Yamaha M7CL was used as an on-line backup console fed with splits of all production mics and full mixes from the broadcast trucks. "We took advantage of the MY card platform implementing Riedel RockNet MY141 cards for all signals to and from the M7CL," said Risgin. RockNet RN.101 stage racks fed all the inputs, and all the outputs were routed to the Yamaha DME64N matrix device - "chosen for its rock solid design and ability to take multiple sources via its MY slots" Risgin added.


Consoles, DME and RockNet were synchronized from an Apogee Big Ben Digital Word Clock. The DME was the matrix combining all signals and allowing redundant console operation. The DME64 was outfitted with MY16AES cards to receive all signals for the main PA and then used as the system processing for all PA zones. These zones were fed out of the DME via RockNet keeping all signals native to Rocket for the long haul up to the catwalks for distribution to the Martin MLA system.


The main system consisted of 99 Martin Audio MLA enclosures, 11 MLD downfill enclosures plus 26 MLX subs, with front and side arrays, plus center fill and rear of hall arrays, with 12 subs flown in the front and 14 ground-stacked under the stage.


On stage, Harpo's audio team chose NEXO 45 N-12 line monitors for two reasons: audio quality and sensible industrial design. "Yamaha's Mike Eiseman had been talking to me about the 45 N-12s for months," said Formicola. "When this event came up, it seemed natural to take advantage of its low profile for television as well as the exceptional sound."


Risgin said he found the NEXO wedges stable and more than able to handle all the requests from the various artists using them during show taping. They were able to scale coverage by adding more segments without making significant tonal changes, not having to chase EQs regardless of the quantity of cabinets deployed at any position. Guests that appeared on the broadcast and received the added benefit of the new NEXO line monitors included Rascal Flatts, Kristin Chenoweth, Rosie O'Donnell, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Nate Berkus, Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Josh Groban, Jackie Evancho, Jamie Foxx and Stevie Wonder.


The major production challenges were a tight load-in schedule that began at 11:00 pm the night before setup and rehearsal day, because of the Chicago Bulls schedule in the NBA playoffs combined with the typical acoustic nature of Chicago's United Center Arena.