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Sennheiser helps create Utopia

Multimedia company Dutchview selected Sennheiser solutions in order to create the reality TV show Utopia.

Multimedia company Dutchview selected Sennheiser solutions in order to create the reality TV show Utopia. The series follows 15 inhabitants who leave their ordinary lives to create an ideal mini-society of their own in Blaricum, near Hilversum, Netherlands. Dutchview was faced with the challenge of covering a 12,500sqm area with recording equipment to follow the inhabitants, and turned to Sennheiser Benelux for assistance.

Peter Slot, Dutchview project manager, explained: “We have a lot of experience in reality formats but the challenge of covering 1.25 hectare in an open field surrounded by a lot of trees was completely new!”

The Dutchview team visited the site to carry out detailed measurements and check optimum antenna positions for capturing the wireless audio. They 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 by the antenna signals from six local distribution combiners – three diversity sets – accommodated in Utopia’s main areas.

“Compared to earlier reality shows, we have tailored a much leaner workflow,” added Slot. “For example, we have automated the audio, which was a great step. The story editor of Utopia just chooses the people to be seen on the four main programme feeds that are recorded, and he automatically gets their audio, plus a grouped signal from the ambience mics in an automated audio mix. While this automated mix is used directly for the internet live streams, it is also recorded for the clip edits and final TV edits. For the creation of the final broadcast mix, all audio signals are recorded and available separately. In total we have 16 channels of audio, shared by the wired field mics, the wireless audio, and the grouped mixes.”

The launch broadcast of Utopia on 6 January this year drew a TV audience share of over 25%. The Talpa production is also a success on the internet: a total of 188 million video streams have been viewed, and the Utopia app was downloaded 110,000 times in the week of the launch.

Aerial view of the Utopia, photo courtesy of Talpa Content BV
Mics, antenna, camera, photo credit: Luc Hilderson