The Blue Man Group (BMG), the anarchic trio of silent bald-and-blue stage performers, has adopted two sets of Clear-Com‘s FreeSpeak II digital wireless intercom systems and HelixNet digital network partyline system for production communication.
One set is used for BMG’s Las Vegas show at the Luxor hotel and casino, and a second set for their concurrent world touring production which is visiting China and the Philippines in the second half of 2016. Both sets of systems are currently fully deployed for production communication.
BMG’s recent return to the Luxor presented an opportunity for the production team to acquire a new digital wireless intercom system.
“I’d heard a lot of good things about the FreeSpeak II, so we requested a unit for demo in productions at the Luxor,” says Marcus Ross, BMG’s resident audio supervisor and sound designer. “The feedback from our users was so positive that we bought one wireless intercom system for this location, and then rented a second one for the BMG world touring company. This second system has proved to be easy to set up and take down on the road as they go from theater to theater, without compromising the quality of its intercom performance.”
“We use up to 20 FreeSpeak II wireless beltpacks in this configuration, plus up to six transceiver antennas to fill out our wireless coverage pattern,” Ross adds. “While the antenna layout at the Luxor in Las Vegas is fixed, the location of the antennas varies for the BMG world touring company as they move from theater to theater.”
Capable of broadcasting in both the 1.9 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands, FreeSpeak II is notable for its 7kHz audio wideband that delivers clear intercom sound to all users. Better yet, the FreeSpeak II can expand its wireless coverage by simply adding more transceiver antennas to the edge of its distributed RF network. Another big advantage is the lightweight, highly-programmable wireless beltpack with LED display, 18 hour-per-charge battery life, and built-in bottom-mounted LED flashlight.
“Our stage people get a lot of use out of the bottom-mounted LED flashlights, which help them see where they’re going without casting light beams that could disturb the production,” said Sara Even, one of the production sound engineers for BMG’s World Tour. “Many of them say that the flashlight is the most unexpectedly useful part of the device.”
In both deployments, the FreeSpeak II wireless base station is connected to the HelixNet Digital Network Partyline system comprised of multiple HMS-4X main stations, remote stations and HelixNet digital beltpacks. The wired HelixNet systems cover locations such as front of house audio and electrics, the band lofts, the stage manager’s office, and the production stage manager in charge. FreeSpeak II intercoms are used by two mobile stage managers, props people, the show’s camera person, and various stage hands.
Beyond the reliability, audio quality, and flexibility of the Clear-Com FreeSpeak II and HelixNet intercom systems, Ross especially likes how easy it was to deploy them in Las Vegas and on the road.
“With help from Kari Eythorsson, Clear-Com’s Southwest USA regional sales manager, and the other great people at Clear-Com, it was simple for us to integrate the two FreeSpeak II systems into the productions,” Ross adds. “We really didn’t have to think about it too much; it freed us up to deal with the other challenges involved with launching a new theater location in Las Vegas, and ensuring that the BMG touring company had everything they needed thousands of miles from home.”
“Clear-Com has been involved with Blue Man Group in one way or another for years,” says Eythorsson. “It is a great privilege to support them as they continue to evolve their production and expand their footprint around the world.”
Clearwing Productions, a Clear-Com U.S. dealer, sold and supported the FreeSpeak II and HelixNet systems to BMG at Luxor, and Ampco-Flashlight in Netherlands rented identical systems to the BMG world tour productions.