London Calling: Flexibility Key in Talkback Technology
ClearCom Venue Systems are pretested at the LOCOG warehouse
At a big event with dozens of venues such as the London Games, flexibility
ranks right up there with quality and reliability in the “must have” troika
needed in a supporting technology.
This becomes obvious
when you consider the architecture of the rowing venue, one of the more complex
sprawling designs. Here, the course was about 2 kilometers long, with Clear-Com
V-Series keypanels at the start, the finish, and midway though the course.
Wired HelixNet beltpacks were also all over the course. This type of venue
would require some long-distance fibre runs between panels and between panel
and the matrix, and a mix of IP and traditional connectivity.
“Nothing is identical venue to venue, and that was our hardest
challenge,” said Mark Bonner MD of Delta Sound Inc., which is part of the ST delivery team, which handled the event talkback
at all 42 venues. “Every design is different, every seating configuration is
different, all the initial designs that had been planned have been changed at
least a bit in the actual construction.”
situations, with scores of configurations and users with different needs at each
venue, the flexibility of the Clear-Com comms infrastructure became obvious.
“It’s immensely flexible,” said Bonner. “It has fantastic capacity, and the
fact that you can link buildings and add panel locations anywhere is key.
“Being able to put a V-Series IP panel over an existing IP
network or on a dedicated V-Lan, and the ability to access the ECS software in
the matrix via a laptop from any location is very useful.”
He added that venue infrastructure — an existing RJ45 patch system, or
just the network of fibres already linking multiple locations — could be used.
Most venues had direct 4-wire connections between panels and
matrix. “These were still flexible as they could still use an existing RJ45
infrastructure ... the IP range was used in larger sites, when it became more
complex,” said Bonner. IP Panels were used in conjunction with Voice 2/Optocore
V-Series panels have two types of connectivity; they
can connect to the Eclipse directly over or via IP, or using either a Clear-Com
Voice2 device, or via interface units from
Optocore, part of a partnership arrangement. “Having the ability to use the
same panel, IP or direct, by just changing a connection via the socket you plug
in to on the unit, makes it far easier than having to have two different styles
of panels or interfaces,” said Bonner.
count for ST/Delta/PA People was intense, with some 45
Eclipse matrices at the core, one at each of the 42 venues and three never-used
units held as spares. Approximately 300 V-Series control panels and about 500
beltpacks — mostly Clear-Com’s new HelixNet in a 4-channel wired configuration
— were used.
Bonner said Delta was a HelixNet beta user for the last year or so, and the company “fell
in love with” the digital partyline system. Without the HelixNet the distances
could not have been managed, he said.
“And the fact that
you can use four channels in a beltpack is big,” he added.
How could the four channels be used? “On a single XLR cable you have
four channels selectable by the user ... so on the same cable run one user can
have show and stats, and the next guy down the line might have video and
The fact that HelixNet works off
of mic cable is important for a rental company like Delta, said Bonner, as it
avoids a possible investment in new types of cable. “Also HelixNet can be run
over Cat-5 or -6 with some adapter cables, making it even more flexible.”
Setting stadium talent IFB
Moving forward, Bonner said that HelixNet would be the future
of communications for Delta, and he looked forward to the fact that the pack
will be IP addressable in the future. He said the master-stations will be able
to link via IP very soon. “This then gives us the ability to link
master-stations in different parts of the site via IP, and will also allow
multiple units to be linked so the number of channels will increase to either
four, eight, 12 or 16, making it an even more power-full tool.”
Bonner added that the Eclipse could actually do far more than
was asked of it in London. Also, Tempest2400 was never used in its wireless
configuration because regulatory authorities had big concerns over RF
interference in London during the Games period.
reliability, the three spare matrices that had been strategically placed in
depots around Great Britain never saw any use. Clear-Com did have multiple
engineers on site for support for much of the Games.
took on a massive commitment to support this effort,” said Bonner.