2.5 million young pilgrims flock to Kraków and Brzegi. 

Billed as the biggest event in the world, two and a half million people are believed to have flocked to the 2016 World Youth Day (WYD), an international Catholic event focused on faith and youth, which this year took place at two sites in Kraków and Brzegi.

Pope Francis addressed large gatherings of pilgrims and given the scale of the event, the pressure on providing a suitable public address system and pristine signal delivery to all worshippers across the vast spaces was immense.

Considering the large number of sound towers and receivers deployed — and vast distances between them (the furthest was located almost 2km from FOH) — the only solution was to use fibre. Optocore and its OEM associate, BroaMan uniquely have this capability, and they set up a fully-redundant optical fibre network using the advanced, protocol-independent tools.

Both the principal sound rental companies — GigantSound-Letus and GMB Pro Sound — were charged with sourcing the inventory to implement this. They relied heavily on large multi-node redundant Optocore ring networks for the two main sites, Błonia Park in Kraków, which holds 600,000, and the nearby village of Brzegi, where the site could accommodate 2.5-3 million people. The latter location saw the biggest deployment of technical gear ever put out for a single event, according to Gigant’s Jurek Taborowski.

The person responsible for specifying the BroaMan / Optocore solution was Marek Kotomski, coordinator from the WYD Organising Committee and co-designer of the fibre infrastructure in Kraków.

In total, some 160 devices from the German company were deployed, with a large number of interfaces provided respectively by French partners, Lumière & Son and GB4D.

Meanwhile, another Polish company, 4Vision, was contracted to install and maintain these systems, with onsite support throughout from the Optocore technicians. 4Vision also had to manage the timetable in what proved to be a fast fit project, with challenging deadlines.

Brought in by the WYD Organising Committee, the 4Vision team received training from Optocore before taking delivery of the pre-configured rack systems at the two French bases. Stated Pawel Fila, who supervised the technical installation, “Aside from the distances we needed to cover, the advantages of using Optocore was that the system was so simple for installation and control.”

The Brzegi Campus Misericordiae site comprised 67 audio towers (13 intercom equipped), 28 video walls and four rings; in total 84 cases of equipment were shipped to site.

Lumière & Son had designed and configured the set-up for delivery to Gigant Sound, constructing an Optocore plug and play system at their headquarters in Paris before inviting five 4Vision technicians to receive system induction and training. This enabled the Polish company to create three Optocore rings, along with 18 BroaMan Mux22 and two Route66, all supplied by Lumière & Son.

Each of the audio and video towers contained a single Optocore device providing analog out, AES out and LAN Ethernet to Powersoft amps, which in turn drove Outline loudspeakers. At FOH the system received direct inputs from the Yamaha mixing desk via Optocore’s Y3R-TP interface card.

In total 108 Optocore devices were deployed.The three rings were purpose-configured by Lumiere to meet the specific requirements; some racks containing X6R-FX devices only, some with BroaMan Mux22, Route66 and X6R-TP, while some were plugged with DD32R-FX interfaces and older X6P.

In addition three dedicated BroaMan systems were assembled — one ring with 10 Mux22 interfaces and two in a star topology, with a Route66 and four Mux22 in each. All devices provided program feed in HD-SDI format to the 27 LED screens supplied by Supervision Poland, and both BroaMan and Optocore systems used singlemode fibre infrastructure built especially for the event.

With this enormous requirement Lumière & Son also sourced equipment from fellow French-based Optocore houses, GB4D and De Préférence. In terms of scale Lumière & Son president, Pierre Heyligen, confirmed, “This project used more devices than for COP 21 [Climate Change Conference] and [Grand opening of the new] Suez Canal — although required fewer channels.”

In addition to the Optocore / BroaMan deployment, GigantSound also delivered loudspeakers, amps, mixing desks and intercom to this destination.

The parallel event on the main Blonia Park site, comprised 29 towers and nine video walls, and three delay zones. The additional small site was equipped with five audio towers and two video walls. Video star connections with 11 Telebeam video walls, were connected through BroaMan’s Route66, receivers and control system. There were 34 audio towers, some of them with intercom beltpacks, with two rings for audio and a control system, in all requiring 54 equipment cases.

The site PA was supplied by GMB Pro Sound, who confirmed that all audio and video distribution was via two Optocore rings, the Route66 and nine Repeat48 — all sourced from GB4D. Gilles Bouvard’s company also supplied intercom, while loudspeakers, amplifiers and mixing desks were supplied by GMB. Responsible for Optocore design and coordination from GMB was Kamil Zajdel, who was also working as a system engineer, with Paweł Adamowicz, while Optocore’s Maciek Janiszewski assisted on site. Once again, BroaMan and Optocore routing was via purpose-built singlemode fibre infrastructure and once again Optocore and BroaMan systems were commissioned by 4Vision.

In addition to the main distribution system GMB purchased a further six X6R devices to complement their existing stock, which it first used at the Open’er Festival 2016 in Gdynia and then at Way of the Cross during WYD, where all nine devices were sent into action.

In total there were 29 Optocore delay towers constructed at this site on two each with a single Optocore device providing AES out and LAN to control the d&b audiotechnik D80 amps, which in turn drove d&b loudspeakers.

A total of 58 Optocore devices were connected, with AES inputs fed to the Optocore environment: some racks comprised X6R-FX only, some were X6R-FX with X6R-TP while DD32R-FX were used as AES inputs.

The BroaMan network was again designed as a star system around a central Route66 equipped with 10 3G-SDI inputs providing distribution over fibre to 10 LED screens via Repeat48 converters.

Speaking of the network devices, GMB Pro Sound’s Remigiusz Kasztelnik, confirmed that his company aimed to further increase the number of X6R’s and probably add BroaMan MADI converters as well.

He concluded, “We were very happy with our choice in terms of the Optocore devices and there were no major problems while operating them. The biggest challenge was to connect all devices using existing fibre installation.” He said it had been a real pleasure working with the Munich team of Maciek Janiszewski, Michal Micka and Dawid Somlo. “We couldn’t have asked for more. Their professionalism and passion resulted in mutual success.”

And summarizing the entire event Pawel Fila, who was supported on the project by colleague Daniel Augustyniak, stated, “Apart from the weather, the biggest challenges were the last minute changes, not only in terms of required functionality, but also physical changes such as positioning of towers and video walls, as well as control and power points. Also the distances we needed to cover between the towers on both fields, took about an hour, and we had several off-road Suzuki and quad cars. It was an amazing feat.”

Commenting on the strategic importance of the event to BroaMan and Optocore, BroaMan MD Tine Helmle, said: “Our fibre systems have helped broadcast site transmission over some of the biggest and most prestigious global events over the years — but this has to be the largest of all. We are proud to have been associated with World Youth Day and are delighted by the way our partners worked together to ensure a world class performance.”

– The next World Youth Day will take place in Panama in 2019 –