The vital role of communications in live production


Tom Turkington TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online

Live event production is extremely challenging under the best of circumstances. Whether it be sports, concerts, theater or some other event, live production only gives you one chance to get it right. Staging, sound, lighting, cameras, video, special effects, costume, makeup and more, can all go into making a successful live production. Starting hours or days before the show, right up to the critical moments of the actual performance, communications play a critical role across all production disciplines in the execution of a successful live event.

Communication systems typically fall into one of three categories; Digital Matrix, Two-Wire Partyline, and Wireless. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses and can play an instrumental role in live event production. In order to focus on wireless intercom technology and how it can enhance communication for production of live events, it is necessary to provide a short overview of the other types of intercoms.

Digital matrix intercoms are becoming more prevalent in recent years. Formerly relegated to use only in the largest and most complex scenarios, their flexibility has made them quite popular even in mid-sized productions with more complex production needs. They employ four-wire technology (one pair for send, one pair for receive), and can interface with POTS lines and standard audio paths, both digital and analog. One of their biggest benefits is that they enable point-to-point communications, allowing users to conduct numerous private conversations within the system. However, they are typically complex to setup, use and are very expensive.

Two-wire Partyline intercoms are typically found in almost all live productions. They can range in size from a power supply and some beltpacks to multi-channel systems, interfacing to a variety of external interfaces and devices. They are easy to set up and use regular microphone cable (one pair for both send and receive simultaneously). Partyline systems are simple to operate, but generally are constrained to four or fewer groups (lights, sound, production and video, for example) or conversations and do not permit point-to-point communication.

Wireless intercoms are most often used in conjunction with wired intercom systems, but are in some cases used as standalone complete communications platforms depending on the needs of the individual event. Wireless intercoms facilitate individual user mobility, which is tremendously beneficial as crew members go about their various tasks. Older or less advanced wireless intercom systems offer a wireless partyline-type configuration that allows groups of people to talk on one or more channels. Recently though, more sophisticated wireless intercom systems have offered point-to-point communication paths, multi-location seamless roaming, and other advanced features and functionality that have greatly increased the usefulness of wireless intercom systems. These new capabilities have made wireless intercom systems an indispensable part of virtually all live event productions.

Wireless communications in professional live event production environments isn't always easy. Finding available spectrum that is not being used for wireless microphones, IEM/IFB or other high priority wireless devices can be very challenging. Today, communications professionals regularly face new challenges, such as greatly reduced RF spectrum, higher wireless user counts, larger and more complex physical footprints, and highly customized, dynamic talk-path configurations that can make some events almost impossible utilizing older partyline type, single coverage area wireless intercom systems.

A new wireless intercom system, CrewCom, by Pliant Technologies, gives communication professionals the tools necessary to overcome today's challenges and meets the needs of widely varying productions. The system's distributed, decentralized architecture enables up to 1024 unique conversations (conferences) that are available to any wireless user. These conferences can be point-to-point conversations or include many users (partylines). This configuration effectively combines the best of digital matrix and partyline intercom systems while maintaining a powerful, yet familiar and intuitive user interface at the radio packs that lends itself to short learning curves and error-free operation.

CrewCom is equally well suited to small, wireless-only applications as to large, multi-coverage-area configurations. CrewCom utilizes a frequency-agnostic network which allows Radio Transceivers (RTs) to be located wherever wireless coverage is needed. Up to 200 total wireless users are supported and each wireless user can roam seamlessly from one location to another. New technologies like CrewCom are making it possible for entertainment and production professionals to conquer the ever-increasing challenges in today's production environments. Wireless intercom systems have made great advancements in recent years. New technology allows communication professionals to handle the ever increasing communications needs of live event productions. Choosing the right wireless intercom technology is a key factor in live event production today.


Tags: iss117 | live production | crewcom | intercom | pots | Tom Turkington
Contributing Author Tom Turkington

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
  • Live Production with ChyronHego at NAB 2018

    Live Production with ChyronHego at NAB 2018

  • NewTek at IBC 2015

    NewTek at IBC 2015

  • Grass Valley at BVE 2015

    Grass Valley at BVE 2015

  • NewTek TalkShow at IBC 2014

    NewTek TalkShow at IBC 2014

  • PacTV Truck at NAB 2014

    PacTV Truck at NAB 2014

  • Grass Valley at BVE 2014

    Grass Valley at BVE 2014

  • Cobham: Mini RF Transmitters at NAB 2013

    Cobham: Mini RF Transmitters at NAB 2013

  • Cobham: RF Transmitter at NAB 2013

    Cobham: RF Transmitter at NAB 2013

  • Pliant Technologies CrewComm Wireless Intercom at IBC 2017

    Pliant Technologies CrewComm Wireless Intercom at IBC 2017

  • Pliant Technologies at IBC 2016

    Pliant Technologies at IBC 2016

  • Pliant Technologies at NAB 2016

    Pliant Technologies at NAB 2016

  • 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

  • Glensound Dante Intercom System at IBC 2017

    Glensound Dante Intercom System at IBC 2017

  • 32 Keypanel Intercoms from Clearcom at NAB 2017

    32 Keypanel Intercoms from Clearcom at NAB 2017

  • RTS Intercoms at BVE 2016

    RTS Intercoms at BVE 2016

  • CLEARCOM IOS INTERCOM at NAB 2015

    CLEARCOM IOS INTERCOM at NAB 2015

  • 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

  • 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


Related Shows
  • Live production with Newtek at BVE 2015

    Live production with Newtek at BVE 2015


Articles
The Evolution of Audio Monitoring
Stephen Brownsill Every user, production, environment, operation and application is different, meaning that universal tools simply cannot provide the versatility required by today’s customers. Audio monitoring continues to evolve as productions advance, with the need for multi-channel monitoring, configurable metering as well as the ability to adhere to the latest loudness guidelines remaining at the top of the must-have list.
Tags: iss138 | tsl products | st-2110 | lip synce | ip | ptp stauts | amwa | nmos | Stephen Brownsill
Contributing Author Stephen Brownsill Click to read or download PDF
Making the Workflow Flow
Bruce Devlin - new The toughest things about being the Standards Vice President (SVP) is that everyone expects standards to be the most important thing. In all the systems that I’ve designed and deployed over the years, I've yet to find any production workflow that is 100% standards based. True, the core technologies may well be standards based, but the overall workflow is made up of many technology pieces from open source code, through de-facto delivery specifications based upon SMPTE or Trade Association Specifications that in turn depend on full, International Standards to work. I can already hear some folks saying "In the good old days, everything used standards", but I beg to disagree.
Tags: iss138 | pye museum | pye-philips | smpte | ietf | ieee | w3c | aes | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new 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
Celebrating Chroma-Q with 15 Years in LED Lighting
Ian Muir LED lighting brand, Chroma-Q® recently held summer BBQ & open day events to celebrate with the industry reaching its 15th year in LED technology.
Tags: iss138 | ac-ent | chroma q | ac-et | led | lighting | color force | vista 3 | Ian Muir
Contributing Author Ian Muir Click to read or download PDF
Make Time for Remapping
Alex Macleod For my 4th Kitplus article I thought I’d highlight an effect in Premiere Pro that frankly I would be lost without. Namely - time remapping.
Tags: iss138 | premiere pro | post production | editing | speed remapping | remapping | mediacity training | Alex Macleod
Contributing Author Alex Macleod Click to read or download PDF