Your next presentation may rely on mind-blowing technology, but it also depends on foundational, reliable technology.
Event communications tools are an ideal example of this: no matter how great your presentation, if the intercom doesn’t work, your masterpiece can become a master failure. Demand for reliable communications and customer-driven innovations have pushed the growth of technology and put high-end features in smaller, affordable comms systems, and added new capabilities to run, manage and scale your productions.
AV Concepts’ success with new and innovative presentations is wholly dependent on the effectiveness of ancillary systems. Jason Thiele, an audio-systems engineer at AVC, took a few minutes to describe the expanding function and application of the company’s wireless communications equipment.
“We’re understandably wide-eyed about intercom effectiveness; all of the time,” stated Thiele. “When we took a look at challenges we’ve experienced in the past, it was easy to list where problems tended to build up… That’s where our solutions originated.”
Example #1: Intercom Connectivity & Cables
When the chosen venue does not have enough space for a backstage area, departments often become scattered into remote rooms and corners. Digital cabling systems solve most aspects of scattered operations, but intercom systems traditionally require a small amount of power to flow down the cabling. Most digital cabling systems can’t carry load, and provide no support for intercom signals to be transmitted from one side to the other.
In the case of traditional two-wire analog comms, the time-honored solution has been to run analog cabling along with digital cabling – messy, cumbersome, but effective. AVC’s solution has been to adapt Clearcom’s Helixnet, which allows users to connect to a network-based intercom system through traditional XLR or standard network cable. Users’ comm-packs can be plugged into a network switch, and each pack can be configured specifically for its intended user through any device with a browser linked to the system network.
Example #2: Reception Failures
The second problem area turned out to be just that: area. If your intercom system drops out as soon as you leave the room, or loses signal when you pass a cinderblock wall, it isn’t communicating. Adding coverage to remote or signal-deficient areas is usually an afterthought, and that oversight can lead to coverage nightmares.
AVC uses Clearcom’s FreeSpeakII system, and set it up to be scalable and fast to deploy. The antennas – the staff calls them ‘transceivers’ – can be connected and powered by a single network cable. With transceivers placed where they’re needed – typically, filling signal holes and ensuring good coverage – the system can solve reception and distance problems affordably.
Straightforward Technology Solutions
The easy innovations used by AVC are intended to solve issues before they become a problem. Multiple antennas have been considered a luxury because of the additional equipment required and the planning necessary for their implementation. Clearcom’s uncomplicated antennas connect and configure easily. Easier connectivity means antennas can be deployed where reception is needed, and easier setup means less planning and less effort.
AVC routinely uses Clearcom’s digital systems. Clearcom updates the firmware for already-deployed systems consistently, with new features and bug fixes in every update. They’ve also better aligned systems like Helixnet, FSII and LQ-R with software updates. These updates represent a great deal of commitment from a manufacturer to support its customers. In turn, this creates concrete value for an audio-video company like AVC, because tools like this need to be self-sustaining; staying on the leading edge without constant attention. This standard should be expected of any manufacturer in this sector, and going forward, should mark the start of realistically affordable high-end intercom systems.
One of the ways AVC has taken advantage of Helixnet’s features is to make regular use of party-line channels, which allow different groups of production staff to have extended conversations that don’t intrude on other groups. It’s an important tool that becomes necessary as a production team gets bigger, and has been difficult to get right with older systems. Clearcom’s attention to this dynamic allows their systems to deploy multiple party lines that are customizable and easy to use, and offer the engineer better organization and control.
Good Communication Depends on Good Communication
It may be redundant, but it’s not wrong to state that communication is key to communication. The effectiveness of your next keynote speech, presentation or display – and your client’s ability to communicate – will rely on the production staff’s ability to communicate.