In upgrading crew communications for season seven of the “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” television show presented at the Las Vegas Rio Hotel and Casino, Comms A2 Tony Kremer, founder of Kinetic Productions in Las Vegas, deployed a Pliant Technologies CrewCom wireless intercom system.
The show required a system that integrates with the venue’s existing hardwired intercom systems for broadcast and theatrical use. “With our previous system, each base station offered only four 2-channel beltpacks, limiting our capabilities in terms of communication,” says Kremer. “When looking to upgrade our wireless intercom, it was of utmost importance to deploy a flexible system that simplifies frequency coordination and offers up to 4-channels per pack. I was thrilled to find exactly what we were looking for, and then some, with Pliant Technologies.”
The Pliant 900 MHz CrewCom wireless intercom system for “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” consists of a CrewCom Control Unit (CU) located backstage connected to two radio transceivers (RTs/antennas) and supporting four 4-channel Radio Packs (RPs) and four 2-channel RPs. With the 4-channel RPs, Kremer can offer additional paths of communication between the four stage managers, house/stage personnel and the All Mobile Video truck throughout the show. Additionally, Kremer chose to go with the 900 MHz model to avoid interference issues.
“One thing that immediately impressed me was the ability to configure both 4-wire and 2-wire ports on the same conference within the control unit,” Kremer notes. “This allows for up to eight possible intercom paths within a single control unit for maximum versatility. All paths are adjustable within the CrewWare software, so matching levels was a breeze.
“Another benefit of the CrewCom system is its advanced assignable ISO feature, which can be engaged on any RP channel via a simple push of the volume button,” he continues. “This allows for private communications between wireless users without interrupting hardwired users in the production truck or the theater. However, the absolute best feature is the automatic assignment of the frequency hopping patterns in the 902-928MHz band, which eliminates the need to coordinate frequencies with the RF microphones and IFBs. This is an amazing timesaver.”
In addition, the expandability of the system has proven to be beneficial. “Another great feature of the Pliant system is that the CU can accommodate up to 18 RPs, so adding additional packs is easy to do at any time,” Kremer concludes. “We started off with four RPs and have happily worked our way up to eight. For next season, I plan to add at least four more RPs and one additional radio transceiver, with perhaps some fiber connectivity for long-range applications. I look forward to expanding my CrewCom system and using it on many more shows in the coming years.”