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View Full Version : How to wire and integrate tricasters with sports announcer stations



vanderwielen
10-28-2012, 11:59 AM
I've been asked often, most recently by Sir JP out of Cleveland, how do you wire sports announcer's stations and integrate them with a newer model tricaster. In my description, assume I'm producing Football.

Most of the confusion has historically been, "How do I control what the announcers hear?" Here's the need:

1. Announcers need to hear themselves in real time without a digital delay. Audio thru the tricaster will always be delayed.
2. They need to hear sideline reporters, football official mics and effects from the tricaster like DDRs, sounds and effects.
3. They need to be able to converse with a sideline reporter in real time.
4. They love to hear the crowd.
5. The announcers must be able to control what they hear and its volume...themselves and other sources returned to them.

You'll buy and use a Studio Technologies model 210 announcer station for each talent position. The ST 210 integrates with announcers headphones (sennheiser HMD 25), provide a line level talk back signal and accepts a IFB signal from the truck. It also contains a fantastic compressor and is completely configurable via dip switches (stereo, mono, level of compression,...) http://www.studiotechnologies.com/product_m210.html

Third, recognize that you will buy an IFB system. There is no getting around this. If you're not familiar with an IFB, I'll summarize.

A wired IFB returns two channels to the announcers via XLR connectors. Unlike most XLR connectors that use Pin 2 for audio and Pin 3 for the audio common, an IFB will use both pins to return two channels of audio to the announcers (using pin 1 for common). You can use any off the shelf xlr audio cable. Additionally, Pin 2 is "wet", meaning that is electrified with a DC voltage from the IFB headend that can power the remote announcers station. This eliminates the need to locally power the announcers station. I recommend the Clearcom MA 704 (http://www.clearcom.com/product/partyline/program-interrupt/ma-704).

You'll need an external stereo mixer. Don't go crazy. You only need 4 channels. The world's best is the Shure FP42 that has been around forever and has a rack kit. The announcers stations, the wireless mic from the sideline reporter and the wireless mic from "white hat" in football will use all 4 channels. The Shure also has a limiter, which is a functionally limited compressor, but does a good job on halting distortion.

Stereo is important. We will use the Left channel and send it to an available analog input on the tricaster. Set that input to zero db and forget it. You'll mix announcer mics on the Shure Mixer during the game.

The Right Channel will be sent to the IFB and returned to talent. You'll typically set all 4 inputs centered, sourcing audio to the tricaster and to talent....but you could shade the sideline reporter or the second talent to the right channel that would allow the primary announcer to hear both, without a digital delay, but will prevent them from going to air since only the left channel is "program". In fact, I've used a third announcer's station shaded only to the right as a spotter for play by play and color. He can simply talk, they hear him but he's absent from air. During halftime, I can simply center his feed so he and do the stats or describe replays on air.

IFB accepts two audio sources. The Shure was the non-digitally delayed return to talent. I use SOLO on the tricaster, via the AUX out, as the other return. I use embedded audio from my cameras. You might use analog. They'll be on inputs 1,2,3 and 4 on the tricaster. I'll set those at 6-10db below talent, then select solo. I'll solo music, effects and perhaps a DDR or two...the whole mix now available to talent via IFB.

There are two volume pots on the Studio Technology announcers stations. They control the separate audio returns from the IFB. The announcers can control their own volume and the SOLO'd volume from the tricaster. They'll never need to ask you to adjust their headset volume...they'll do it! I set the headsets to mono within the ST box so they don't hear themselves in one ear and solo in the other. It's more comfortable.

Via a switch on the front of the IFB, you'll select which of the two returns you'll interrupt. In fact, the settings are described as "interruptible" and "non-interruptible". This is simply whether the microphone on the IFB will interrupt pin 2 or 3. Always interrupt the pin that has the Right Channel, real time return of the announcers audio on it.

This configuration has been used hundreds of times. By returning everything to talent "post fade", you'll never have to guess what they're hearing. Sideline reporters can come into the mix by merely being potted up on the Shure mixer. Upstairs talent hears them without delay and a conversation can take place. When the white hat steps forward to make his call, pot him up. Talent hears the call and you get it on program.

In the past, several producers using larger studio style mixers tried to return a mix to talent. More often than not, this was a pre-fade. They compound the error by pre-fading crowd and other sources back...but never could quite figure out how to let talent hear stings (music) or interviews pre-recorded on a DDR. They didn't monitor the plethera of audio trash they returned to talent and didn't give them the ability to control their mix levels. Announcers complained.

In my life, I've produced about 2000 games. For small to medium sized trucks and productions, this is the best solution.

Next, anyone want to know how to completely remote a 4 camera HD shoot, three wireless channels and a three station announcers configuration using a single TAC12 fiber? Oh, you can also source internet from the pressbox back to the truck using a strand...and intercom is a cinch.

ZachSchuster
10-28-2012, 02:08 PM
Good breakdown. We do it a little different, but essentially the same result. Using Mackie 1604 mixer, we route all the sources, except DDR, through the single mixer. Aux 1 taps off to a cheap audio combiner. This has just commentators mics everything else that the commentators want goes to Aux 2. Some are pre-fader, depending on the need. Aux 2 feeds to the 855 input 2a. In the tricatser we set that source to mute and then an Aux group. All internal sources are set to thee same aux group. Aux output feeds to the aforementioned combiner. The combiner outputs to the Clear Com PIC-4000B. This allows the commentators to hear each other in real time. Crowd, ref, music, etc... are all delayed by the tricaster, but its really not an issue for the commentators.

Aux 1 also feeds to a line monitor so we can talk to commentators during breaks without it affecting main mix. During the game we will take sideline reporter mic in and out of aux 1 so the commentators don't hear the mic all the time.

Always nice to compare notes! Thanks!

akscooter
10-29-2012, 02:45 PM
Thanks for the advice!

We also do things a bit sub-standard. We use the Mackie 1604 as well. All our cameras are off of Aux 4, and our production crew on Aux 3. We then put our Play-by-Play on Aux 1 and Color on Aux 2, both prefader. We then provide a second channel for Color (who hears the production crew's aux) as well as a Sescom A/B footswitch to swap between main and talk-back. Each headset has its own ArtMonitor and an in-line mute switch. The main out of the mixer goes directly to the Tricaster, then out to broadcast.

With the color on his own aux, we can still talk to him even when he's broadcasting. He can throw the switch and then he can talk to us, and the cameras, so he can quickly pass information to a camera to find and zoom in on a player. It works well!

While my A/B box is a great cheap solution ($25), it doesn't provide any visual feedback to my talent that he is on TB or Main. While he's only done it a few times, it is still noticeable. I'm definitely going to look at the 210 you mentioned above. It looks like it accepts XLR and 1/4" inputs/outputs directly, which means it should plug-and-play right into my fankensound system. My only concern is the IFB connection. It sends two signals over the XLR connection. What device would I need back at the booth to combine these outputs? From the block diagram, it looks like it's using Left/Right and ground. So could I simply use two outputs and build a custom cable? Or can I simply use one input? Will it hum if I send a mono signal to the device?

Thanks again for the info.
Jon

vanderwielen
10-29-2012, 07:10 PM
Thanks for the advice!

We also do things a bit sub-standard. We use the Mackie 1604 as well. All our cameras are off of Aux 4, and our production crew on Aux 3. We then put our Play-by-Play on Aux 1 and Color on Aux 2, both prefader. We then provide a second channel for Color (who hears the production crew's aux) as well as a Sescom A/B footswitch to swap between main and talk-back. Each headset has its own ArtMonitor and an in-line mute switch. The main out of the mixer goes directly to the Tricaster, then out to broadcast.

With the color on his own aux, we can still talk to him even when he's broadcasting. He can throw the switch and then he can talk to us, and the cameras, so he can quickly pass information to a camera to find and zoom in on a player. It works well!

While my A/B box is a great cheap solution ($25), it doesn't provide any visual feedback to my talent that he is on TB or Main. While he's only done it a few times, it is still noticeable. I'm definitely going to look at the 210 you mentioned above. It looks like it accepts XLR and 1/4" inputs/outputs directly, which means it should plug-and-play right into my fankensound system. My only concern is the IFB connection. It sends two signals over the XLR connection. What device would I need back at the booth to combine these outputs? From the block diagram, it looks like it's using Left/Right and ground. So could I simply use two outputs and build a custom cable? Or can I simply use one input? Will it hum if I send a mono signal to the device?

Thanks again for the info.
Jon

definitely consider the 210s. talkback is simple. just Y the two announcer talkback outputs into a common XLR cable and feed a powered speaker in the truck. There's no need to feed the board.

on your frankensound system, build a simple patch cable. you'll have two female xlrs and a single male. send the male to the 210. wire all pin 1's together. wire pin 2 on one female xlr to pin 2 on the male. wire pin 3 on the other female to pin 3 on the male. you'll be golden.

you could also build another Y at the booth and send only 1 frankenifb signal.

but, if you can afford it...the IFB is the way to go. it even dips the return to the announcers when you talk. you can talk independently to 4 announcers, or all at once.

a word of caution, we never...ever...put intercom, announcer talkback to the truck, our talkback to the announcers on the same board used to mix program. you will someday, somehow put words on the air that you'll regret. sound moves 1058 feet per second and i couldn't possible reach out and grab the words fast enough to put them back in my mouth or restuff them in the announcers'.

an true IFB solves and prevents this.

ZachSchuster
10-29-2012, 07:24 PM
Check out Ebay and search for clear com PIC-4000B and MA-4 systems. These work in harmony to feed your IFB talent stations. You need an MA-4 with a gooseneck mic, or it can tie in to most Clear Com base stations. We us the MS-232.

PIZAZZ
10-29-2012, 08:35 PM
Great rundown Rick

I have been meaning to do the same kind of breakdown for a while. I get the same questions all the time too.

We also use and sell the 210s into many of our systems integrations. Great little boxes. Much more flexible than the ClearCom or Production Intercom choices.

I will circle back with a breakdown of our typical kit when I have a free moment again. Now where did I put that napkin diagram....

ZachSchuster
10-29-2012, 10:53 PM
Been looking in to the Studio Technologies 210. Could the Talkback outputs be integrated in to an intercom line? For example, an intercom channel from the base station connects to the talkback jack. I suppose the 30 volts of DC would need to be blocked, but maybe not. The idea is the talkback goes directly to the producer's headset or the base station speaker, and a powered monitor need not be used. Of course, all the camera ops or anyone on that intercom channel would hear the talent talkback.

Lee-AVP
10-30-2012, 08:12 AM
We use the Production Intercom AS100. We've had constant problems with them. :-/ Random high pitch squeals - certainly a cap discharging - when they click off the feed.

PIZAZZ
10-30-2012, 01:57 PM
Yeah, Lee those boxes are a hit and miss thing. I sold some that have been rock solid while others have been back for repair 2 or 3 times.

The Studio Tech boxes are just rock solid. and they sound fantastic too.

PIZAZZ
10-30-2012, 01:59 PM
Been looking in to the Studio Technologies 210. Could the Talkback outputs be integrated in to an intercom line? For example, an intercom channel from the base station connects to the talkback jack. I suppose the 30 volts of DC would need to be blocked, but maybe not. The idea is the talkback goes directly to the producer's headset or the base station speaker, and a powered monitor need not be used. Of course, all the camera ops or anyone on that intercom channel would hear the talent talkback.

Yes Zach. We have done that before. It is really easy with RTS com gear. I did some testing with ClearCom MS702 base stations at the office and had it working. When we arrived onsite though we were not able to get everything 100% once we ran through the 300' announcer snake. hummmmmming was the issue. I believe it was the longer run and the 210s did not get enough power. Will be doing some testing again in a few weeks once I get off this tour.

Lee-AVP
10-30-2012, 04:44 PM
That's been the biggest reason I haven't switched over to the 210s.. integrating in to the Clearcom system. I guess on our digital mixers it'd be pretty trivial to patch the talkback mics in to some monitor speakers, but that just seems silly since we're all already wearing speakers on our heads.

vanderwielen
10-30-2012, 05:35 PM
Hey, guys, BTW Production Intercom is bankrupt. They said they'll be back, but they ALL say that. Also, why is everyone in the truck on headsets? I've never understood this. I'm referring to a small truck or trailer. If the Director is sitting next to the replay tech and the CG op is on the other side of the director, why are they on headset and intercom? Shouldn't the director be on a single muff headset? Also, again, pontificating...do you allow your cameraman to leave their mics open. I've told mine..."cameramen should be seen and not heard". In the case of talkback, it would only need be integrated with intercom if everyone in the truck was on double muffed headsets. In fact, in my truck announcers come thru one powered speaker and the sideline guy does the same. No need for intercom integration.

Lee-AVP
10-30-2012, 05:53 PM
We're usually on a flight pack in the room. But we're also usually providing sound, lighting, video screens, etc, as an event producer moreso than a broadcaster. I'm usually directing an internet stream while also directing the whole event, and depending on which channel I'm on, I'm calling lighting cues or telling talent they can't pick their nose because the camera is on them. Flexibility in the communications is important for the types of events we do.

Camera guys definitely stay quiet unless there's a problem, though.

ZachSchuster
10-30-2012, 08:42 PM
Hey, guys, BTW Production Intercom is bankrupt. They said they'll be back, but they ALL say that. Also, why is everyone in the truck on headsets? I've never understood this. I'm referring to a small truck or trailer. If the Director is sitting next to the replay tech and the CG op is on the other side of the director, why are they on headset and intercom? Shouldn't the director be on a single muff headset? Also, again, pontificating...do you allow your cameraman to leave their mics open. I've told mine..."cameramen should be seen and not heard". In the case of talkback, it would only need be integrated with intercom if everyone in the truck was on double muffed headsets. In fact, in my truck announcers come thru one powered speaker and the sideline guy does the same. No need for intercom integration.

I'm in a small truck, but replay and engineering are in the back half so they're on headsets. Director is on gooseneck mic. Rack space is limited, so why go with a powered monitor if you can piggyback off the intercom speaker. Both have pros and cons.

Cameras only talk when absolutely necessary. We employ the Clear Com mic kill from time to time when someone inadvertently leaves their mic open. Last year some camera guys felt it okay to banter back and forth. We kept killing their mics and I had a talk with them after the game. >(

PIZAZZ
10-31-2012, 11:10 AM
I've told mine..."cameramen should be seen and not heard". .

Agreed!!!

- - - Updated - - -


That's been the biggest reason I haven't switched over to the 210s.. integrating in to the Clearcom system. I guess on our digital mixers it'd be pretty trivial to patch the talkback mics in to some monitor speakers, but that just seems silly since we're all already wearing speakers on our heads.

Lee, on the 210s we setup we add in a Line In module that allows us to feed the 210s with analog line level audio. We send them a feed out an Aux dedicated as IFB and then we don't have to use the com/ifb input on the unit.

Just flip a couple switches on the bottom to select Line in or IFB in to the headsets. You can also send IFB to one and Line in to the other.

PIZAZZ
10-31-2012, 11:16 AM
Just goes to show you there is no 1 way to do this thing we call Live Broadcasting. There are common ways but no definite this is the only way.

Our setups are always so fluid and changing from event to event, we use a mixture of all of the above depending on what we need to do.
Add to that the complexity that com over fiber gives us and it can completely become a nightmare. COMS and Talkbalk are the 3rd thing we waste the most time on at any event. 1st thing is getting an internet connection. 2nd most time waster is getting a scoreboard data feed.... now back to your schedule program.

ZachSchuster
10-31-2012, 04:27 PM
Just goes to show you there is no 1 way to do this thing we call Live Broadcasting. There are common ways but no definite this is the only way.

Our setups are always so fluid and changing from event to event, we use a mixture of all of the above depending on what we need to do.
Add to that the complexity that com over fiber gives us and it can completely become a nightmare. COMS and Talkbalk are the 3rd thing we waste the most time on at any event. 1st thing is getting an internet connection. 2nd most time waster is getting a scoreboard data feed.... now back to your schedule program.

If I may change course of this thread just a little bit, what options do exist for using older wired party line systems with fiber transmission? Are there ways to make Clear Com beltpacks work with a BMD ATEM box? More general... fiber solutions for com or mic where power is needed?

vanderwielen
10-31-2012, 05:44 PM
If I may change course of this thread just a little bit, what options do exist for using older wired party line systems with fiber transmission? Are there ways to make Clear Com beltpacks work with a BMD ATEM box? More general... fiber solutions for com or mic where power is needed?

Zach, I did quite of bit of research concerning fiber remoting. You'll discover you need to take a standard two wire intercom and convert it to a 4 wire system (separate send and receive)...then send and receive the new line level signals over a fiber audio transmission like the Mamba Fiber Snake. A complimentary re-combiner and power supply is needed on the field end to recreate the two wire intercom. PI made a box that did this.

I actually built an interface that interfaced our PI intercom with the BMD ATEM. It worked OK, but the fidelity was tinny and you had to adjust levels properly. It did not have a null adjustment. We found a source for a converter from http://www.fiber-solutions.com/ but i heard he quit making them or couldn't get the box he was modifying (I think it was a PI box and they are out of business.)

If I were starting from scratch, I would standardize on the ATEM by BMD, powered by camera mounted batteries and use it's intercom with truck mounted interface converting to standard intercom. I'd go entirely fiber to the venue including a solution to create 4 channels of IFB with talk-back. essentially, from the truck to the venue would be a single tac24 fiber cable. In the venue, I'd set a 5RU rack bag with the necessary components. Park anywhere.

PIZAZZ
11-01-2012, 12:00 PM
Production Intercom made a cost effective box called the AD903 that easily interfaced between a 2wire com system like PI or ClearCom and then broke it out to separate 4 wire audio to/fro. I believe it was $295. I sure hope PI gets their stuff together and can get back into production as I have heard they are because their parts were integral parts we used in lots of systems.

PIZAZZ
11-01-2012, 12:10 PM
If I were starting from scratch, I would standardize on the ATEM by BMD, powered by camera mounted batteries and use it's intercom with truck mounted interface converting to standard intercom. I'd go entirely fiber to the venue including a solution to create 4 channels of IFB with talk-back. essentially, from the truck to the venue would be a single tac24 fiber cable. In the venue, I'd set a 5RU rack bag with the necessary components. Park anywhere.

That is exactly what we are doing here Rick. We aren't using one large fiber but we are using multiple 1000' Tac4 cables instead. I plan on eventually having a Tac12 large trunk cable eventually to make those really really long runs into a large stadium or arena then spool off of the Tac12 into our Tac4. It is so awesome to not have to worry about repeating signal or sweating being close to the areas we are shooting. I have only once had to spool out the whole 1000' and that was just to move it from the wood spool it came on to the cable reels we are using to transport it now.

We are currently doing Video/Audio to and from one pair and then the other pair is handling ethernet.

The other crazy thing I am doing is connecting our Announcer boxes and its audio and video needs all through a single Tac4. No more multipin DT12 copper runs, and no more distance limitations there either.

vanderwielen
11-01-2012, 05:23 PM
That is exactly what we are doing here Rick. We aren't using one large fiber but we are using multiple 1000' Tac4 cables instead. I plan on eventually having a Tac12 large trunk cable eventually to make those really really long runs into a large stadium or arena then spool off of the Tac12 into our Tac4. It is so awesome to not have to worry about repeating signal or sweating being close to the areas we are shooting. I have only once had to spool out the whole 1000' and that was just to move it from the wood spool it came on to the cable reels we are using to transport it now.

We are currently doing Video/Audio to and from one pair and then the other pair is handling ethernet.

The other crazy thing I am doing is connecting our Announcer boxes and its audio and video needs all through a single Tac4. No more multipin DT12 copper runs, and no more distance limitations there either.
You're on it. I agree completely.

Lee-AVP
11-02-2012, 04:51 PM
Battery / Local power? That's the only piece missing from the fiber puzzle.

PIZAZZ
11-02-2012, 05:16 PM
We can go shore power in most cases. If not a typical AB camera battery can power the camera and the ATEM adapters easily for a typical football game. That is with our larger hpx 370s feeding power out to the ATEM also. Those with smaller cameras will have to depend on the 3hr ATEM battery or external battery belts. Yuck! Remember those?

With the OpticalCON Duos we are using you can also send DC power to the camera end using smpte cable but the cost for smpte fiber is roughly 3 times the cost of tactical 2 fiber