Clear-Com CellCom wireless intercom system.Santa Fe, NM (September 18, 2007)--There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes at the Santa Fe Opera, and as opera audio/video supervisor, Dave Dillman knows it all too well. Productions keep running smoothly only when everyone’s in touch, and that, in turn, means ensuring that crewmembers can hear each other.
“We had a situation back in 2005 where we had a show with very large moving set pieces on stage," Dillman said. Because the opera's existing wireless intercom system was so limited, stage crewmembers inside those set pieces depended on mobile radios for communication with stage management. "The problem with mobile radios is they're not two-way all the time," said Dillman, "so if there is a transmission, it blocks all other transmissions, and the stage manager's instructions could be stepped on without them knowing it."
As a result, the Opera upgraded to a new wireless intercom system, chosing the Clear-Com CellCom wireless intercom system. It wasn’t the first time that Clear-Com products had been used there, as the facility was a long-time Clear-Com Party-Line intercom customer. "Elements of it go back to the late '60s or early '70s," said Dillman. He said he's impressed with their ruggedness. "They're all still working. That was one of the factors in our decision to go with CellCom." While the opera's previous wireless system was limited to six wireless beltpacks, it purchased 10 CellCom beltpacks.
"We have three cell sites," said Dillman, "on stage left and stage right where we have the majority of our traffic, and then one high overhead at upstage center to take overlap traffic and to allow wireless communication into our set storage area which is down an elevator shaft.
"And because they're on CellCom belt packs, the assistant stage managers can go all the way down the dressing room corridor if they need to, to speed up talent and confirm they're on their way, whatever they need to do. But the biggest attraction we had to the CellCom system was the ability to program the beltpacks in groups, in addition to the main intercom channels."
Dillman noted that in 2007 summer season, with his own group doing projection during a production, "we have a separate group for ourselves to coordinate the projection, and it keeps that traffic off the production intercom channels, which are very busy by themselves. That's really a stellar example of why CellCom is a good solution."
The CellCom system was interfaced with the existing Clear-Com Party-Line system prior to the beginning of the 2007 summer opera season. "We had a bit of a shakedown," said Dillman, "We had excellent support from Clear-Com, and the installation was quickly up and running. We really like the system."