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

  • 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
Trade shows and their role in the wired world
Richard Baker Historically trade shows afforded an opportunity to collect the latest brochures relevant to the visitor's chosen industry or career path. Today there seems little reason to store data of any kind, let alone paper brochures, when information is so easily accessible online. Brochure back-packing at exhibitions has become a rare sight, rarer still since the security clampdown on visitor luggage at exhibitions. Today's efficient show delegate need only carry a mobile phone and, in deference to tradition, a bundle of business cards. The phone doubles as a snapshot camera, video camera, dictaphone, email reader, internet browser, Skype communicator, and so on.
Tags: iss133 | finepoint | ibc | nab | kitplus show | bve | Richard Baker
Contributing Author Richard Baker Click to read or download PDF
The Biggest Toy Shop in the World
Emma Morrison When Nigel Woodford started his career at BBC Wood Norton in 1962, television was black and white and BBC Two had not yet been launched. In 2018 Nigel will retire, and Richmond Film Services, the pro-audio equipment rental company set up by Nigel in 1973, can count numerous contributions to iconic moments in British cultural, sporting and film history over this time.
Tags: iss133 | richmond film services | audio rental | auction | liquidity | go-dove | Emma Morrison
Contributing Author Emma Morrison Click to read or download PDF
What is next in OTT
Mary Kay Evans In the past year alone, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the amount of OTT content that’s being streamed. In the first quarter of 2018, there’s been a 114 percent year-over-year growth in streaming video hours, and those numbers are only expected to rise. With OTT revenue predicted to reach $16.6B in 2018, a 40% gain over last year, there’s no question that OTT is booming, and that there’s never been a more critical time to pay attention to the space.
Tags: iss133 | ott | verizon | cisco | Mary Kay Evans
Contributing Author Mary Kay Evans Click to read or download PDF
Ride along on the Tour de Tech at IBC
Lorna Garrett Finding your way through the halls and aisles of the massive IBC can feel a bit like attempting to complete all 21 stages of the Tour de France — but in far fewer days. But have no fear; your team at Garland is all geared up and ready to show you the best on show at this year's exhibition.
Tags: iss133 | garland | liveu | lu600 | media excel | teracue | wisi | broadcast wireless systems | bws | artel | ibc | Lorna Garrett
Contributing Author Lorna Garrett Click to read or download PDF
The Pace of Change
Dick Hobbs - new

The youngest human to stand on the moon (so far) was Charles Moss, the lunar module pilot of Apollo 16. Charlie had a wonderful claim: his father witnessed the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, and lived to see his son on the moon.

Does anything capture the speed of technological advance better than that? The whole of the history of powered flight in one lifetime.

Tags: iss133 | state of the nation | st2110 | st2110-10 | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF