Concerts, panel discussions, ceremonies, and opera performances: more and more mdw events can now be streamed live as well as watched after the fact via the mdwMediathek. The Streaming Team is part of the mdw’s AV Centre and is led by Ulrich Wagner, who acts as its producer, technical head, and director. Wagner prepares for each performance project by formulating a visual concept, working out editing plans according to musical scores, and attending rehearsals together with his director’s assistants, after which the actual on-site planning begins.
Schlosstheater Schönbrunn, which regularly plays host to opera productions that are streamed live, now has a built-in fibre-optic cable network that helps expedite technical preparations. But even so, the 11-person Streaming Team has no shortage of preparations to get through: cameras need to be positioned, and 32 microphones have to be hung up (with some of them hidden in the stage scenery). When all is said and done, getting everything stream-ready can add up to an entire week’s worth of work.
Striking the right balance between video and audio isn’t always easy, but Wagner says that “we always find a compromise.” One thing is non-negotiable for him, however: audio quality. “Good sound is our obsession,” confesses Wagner, who can also call upon the expertise of staff members from the Tonmeister Education programme. His regular team includes students specialising in cinematography and audio as well as external specialists.
“When you go live, strong nerves are of the essence,” says Wagner, because something unexpected can always happen. Following a few final checks, the stream goes online and everyone is in their places—with the audio engineer at the mixing board, the camerapeople at their cameras, Wagner and his director’s assistant at the video mixer, and the IT person at their monitor. The people at work here are a seasoned team and capable of standing in for each other in their respective roles any time the need arises. They also all help during setup, and none of them goes home until everything’s finished.
The mdw put out its first live streams in 2011; since then, the Streaming Team has gathered lots of experience and continually improved the quality of their output. Special highlights for them are large-scale projects like operatic performances and orchestral concerts, which involve extensive technical setups and complex camera management: “Events like that have us all giving 150 percent!”
Visit the mdwMediathek and check out our Streaming Team’s numerous streams and other audio-visual productions!