RTS integrated intercom technology is playing a major part in the newly upgraded East of England Production and Innovation Center ( EPIC) in Norwich, which is ranked among the best equipped independent broadcast production and training centers in Europe. Housed in the former Anglia Television studios center EPIC now offers full high definition ( HD) studio and post-production facilities, with the RTS Cronus system giving complete communications around the building.
The HD and intercom installation is the latest phase in an ongoing development at the Norwich site. After Anglia TV sold off its studios as part of ITV's rationalization program following the merger of Carlton and Granada, the facilities were bought in 2006 by Norfolk County Council. With financial support from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) the studios were re-opened in early 2007 as EPIC to be both a center for independent production and to train the next generation of broadcast professionals.
EPIC's head of engineering, David Hazel, says the Center has to offer a full HD studio infrastructure not usually found in the independent marketplace the equipment list and facilities for this complex puts EPIC as the first choice for HDTV production, not only for its commercial clients but to familiarize the students training there with equipment they will encounter when they enter the real TV world. Intercom is a major part of this and the RTS Cronus digital matrix was chosen as the communications backbone of EPIC not only for its reliability and flexibility but also because it can be expanded in the future if necessary.
This scalability comes from the Cronus' modular design, with blocks of eight users being built up to support 32 users in a single frame. By adding more frames the system can operate with 128 users in total. The EPIC system has three Cronus matrix frames for 96 users and incorporates POTS and ISDN telephone interfaces, RTS two-wire intercom and Telex BTR 800 wireless base stations with eight channels of radio communication.
The three studios each have a RTS two-wire intercom that connects to the matrix for two-channel communications on the studio floor. There are 24 beltpack units for use around the EPIC complex and sockets for matrix connections have been installed in critical areas so additional key panel can be fitted whenever and wherever they are needed.
"The Telex/RTS Cronus system is flexible, cost effective and integrates easily with the other systems we're using here," comments David Hazel. "Anglia TV invested heavily in CAT5 wiring and this has helped us get the most out of the Cronus. Patching in a panel almost anywhere is simple. For example we can easily turn a dressing room in a production suite, if need be, by just putting a panel in where required."
There are approximately 40 panels in operation around the facility and the whole system is integrated to allow the studios, video and sound post-production areas, reception and security to communicate seamlessly with each other. The intercom installation was part of a £1.5 million upgrade of EPIC's production, editing and play-out facilities, which were installed by systems integrator Megahertz.
This follows an initial investment by Norfolk County Council and the EEDA when EPIC took over the studios and now gives the facility full HD capability. "The additional funding to re-equip our studios to the HD standard means we shall become one of the most advanced studio production centers in Europe," says Mark Wells, director of EPIC. "EPIC, and the Eastern region, will become major players in the UK broadcast, online and production industries. It's great news for Norfolk - both on economic and cultural grounds."
RTS is pleased to be part of a major project that will not only produce high-class programming but also train the broadcast professionals of the future.
For more information, visit the RTS Intercom website: www.rtsintercoms.com