New microphone winch system for the West German Broadcasting Service in Cologne (Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln, WDR)

05. July 2020
© WDR Köln

A new SALZBRENNER media microphone winch system in the Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal (the WDR´s large broadcasting hall) comprising of 29 2D winches and one 3D winch system ensures pinpointed high-quality audio recordings. The control and drive technology of the freely placeable support for the microphone traverse is the result of a collaboration between SALZBRENNER media and Beckhoff Automation, best known for the development of the SpiderCam® (spidercam GmbH) control technology.

High quality recordings ensured by „MIC fly“ 3D microphone winch system

The production complex belonging to the Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal, the WDR´s large broadcasting hall in Cologne, is predominantly used for live productions for radio, television and internet. The radio orchestra and the WDR Big Band are main users of the hall. SALZBRENNER media, the audio, video and media technology specialist from Upper Franconia was commissioned to renew the entire microphone winch system, which is crucial for the WDR´s high quality recordings. SALZBRENNER media came into play for this project not only because of their expertise as a systems integrator and their profound know-how in the audio and media technology business, but also because of the fact that their smooth running „MIC fly“ system is currently the only certified and approved microphone winch system of its kind on the market. SALZBRENNER media had to overcome high hurdles with regard to safety regulations in order to receive the DEKRA (German technical inspection association) certification for their winches.

Most of the work had to be done during the six-week summer break, due to the full utilisation of the large broadcasting hall. SALZBRENNER media not only successfully managed the race against time, but also implemented individual customer requests like the customized user interface for control via network and additional user trainings ensure optimum operation of the entire system.

Perfect control technology achieved through collaboration with Beckhoff Automation

The 3D winch movements ensure pinpointed audio recordings through the adjustable positioning of microphones in the three-dimensional space. The control technology for the three-dimensional winch application was developed by SALZBRENNER media in collaboration with Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG. The Austrian spidercam GmbH also relied on the PC-based Beckhoff control technology for the development of their winch-adjusted camera carrier system, which provides three-dimensional camera tours for major sports events. The 3D microphone winch in the Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal is controlled in a similar way to the arena cameras in the large stadiums. The newly developed software converts the room coordinates into wire lengths of the individual winches in order to precisely position the microphones to the respective requirements.

The Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal installation is used as a reference for further projects

The installation with a total of 30 installed winches in combination with the specific requirements of the WDR production complex represents the first large-scale project for SALZBRENNER media´s microphone winch system. The WDR´s broadcasting hall is thus used as a reference and showcase project for further installations which are already imminent for the system house. „Above all the tight installation spaces on the ceiling represented a special challenge. We mainly had to rely on existing ceiling openings, but also had to create new ones for the 3D winch system“, says project manager Stefan List of SALZBRENNER media referring to the particular spatial conditions of the hall. The fact that the hall is historically listed didn´t make it any easier. As a result, the existing infrastructure had to be used during the on-site installation process, but this didn´t prove to be a problem for SALZBRENNER media, the specialist for customized solutions.

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