LOS ANGELES—BiteSizeTV is a Media General-owned web broadcaster that produces its shows from a glassed-wall studio at the heart of Hollywood and Vine. This location is a perfect setting for our signature show, “Hollywood Today Live,” which is now broadcast across more than 50 Fox studios, as well as on demand via the web.
Originally, when BiteSizeTV was a web-only broadcaster, our studio only required a two-channel wired analog intercom system. That changed in July 2015, when we brought the current production studio online. The facility comes with six manned broadcast cameras; three pedestals, a lock off, a handheld and a jib. Everything else about BiteSizeTV’s production studio is also broadcast quality because that’s the big league we’re playing in now.
When it came to selecting a professional intercom system, I was faced with two challenges. First, the expanding size of our crew—typically 25 to 30 people—meant that sticking with the old wired analog system was out of the question. We needed more capacity, more channels and more coverage.
Jassen Hansken and the BiteSizeTV crew utilized the 1.9 GHz band to avoid interference on the more crowded 2.4 GHz band.
We needed to go wireless. The trouble is that our Hollywood location has to be the worst in the country for RF interference in the 2.4 GHz band. First, lots of production people are operating equipment in this band. Second, you’ve got spectators looking into our studio from the outside, while connecting their smartphones via 2.4 GHz to Wi-Fi hot spots. It’s an RF mess, and dealing with it proactively was my second challenge.
I decided to install the Clear-Com Eclipse HX-Delta matrix intercom system frame. It’s a 3RU unit that comes with two Central Processing Unit cards and two external power supplies. The HX-Delta has room for two I/O interface cards and three interface modules, and can support up to 256 internal ports via CAT5, IP, fiber and wireless if you add a FreeSpeak II wireless intercom interface card, which I did.
I also added two Clear-Com V-Series user interface units that let our producers manually switch between channels at two stations. Finally, I purchased 15 FreeSpeak II wireless belt-packs. These are lightweight units with long battery life. They can support up to five audio channels each, and are simple to configure. You can create cross-production comm groups, plus small groups limited to just camera people or switching staff. (These wireless units are supplemented by both new and legacy wired intercom connections.)
The great thing about the FreeSpeak II is that you can purchase it to operate on the much-less crowded 1.9 GHz band, as well as 2.4 GHz.No surprise, I went for 1.9 GHz, and now we don’t have any dropped intercom connections due to RF interference.
EXPANDING THE SYSTEM
Meanwhile, the Eclipse HX-Delta has proven to be a very reliable and easy-to-operate intercom frame. With its extra channels, plus the HX-Delta’s connection to the FreeSpeak II wireless network, making sure that everyone knows what’s happening is no problem. This really matters on “Hollywood Today Live,” because we often have interviews with people outside the BiteSizeTV studio.
Down the road, we may tap into Clear- Com’s ability to connect outside audio sources via IP—including smartphones—into our Eclipse HX-Delta intercom system. But for now, we’re doing well with what we’ve got. Our suite of Clear-Com intercoms are working reliably and quietly in the background, leaving me time to deal with the many other challenges of operating a national TV broadcaster.
Jassen Hansken is BiteSizeTV’s engineer in charge and can be reached atJ.Hansken@bitesizetv.com.
For more information, please visitwww.clearcom.comor call 510-337-6600.