Seamless Roaming Allows Crew Members to Travel Throughout Large Venue and Nearby Spaces Without Loss of Signal
The San Diego Opera is expanding its production communication coverage area with the help of Clear-Com’s wireless intercom system. As part of a system upgrade, the opera has installed six Tempest®2400 Digital Wireless Intercoms with the new Seamless Roaming capability. The four-channel wireless systems not only support more wireless BeltStation users and deliver the most intercom options, but they also provide the crew and management department with interference-free communications across multiple productions spaces.
One of the leading opera companies in the United States, the San Diego Opera puts out four operatic productions a season, in addition to concerts and other special events. Wireless intercoms are essential for the crew members since the systems permit untethered movement and communication during productions. Because of the limited coverage area offered by the production team’s former wireless intercom, they sought new wireless intercoms that would cover the far-reaching areas of the building and a nearby plaza often used for VIP receptions. In addition, the production team wanted to avoid the issue of interference with their new wireless intercom because wireless systems from local TV stations were already competing for the same frequency spectrum as the opera’s existing equipment. Already familiar with Clear-Com’s intercom solutions and their capabilities, the San Diego Opera decided to employ Clear-Com products for its latest upgrade.
Six Tempest BaseStations were connected via ZSync (Zero Synchronization) technology to give the staff Seamless Roaming in every production area. Tempest’s Seamless Roaming feature lets the crew members conveniently travel throughout the performance facility and stay connected without having to change the settings on their BeltStation.
Operating in the 2.4 GHz band, the Tempest2400 systems also resolved the opera’s challenge of wireless interference in the UHF spectrum. Tempest’s Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology ensured that the system does not compete with signals from other 2.4 GHz wireless devices as well. This minimized frequency coordination and enabled the system to have flawless wireless performance.
“I had television stations intruding directly upon my wireless equipment and so much of it was not working the way it should due to the interference,” says Bill Scott, Audio/Visual Technician for the San Diego Opera. “Clear-Com seems to be first out of the gate to address this, having come up with a very good product to solve all of those problems. We know that the 2.4 GHz operating spectrum of the Tempest2400 system along with its advanced RF technology is going to secure our communications now and for the foreseeable future, so it was worth the investment.”
FHSS, along with proprietary algorithms and timing synchronization mechanisms, allows the Tempest BaseStation to support more full-duplex BeltStations in a single RF space than other systems. As a result, the opera is able to have more full-duplex BeltStation users than previously possible. Approximately 40 people at the San Diego Opera use the Tempest systems and the Clear-Com analog partyline that is integrated with the Tempest for a basic opera production. Crew members handling set changes and other items on the stage utilize the Tempest system, along with personnel in the dressing room, the trap room and a rehearsal hall, which is separated by some distance from the stage area. On the wired system is the center stage manager, along with those manning spotlights in the upper balcony and staff in the venue’s offices.
Having four-channels of communication on Tempest is another asset since this gives the staff the option of communicating within a single channel or talking/listening to more than one channel at a time. Other advantages of the Tempest are that crew members can change the volume of each channel and their program feed from their BeltStation. The entire configuration of the Tempest system can easily be adjusted via the system’s associated T-Desk software to fit the opera’s varying productions.
“My goal with the new intercom system was to expand the loop of communication so that everyone who was critically attached to the production is connected,” says John David Peters, Production Carpenter and Technical Director for the San Diego Opera. “We are learning to take advantage of the multichannel capability of the Tempest system, which we are finding particularly useful when teching a show. In the past, we had one channel on our wireless system, with 19 or 20 people on that one channel, so there was a lot of cross talk. Being able to assign separate work groups to different channel has really streamlined communications. The other thing that I think is really remarkable about the system is how there is absolutely no noise.”