COMMS / SURFHIRE
Communications “Comms” has always been an integral part of the technology required for live production.
Over the last few years, since London 2012, clients’ expectations of what can be delivered in regard to communication have risen past the brackets of what the industry standard 2-ring comms system can provide.
Britannia Row have recognized this as important as the quality and reliability of the audio for the event, and as such looked to add to our inventory a cost effective yet increased capability standard belt pack system that could be deployed for our customers’ needs.
It was important that we obtain a system that would provide enhanced connectivity and an increased number of comms rings/channels from the basic 2, whilst also ensuring longevity in the product and room for expansion where needed in the future. It was also important that the product we chose could use existing infrastructure of standard XLR mic cables allowing for ease of distribution around venues using our multicore systems where needed.
To further meet our customer’s growing requirements for ever-more sophisticated show and event communications, we extend our comms services through Surfhire.
Surfhire is a Communications Services Provider specialising in sophisticated comms systems, integrated backstage & production office packages, walkie-talkie’s, IT and Data services and WIFI. Surfhire also offers a world-wide radio licensing service. It is headed up by Simon Hodge who has run Surfhire since 2012.
For any Comms needs that you may have in addition to your Live Audio requirements, please talk to your Britannia Row Productions’ Client Liaison. For stand-alone Comms requirements you can either talk to your Britannia Row contact / Client Liaison or with Simon Hodge / Surfhire.
We decided to employ the use of Clearcom’s Helixnet Digital Partyline system in our standard technology footprint. These systems allow for up to 12 rings/channels per main station (HMS-4X version 3) and each belt pack (HBP-2X) can address any 2 of these 12 rings at any one time, with easy re allocation of these assigned channels by the belt packs on screen menu or remotely via the Comms Engineer on site using the system software that the Helixnet System provides.
In addition to the higher channel count, the Helixnet Main Station (HMS-4X) allows for 3 x I/O connectivity modules to be mounted inside, giving the user options for:
- for use with other comms sytems and protocols, e.g. RTS, Telex, Clearcom Analogue and TecPro.
- To allow integration to any other form of audio I/O communication, e.g. FOH/MONITOR ‘shout systems’ using switched mics and self powered monitors as the 4-wire connection turns the comms signal into pure audio send/return.
- Integration with Outside Broadcast communications.
- Integration with Motorola or similar portable radio solutions.
- allowing connectivity of the system to other Helixnet systems over LAN. This can be very useful on a large scale multi room corporate project.
- To allow computer control of the system deployed on site at any given production.
There are 3 main components to the Helixnet System:
- Main Station (HMS-4X) – allowing for system control and access to 4 rings at any one time via the front panel.
- Beltpacks (HBP-2X) – allowing for up to any 2 rings from the available 12 at any one time.
- Remote Station (HRM-4X) – identical to the front panel of the HMS-4X, allowing for 4 rings, but with a much shallower depth, ideal for corporate shows where more than 2 rings are required but with limited desk top space. – These units can be linked to allow full access to 12 rings should it be required.
We have been using this system on shows now for over a year with nothing but excellent feedback from our clients. This system can handle a high demand show that would normally require a full Matrix system to be deployed, at significant client expense, just to obtain a few extra channels.
Clearcom’s Helixnet bridges the gap perfectly between the comms of yesteryear and the large scale matrix systems that the industry saw deployed at the Olympics and Commonwealth games and similar style events. It also allows for expansion and integration with Clearcom’s Eclipse Matrix system should it be required. As our comms requirement increases we are confident we have aligned ourselves with a manufacturer and product that will be able to cater for all our clients needs for the foreseeable future.
Wireless comms have become highly requested and required on live productions in the last few years, and we have ensured we can deliver this capability. These types of units are especially used by show runners, fashion shows, stage managers and more.
We decided to employ the use of the industry standard Telex BTR Systems. From the available options they provide, we use the dual channel systems which allows for expansion and a bit of flexibility past the standard single ring wireless system.
We use the Telex BTR-800 Dual Channel Wireless Base Station, with TR825 full Dual channel beltpacks (where the alternative TR800 pack is a toggle between 2 rings). These are an RF based system and have proved to be reliable and robust and a perfect compliment to our Helixnet wired systems.
As the RF spectrum has got even busier, we have added the Clearcom Freespeak II system to our inventory. It runs on 1.9Ghz frequencies and has far greater options for multiple channels and large site communication delivery where the standard RF solution can no longer cater. Freespeak II allows you to run remote antennas, which could allow production teams to have active comms whilst out of the main event space behind venue walls where RF cannot travel. This system is gaining use and reputation from many large scale jobs but is still a relative newcomer and not stocked by every audio company. We are ensuring our reputation for audio and quality control is matched in our communications delivery.