At many houses of worship a single location is plenty to keep the technical staff busy. But at Eagle Brook Church, technical operations encompass the needs of five distinct campuses across Minnesota’s Twin Cities metropolitan area. Weekend services at each campus combine live music with a preached message that is delivered to the congregation at Lino Lakes church and simulcast live to the White Bear Lake, Spring Lake Park, Blaine, and Woodbury locations. The simulcast, which often incorporates additional elements originating at one or another of the satellite campuses, requires precise coordination between campuses and clear communication within the main production center in Lino Lakes. To keep the production flowing smoothly, Eagle Brook relies on RTS intercom systems, including a new Zeus III LE compact digital intercom matrix.
Combining the flexibility of a networked matrix frame with the simplicity of a party line system, the Zeus III LE features 16 input/output channels and a built-in two-channel party line interface that makes it compatible with all major party line systems, including RTS, Telex Audiocom, and Clear-Com. At Eagle Brook, the system allowed the Lino Lakes intercom system to be significantly expanded without abandoning the church’s investment in its existing party line system.
“We have a lot of different positions, including cameras, tech director, shader, robotics, producers, FOH, monitors, and lighting.” explains Taylor Charboneau, Technical Director at the Lino Lakes campus.” Before the Zeus, the entire technical and production staff at Lino Lakes had to put up with being together on a party line. “Everybody heard everybody,” he says, “which made it extremely difficult to communicate. For example, if a mic died and our stage manager needed to speak with FOH audio, they would both also be hearing the camera directing in their headsets. There was no clear channel for direct communication with specific individuals. With the new system, everybody can choose who they want to be able to talk to, and everybody is very happy about that.”
The new system gives each person involved in the production their own panel. Some positions have the RTS MKP-4 four-position desk or rackmount keypanel. Others, including key positions such as the producer, directors, technical director, and FOH audio all have RTS KP 12 CLD 12-position color display keypanels. “They each have their own custom layouts depending who they need to talk to,” Charboneau says. Eagle Brook also has several WKP-4 four-position wall-mounted keypanels. “There is a prep room for whoever is giving the message at a given service, and they can get hold of the producer or the director right from that room. And the same is true in the Green Room for the band.”
“Lino Lakes is currently the only campus that has a digital matrix intercom,” Charboneau continues. “Everywhere else has a 2-channel party-line system.” To interconnect the communications at Lino Lakes with those of the other campuses, Eagle Brook uses an RTS TIF-2000A, which is a single line digital hybrid telephone line interface that is designed to be compatible with ADAM, ADAM-CS, Cronus, Zeus, and CS 9000 series intercom systems. The TIF-2000A allows a standard DTMF-capable telephone line to access all cross points of the Zeus intercom matrix.
“We use the TIF-2000 when we have live events,” Charboneau says. “It’s an easy, clean way to communicate from our matrix system to the other campuses. Our Lino Lakes intercom dials into a conference call through the TIF-2000, and then that conference can effectively be set up as another listen/talk channel on any station of our Zeus system. All of the other campuses call into the conference on a regular phone, which they use on speaker. Most of the time they are muted but are listening to the Lino Lakes director or producer, so that we can talk to each of them and make sure that they are ready. So the TIF-2000 is a great solution for us. Before we were using an online chat arrangement where everyone was in a chat room and we communicated via text; we had no voice-to-voice communication during the productions.”
Another element of the upgrade was the installation of a new Telex BTR-80N narrow band two-channel UHF wireless intercom system. “The Telex wireless intercom really cleaned up our audio signal in the com,” Charboneau says. “The sound is better in the headsets so everyone can understand things better. And we now have less interference in the wireless system itself and also less interference from the wireless on the wired com. The Telex system is much better at preventing bleeding into the RTS system. Everyone used to complain about the old wireless com, but now everyone likes the quality of the sound.”
With appropriate training, Charboneau says, “the staff has been able to pick up the new Zeus system very quickly, and everyone appreciates how easy it is and how much flexibility we now have. And with the TIF-2000 we’ve greatly improved our inter-campus communications as well. We are very pleased with our new RTS and Telex intercom systems.”