Clear-Com Takes the University of Salford to the Head of the Class

November 21, 2012

Eclipse Matrix, V-Series Panels and FreeSpeak Integra Wireless System Enable Communications Across The Multilevel Facility

Clear-Com®, a global leader in critical voice communication systems, is allowing students at the University of Salford’s £30-million digital learning, teaching and research facility at MediaCityUK to communicate like production professionals. Students and staff across the multilevel campus use Clear-Com’s Eclipse-Median digital matrix intercom system, V-Series lever key-panels and FreeSpeak digital wireless beltpacks to coordinate the productions of one-on-one interviews, news programmes, panel discussions and music series.

The Clear-Com installation at the University has vastly improved production workflow with a set of intercom systems at every key communication position in the facility. The new building is made up of three floors, and nearly every room on each of those floors either has a V-Series key-panel or FreeSpeak wireless beltpack. This includes the editing and post-production spaces located on the second floor and two live TV studios—Studios A and B—along with the galleries and a digital performance lab on the ground level. All beltpack and panels are routed through the Eclipse-Median matrix. This gives students and staff immediate access to communications wherever they are located in the building, whenever it is needed.

“In our old facility, we didn’t have a system for multilevel, group conversations,” says Ash Tidball, TV Studio Manager for the University of Salford at MediaCityUK. “Our previous intercom was very simple. You were in the studio, you had four channels, and you could talk to each other in that studio, and that was it. Coming into the new building, we wanted a system that would allow us to converse in different areas of the site, but without the crosstalk that might occur due to our close proximity to the BBC. The main goal was being able to talk to whomever we needed to, without interference.”

The Clear-Com equipment has accomplished this for Tidball, his colleagues and students. Not only does the FreeSpeak integration to the matrix offer up to 40 wireless beltpack users, but it also provides six channels per beltpack for many group and point-to-point connections.

“We have the Clear-Com system set up so we can talk just to production, sound or the floor techs,” adds Tidball. “Or we can select all three of those groups and speak with them all at the same time. It’s a very expansive system.”

Operating within the license-free 1.8GHz-1.93 GHz frequency band, away from the crowded spectrum where other wireless devices operate, FreeSpeak delivers a reliable, uninterrupted signal. FreeSpeak also combines DECT and wireless auto-roaming technologies to allow users to move about the campus freely without fading or losing connection.

The Clear-Com Eclipse is highly modular, a key specification Tidball and his colleagues had wanted in the intercom system for the new facility. The Eclipse and IP-enabled V-Series panels operate on the facility’s Ethernet and fibre network, making future upgrades simple. Further, the Eclipse Configuration Software (ECS) simplifies programming and automates the setup of intercom communications. This is especially useful in the frenetically paced work environment, where operators may not always have time to manually program the system. Staff members can also log onto the ECS through any of the main terminals in the building, conveniently changing inputs and outputs as needed.

“The University of Salford’s educational facility at MediaCityUK marks a major milestone in broadcast education in the UK, establishing what will no doubt become a premier training ground for the country’s future top broadcasters,” says Dan Muchmore, Regional Sales Manager, UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, Clear-Com. “Clear-Com is proud that this prestigious institution has selected the Eclipse-Median and FreeSpeak intercoms to train its students in professional production communications.”