Q&A: Clear-Com’s Simon Browne on the comms giant’s sports-packed year

With systems at every venue involved in the World Cup and extensive usage set to take place at the Commonwealth Games later this month, 2014 is on course to be a landmark year for comms giant Clear-Com in sports. Director of product management Simon Browne spoke to SVG Europe about specific system deployments and the long-term benefits of such high-profile projects.

What kind of presence will Clear-Com have at the Commonwealth Games?

The [key deployment] is at the Opening and Closing Ceremony, where the production team, Delta, are using our systems – mainly for the coordination of in-ear monitoring for the guest artists, of which there are many. They will enable a kind of ‘knitting effect’ for all the audio and [make it possible] to coordinate all the movement on the site.

In terms of specific systems being used, it will generally be our HelixNet system, offering multichannel digital partyline over mic cables down to beltpack users from production teams working with desktops and workstations. But there will also be a large wireless operation there and that will see them use our FreeSpeak 2.0 system, which was introduced at InfoComm. These are wireless beltpacks that work with a matrix based on the Eclipse Omega, also from Clear-Com. The way it works is that you have a roaming wireless system and as the beltpack roams between fixed antenna positions, it tells the matrix to change position accordingly. It makes point to point communication from the production office with someone in the field [quick and reliable].

Even more currently, Clear-Com also has extensive deployment at the World Cup…

We have coverage in every venue through our partnership with TV Globo. Everything has been running smoothly, with TV Globo making use of the latest version of Eclipse, Eclipse HX. This new version features an improved processor, faster operations, all the IP technology required, and hybrid network conventional and serial connector panels.

Eclipse is a mature product at this stage and is easy to deploy around the chosen site. It’s also very simple to reconfigure.

Despite well-aired concerns ahead of the tournament, everything appears to have gone fairly smoothly…

[Event after event] everything is getting easier to manage. If you go back to the Sydney [Olympics], IP technology was really in in its infancy. [Audio] systems could take a while to configure, and there could sometimes be squabbles between the IT and audio guys.

But those issues really seem to have wound down of late, thanks to clients – such as Delta – who really know how to deploy systems to optimum effect. One of the other things that is also helping at venues used to host events like this is the increase in the amount of fibre; instead of running whole bundles of cables around a stadium that was never designed for it, a pair of fibres running a ring around the site is a lot easier to accommodate [and manage]. The use of private networks for set-up also has much to recommend it.

Can you give us a few hints about your plans for IBC? 

There will be a big focus on the aforementioned FreeSpeak 2.0 digital wireless system. We will also be releasing new comms IP products, but I can’t say anymore about that just yet!

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