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The Glastonbury Advance Party

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Terry O'Leary | 16:09 UK time, Wednesday, 23 June 2010


During the festival the Glastonbury website will have live video streams, webcams, 6 Music's radio coverage, live chat and hundreds of photos on it. Delivering all this content from the middle of a field is a technical challenge to say the least. This is just some of the work we've been doing before both the crowds and our BBC colleagues arrive.

Day 1 - Monday

On Monday morning the crew at Henry Wood House in London pack a van full of tech kit and send it on its merry way to Somerset. The advance party of interactive senior producer Tim Clarke, AV producer Toby Bradley, connectivity manager Alan Ogilvie and myself follow by car.

Once we get to Glastonbury around 4pm we have to jump through some red tape hoops to get our vehicle pass, our site pass and our BBC compound pass, but thankfully when we get to the compound all the kit has been unloaded into our truck... the Titan!


Our office for the week... the Titan

This is my favourite part of an event, arriving at what is basically a field, placing a truck in it, and then bringing it to life and giving it a brain. The brain's life blood is electrical power, data, audio and video.

My stop-frame video of us setting up inside the Titan


Our main task in the truck is split into three areas.

  • Generate four live streams via satellite, made up of 6 Music studio, stage feeds and two panoramic webcams
  • Manage and upload all the video content for on-demand use.
  • Set up a large number of computers on a network where assets such as photos text and code can be accessed, shared and uploaded to update and maintain a dynamic website.

Well we have put all the various flight cases, racks and cables where they need to go, tomorrow the serious task of getting all our feeds from many of the other trucks onsite delivering broadcast quality audio and video.

Day 2 - Tuesday

So, day two and we are busy running feeds to and from the 6 Music studio. To give some details, we will have five camera feeds, three permanently in the studio giving us a view of the presenters and their guests, a roving camera to bring us compelling interviews from site, and there is a fifth camera that will be in the studio or lurking outside. And, of course, audio because that's what radio stations do.


Inside 6 Music's temporary studio at Glastonbury

So here we are with reels of cables working out how to get them the 100 metres or so from the studio to our truck ...Titan. It's not that long a run, but there is a ditch/stream in between which only adds to the fun.

The satellite engineers have been onsite and have put up our three satellites. They are not connected yet, but the work is going to plan. In the meantime we have got the DSL lines running, which we aim to use for low level traffic, like email, Twitter and web chat (and that's what I am using to get this blog out to you all).

Day 3 - Wednesday


Our link to the outside world

Right today is the day we start to get some flesh on the bones. We have started networking the computers together and all the content that is produced on these goes to a Network Attached Storage (NAS) area. I let Toby and Alan get on with that while I concentrate on the streaming area, which we have set up in the Titan cockpit.

A couple of hours later we have most of the above in place and Alan is now busy configuring the routers for the satellites. Toby is now giving me a hand with the streaming kit: eight encoders for the four streams and four thumbnails, eight DV clamshells to bridge the analogue audio and video for the digital firewire inputs on the encoders, and a balance box to convert the balanced audio to unbalanced.

We also have to get some quad splits to screens to monitor the streams, and send a feed of the quad vision mix back to the 6 Music studio, so the presenters can see what is happening and talk about it on air.

I have mentioned three of the live streams. Well, the fourth will be a stream of live coverage from any one of four Glastonbury stages. That's the next task...

Terry O'Leary is a Senior AV Producer at BBC Audio & Music Interactive and took all of the photos in this post.

Related Posts
Glastonbury Takes Over 6 Music
Bringing Glastonbury to Television

  • Keep up with all of the BBC's coverage on the Glastonbury home page.
  • Follow @BBCGlasto on Twitter for news, retweets and links from the festival.
  • We'll be scanning Twitter for use of the #BBCGlasto hashtag and publishing some of the tweets we find so use the hashtag when you're tweeting about the BBC's Glastonbury coverage.


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