Hell's Kitchen

Sophisticated Intercoms Create Distinctive Production Experience  

Clear-Com’s Eclipse-Median digital matrix, ICS-92 and V-Series user control panels, CellCom Integra wireless beltpacks and HME Pro850 wireless systems ensure reliable and simplified communications as well as facilitate expansive and agile coordination for the production team of Hell’s Kitchen, a crowd-pleasing reality television show featured on the FOX network.   


Background

 
Hell’s Kitchen, which is watched by millions of viewers worldwide, is one of media powerhouse FOX Broadcasting Company’s top-rated reality television programs. Chef Gordon Ramsay, a mega celebrity whose engaging personality is only matched by his astounding talent, transforms the lives of 18 restaurateurs by putting their every culinary expertise to the test as they vie for the ultimate prize, to become the head chef of one of America’s most prestigious restaurants.
 
From the very beginning, the entertainment team’s strategic priority was to acquire the very best technologies as well as technical experts because Hell’s Kitchen was one of FOX’s most complex and demanding reality television shows. Every moment, from the intense interplay between Chef Ramsay and the contestants to cooking errors and team challenges, must be captured perfectly to develop the most glorious production.  
 

Business Challenges

 
Improve employee accessibility and responsiveness
The unanimous cooperation of every member in the Hell’s Kitchen team is vital for production excellence. The staff required communications capability for giving directions as well as clarifying and responding to changes. Although intercom systems would be installed throughout the venue, there was a catch – they needed to be full-featured single rack unit panels since they had many requisites for functionality, but limited space in the venue, given the enormous amount of equipment and technologies they were already utilizing.
 
Minimize risk with reliable technologies
Reality television relies on the camera taping everything as soon as events unfold. Since the show is unscripted and unpredictable, careless attention is unforgiving and delay in responses is virtually fatal. The production team must heed to every cue, message, and decision, which can only be ensured by the dependable operation of all technologies. Redundant systems would be a non-negotiable safeguard against unforeseen system failures. 
 
With the high number of wireless devices competing for the same frequency spectrum in that venue, the Hell’s Kitchen staff was seeking vigorous wireless intercoms that would dramatically simplify the process of frequency coordination and guarantee the delivery of superbly clear audio. The content communicated becomes insignificant unless the channel for the message is secure. Evidently, robust connections and intercom reliability would be two key ingredients in Hell’s Kitchen’s recipe for success.  
 

The Intercom Solution

Choosing Clear-Com
The production team turned to Bexel, a Clear-Com distributor, system integrator and supplier of the highest quality broadcast equipment, for all their video and audio production needs, from rental, design to installation.  

One of the main goals of Bexel was to provide a reliable experience for the Hell’s Kitchen production team. Having communication systems that would make useful information available to the staff members anywhere was fundamental to optimize collaboration.
 
With extensive experience in sales, rental and systems integration of voice communication technologies, the Bexel team was very much familiar with the leading intercom vendors. Among them, they chose Clear-Com’s Eclipse-Median digital matrix, ICS-92 and V-Series user control panels, E-Que cellular control card, HME Pro850 wireless intercoms and the CellCom 1.9 GHz digital wireless system due to the demand of Hell’s Kitchen’s communication requirements. 
 


The thirty single rack unit ICS-92 and V-Series panels, which were supported by the powerful Eclipse frame, were unmatched, providing eight shift pages for many key assignments, listen-again digital memory and a wealth of convenient features, all in a space-saving 1RU panel frame. Not only were the value-added panels a perfect fit for the crowded venue, but the full redundancy of the panels would insure them from any system failures. 
 
Likewise, by operating via DECT technology in the 1.9 GHz band, CellCom is proven to work where other wireless intercoms have failed. Capable of supporting up to 35 users per E-Que card, and delivering the required communications range with each antenna, the CellCom digital wireless system provided a unique solution to the client’s communication needs.
 
The user control panels and CellCom antennas were disseminated in eight different areas including the main control room, executive control room, audio room, RF room, communications room, engineering room, lighting room and the corporate office. Installed in the audio room are two HME Pro850 wireless base stations and Eclipse-Median digital matrix frame. All intercom systems have been integrated with the Eclipse-Median, which provides a consolidated communications framework for data and auto to be routed.  
 
Most of the production team utilized Clear-Com’s V-Series and ICS-92 user control panels to coordinate responsibilities. Multiple stage managers relied on the HME Pro850 along with Bexel’s Custom Antenna Management solution to be able to communicate anywhere in the facility. Likewise, the technical crew employed CellCom to stay connected with the rest of the production team as they moved about the venue to ascertain that all the equipment operated without a glitch. 
 

Business Results
 

Empowered production team can collaborate effectively anytime and from anywhere
The Hell’s Kitchen team is able to coordinate their production as if they were all in the same area because of the direct connection they can have at the touch of a panel key. Moreover, the Clear-Com intercom systems combined with Bexel’s Custom Managed Antenna Solutions were indispensable, extending coverage throughout the production site’s eight regions. 
 
Greater mastery of productions
One of the biggest advantages of using Clear-Com intercoms is that they offer a highly personalized communication experience. The communication paths on each panel and beltpack are easily customized for the specific individual or group, enabling higher productivity and giving the user more control of the production, from start to finish.  
 
Establish technical security
Full panel redundancy provides the high availability sought after by those in the fast-paced and fluctuant environment of reality television. If there is a malfunctioning panel or additional panels are needed, it can be easily replaced or more of them can be quickly integrated with the existing infrastructure. 
 
Secure voice communication systems enhance mobility 
With the reliable and high-performing CellCom Integra and HME Pro850, they were able to take advantage of wireless collaboration and instantly dispatch help to any part of the facility without losing connection.  
 
The production of Hell’s Kitchen is a highly prominent one that is few among many. Striving above and beyond the standards of a regular reality television show, they succeeded in creating the most engaging viewing experience possible with the help of Clear-Com. Clear-Com’s advanced intercom systems rendered more than the basic communications capability that was required, but offered them a production experience that was nothing short of the vanguard.