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Author Topic: Matrix Comms (Part 2)  (Read 23612 times)

Neil White

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Re: Matrix Comms (Part 2)
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2013, 05:14:37 pm »

I'm increasingly fond of running remote clusters of panels over IP. It massively simplifies the cabling, and provided you know networking and use good quality switching, is incredibly reliable. With the current Clearcom systems, the panels have IP built right in! So you add the IP card to the matrix, and you can go ahead and choose whether to connect the panel via 4wire or IP.

I like the idea of using IP for matrix panel connectivity. I am sure as IP equipped panels become more popular and the comms department is installing an IP network at every user position for comms that the number of other services that could be shared on the same network will increase. Audio, Video, Timecode and the Internet are a few that come to mind.

I guess you are using good quality Layer 2 Gigabit Managed Switches from a respectable manufacturer?

I think it is interesting to see the direction that Riedel have taken with their Mediornet product. The idea of consolidating a number of traditionally discrete systems and combining them across all departments on one fiber backbone certainly provides new opportunities for signal distribution and a reduction in cabling infrastructure. They seem to have had success with it on very large events such as the Eurovision Song Contest. I wonder how well the concept would work on smaller shows where there are individual providers for sound, video, broadcast etc with perhaps less planning and co-ordination between departments than is typical on the larger shows.

Neil
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Pete Erskine

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Re: Matrix Comms (Part 2)
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2013, 08:40:27 pm »

Would you typically just assign the Clone Output Port function to a key on your panel as and when needed during a production, for example when working with a user on their panel settings or for troubleshooting?

Yes the key would initiate the clone of the other panel which would let you hear the same crosspoints.
Monitor function would still be needed to hear the mic.

Quote
I presume you have to put a CIA cat5 / coax adapter between each port of the PMX and the C44. I wonder why there is not a CAT5 version of the 4 and 8 way fiber multiplexers.

The PMX was designed for panels and works correctly.  Adapting a C44 for it is a kluge and sort of off design.
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Pete Erskine
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Pete Erskine

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Re: Matrix Comms (Part 2)-Mediornet
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2013, 08:46:48 pm »

I wonder how well the concept (Mediornet) would work on smaller shows where there are individual providers for sound, video, broadcast etc with perhaps less planning and co-ordination between departments than is typical on the larger shows.

It is a hard sell since each dept--audio, video, comms--usually brings their own interconnect.  The power is in integration, particularly on large video events.  With the built in scaling, format conversion and frame syncs, you can't beat it with any other product as well as having integrated RockNet and Artist.  On events which need massive distribution it is a no brainer and an easy sell since someone must do the additional distribution anyway.
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Neil White

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Re: Matrix Comms (Part 2)-Mediornet
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2013, 08:07:33 am »

It is a hard sell since each dept--audio, video, comms--usually brings their own interconnect.  The power is in integration, particularly on large video events.  With the built in scaling, format conversion and frame syncs, you can't beat it with any other product as well as having integrated RockNet and Artist.  On events which need massive distribution it is a no brainer and an easy sell since someone must do the additional distribution anyway.

It seems that this workflow has been well accepted in the broadcast industry, with companies such as Bexel and CP Communications supplying fiber infrastructure for outside broadcasts that is then shared between all of the broadcasters attending an event, for all types of signal transmission.

I would think that a comms company would be ideally placed to become responsible for the overall signal distribution at a live event. They already have to communicate with all of the other production departments during the planning phase to assess comms requirements, and then during the show are deploying comms technology across all departments and areas of the production. As tours and events become larger and the time frames for installation become shorter, a unified infrastructure may become more attractive.

n.
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Chris Johnson [UK]

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Re: Matrix Comms (Part 2)
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2013, 06:06:03 am »

I totally agree.  My experience is that the failure of UPS's happens and care should be taken in using them.  For the NODE power, since they have dual power supplies and only need 1 to run, I always put one on the mains and the other on the UPS.  This also has the advantage of less load on the UPS.

This is a good suggestion.  Riedel has just recently started including IP capability in their panels and nodes.  With the abundance of high speed networks on shows now it makes good sense to use them.  I have not yet had an opportunity to use IP but am happy that the option is there.

What switchover PDU do you use and is it IP addressable?  I would like to find a remote control power system.  Sometimes it is necessary to reboot a remote system.

Pete Erskine
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Hi Pete,

Check out the Audionics range of PDUs. They have many versions which are IP addressable, including switchover variants.

I'd like to build a system which incorporated these, and a Moxa serial server for getting status info from the remote UPSes. That way you can have a completely remotely monitor-able system over IP.
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Chris Johnson [UK]

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Re: Matrix Comms (Part 2)
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2013, 06:16:01 am »

I like the idea of using IP for matrix panel connectivity. I am sure as IP equipped panels become more popular and the comms department is installing an IP network at every user position for comms that the number of other services that could be shared on the same network will increase. Audio, Video, Timecode and the Internet are a few that come to mind.

I guess you are using good quality Layer 2 Gigabit Managed Switches from a respectable manufacturer?

I think it is interesting to see the direction that Riedel have taken with their Mediornet product. The idea of consolidating a number of traditionally discrete systems and combining them across all departments on one fiber backbone certainly provides new opportunities for signal distribution and a reduction in cabling infrastructure. They seem to have had success with it on very large events such as the Eurovision Song Contest. I wonder how well the concept would work on smaller shows where there are individual providers for sound, video, broadcast etc with perhaps less planning and co-ordination between departments than is typical on the larger shows.

Neil

Hi Neil.

Yes to the good quality switches. Its a must. There are plenty of cost effective managed switch options these days from the likes of HP, Netgear and Cisco.

IP is a useful tool, and works for comms because the required bandwidth is low, and small amounts of latency between remote locations is not only unnoticeable, but doesn't effect the performance of the system at all.

However, I wouldn't touch it with a barge-pole for audio and video distribution. IP is designed to be fault tolerant at the expense of latency. And that latency is variable. This is terrible for time-critical serial data streams such as audio and video. There are plenty of technologies like ethersound and dante which do a good job of adapting IP for this purpose, but its still an adaptation.
The analogy I always use is Powerline Ethernet. There are several companies making excellent, reliable units for sending ethernet over power lines. I've used several in show situations with great success. However, its no subsitute for some cat5 if thats an option. Just because I can make power cables carry all my ethernet, doesn't mean I'm going to forever send all my ethernet over power cables. IP Audio and Video are cool. But only when traditional serial distribution (via fibre or such like) is not available.

I have used Mediornet Compact, and also Optocore and they are interesting technologies. Certainly the future. However, the issue is, as Pete mentioned, that often the infrastructure needs to be seperate for contractual/logistical reasons, but also that Mediornet is an incredibly expensive replacement for just running individual cabling unless you need its networking and routing capabilities. This means its a tough sell for smaller events.

That said, I'd love to have a Mediornet Compact system. I think they are brilliant!
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Neil White

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Re: Matrix Comms - Touring Events
« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2013, 07:56:54 am »

I would be interested in discussing the deployment of matrix comms systems on touring shows and one off events. There are obviously a different set of challenges with limited load in time and differing venues compared to large scale events such as the Olympics.

I know we touched on the topic of equipment packaging in the other Matrix Comms thread but it is always interesting to hear how different people approach the task. Pete mentioned packaging the matrix panels in stackable racks with all of the I/O on the back panel. Is it common to have an individual case for each key panel? It seems like a lot of small boxes to keep track of at load out. I like the way PRG have packaged the beltpacks, headsets and desktop panels for their Riedel system.
http://www.prg.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/ds_pp_riedel_Artist-32-Workbox.pdf

It looks like it would be easy to keep things labelled and see which headsets / beltpacks have been set out. It would also help to keep track of things when it comes time to load out.

What does a typical day look like for a touring comms engineer? I'd imagine after a few shows the programming should settle down and the focus is on the load in and the load out with not too much to do in between?

N.
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Chris Johnson [UK]

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Re: Matrix Comms (Part 2)
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2013, 10:48:16 am »

Hi Neil,

Good questions. Most of my comms work is in the touring/one off environment, as opposed to things like the Olympics (although I did work on that) where you have more setup time and the gear is in situ for longer.

There are a few things which are essential for me. In fact, I am currently considering purchasing some of my own components, and if I do, I would rigorously implement the following:

1 - Panel packaging:

For me, desktop panels are often more useful than rack mount panels. This is because typically the people who use matrix panels on a music tour tend to be people not sitting in front of racks (Like LX operators, sound engineers, stage managers, etc...). However, the problem with desktop panels is they often have silly connectors on the back. I like to see:
- Locking power connectors
- only Ethercons for cat5 connections
- Audio I/O & GPI broken out to XLRs
So, making a bolt-on accessory is a good idea here.
Alternatively, rack panels, mounted in sleeves with patchpanels on the back also works nicely.

2 - Equipment storage:

For me, nothing beats a drawers rack. What I'd like to do is have a drawers rack built with replaceable CNC foam inserts so I can configure it for a number of options including
- Headsets
- Panels
- beltpacks
- etc...
Compartments can be labelled for a tour, as well as the packs/panels/headsets so its easy to keep track of them without a sign-in/out sheet.

I would package groups of equipment together. Quick load in and out is essential, and local crew should be fully utilised. So, if you have 5 panels at FOH, 5 at monitors, and a bunch of radio comms for backstage use, then I would send a small case to each location containing everything needed in that area. That way setup and packdown doesn't involved carrying things accross an arena, and once the case is packed and checked, it can be shut and left for the locals to put on the appropriate truck.

3 - Main Casing and Operator position

I like to have my stuff, the matrix, and any extras (radio bases, etc...) in one case. Even if it means it has to be massive. This way, interconnects are already made, and everything is infront of me when I'm at my position. Once power is connected, the matrix boots up and I can go around and connect panels and they liven up.
Load out is quick because I can pull power and multicores to other locations and lid up the case and off it goes. The key is to not have to go back to an area twice. Pack it, and leave it for the truck.

4 - Quick Testing:

I like to be able to test panels as I connect them, so I don't have to re-visit a position. So, I like to have a test tone generator permanently connected to the matrix and active. The return of this port is connected to a radio base or IEM transmitter so I can be at a panel and check the send and return quickly.
I also use a CTP dB-Box with a cat5 adapter so I can plug it into a matrix port and test a line without a panel being connected.
I also like to be able to VNC into the matrix software so I can make changes remotely via an iPad or similar

Thats just a few thoughts. Interested to hear others'

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Pete Erskine

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Re: Matrix Comms (Part 2)
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2013, 09:04:45 am »

Thanks, Chris,

I echo all your methods.

Last week I worked on an event which used the PRG Riedel Artist system.  I must congratulate Mark Boettcher for assembling what, I believe, is the best Artist rental system I ave ever used.  Not only are all components in drawer work cases with fitted spaces but the assembly of auxiliary parts is very complete right down to adapters for every type headset and audio out/in.

Desktop panels are the nicest to use just because they are desktop, however making an adapter box for the audio I/O and GPIO cant be really done cleanly.  Rack mount panels, like the method used by Clair Broadcast (Wireless First) are more usable.  The tiltable 2RU boxes can be stacked and the back panel on the rear affords a full implementation of all the I/O GPIO and secondary headset ports.

UPS power for all panels is very important.  Doesn't make any sense not to when the node is backed up as well.  PRG packs a few throw down UPS in the work case and Claire also includes them with each rental.  However the cleanest way would be to build the UPS into the panel case.  Here is a very interesting mini ups with universal power supply made by a company in China.  Unfortunately they only sell direct (yes from China) and refuse to establish dealers in the USA.  Their loss.
Leeer-4M

Here are some pix from the job last week:
This is the front of the rack.  At the top are Aphex 120A audio Distribution amps.  The 4 Studio Technologies hybrids are just above the patchbay which interfaces the 4-wire ports, the DA, the Wohler panel and the I/O to the hybrids as well as xlr adapters on the back and the front of the rack.


On the back of the rack are connections for XLR adapters on the patch bay, audio in for the Wohler panel and 2 wire connections to the Studio Technologies 47 dual power hybrid.  The system also has an ethernet DHCP switch and Apple Access point for wireless control and programming of the system.


Five 12 channel multi connectors, also on the patch bay, provide an easy way to distribute the audio and C3 beltpacks.  The 2 C44 power supplies are at the top of the rack rear.



« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 09:51:13 am by Pete Erskine »
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Pete Erskine
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Chris Johnson [UK]

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Re: Matrix Comms (Part 2)
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2013, 10:12:03 am »

Hi Pete,

That system looks excellent! If (or when) I get my own system, I will build it pretty much like that!

The panel layout looks nice.

I agree with you about desktop panels. Its very straightforward to build little box for rackmount panels with sensible connectors on the back. However, I often find that for operator positions where they are using a console, rackmount panels are just too wide, and thats where desktop panels are better. If you had enough units though, it would be easy to have some custom metalwork made that featured the necessary adaptors.

Out of interest, how do you find the StudioTech hybrids? Do they sound good? Do they auto-null effectively? I have found that some hybrids are great, and some, are not. I like the look of the studiotech ones, and the metering looks very functional.

I'd love to build my own Riedel based system, but Riedel make sure its not really viable for other companies to rent their systems, so its probably a non-starter. In which case, I'd be more inclined to head toward clearcom, as they have a pretty complete line
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Re: Matrix Comms (Part 2)
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2013, 10:12:03 am »


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