As the Buffalo Bills produce their own programming, which includes a half-time show, two weekly broadcast TV shows and other events, it is often necessary to integrate outside network cameras with the on-staff cameras. The Buffalo Bills Entertainment events team, impressed by the reliability and functionality of the two-channel Clear-Com party-line intercom it has used since 1994, sought out Clear-Com once again when it needed a larger system to accommodate its growing events team. As the events staff grew to more than 25 members in the past two decades, it was critical to find a solution that provides several isolated communications channels without interference from any of the numerous Wi-Fi and RF devices operating in the stadium. The Clear-Com system would also help facilitate stadium communications by enabling camera operators to coordinate with one another without distracting crosstalk and other disruptions.
The solution was Clear-Com’s Eclipse-PiCo digital matrix intercom with V-Series panels for those in the control room and Tempest2400 2.4GHz digital intercom systems for those walking around in the stands and on the field. The Eclipse-PiCo provides a flexible and scalable foundation for point-to-point and group-based multi-connections, supporting up to 36 connections on a single matrix frame. Highly scalable, it easily integrates with other Clear-Com products, such as the Tempest2400, along with several third-party systems. The Tempest2400 digital wireless intercom utilizes patented Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum radio technology to ensure robust, reliable communications, and operates license-free in the 2.4GHz band worldwide, allowing interference-free communications even in environments heavily populated by other RF devices. While Tempest operates in the same unlicensed spectrum as Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), its unique RF design allows it to coexist with Wi-Fi.
“Before we found the Clear-Com Eclipse-PiCo and Tempest2400 systems, everyone was stepping on one another’s conversations, and it was getting difficult to manage,” says Stephen Asposto, Video Production Director/Engineer with the Buffalo Bills. “Clear-Com seemed like the obvious choice, as it offered the additional channels we needed and allowed us to interface the old party-line system to the PiCo matrix frame, so we didn’t have to abandon that system. Also, Clear-Com’s customer service was terrific. They sent someone to commission the entire system and helped us set up all the user stations. That was priceless since we had one week left before our next event.”
The Eclipse-PiCo digital matrix intercom resides in the Ralph Wilson Stadium video control room, where it manages the two other intercom systems for game-day production staff, along with those working on other events such as concerts, local high school and flag football matches, WSA Snocross races and the first NHL Winter Classic event. By setting up the PiCo system to manage various Tempest beltpacks, V-Series Panels, along with the party-line system, the Buffalo Bills now maintains easily accessible, interference-free channels of wired and wireless communications among all crew members, enabling them to produce various events with a high degree of efficiency and flexibility. The Clear-Com setup is also highly reconfigurable, allowing staff members to customize it to work best for different types of events.
“Both the PiCo digital matrix and Tempest2400 digital wireless intercoms are ideal for this type of production, which requires ready access to open, discrete channels and interference-free communications during busy periods,” says Mike Rucker, Senior Regional Sales Manager, Clear-Com. “The combination of PiCo’s management and wired channels with the reliability of Tempest’s wireless performance gives the Buffalo Bills staff tremendous peace of mind, making the entire production process much smoother and hassle-free for everyone involved. We are proud that such a prestigious organization as the Buffalo Bills has recognized this and continues to make Clear-Com its intercom provider of choice.”