Another p|d first: HD video from within the competition circle

Published: July 22, 2014
(Page 1 of 1)

With only two Grade 2 bands on the Ontario circuit, the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band was the only entrant in the grade at the 2014 Cambridge Highland Games at Cambridge, Ontario, on July 19th. While this is normally a disappointment for the listeners, pipes|drums recognized a potential opportunity.

What if we captured video not only around the band, but inside the actual circle while the band performed in the event?

We couldn’t recall this perspective occurring before in a video of a band competing, since under normal competition circumstances it could be a distraction to the players. Even the BBC relies on state-of-the-art booms to minimize the chance of distraction to the competitors at the World Championships.

With the Ottawa Police playing well – even at a proven Grade 1 standard – and the event calling for a medley, the single-entry contest might be salvaged by making a bit of history.

We ran the idea past Pipe-Major Andrew Hayes, and he was quick not just to say yes, but to video “whatever you want,” placing complete trust in us. He made an announcement to his band, and they, too, welcomed it. Next, we ran it by the PPBSO steward on duty, and he confirmed that, as long as the band was okay with it, he saw no problem. We also asked the judges if would be okay, and they confirmed: no problem.

So, what you see here is another first by pipes|drums: a top-flight band captured in top form from inside the actual circle during a contest performance.

We start with excerpts from the band’s final tuning, progress to their march to the contest area, and finish with their full performance in the Grade 2 event.

Note the instant change in the quality of sound when we go inside the circle. If there were ever good evidence for why a pipe band should face the judges and the audience, this must be it. The projection from all instruments is dramatically better. It’s a completely different experience and sound from the relatively muffled effect of pipers and drummers huddled together with their backs to the audience.

Inside the circle of a well-tuned top-grade band is a vortex of tone, and we hope that you enjoy the experience as much as we did.

Our thanks to the PPBSO, the adjudicators, Pipe-Major Andrew Hayes and all of the members of the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band for allowing us to bring you something new, and make just a little history along the way.


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  1. tommackenzie1951

    Well Andrew maybe you can have your cake and eat it too. The digital audio from the worlds is already streamed from a web site, so having an array of digital microphones placed strategically inside the circle and fed back to a mixing board would allow the listener to be virtually inside the circle. If this signal was fed to an HD audio transmitter would allow fans in the Grade 1 circle to receive the broadcast stream in their headphones. That would be amazing.

      1. aberthoff Post author

        Seriously, I suggested 15 years ago that the judges should sit in the BBC sound truck. All hear eactly the same thing from a purely ensemble perspective. Warm and dry.

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