disguise enables Faber AV to deliver technically ambitious Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam

The 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest at Rotterdam’s Ahoy arena marked the first major live event to take place in the Netherlands since the pandemic. With an incredible visual deployment, the event was powered by disguise.

Faber Audiovisuals, the official technical supplier of the contest, relied on a complement of disguise vx 4, gx 2c and 4x4pro media servers to power a total of 55 scenes on a giant LED video wall and floors, used across all 39 competing performances, the opening ceremony, the flag parade and all interval acts. The six-week production period was led by ESC head of production Erwin Rintjema and head of video Hand Cromheecke.

This year’s contest, with semi-finals on 18 and 20 May and the grand final on 22 May, played out to a COVID-tested live audience of 3,500 per show – contributing to a total of 183 million people watching the event worldwide. Faber’s Eurovision team included disguise workflow specialist Jo Pauly (of Visual Solutions) as media server operators for the show.

Ben Augenbroe and Steve Ackein, ESC project managers for Faber, said: “We chose disguise for reliability and stability. Because we had to run in full redundancy, disguise gave us the right solution. We did not have any issue on this complex production and the disguise 24/7 standby team supported us real quick when needed. This Eurovision Song Contest 2021 went smoothly for Faber, as all went according to plan and all of our crew were outstanding. Our client, NPO/NOS/AVROTROS, expressed they were delighted to have chosen Faber as their technical partner as we delivered as promised. All three live broadcasts went and looked fantastic!”

Preparations for Eurovision began in March 2021, when a pre-visualisation room was installed for the entire light and motion operator team and two media server operator positions: one on site in Amsterdam and one remote operator. Both worked the live show programming. A disguise 4x4pro was used to drive NDI feeds into the capture visualisation system.

During the show, the team used the disguise timeline to switch very quickly between pre-loaded Unreal and Notch content for these 55 distinct scenes and stage markers, without jeopardising the look and feel of the show or losing content on screen.

A great deal of power was needed to drive the 52m x 12m LED video wall at the back of the main stage with giant revolving doors and the A- and B-stage LED-floors. The system consisted of a fully redundant A and B set, each containing a dedicated gx 2c director server, two vx 4 and two gx 2c actors.

Additionally, another gx 2c ran Stage Precision software to take in motion data from the moving light trusses and all other moving elements in the venue. A disguise 4x4pro was connected to the lighting team’s Capture software for lighting design and visualisation, running in parallel with the video pre-vis.

“The show was mostly timecode-based and we automated the programming with external triggers from the OB van. For instance, at the end of a song we went to a country postcard [pre-recorded footage introducing each country], that triggered a track jump to the correct song. So we actually had it programmed quite smartly, with the possibility to manually react super fast when the need would occur,” explained Pauly.

The Faber team worked around the clock before the event to ensure that everything would run smoothly – and it did. The co-ordinated workflows and professionalism among the lighting, motion, fireworks and production crews created a positive atmosphere that contributed to the final outcome.

“The high level of expertise on this show was just stunning – it is what made this project such a success,” said Pauly.

Subscribe and Get SVG Europe Newsletters