As more Africans are investing in widescreen TVs and higher-quality video technology, they are also seeking high-definition broadcasting to view. None of the free-to-air broadcasters transmit in HD, so, along with a few other subscription-based stations, Supersport Africa – part of a continent-wide subscription-TV network owned by a division of Multichoice International Holdings (MIH) – decided to fill the vacuum. Multichoice converted a warehouse in Lagos, Nigeria, into three TV studios as part of a ‘fast-track' project to create an HD-broadcast facility. They are using a range of ETC lighting fixtures, dimming and control equipment for their production work.
Supersport’s lighting director Angus Clarke talks about the project: “I was asked to set up a lighting infrastructure that could be reused if the facility was ever relocated. In conjunction with Boy Magnussen of T&A Prosound – the local ETC agent – we designed a lighting system that allowed a distribution of 96 channels across the studio via a series of strategically located breakout boxes.
“Together with my colleagues at the station, and with assistance from both ETC and Ian Blair of Prosound in Johannesburg, we specified an ETC Element lighting desk and an ETC SmartFade ML desk to control a range of ETC Source Four PARnels and Source Four profile luminaires, as well as two Source Four luminaires with 10º lens tubes to use as followspots.”
“Most of the lighting technicians and designers using these facilities will have grown up on ETC desks, so it made sense to specify an ETC Element, since it uses the same syntax as the Eos family. It is very versatile and ideal for a facility using predominantly conventional lighting as well as intelligent, LED, hazers, and other DMX equipment.”
The SmartFade ML was chosen as a backup console and one that can be used on small on-location productions, due to its simple functionality for complex tasks and ease of learning. “It has proved its reliability over many years of use in other studios where I’ve installed it, including Supersport’s facility in South Africa,” says Clarke.
Just as at a previous Supersport installation in Johannesburg, ETC Sensor®+ enclosures and dimmers were specified; and a range of ETC Source Four® PARnels and Source Four profile luminaires were supplied and installed with Enttec DMX splitters.
Clarke continues: “Power was fed from two ETC Sensor+ dimming racks located in a technical area outside the studio. This future-proofed our investment: If we moved, we would be able to supply two medium studios immediately with 48 channels of dimming without purchasing additional equipment.”
The installation was overseen by Thomas Peters, an ETC factory-trained technician, and was assisted by Themba Sogwanqa from Prosound and a team of local technicians.
The complex’s Studio 1 is a large drama studio, specifically created for a soap opera called Tinsel. Studio 3 was commissioned in 2010, prior to the soccer World Cup, and serves as the base for the station’s sports operations in Nigeria.
Studio 2 was commissioned to accommodate a growing need in the region to produce high quality music, variety and game shows with a local feel. The first variety-show recorded at the studio was Naija Sings, a music talent show similar to X Factor or Idol and developed specifically for the local market.
In addition to the studios, three outside broadcast (OB) units with support were specifically built for the Nigeria region. They are deployed to cover the sports events across the region, for broadcast on the DSTV network. A fourth OB unit is due for delivery this year.
In order to minimize on-site time, all cables and breakout boxes for the installation were prepared by T&A in Johannesburg and then shipped to Lagos. ETC technicians then travelled there to complete the installation and to provide training.
Says Clarke: “I’ve used ETC products for over 16 years and have full trust in the brand. They’re always reliable, and I’ve always had a very fast response to technical-support queries.”