IBC2013 Profile: Judy Cheng, director of global marketing, Clear-Com

Last year’s IBC saw the introduction of the revamped, OB-friendly Eclipse intercoms. What has been the “story” of these products in the broadcast community since then?
We showed the Eclipse HX Digital Matrix systems for the very first time at IBC2012. Distinguished by high system performance, these intercom systems are ultra-fast, highly intuitive, and larger in capacity. These factors are especially important in live operational settings, such as those within OB productions, in which the communications setup changes often. In these instances, system engineers must be able to quickly execute system-wide changes in the comms within seconds, with minimal impact on system users.

Since its introduction, the Eclipse HX systems have received an overwhelmingly positive response by the broadcast-production community around the globe. Broadcasters who have upgraded or replaced their old matrix systems to the Eclipse HX platform immediately experience the difference in speed of the system and usability of the EHX Configuration Software. Needless to say, they are very pleased with the new Eclipse HX systems.

The most recent addition to the family of products is the Eclipse HX-Delta. With this compact matrix frame, the OB community is finally enjoying a powerful and expansive 3RU matrix system. It is rugged and ETSI-vibration–tested. Equipped with carry/pull handles on the front, the Delta frame also has front-facing PC LAN/ panel ports. When looking at the full spectrum of Eclipse HX systems, we believe Clear-Com now has a complete range of winning solutions for virtually every communication challenge. Eclipse HX-Delta will be shown for the first time in Europe at IBC2013.

End users’ expectations of digital wireless intercoms are increasing all the time. What are the main emerging requirements in terms of functionality?
Due to Clear-Com’s experience and breadth of intercom products, customers in search of a new wireless intercom system often turn to us with their communications challenges. Since there is no silver-bullet solution for all applications and environments, the range of options could be extensive.

Recently, we are finding that customers increasingly require their wireless inter­com to cover more ground. As productions become more decentralised, users cannot be tethered when going between areas of a venue or production facility. Whether they are moving from one end to the other, between floors, or across a large arena, indoor or outdoor, users’ intercoms must often reach across areas spanning more than 1,500 ft. (450 m). In order to cover these distances, they need intelligent roaming solutions that allow them to move seamlessly between basestations or transceiver antenna networks without having to change settings on their beltpacks.

To add to the difficulties, the wireless system must also remain free from interference with other possible RF wireless signals. This is especially hard in today’s digital age, with an increasing number of WiFi–enabled smartphones and tablets. In addition to these personal devices competing to operate within the same, small frequency space, intercom users must also account for all of the professional wireless equipment used during a live event or broadcast. To adjust for these situations, the wireless intercom must be able to either co-exist or stand out from the rest, while simultaneously distributing a clear audio signal.

Understanding that there could be many factors driving the final decision, it is advisable to speak to a supplier who has knowledge of the range of options for the market.

What can you tell us about Clear-Com’s plans for IBC2013?
Clear-Com is excited to unveil and demonstrate several new intercom offerings to the broadcast community. Among these is the latest software upgrade to the entire Eclipse HX Digital Matrix intercom family that will allow up to 64 local or remote HX systems to intelligently trunk over an Ethernet/IP network. This update creates a single, integrated matrix intercom system that can be built and managed remotely using Clear-Com’s server-based EHX configuration software.

Additionally, Clear-Com will showcase a major enhancement to the HelixNet Digital Network Partyline system. With this upgrade, users can now interconnect multiple HelixNet Main Stations over an Ethernet/IP/LAN network. This new capability allows broadcasters to increase capacity for productions that require more users and channel density, and to do so without complicated cabling requirements or added resources for system deployment.

One other piece to Clear-Com’s IBC announcements is its new line of RS-700 Series analogue wired beltpacks, which are being shown in Europe for the first time. These new beltpacks embody a modernised yet rugged and intuitive design for simple operation and easy setup. The RS-700s operate at a lower power level, allowing more beltpacks on each intercom channel. And more importantly, the new RS-700 Series beltpacks employ the “Clear-Com Sound” for intelligibility, even in difficult production environments.

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