Iconic San Diego venue equipped with HME systems4 June 2010
The Conrad Prebys Theatre Center at the Old Globe Theatre has been installed with HME wireless communication solutions. The result of a $22m renovation project that coincides with the Old Glove Theatre’s 75th anniversary, the 250-seat Conrad Prebys venue incorporates a steel- and concrete-intensive structure that posed a series of challenges for the production crew. To ensure the greatest possible communications coverage, HME was enlisted to help the Globe determine the most suitable locations for three separate antennas. Each PRO850 base station has two antenna connectors – one apiece for RX and TX signals. This configuration enabled engineers to split the RX and TX signals into three paths and route them to three different locations, but since the PRO850 can only physically connect to one set of antenna, a custom combiner/splitter was devised by Pro Wireless Services’ Greg Parsons. The box takes the three individual antennae from each side of transmission and merges them onto a single line, making it ready to connect to the PRO850. As a result of this bespoke piece of design, crew members will be safely within range of at least one set of antenna wherever they happen to be. The battery charging stations provided by HME were fitted onto a hanging board by Globe sound technicians and then placed backstage in the production booth, enabling crew members to change batteries quickly and easily. The resulting hands-free comms system allows production crew to maintain constant, clear communication with one another both above ground and below – as well as up to 400ft outside of the theatre centre. Old Globe sound director Paul Peterson observed: “A solid wireless communication system is critical. It provides the backbone for the backstage crew who need to be hand-free and able to communicate privately amongst themselves. HME has been amazing to work with. They’ve provided us top-of-the-line equipment and support in the field.” Speaking to PSN-e about the overall theatre market, HME pro audio sales director John Kowalski suggests that the US sector is “the strongest in the world right now, followed by the UK market.” In terms of broader changes within theatre communications, he highlights the need to provide systems “that can support requirements that range from the middle and high school markets to Broadway and worldwide touring shows. At first glance, an intercom requirement begins with the simple need to speak and be heard, but as a manufacturer we hear different requests from users across the world. Our challenge is to provide products that support the majority of these requests, and to anticipate the moment when the minotiry requests become a production requirement of the majority, and something that our products must support.” For more on the theatre market, see the June issue of Pro Sound News Europe.