Utopia wireless with Sennheiser

Multimedia company Dutchview was faced with the big challenge of covering a 12,500 square metre area with both video and audio recording equipment to follow a new reality format in the Netherlands: Utopia. In order to provide coverage to this vast area with an RF wireless solution, it turned to Sennheiser Benelux for assistance.

The 1.25 ha Utopia location accommodates two spacious hangars for housing, a stable for cows and hens, grazing ground and some agricultural land – plus woods in between. To capture the conversations of the 15 inhabitants, they would have to be miked with bodypack transmitters and clip-on mics.

In the end, the team opted for a single rack of receivers – and eight antenna distribution combiners custom-built for Utopia. A master distribution combiner pair was installed with the microphone receivers, and was fed the antenna signals from six local distribution combiners – three diversity sets – accommodated in Utopia’s main areas.

A total of 20 active antennas in a diversity set-up were deployed strategically across the premises, picking up the wireless signals from the participants. These signals were fed to the local distribution combiners via co-axial cables that had been buried in the ground. The coaxial losses of every distribution line were fully compensated by the custom-built distribution system.

To capture ambient sound, 34 MKH 416 shotgun microphones were mounted together with the cameras to cover the entire Utopia grounds.

The Utopia story editor has two directors working on his behalf on site to pick up stories, each of whom is supported by a remote camera operator. The directors’ stories are fed into an Infostrada system together with relevant metadata, and from this wealth of pre-edits, the Utopia production team creates the final edit that airs daily.

The audio equipment Dutchview uses for Utopia

•24 SK 5212-II bodypack transmitters (of which nine are spares or reserved for guests) 

•24 MKE 2 clip-on microphones

•12 EM 3732-II dual-channel receivers 

•Four AD 3700 active antennas

•12 A 3700 active antennas

•Four A 5000-CP circularly polarised antennas with AB 3700 antenna boosters

•Six ADC-41 custom-built local distribution combiners, each combining and distributing four antenna signals 

•Two custom-built ADC-44 main distribution combiners, each able to combine up to four ADC-41 and distribute signals to four equal outputs

•34 MKH 416 shotgun microphones

Aerial view of the Utopia hangars and stables with grazing ground. Credit: Talpa Content BV