In broadcast production, analog and digital matrix intercom system frames and key panels are typical. A control room may have a multi-button key panel at several stations, enabling private conversation with other key panels as well as communicating on multiple party lines (audio, lighting, camera, etc.). Frames are purchased according to maximum channel size. Adding channels to a matrix requires purchasing and installing matrix cards in 4, 8 or 16 channel increments. Once the maximum channel count is reached, a second frame must be purchased, or the frame replaced. Adding channels to a station panel often requires a second panel.
In larger facilities with multiple control rooms and studios, several matrices may be in place with trunking lines tying them together. Trunking cards must be purchased for both frames in increments of 8 or 16 channels.
Intercom - Rather than a hardware frame matrix, Vcom’s virtual matrix software runs on a standard desktop or rack mounted Windows computer or server. It communicates to all intercom stations, regardless of location, via standard Ethernet routers and Internet connections. Scaling a matrix up or down is a simple software adjustment.
Rather than hardware station panels with a limited number of buttons, Vcom station software runs on a standard Windows computer & display. Touch panels can be used to replace the mouse & keyboard. Intracom offers economical paper-notebook size Mini-computers with embedded OS & software for shock-proof reliability and quiet operation in control room environments. Any number of channel buttons can be displayed on a VCom station. Vcom software can run concurrently with other Windows software such as hardware matrix intercom displays, prompting programs, etc.
IFB - With Vcom’s ease of audio interfacing with desktop & laptop computers, and with Vcom’s Mobile capability, IFB across IP networks becomes extremely easy. Even more compelling is the ability to give your announcer options to select from and listen to a number of sources.
Click on image for interactive demo with audio
Wireless Intercom, operating on UHF or WiFi frequencies or are subject to limited range. Some UHF systems may indeed be inoperable after February 2009. Vcom Mobile is user panel software that runs on a Windows Mobile PDA or cell phone. Now you can carry an fully featured intercom & IFB station in your shirt pocket and use it wherever you have a wireless internet or WiFi signal.
Office & Trailer Extensions
That’s great and works really well within the control room and studio. But what about office or trailer Intercom Extensions for technical and production management? They may need to be reached, or they may desire to monitor a show’s progress by monitoring one or more intercom circuits. Until now, the only way to accommodate that is to put another multi-button key panel in each office. Vcom can eliminate the desk space, cut wiring requirements and eliminate the expense of key panels in offices by running on any laptop or desktop computer concurrent with other Windows software.
In even larger companies, where there are Multiple Facilities / Control Rooms , studios edit bays, audio sweetening, etc. in a building or campus, across the street, across town, across the country or beyond, there are requirements for Inter-facility Communications. Until now, the interconnect options involved channel limited trunking or VoIP cards, or 4-wire interfaces and dial-up telco lines (yeech!). Vcom Interop can interconnect any number of facilities with any number of talk paths using 4 wire interfaces with GPIO for indicators. Vcom Interop can interconnect matrices from any manufacturer with any other, can interface with 2-way radios, telco hybrids, paging systems, wireless intercom subsystems, even provide intercom access to facilities where no matrix exists (ie: home, office, hotel room, airport waiting room, even a moving vehicle ).
Production via ENG, SNG and full production trucks are very common in news, entertainment and sports. Similar to a control room, a Vcom Virtual Matrix will save rack space and weight. Min-PC’s with 8” 16:9 touch panel displays can be installed in the truck’s work stations and extended to the set via CAT-5 cable and a standard ethernet router. Outside truck party line circuits are enabled using 4 wire to 2 wire converters at either end of the snake. The Vcom Device Interface enables integration with 2-way radios, telephone modems, and other equipment for audio and signaling. Sample Production Truck block diagram
Truck to Stage /Field Comms
In some cases, it is necessary for a talent or technical position on the set to have access to more private or party line circuits than a belt pack can provide, so a key panel is sent down and a dedicated fiber or CAT5 cable has to be run. Vcom can eliminate the expense of, and wear & tear on expensive portable key panels and the dedicated cabling requirements for on-set communications. A single CAT -5 Ethernet cable, optionally to a WiFi router, can support many functions such as scripting prompter, internet access, intranet messaging, and Vcom. VCom Mobile allows complete portability, running wirelessly on a Windows Mobile PDA or cell phone.
Vcom is also able to carry multiple wired or wireless IFB audio channels over the same CAT 5 cable.
Truck to Studio
Until now, Truck to Studio Communications involves a telco hybrid and a dial-up land line or cell phone terminal. Each hybrid provides one duplex talk path between the truck and studio, so multiple hybrids and dial-up lines can be required. Vcom can provide any number of talk paths over a single internet connection.
Vcom can also provide access to telco circuits at either end of the internet connection. From the truck side, you can access local telco lines, or those at the studio, reducing or eliminating the number of dial-up telco circuits required on site.
From a single remote press conference site up to multinational concerts and political events, VCom can provide a single global intercom matrix or interconnect local matrices together with any number of talk paths. See Special Events applications.
Signaling & Triggering
In addition to voice talk paths, VCom supports signaling . GPIO ports, relays, etc. can be triggered from any Vcom user panel anywhere on the planet. Here’s a sample system block diagram
Hardware for VCOM
ATS Communications can supply, configure & integrate VCOM hardware with existing intercom & IFB hardware. Check HERE for information on the PC terminals, headsets, interfaces., etc. we can provide.