XL Launches New HD PPU At The Brits

XL Video chose one of the highest profile live TV events of the year—the recent 2007 Brit Awards—to launch its new high-definition PPU.

The newly commissioned PPU is based around a Grass Valley HD Kayak mixer and GV LDK 8000 HD cameras, three of which XL supplied for the Brits. Ten further HD feeds from broadcasters CTV were also fed into the XL system that was used for the live stage IMAG mix, cut by Chris Hilson.

This was beamed onto a striking heart shaped high-resolution LED screen center stage and another large landscape shaped screen on stage left, upstage of one of the two performance areas. Both screens were also supplied by XL, built from Lighthouse R16 modules.

XL’s two project managers were Chris Saunders and Paul Wood. Saunders managed the control side of the show, while Paul Wood did the same for the screen elements. Both worked closely with technical production manager Mick Kluczynski and his team from MJK Productions.

“We had every confidence in the new PPU, and knew it would do everything we required for the show, so we had no qualms about debuting it on a live show of this stature,” comments Saunders.

The PPU was conceived and built by XL’s Malcolm Whittall. His broadcast and live event engineering background includes working for the BBC and independent television, plus a decade of freelancing, all of which has been invaluable in designing this unique new system.

XL also supplied a Barco Encore system, operated by Richard Turner, which was used to format the images correctly onto both screens.

The PPU received VT play-ins from the broadcasters and also integrated custom playback content into the show, including graphics, Awards nominations, packages and announcements, all of which were produced by Hello Charlie.

They supplied two different sets of VTs—one in the standard TV shape and the other formatted just for the heart shaped screen—which was processed via the Encore. This playback material—along with special content for some of the performing artists including Oasis, complete with bespoke footage and guest appearance from Dick Carruthers—was stored on four dual-channel Grass Valley Turbo hard drives.

It was the fifth consecutive year that XL video has supplied screens for the Brits, which gets more spectacular each time in terms of production values.

The heart-shaped screen was made up from a stack of 12 panels wide by 14 high of Lighthouse R16. It was shaped via a scenic mask that was an integral part of Mark Fisher’s set design.

The stage left performance screen measured 12m wide by 7m high.

XL also supplied a delay screen package consisting of two 16’ x 9’ HD projection screens and projectors.

One of the biggest challenges this year was that the production did not also have access to Earls Court 2, which it has in the past. The extra space was utilized for backstage and technical facilities, so space was substantially tighter.

CTV’s OB trucks were parked over 400m away outside the venue in Philbeach Corner, so fibre optic distribution systems were run between these and XL Video’s PPU, which was stationed on the balcony at the rear of the stage.

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