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RTS Intercom Systems: fast-paced flexibility for the World Ski Championships

30 May 2015
  • The International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Ski World Championship draws 130,000 fans to Beaver Creek and Vail, Colorado, with millions watching on TV
  • Broadcast production experts Game Creek Video provided communications for host broadcaster EPC and the International Broadcast Center
  • Seamless, flexible communications and easy on-site adjustments ensured with RTS ADAM frames and RTS KP-series keypanels


US-based broadcast production specialists Game Creek Video relied on RTS intercoms to secure communications at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2015. The system included an ADAM-M mid-sized modular matrix in each of the two trunked OB trucks, as well as RTS KP-series keypanels and beltpacks.

The World Championship is the highlight of Alpine Ski’s race calendar. Held in a different location every two years, the 2015 edition drew some 130,000 fans to the eleven races in Beaver Creek and Vail, USA, while an estimated 750 million viewers from around the world followed the competition on television.

“We were hired by the Eurovision Production Coordination (EPC), host broadcaster of this worldwide event, to manage the communications system for the host broadcast feeding the International Broadcast Center,” says Michael Gilman, CTO of Gilman Technologies and himself an Emmy award winner in the field. “The intercom concept, designed by EPC’s technical staff, involved two trunked OB trucks and 49 camera control units distributed across 190 camera positions, with cameras repositioned based on the type of race.”

To secure communications in real time, Gilman and his team trunked US broadcast specialist Game Creek Video’s OB trucks Amazin’ and Discovery via MADI-64 cards, employing RVON (RTS Voice Over Network) IP technology for remote areas. Each truck is also equipped with an ADAM frame, KP-32 and KP-12 keypanels and BP-325 beltbacks.

“As technicians, our goal is to support the production -- whatever needs may arise,” says Gilman. “I deal with a lot of international productions, but every region has their individual taste when it comes to communication style.”

Specifications may also change or increase over the course of the production. For example, the director, the assistant director, and the visions mixer wanted to have adjustable control of each other’s volume on the camera channel, so Gilman and his team came up with a solution that allowed all three to speak on the same camera channel while also allowing the assistant director and visions mixer to lower the volume or eliminate the director’s voice on the channel. Since they were sitting next to the director in the production room and could hear him acoustically, they didn’t need to hear him at full volume online. “With its flexibility,” says Gilman, “the ADAM system allowed us to fulfill that requirement. It offered the advanced flexibility to adjust the communications system on site according to arising needs.”

In addition to its function as a communications system, the intercom system also took on an extra task: When the visions mixer of either the men’s or women’s TV truck used the camera that flew above the ski course – which had an operator located on a platform close to the course – the ADAM would accept input from either video switcher and flash a key on the operator’s panel to indicate that their camera was in use by one of the two trucks (referred to as a “camera tally”). Normally, tally lights on-camera fulfill that need. However, at Beaver Creek and Vail the camera was remote to the operator and the remote location of the platform would have made it unusually difficult to provide such an otherwise simple function.

“This is an unfortunate side-effect of fiber-only connectivity,” explains Gilman. “Before fiber-only connections, it would have been solved with a simple contact closure over copper wire.” In Beaver Creek and Vail, the RTS ADAM system made use of Boolean logic to make it simple to look at both switchers. This way the tally light would only be activated if one or both switchers were currently using the camera. This advanced logic function gave the operator confidence that the camera tally was accurate. Gilman adds: “The flexibility of the RTS system allowed us to solve this potentially overly-complex issue in a very simple way.”

Being able to adjust the system on-site led to enthusiastic feedback from the customer and technicians alike. “Communication between all involved was secure at all times,” Gilman says. “I never got into a situation where EPC’s requirements exceeded the capability of the communications system. Everything was possible and that’s a fantastic position to be in. The RTS system gave me the power to say yes every time.”

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