LET’S NOT BE UNCOORDINATED
So, oodles of new technology keep washing up on our shores, much of it related to wireless sound and video work. At one time, this was the sole domain of 695 members but today, there is a massive proliferation of wireless being used by many departments: DMX for lighting, focus, video transmission, timecode, special efx remote control, drones, walkie-talkies, clear-com/ telex, EPK, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IT, IP, etc.
All these wonderful new tools have brought a great conundrum as they arrive on the set without frequency coordination and more and more often are creating a virtual tower of electronic Babel.
What to do?
Well, during Cinegear, our Vice President, Jay Patterson, and I were invited to and attended an informal conference on the topic in Los Angeles. There was some representation from our colleagues in the lighting world and the Broadway world, but the main body of attendees were manufacturers and vendors from around the world. This was a good thing, as this meeting became the starting point of collectively developing a draft document for on-set protocol for frequency coordination.
It became clear that different points of view were driving product development and what informally has been happening regarding the growing chaos. Some companies were going for the strongest signal possible, others were unaware of the negative impact that could thwart the success of their new products and so on.
The outcome of these talks was a consensus to develop an industry protocol for frequency coordination to be applied in pre-production.
Our more astute mixers have been acting on our strong recommendation to become licensees with the FCC, thus giving them significant priority and protections, when out-of-specification gear shows up unannounced on the set. (Something occurring more and more often as individual vendors or end-users irresponsibly “goose” up output to the detriment of other wireless working on the set.)
But more importantly, a major page out of the Broadway approach was discussed as a model of enlightened self-interest. The theatrical environment in NYC requires the use of many transmitters per show and many shows in theaters right next to other theaters. Common sense has prevailed as these engineers informally coordinate their frequencies with each other and use the least amount of power needed to achieve successful results.
The document being developed for our industry will embrace this practice with a strong set of steps for productions to follow in pre-production so that the departments become familiar with the reality that they do not operate in isolation and work out the specific issues well in advance of the potential territorial dual on the set.
Stay tuned, as we will keep you informed as this protocol becomes more formalized.
Mark Ulano CAS AMPS
President IATSE Local 695