Baku 2015: Clear-Com, The P.A. People deliver powerful ceremony communications solutions

A scene from the spectacular opening ceremony at Baku 2015

A scene from the spectacular opening ceremony at Baku 2015

Stage direction and choreography from the much-acclaimed Dimitris Papaioannou and a performance of John Lennon’s classic, ‘Imagine’, by musical chameleon Lady Gaga were among the most striking aspects of the opening ceremony of the 2015 European Games, which took place on 12 June. A brand new addition to the global sports landscape, the European Games will run from 12-28 June in Baku, Azerbaijan. Sydney, Australia-based firm The P.A. People is a stalwart specialist in stadium audio installations and event communications. Examples of large venues systems projects include Stadium Australia, Sydney Cricket Ground and Brisbane Cricket Ground, to name just a few.

In the run-up to Baku, The P.A. People won the contract to provide ceremonies comms, providing two-way radio, intercom, CCTV and technical services. For the opening ceremony proceedings, The P.A. People selected Clear-Com intercom systems to handle production communications during both rehearsal and ceremony.

“The scale of the project was pretty remarkable,” says Chris Dodds, managing director of The P.A. People. “In many ways it was a bigger undertaking than Sochi. The other particularly notable aspect of the project was the use of the Clear-Com FreeSpeak II [DECT-based wireless communications] system to cater to the Moving Stage. The production crew did not include full duplex on the original specification, but as the artistic component of the event developed – and after we had been appointed as contractor – it was determined that a full duplex solution would constitute a significant advantage for the ceremony.”

Ultimately, the call was for a capacity of 80-plus packs to be put in place. With 50 or so packs generally constituting the maximum for a single-location FreeSpeak II deployment, The P.A. People designed a configuration “using two systems in two different frequency bands, and with the support of the Azerbaijani authorities we were able to operate one system in one local license band and the other outside of that. With the two systems colocated, we could achieve the desired 80 packs in one physical RF space to the satisfaction of all. It was a great achievement.”

Other elements of the Clear-Com Moving Stage comms specification included a single Eclipse HX Median Digital Matrix Platform, nine HelixNet Master Stations and 70 HelixNet Beltpacks.

Comms for general main stadium usage included two Clear-Com Eclipse HX-Omega digital matrix systems and more than

Deep in the heart of 'RF world' at Baku 2015

Deep in the heart of ‘RF world’ at Baku 2015

200 IP-enabled intercom panels. Clear-Com V-Series Intercom Panels were also to be found in the rehearsal tent and remote cauldron areas.

Dodds reports a “highly positive” response to the performance of the comms systems on the night, whilst Bob Boster, president of Clear-Com – which provided two support engineers on the ground – reports “another in a long line of great collaborations with The P.A. People. We really have a great partnership with them. They have highly trained and knowledgeable personnel who know exactly how to get the most out of the systems – as the deployment at Baku demonstrates.”

Much of the same Clear-Com technology will be redeployed when the closing ceremony takes place on 28 June.

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