Intercom for Sports Production


The best kind of intercom system is one that works so well that it only takes a button or two to push when communication is required. Because of how quality intercom systems simplify communication, it is one of the broadcast industry’s most undervalued technologies. However, it is absolutely essential to a successful broadcast, especially in the fast-moving world of sports production. Whether it’s the Olympics or a local football match, intercom contributes as much to a superb viewer experience as any camera, audio mixing desk or production switcher.
Party-line intercoms had been the traditional go-to systems for sports productions, with matrix-based intercoms now emerging in almost all of the larger productions. Depending on the brand, party-line systems are generally a four- to eight-channel system. The main stations will be installed within the OB van, with individuals using remote intercom panels or stations for communication. These panels are usually located outside of the OB van, such as in the broadcasting booth at the sports venue. In addition, there is customarily an intercom interface back to the main studio. Wireless intercoms may also be in use among staff members in the field.
At the production within the OB van, the director and producers, along with their assistants, watch the feeds coming in from individual cameras, tape machines, graphics and any other sources. The staff members in this area use intercom panels to correspond with the director, who is mixing the video feeds that will be shown to viewers. In many cases, the producers and director can also speak directly to the talent through an Interruptible Fold Back (IFB). A producer or director can interrupt these feeds for cueing and other purposes.
Additionally, the graphics operator, graphics coordinator and the bug box operator are situated in the graphics area. In order to create the game graphics, the operator and coordinator must keep in constant contact with the game statistician, who fills them in on the action in the field and impromptu information, such as the descriptions of the on-air talent from the broadcast booth or stadium. They typically do this using a party-line intercom interfaced to a matrix intercom. The bug box operator manages “the bug box,” which is the superimposed band of graphical information across the top of the screen that displays game specific stats such as the inning, quarter, half or set, as well as the score and player details. The director may use intercom to instruct the bug box operator to take the box in and out of the screen and drop down any of the many pre-programmed pieces of information pertaining to the flow of the game and broadcast.
Especially with large-scale sporting events, an associate producer will often be seated near the graphics operator. They speak with the master control room at the network or international broadcast center, coordinating when to come in and out of the local broadcast and when it goes back to the station for either commercials or periodic breaks. This communication generally takes place over a telephone interface from the intercom system.
Another important section in the sports production OB vans is the audio area. Besides their regular sound responsibilities, the audio operator, the “A1” in industry lingo, is in charge of all intercom communications during the production, setting up the various panels and programming the system for each person who will need to use it throughout the show. The audio operator will have an intercom panel with every possible destination, along with access to every possible permutation of the intercom, IFBs and the telephones, in order to assure they all function, before the broadcast.
Intercom is also a major player in the transmission area of the OB van, where the engineer in charge (EIC) or “truck mother” sits. The EIC ensures that everything produced in and around the OB van, such as the satellite feed, is leaving the vehicle and going to its proper destination. It is essential that this person has intercom access so that he or she can immediately signal or notify the responsible person of an error. Often times, it is the EIC’s job to oversee the intercom system, especially during the game, as the A-1 is occupied with their audio mixing duties.
There have been some great breakthroughs in intercom in the past few years, especially in regards to IP technology. With products such as Clear-Com’s Concert 2.0, a software-based intercom system, it is possible to access intercom from virtually anywhere in the world through a laptop or PC. This can eliminate the need to connect via phone lines from the broadcast OB van to the network or local affiliate, which in turn reduces costs.
Intercom may well be the (not so) silent partner in broadcast operations, but much of what the viewers eventually see is the result of careful coordination between all members of the broadcast team. Much of this, especially when it comes to sports productions, can only be accomplished using intercoms.

Tags: iss056 | clearcom | intercom | outside broadcast | sports production | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • 32 Keypanel Intercoms from Clearcom at NAB 2017

    32 Keypanel Intercoms from Clearcom at NAB 2017

  • CLEARCOM IOS INTERCOM at NAB 2015

    CLEARCOM IOS INTERCOM at NAB 2015

  • CLEARCOM LQ SYSTEM at NAB 2015

    CLEARCOM LQ SYSTEM at NAB 2015

  • CLEARCOM FREESPEAK at NAB 2015

    CLEARCOM FREESPEAK at NAB 2015

  • Clearcom at IBC 2012

    Clearcom at IBC 2012

  • JVC at BVE North 2011

    JVC at BVE North 2011

  • Glensound Beatrice Dante Intercom at ISE 2019

    Glensound Beatrice Dante Intercom at ISE 2019

  • Intercom over AES67 with V-Series IRIS from Clear-Com at IBC 2018

    Intercom over AES67 with V-Series IRIS from Clear-Com at IBC 2018

  • Glensound show Beatrice the AES67 Network audio intercom beltpack at IBC 2018

    Glensound show Beatrice the AES67 Network audio intercom beltpack at IBC 2018

  • RTS Intercoms show Roameo and Omneo intercom and keypanels at BVE 2018

    RTS Intercoms show Roameo and Omneo intercom and keypanels at BVE 2018

  • Telos Infinity IP Broadcast Intercom from Telos Alliance shown at BVE 2018

    Telos Infinity IP Broadcast Intercom from Telos Alliance shown at BVE 2018

  • Pliant Technologies CrewComm Wireless Intercom at IBC 2017

    Pliant Technologies CrewComm Wireless Intercom at IBC 2017

  • Glensound Dante Intercom System at IBC 2017

    Glensound Dante Intercom System at IBC 2017

  • RTS Intercoms at BVE 2016

    RTS Intercoms at BVE 2016

  • Mobile comms from Clear-Com with LQV4 software and Agent-IC shown at BVE 2018

    Mobile comms from Clear-Com with LQV4 software and Agent-IC shown at BVE 2018

  • PARADISO Lite commentary unit from Glensound at BVE 2018

    PARADISO Lite commentary unit from Glensound at BVE 2018

  • Pliant Technologies at IBC 2016

    Pliant Technologies at IBC 2016

  • Clear-Com LinQ at IBC 2014

    Clear-Com LinQ at IBC 2014

  • Clear-Com FreeSpeak II at IBC 2014

    Clear-Com FreeSpeak II at IBC 2014

  • Studio Technologies at NAB 2014

    Studio Technologies at NAB 2014

  • Clear-Com ProGrid at NAB 2014

    Clear-Com ProGrid at NAB 2014

  • Clear-Com HelixNet Partyline at NAB 2014

    Clear-Com HelixNet Partyline at NAB 2014

  • RTS Omneo at BVE 2014

    RTS Omneo at BVE 2014

  • Trilogy on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Trilogy on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Riedel Communications on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Riedel Communications on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Clear-Com: Tempest at NAB 2013

    Clear-Com: Tempest at NAB 2013

  • Studio Technologies at NAB 2012

    Studio Technologies at NAB 2012

  • Clear-Com Eclipse at NAB 2012

    Clear-Com Eclipse at NAB 2012

  • Clear-Com HelixNet Partyline at NAB 2012

    Clear-Com HelixNet Partyline at NAB 2012

  • Riedel at BVE North 2011

    Riedel at BVE North 2011

  • Riedel at IBC2011

    Riedel at IBC2011

  • Clear-Com at IBC2011

    Clear-Com at IBC2011

  • Gearhouse Broadcast HD OB trailer at IBC 2013

    Gearhouse Broadcast HD OB trailer at IBC 2013

  • SIS LIVE and their products ManPak and DriveForce at IBC 2013

    SIS LIVE and their products ManPak and DriveForce at IBC 2013

  • Calrec at NAB 2013

    Calrec at NAB 2013

  • Gearhouse at IBC2011

    Gearhouse at IBC2011

  • Broadcast Networks at IBC2011

    Broadcast Networks at IBC2011

  • LiveMedia Server and Live Xpert from 3D Storm at NAB 2017

    LiveMedia Server and Live Xpert from 3D Storm at NAB 2017


Related Shows
  • RTS Intercoms at BVE

    RTS Intercoms at BVE


Articles
News Out Of The Cloud - Technology At The Front Line Of Journalism
Stuart Almond Throughout history, journalists have always had to seek and adapt to new technologies to deliver news in a format and at a speed that consumers demanded. Today, recent technological changes in the media environment have led to another inflection point. If modern media outlets want to empower journalists to remain agile and turn news stories around quickly and efficiently, they have to start embracing new, innovative technologies, like cloud-based media solutions.
Tags: iss138 | sony | ofcom | cloud-based media | intelligent | Stuart Almond
Contributing Author Stuart Almond Click to read or download PDF
TVFutures. No More Comfort Zone - Get a Placement
Michelle Brown I have often heard that any chance of getting work in the television industry is based quite heavily on who you know, and whilst that might indeed be true, I’ve also come to the realisation that it may also depends on what opportunities you seize and how far out of your comfort zone you might be prepared to push yourself.
Tags: iss138 | portsmouth uni | creative careers | placement | Michelle Brown
Contributing Author Michelle Brown Click to read or download PDF
Making a Difference in Wireless Transmission
Lukasz Malankowski

We are very proud to say that we are the only company that provides a highly specific service, and that is the hire of wireless video transmission solutions operating in the licence exempt spectrum.

There are other companies that provide licensed equipment and offer a diverse range of wireless solutions based on different modulations, but our products, coupled with the offerings of others rather than competing with them produce a wireless workflow that is greater than their separate capabilities.

Tags: iss138 | boxx | production | wireless | 4k | Lukasz Malankowski
Contributing Author Lukasz Malankowski Click to read or download PDF
How LiveU Has Changed The Way We Work At ITV Daytime
Tim Guilder As my job title suggests, I’m responsible for planning and executing technology projects across ITV’s Daytime, including outside broadcasts, which are central to what we do. We broadcast live for more than six hours every weekday with four shows: Good Morning Britain, This Morning, Lorraine and Loose Women. With a history as one of the main UK terrestrial broadcasters – of course, we have also evolved alongside the industry in terms of viewing options – we have high standards. We constantly generate new ideas to keep audiences engaged and we also need to be responsive to the latest breaking news.
Tags: iss138 | liveu | itv | daytime | cobham | explorer 8100 | satellite | lu600 hevc | ka-band | lu300 | garland | Tim Guilder
Contributing Author Tim Guilder Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation: Wings, Fine Coffee and Fake Nudes
Dick Hobbs - new One of the many attractions of this time of year is that I get to meet with my fellow judges for the IBC Innovation Awards, and see what the industry sees as the most important, most forward-looking projects of the day. For me, this says what the key talking points are going to be in September, far more eloquently than the endless press releases from vendors which are already tumbling into my inbox.
Tags: iss138 | ibc | smpte 2110 | deepnude | cisco | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF