Bastille Day: a sneak peek into the audio that energises the July 14th parade
6,300 men and women paraded on foot, 221 vehicles, 200 Republican Guard horses, 71 planes, 25 helicopters, 9 brass bands, 200 singers, nearly 60 technicians and sound engineers mobilised. The July 14th parade, expected by both the French public and the television channels, is akin to a real live tour de force.
With over 10 million viewers watching the live TV broadcast, this unique event in the world, which embodies the very image of France and where audio historically occupies a central place, has continued to grow in scope and complexity over the years.
How can an institutional event of such massive scale continue to attract ever-increasing audiences and evolve into a live entertainment spectacle amidst an increasingly congested RF spectrum environment?
The particularity of the parade lies in the great diversity of music and moving brass bands, distributed at different points on the Champs-Elysées.
From the bagpipes to the bass drum to the clarinet to the piccolo and the cymbal, all instruments must be heard. Voices too. Be it during the initial animation, composed last year of Bagad by Lann Bihoué and the Band of the Crews of the Toulon Fleet, or at the end of the parade, with, for this 2022 edition, no less than 200 singers from military high schools, the French Army Choir and the Paris Fire Brigade, came to share the flame alongside pop singer Candice Parise.
The stakes are high for the technical teams: it is all about capturing all the voices and instruments of the different musical groups in order to be able to provide the television channels with a clear, homogeneous audio signal of the best quality.
Long gone are the days when sound systems consisted only in setting up speakers intended to get soldiers to walk in step.
Orchestrating sound signals ranging from the hoof of a horse on the pavement to the reactor of a plane from the Patrouille de France to the voices of the choirs, is a major technical challenge to which a new constraint has been added: the ever-shrinking spectrum of frequencies allocated to wireless audio equipment, which is essential to the smooth running of live broadcasts.
The service provider in charge of the parade's sound system has no room for error because it has made a commitment to the television channels to guarantee perfect homogeneous restitution, without interference or signal interruption, despite significant distances and nearly saturated airwaves.
Just taking into account the demands of international signals, accredited journalists and the visual branding of the major TV networks, the threshold of 300 frequencies is reached as early as nine o'clock in the morning, which considerably complicates the work of technicians, who must coordinate no less than 200 radio frequencies throughout the ceremony, 160 of which are assigned to RF microphones.
And this is without accounting for the myriad unexpected circumstances that may occur in the field and require adapting to be ever more responsive. It may indeed happen that the teams on site find themselves having to make last-minute changes due to specific requests or particular weather constraints. Subjected to severe tests, the equipment must be adapted, reliable and robust, to function seamlessly despite the humidity which alters the propagation of radio waves. In July, in Paris, the weather can range from 35°C to uninterrupted rain for several nights in a row, until the day of the ceremony.
These are challenges that only Shure's flagship Axient Digital wireless systems, acclaimed by the live industry, could meet to guarantee the success of an event as complex, popular and demanding as the July 14th parade.
128 RF microphone and in-ear monitor connections provided by Shure's Axient Digital systems were needed to meet the requirements of reliability, audio performance and flexibility set by contractual requirements and choreographed to the second.
Nearly 140 Shure ADX1M and AD1 transmitters/receivers were carefully placed on the musicians so as to be as invisible as possible on the screen, while preserving their comfort, with one priority in mind: to succeed in making a homogeneous mix of the fanfare.
A robust and intuitive digital wireless system with rich functionality; easier fleet management and frequency coordination.
Reliable RF connectivity and excellent audio signal quality over a long distance (2,200 meters) in a particularly congested environment.
Discreet bodypack RF transmitters, easy to use and resistant to humidity, for optimal hold throughout the event.
|Shure Axient Digital Wireless Microphone System delivers world-class sound for the most critical broadcasts and live sound events. Learn more today.
|Incredibly small, smooth bodypack with internal antenna for better concealment and more comfortable wear in theater productions and other applications requiring discreet placement.
|Lightweight, durable bodypack with optional rechargeability and TA4 connector option.