Building playback systems and festival rigs for sale or hire around Optocore devices
Ever since Manchester UK-based fac365 secured the Optocore dealership in 2016, the pro audio RF and Comms rental specialists have enjoyed increasing success with the brand, culminating in this year, with most notably the ground-breaking Festival Box.
Originally set up in the UK’s Greater Manchester area by Mike Hayes, fac365 supplies solutions right across the broadcast and entertainment spectrum—on both a sales and hire basis—including many interactive devices from the Optocore portfolio.
Festival Box itself is a point-to-point converter, which enables all signals and protocols to tunnel over the same fiber. It quickly established itself on tours by Billie Eilish and the Spice Girls and subsequently on Coldplay tours.
Having first debuted Optocore’s equally pioneering AutoRouter on the Head Full Of Dreams tour at the end of 2015, Alex Hadjigeorgiou introduced Festival Box to the band’s rig in 2019. Since then it has been the backbone of the control package infrastructure, touring the globe twice over … a testament to the reliability of the product.
Today, four Festival Boxes make up the Coldplay control package—one pair serving the FOH/Stage, while a second pair hooks the FOH infrastructure together.
The device itself comes in two versions—the Festival Box Grand (with 12 SFP ports) and Petite (with six SFPs). According to fac365 operations manager, Richard Newall, his company has recently built a deployable Grand system loaded with sufficient fibre and CAT ports to cater for most festival and multiple artist requirements. This intuitive set-up has been configured for hires as a simple ‘plug and play’ setup.
“To complement the Festival Box hardware we are also stocking fibres and bulkheads, ensuring that customers can buy a complete package without any cable stock issues,” he assures.
fac365 has continued to underline its commitment to strengthening the Optocore brand by increasing its demo and hire stock availability, keeping a number of the most popular Optocore products on the sales shelves, in particular M8 and M12 MADI devices.
Explaining the reason, Newall says, “The M8/M12 creates slick interconnects for large Playback/Record/Drive racks, fully integrated into DiGiCo touring packages, while the Festival Box provides flexible and easy-to-use media conversion for efficient deployment in a range of circumstances. Using the Festival Box in this way ensures all complicated patch is kept inside racks, so the user has a minimum number of connections externally.
“The beauty of the system is that there is no software, computers or programming involved. As the system uses multiplexed light frequencies to split the various data signals, simple physics are the key to its reliability on large scale rigs. The fact that you don’t have to plug into a laptop makes it intuitive … it it’s simply a case of patching the right connectors.”
One customer that has recognised these advantages is Solotech, who under the original Wigwam brand, became the first rental house adopter of the Festival Box. They have extended their relationship with Optocore (and fac365) by building inventory consistently during 2022-23, most recently adding X6Rs for their Control/Drive racks.
In order to further strengthen the Optocore brand in the UK, fac365 recently recruited project manager Will Cooper, who will work alongside technical manager, Mark Strudwick. Both men will be offering demonstration days and inviting potential users to their HQ to be inducted into the potential uses of all Optocore solutions.