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

  • 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

  • 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
Original KVM or KVM over IP
Jochen Bauer Will the technology used in broadcasting solely consist of IP devices? For years, IP has been entering all areas of life. Especially control room applications as they are typically deployed in broadcasting benefit from the IP revolution in many ways. But an “IP-only broadcast world” is not yet here. Nevertheless, the trend clearly moves towards IP transmission, even though a large part of content production still uses traditional transmission paths. And therefore we continue to live in a hybrid world, using both original and IP-based technology. KVM experts Guntermann und Drunck still rely on both original KVM and KVM-over-IP™ to be able to offer their customers the best of both worlds.
Tags: iss139 | kvm | gdsys | guntermann and drunck | kvm-over-ip | Jochen Bauer
Contributing Author Jochen Bauer Click to read or download PDF
Keeping the Show on the Road
Andy McKenzie There is long-established saying in the media business that, if something goes wrong, at least nobody dies. It is almost true unless you happen to be a TV producer suffering a cardiac arrest because your primary video feed has gone blank during a high-budget programme.
Tags: iss139 | service | support | finepoint | maintenance | Andy McKenzie
Contributing Author Andy McKenzie Click to read or download PDF
Why MADI is Still Relevant
Stephen Brownsill While the original idea for MADI was to cater to a very narrow recording studio application, the standard remains a viable go-to multichannel audio technology. Beginning as a standard in 1991, MADI was first introduced to the world as digital production was beginning to come of age. MADI was put together in 1988 by Solid State Logic, AMS-Neve, Sony (DASH) and Mitsubishi (ProDigi) as a way to transport up to 56 channels of digital audio between large-format audio consoles of the day and digital multi-channel tape machines via 75-Ohm coaxial cables. Both tape-based machines have long since disappeared from the equipment landscape.
Tags: iss139 | madi | tsl products | aes10 | aes | dolby atmos | st-2110 | sam-q | Stephen Brownsill
Contributing Author Stephen Brownsill Click to read or download PDF
The Future of Broadcast Connectivity
Jamie Adkin The use of KVM equipment has been essential to meet the evolving needs of the broadcast industry for many years. Over that time, many in the industry have recognised the importance of using IP-enabled KVM to break down technological barriers and enable real-time access to visuals wherever and whenever they’re needed. These components are vital parts in live production environments in particular.
Tags: iss139 | adder | kvm | ip kvm | Jamie Adkin
Contributing Author Jamie Adkin Click to read or download PDF
Keeping Pace with the Content Revolution
Kevin Fitzgerald These are uniquely challenging times for broadcasters and their technical teams. Not only are they having to negotiate the move to IP-based infrastructures and the introduction of new formats and techniques such as 4K and HDR, they are also having to generate more content than ever before to support OTT and web services as well as traditional linear broadcast.
Tags: iss139 | streamstar | streaming | case 800 | ipx | ipx-3g | Kevin Fitzgerald
Contributing Author Kevin Fitzgerald Click to read or download PDF