July 20, 2011
“Our mobile units are doing over 4000 shows a year. It’s potentially a different crew every night, so the operators have to be able to sit down and be immediately familiar with the intercom. And RTS is what sports truck people know.” With that statement, systems integration engineer Terry Breay of Mobile TV Group (MTVG) in Denver sums up the role that RTS continues to play as the industry standard in intercoms for location teleproduction. And that’s largely why MTG has included RTS intercoms in each of its 26 trucks, including truck 29HDX, a brand new mobile production unit whose intercom is built around a 96-port ADAM digital matrix system.
Based in Denver, 29HDX will be used by both ROOT Sports and Altitude Sports and Entertainment to broadcast the Colorado Rockies, the Denver Nuggets, and the Colorado Avalanche. Like the majority of MTVG’s HDX trucks, 29HDX is a dual-feed truck, allowing both home and away shows to be produced and broadcast from a single trailer. 29HDX will also travel to the West and Midwest for other events.
Breay, who has designed and built most of the company’s trucks – 22 in the last eight years alone – describes RTS ADAM as “the Mobile TV Group standard. With RTS’s matrix systems, you’re not limited to 12 or 16 two-wire lines. You can go point-to-point, you can create party lines, and you can do ISOs to cameras, all within the matrix and all without giving up something else. In fact, people have become so used to the versatility of the ADAM matrix that when they have to use our one truck with a non-matrix system it can be a real adjustment to relinquish that flexibility.”
In addition to the ADAM matrix and its AZ Edit configuration software, the truck’s intercom system includes 14 RTS KP-32 and 12 RTS KP-12 keypanels with associated microphones and interfaces, as well as an RTS two-wire system with 20 BP-325 beltpacks, 24 Telex PH-88R5 single-sided headsets with mics, 10 4030 portable two-channel IFB user stations, and two SPK300L A5F two-channel speaker stations.
“The intercom system is used for all the communication requirements of both shows,” Breay says. “Typically there will six IFB channels for the home show and six IFB channels for the away show, plus 10 ports dedicated to cameras and 12 ports for interfacing to the two-wire system. Another two ports are used for the telephone interface, and the remaining ports are assigned to the keypanels throughout the trailer.”
Seamless and familiar
The advantages of using the industry’s most widely accepted intercom are evident on multiple levels. “When someone sits down at a RTS KP-12 or KP-32 keypanel,” Breay says, “everything is familiar and intuitive. They know right away where to push to talk, and where their volume knob is. At the same time, we need all of our trucks to be able to interface seamlessly with one another as well as with all of the other sports production trucks, most of which also use RTS.”
Breay points out that widespread adoption alone does not guarantee exceptional performance. “There are a few devices that are considered standards just because everyone in our industry has them,” he says, “but we still don’t look forward to using them because they have some quirk or they are not reliable. But the RTS gear isn’t like that at all. Once you set it up, you just turn it on each day and you know that your intercom is going to work correctly every time. That’s why RTS is one of the reliable standards with a good reputation.”
In part, Breay says, that reputation has been earned through RTS’s customer support. “The tech support and sales support has all been good,” he says. “If we want to expand or modify a system, they’ll tell us the best way to go about it. And on those rare occasions when a card goes out, we can call and they will realize that we’re at a sporting event and we’ll be on-air in just a few hours, and we need a solution right now.”
“I remember one instance,” Breay continues, “when we put one of the early ADAM frames into one of our trucks and we had a backplane problem. We were in Lincoln, Nebraska on a Saturday for a college football game, and the guys from the RTS/Telex factory came in and helped us pull out the old frame and put in a new one. That kind of customer service, where people are willing to give you that extra help, is very important in our business. The RTS people really know and understand our world, and that’s really valuable to us.”