A sampling of intercom applications for sports production
The ways intercom technologies are applied to broadcast sports production vary as much as the sports themselves do. Case studies assembled by manufacturers offer a glimpse into the practical applications of what has become — in an era of wired and wireless, onsite– and at-home– production — a complicated landscape for intercom use.
Hi-Rez Studios Lead Broadcast Engineer Dylen Roberts deploys Clear-Com’s HelixNet Digital Network Partyline, LQ Series of IP Interfaces, and the Agent-IC Mobile App to facilitate efficient, high-quality communications among its teams and technical crews for esports events. The company hosts multi-player gaming tournaments, enabling the events to be broadcast on gaming and online platforms Twitch, Steam, Facebook, and YouTube. An average of six league tournaments per week are marked by various sizes, scopes, and communications needs. A typical production crew for a Hi-Rez gaming event may include several producers, a director, a technical director, playback and graphics operators, stage-screen operators, and lighting and administrative teams.
“We’re on anywhere from five to six days a week, with broadcasts lasting up to eight hours at a time,” says Roberts. “And we’re only continuing to grow. We definitely needed to get a handle on our comms capabilities.”
Keeping It Cricket
The COVID pandemic raised the stakes for communications, with participants in productions working from home and elsewhere to stay safe. For the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup, the month-long tournament moved from its original host nation of India to Oman and the UAE, broadcasting from a variety of venues across the two countries. To make the production as smooth as possible, more than 50 RTS keypanels were deployed per stadium to support the broadcast, according to comms engineer Michael Southgate. The KP-Series keypanels were used over various areas, including the main broadcast-control room and commentary-production area, as well as edit facilities and match officials’ areas. The OMNEO IP-based media-networking architecture meant that the solution could be easily combined with other elements in the workflow, such as the audio console, and that every member of the crew could benefit from crystal-clear comms.
Thoroughbred Racing Productions (TRP) deployed Riedel’s MediorNet system — a MediorNet MetroN core router and 21 MediorNet MicroN nodes, with flyaway frames and integrated multiviewers — enables modular and seamless distribution of video, communications, and data signals within each racecourse for broadcast production. Previously, TRP’s main facility relied on a two-way–radio field communications workflow and a traditional, centralized video router, with racecourse infrastructures that varied from racetrack to racetrack. TRP faced challenges common to any operation that relies on multiple two-way–radio channels for communications: licensing issues related to multiple users on a single frequency attempting to use the frequency at a particular site, RF interference, and the complexities of spectrum management for large productions with multiple vendors.
“The deployment is especially notable for its heavy focus on IP-based solutions, leveraging Riedel’s expertise in IP-based workflows based on the SMPTE ST 2110 standard for broadcast,” says Espen Brynildsen, technical solutions manager, Riedel Communications Australia. “One of the key success factors for this project was the outstanding cooperation and open communication amongst Riedel, Sony, and TRP around such aspects as switch functionality and network optimization. It’s another example of TRP’s technology leadership and outstanding track record in broadcast coverage for thoroughbred racing.”