By Bob Boster
The answer to this question is that form follows function. Intercom was invented to solve live production requirements. It is designed specifically for the challenges and situations inherent to this type of environment. Any other communications systems you try to implement for live production in your facility will always be a “workaround.”
Intercom also has the major plus of helping to improve production values. When you have a dedicated system for assisting with cueing, talking to other crew members, coordinating between the different production areas and other activities common to a live production environment, everything goes much more smoothly.
Beyond improved production values, intercoms help ensure safety while pulling off special effects and other theatrical elements, help with handling any monitoring activities the church video staff may require and are much more resistant to the types of interference that plague other communications devices such as cell phones and walkie-talkies.
Things to Consider Before Making the Leap to Intercom
While intercom offers a great deal of value for any house of worship, as with any new installation, there are some things to consider before making this type of investment. Perhaps the most important is what you need intercom to do for your facility. Which members of the production staff, and what production areas, would benefit from it the most? Where do the communications seem most lacking in the daily workflow of your facility? How do you envision intercom solving key production challenges? Ask yourself all these questions, and you’ll find that determining which type of intercoms are the best fit will be much less of a headache.
Other major factors to consider are cost (intercoms can run anywhere from the $1,000s for a simple party-line system with wired beltpacks to the $100,000s for an advanced matrix-based network with wireless beltpacks), the complexity of deployment and the amount of time it will take, and how easy or difficult it will be for your facility’s particular crew to learn.
Your house of worship’s particular infrastructure will play a major role in determining the complexity of the installation. Therefore, it’s a very good idea to thoroughly survey what, if any, infrastructure already exists on which the intercom system can operate. Also take into account the type of wiring you have and whether or not you have access to a conduit.
You’ll also want to look into any connectivity requirements for the intercom system. Most modern intercom networks run on fiber, an E1 or TI line, over IP, or over a combination of these. Check on the I/O requirements for the system as well.
Bob Boster is Clear-Com’s Director of Sales for North America and Asia-Pacific. He has been directly involved in intercom solutions for such leading houses of worship as Prestonwood Baptist in Plano, Texas; James River Assembly of God in Ozark, Illinois; and Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City.