The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, employs a campus-wide communication system that consists of Riedel’s Artist, Bolero, and SmartPanels. The system supports flexible communications and audio transport for live broadcast production of Pitt Athletics events on the ACC Network for ESPN. The decentralised wired and wireless intercom systems enable clear, reliable communications while also providing exceptional flexibility of configuration across campus at all sporting complexes, and multiple studios.
Utilising multiple Artist digital intercom matrixes, 1200 and 2300 Series SmartPanel user interfaces, and 24 Bolero wireless belt-packs scattered across campus, the Pitt Athletics production team coordinates centralised live sports production for broadcast and streaming. Riedel’s Director software coordinates configuration and management of all the matrixes into one, providing the coverage, performance, and functionality to orchestrate multiple simultaneous productions across different venues and control rooms. The system not only facilitates communication between team members at each venue, but also ties into ESPN’s intercom system supporting remote talent, including directors and producers.
Working with NEP Integrated Solutions, Pitt Athletics deployed the Riedel Artist system in a campus-wide, fibre-redundant hub-and-spoke configuration. This enabled communications at the Petersen Events Center (basketball), where the university’s centralised broadcast production facilities are located, as well as at Charles L Cost Field (baseball), Vartabedian Field (softball), Ambrose Urbanic Field (soccer), and the Fitzgerald Field House (wrestling, gymnastics, and volleyball). The Bolero wireless intercom system deployed by Pitt relies on 18 antennas distributed across all four venues and Trees Pool (swimming and diving), providing comprehensive coverage and allowing the use of the Bolero belt-packs at any venue.
“Riedel offers the depth of functionality required to meet every user’s communication needs and preferences, as well as the ease of use essential to effective communication and collaboration during production,” said Liam Sporrer, director of broadcast engineering for the Pitt Athletics department. “I can be confident that when I program a button on a panel or belt-pack, it’s going to do what I want it to do the first time around — and that people working with those systems will understand how to use them. I might be juggling three or four different productions in one day, and all the little efficiencies I gain with the Riedel intercom system not only save me time, but also help prevent small issues from becoming larger problems.”
The power and functionality of the Bolero belt-packs have opened up new opportunities for Sporrer and his team to simplify equipment and logistics and to save time. Sporrer programmed the Bolero belt-packs to be used for IFB and talkback for sideline reporters.
“It used to be a heavy lift to set up a separate wireless transmitter and wireless receiver, each on their own frequencies, and manage that along with wireless IFB and talkback,” added Sporrer. “Now we just hand off the belt-pack, and it gives reporters the functionality and control they need, plus the reliability and range of the Bolero network.”
Pitt Athletics productions also rely heavily on the use of Dante. This makes the broadcast production team’s ability to interface with Dante directly within Artist to move a variety of audio signals — from a hot mic for a director or producer to program audio — essential.
Going forward, the deployment of Riedel systems will allow Pitt Athletics the scalability to extend intercom across more of its game-day operations and, as the university completes upcoming building projects, to tie in new venues and expand broadcast production operations to include competition at those sites.