Lets do the Time Warp

Author: Patrick Hussey

Published 5th July 2023

Lets do the Time Warp

Time Warp is one of the biggest indoor electronic music events in Europe if not the world, and recently returned to its spiritual home in Mannheim, Germany for the first time in four years for a sold-out attendance that saw 30,000 people soaking up world-class sound.

The influential festival was hosted across six floors of Maimarkthalle, a huge fair hall hosting its first Time Warp in 1995. Each floor of the giant club had a distinct look, feel, sound and atmosphere. In signature Time Warp style, that meant mind-blowing visuals and high spec production that combines the club's fabric with tech-nology, video and light into a sensory overload like no other.

"Time Warp is not just about music, although that is front and center," says Chris-toph Pauli, CEO of video content production partner LiveFRAME. "The whole aes-thetic of the event is an experience. They take great pride in creating an experi-ence through the artistic design of the show sets and lighting, which is different on every floor. That's why we chose to record the show using URSA Broadcast G2."

The reunion event ran from 12am to 2pm with a rolling guest list of incredible tech-no acts, including Laurent Garnier, Loco Dice, Charlotte de Witte, Nina Kraviz, Richie Hawtin, Rødhåd, Seth Troxler, The Blessed Madonna, The Martinez Brothers and more. 

LiveFRAME also returned, but this time with a new brief: to capture content for fast turnaround social media streams.

Explains Pauli, "We've designed the lighting for Time Warp since its inception and last October, at a smaller scaler event, we live-streamed the concert. Following the success of that event, we began working with Time Warp on this massive reunion event at Maimarkthalle, which spanned six dance floors for the first time."

LiveFRAME produced the live stream of the performance by Adriatique and broad-cast by ARTE while also capturing content across four of the six dancefloors for Time Warp's YouTube, Facebook and Instagram channels.

"That ability to share the festival experience via socials who didn't attend creates enormous opportunities for Time Warp to reach hundreds of thousands of techno enthusiasts," Pauli says. 

This presented the team with three main challenges. Routing feeds from the festi-val area to LiveFRAME's mobile facility required more than two kilometers of optical fiber. The network consisted of six stage boxes, one per floor, with fiber converters linking video from the venue to the broadcast van.

Other issues concerned workflow. Each act gave different permissions for which part of its set could be recorded. Some signed off the first and/or last ten minutes; others were happy for the first hour to be recorded. And some didn't want the mid-dle of their act recorded.

"We had to manage a complicated set of time stamps when we knew we could start, or would have to stop, recording."

Getting the media quickly to Time Warp's editorial team was another hurdle. The solution was to transfer files from a series of Blackmagic HyperDecks using FTP to the clients' media server for its editors to access as soon as it was recorded. From live to clipping and creative polish to publishing took less than 30 minutes.

LiveFRAME received all 24 video signals in its OB truck, built last year and outfitted with a Blackmagic Design workflow. This includes several Mini Converter Optical Fiber 12G, simultaneously converting SDI to optical fiber and optical fiber to SDI in both directions, delivering to two Smart Videohub 12G 40x40 video routers.

Pauli explains, "One Smart Videohub is purely for monitoring while the other feeds an ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K allowing us to throw up different multiviews in the van, including a 16 view."

Central to the OB workflow is an ATEM Constellation 8K with ATEM 2 M/E Ad-vanced Panel for vision mixing and eight HyperDeck Studio 4K Pro broadcast decks for recording. Also on board are eight SmartView 4K preview monitors and four SmartScope Duo 4K for picture analysis.

"What we like about the whole Blackmagic system concept is that everything blends perfectly regardless of the job. If I patch a timecode into my ATEM switcher, I can be sure it will be seen by every device connected to the network. If I put on a fiber convertor for the URSA Broadcast, I also have timecode and tally. So the whole system is well integrated and can be broken apart and re-configured as our project needs dictate.

"What's more, it is all 12G-SDI and 4K ready. And we are getting all this flexibility and firepower far more cost-effectively than similar products from other manufacturers."

Production deployed seven URSA Broadcast G2 cameras at Time Warp, with several located in the lighting rig to give LiveFRAME a bird's eye view of the stage and re-motely controlled from the OV van via an ATEM Camera Control Panel.

"That we can control zoom and focus with the ATEM CCU is cool," Pauli says. "We can zoom in on the DJ from a position in the roof and exert control over every opti-cal parameter."

"We used three Pocket Cinema Camera 6K on sliders near the DJ mixing desks and stage during the event. These cameras were operated remotely. Since the main ob-jective was to stream the event online, we recorded the footage in H.264 format. However, it still amounted to more than 2 Terabytes of data after recording for 12 hours.

With the festival back on track, Time Warp has plans to expand its social and streaming output. "Time Warp understands that our approach and the workflow we offer underpinned by Blackmagic is so efficient and smart that they are already thinking about adding more cameras and producing more coverage next year."

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