The Eurovision Song Contest 2021 was back on track following a one-year hiatus due to the Covid Pandemic. Heading up a brand new technical and production team is respected, Netherlands based, Erwin Rintjema, who took on the much-coveted position as ESC’s Head of Production.
An industry respected production manager, Rintjema was selected by ESC host broadcaster for his experience, knowledge, and proven ability to smoothly deliver international, large scale, televised events. He was supported by a carefully curated team, as he explains: “Key members of the technical management team included Gijs Vos as Broadcast Manager and Stefan Hoohenkerk as Show Manager. In addition, several of our key Heads of Departments came from official technical supplier to Eurovision, Netherlands based, Sightline Productions. They included Marcel Vellekoop as CAD Manager; Christiaan van Oudenallen as Technical Producer for Other Halls (Delegation Bubble, Press Centre etc), Jaap Bouma as Operations Manager and Jeroen Veenman as Technical Producer, Main Hall + Contest.”
Returned in May, the technically ambitious, 65th international Eurovision Song Contest was broadcasted globally from Rotterdam’s Ahoy arena
As with any complex production, the success of the Eurovision Song Contest is in the detailed planning and preparation of every element, while managing a plethora of production stakeholders including performers, producers, designers, suppliers and crew. Rintjema discusses: “Our role was to ensure that the design concept by set designer Florian Wieder, lighting design by Henk Jan van Beek, live audio by Jeroen ten Brinke and broadcast audio by Thijs Peters work seamlessly together from a creative, logistic and technical perspective. Every lighting cue, every scene change, every camera shot is meticulously planned and rehearsed during many weeks of production.”
Not only that but Rintjema and his team’s remit extends way beyond the walls of the main auditorium and into the surrounding halls of the Ahoy. Green rooms, press rooms, host booths etc. All demanded a combination of broadcast technology, lighting, video, sound, set, communications, rigging, motion, special FX, power, infrastructure and more.
While it takes an experienced, well-coordinated and multi-skilled team to successfully meet the Eurovision brief in normal circumstances, in 2021 an extra layer of complexity came into play when the whole Rotterdam Ahoy site had to be kept Covid free. Rintjema explains: “To effectively run an event like this during a Covid pandemic demands that we redesign many of our long-established workflows, traditions, and behaviours. We also had to plan for four possible scenarios from full-on production, with full size audiences right down to coordinating compact and remote productions, with audiences and delegations participating from each remote location. Naturally we consulted, in depth, with previous Eurovision production teams and they were hugely helpful. Nevertheless, there is no ‘Production Bible’ for Eurovision - this show is produced in a different country every year. Of course, this is also the reason it is so exciting to work on Eurovision.”