Dancing on Ice

Skating over the obstacles to produce another great series

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If you’re superstitious, Series 13 of any TV show might seem an ominous challenge. Throw in the Covid-19 pandemic and an ice rink for a studio floor and Series 13 of Dancing on Ice certainly tested our mettle, along with all the ITV crew who skilfully pulled it together.

Having worked on the show from Series 1, we’re familiar with the location at Bovingdon Airfield in Hertfordshire and the sound engineering challenge posed by that sheet of ice. Large, reflective surfaces are not ideal for sound but that wasn’t the only concern. Skaters are prone to falling and if you land on your radio mic it hurts!

We saved the celebrities from that particular pain by giving them the latest Digital Q5X rubberised Player Mic radio mics. These have been specially designed for sports and similar events where there’s a risk of landing on a hard floor and they lend themselves perfectly to Dancing on Ice. In fact, this is the first time they’ve been used in the UK and the system we used is the largest in the world, so what better environment to prove their effectiveness?

We gave the presenters the Sennheiser 6000 radio mic system with Wisycom MPR 50 in-ear monitors. In a busy RF environment (the airfield houses a navigational beacon for planes approaching Heathrow), this all-digital set-up gave us better spectrum usage, as well as excellent sensitivity for the challenging environment.

The show requires multiple PA coverage areas. The set-up is designed in CAD and we then convert it to an L-Acoustics Soundvision plot, controlling a distributed L-Acoustics’ KARA/Kiva II system. This in-house conversion facility is a major time-saver, enabling us to receive complex designs in CAD and quickly convert them to the PA software, without having to do any manual drawing.

As has become the norm during the pandemic, the judges are distanced and separated from one another by Perspex screens, which makes hearing one another more of a challenge than normal. We provide the judges and skaters with enhanced foldback, mixed through a Digico SD10 with a Waves Dugan Automixer, which automatically controls the gains of multiple mics in real time.

Finally, for broadcast audience and effects, we provided a Calrec Brio 12 mixing console, which helped to create the exciting live show feeling for viewers. Producing Series 13 of Dancing on Ice has shown that, with reliable radio and console systems, new technology and an experienced crew, great TV with a ‘live’ feel can still happen in spite of social distancing and regardless of any superstitions. So congratulations to ITV and thanks as always to Sound Supervisor Richard Sillitto.

Give your contestants a soft landing with Plus 4 Audio. Contact us for more information

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