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ATK Versacom Adapts During Covid-19 Crisis

ATK Versacom recently provided comms powered by RTS VLink for the upcoming season of a primetime vocal talent TV show.

RTS ATK VersacomBurnsville, MN (October 30, 2020)—ATK Versacom has developed new tools and techniques for remotely producing live broadcast events during the coronavirus pandemic, including an audio production system, with comms powered by RTS VLink, that will be a key element on the upcoming season of a primetime vocal talent TV show.

Intercoms for large productions are an ATK Versacom specialty, routinely handling hundreds of audio pathways via RTS digital matrix systems and keypanels. But with talent and crew in lockdown, an outside-the-box solution was needed. The answer was VLink, an online virtual intercom matrix, also by RTS.

“Needless to say, it got a little scary as we scrambled to figure out how to generate some kind of revenue in this new world,” says Jim Fay, ATK Versacom general manager. “That meant finding the devices and applying technology so people could do their jobs away from the set. Communication becomes even more critical in that situation, and RTS VLink was the ideal solution.”

Juan Gallardo, ATK Versacom technical development manager, partnered with audio specialist Sean Prickett of Drop Ship Audio to develop dedicated flypacks for remote production, initially for the season finale of a top TV singing competition. The company’s productions have also included this year’s major space launch and political convention coverage.

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Gallardo and Prickett designed a system of audio and computer gear pre-wired into a large Pelican case. Software elements like the VLink intercom were pre-programmed onto a tablet. They also produced a cheat sheet — a laminated set of instructions — so that the technology-challenged could connect remotely. Once the flypack was delivered, all the talent had to do was open the case, plug it in and follow the directions, using their own earphones and an internet connection.

Fay notes that VLink essentially provides the same functionality as an RTS KP-5032 keypanel, enabling traditional intercom functionality without interfering with talent performances. “VLink is pretty amazing. It allows us to do mix-minus, direct IFB and straight program feeds.”