23 Nov 2018

The P.A. People – Comms for major sporting events 


The P.A. People – Comms for major sporting events

Sydney’s The P.A. People hold what is the world’s largest Clear-Com rental inventory right here in Australia, and the following brief list gives some idea of the scale: Over 30 Eclipse HX matrix frames; Omega, Median, Delta, and Pico. Over 400 V-Station matrix panels; Lever, Rotary, and Pushbutton. Over 20 HelixNet Masters and 400 HelixNet beltpacks. Over 400 FreeSpeak II Beltpacks, plus the latest IP and legacy antennas, splitters and bases.

The P.A. People regularly work on the world’s largest events, and recently took their crew and comms to Jakarta for the 18th Asian Games, providing their services under the watchful eye of US-based production company, FiveCurrents.

Opening Saturday August 18th with a spectacular ceremony, Indonesia welcomed Asia’s top athletes to Jakarta and Palembang. At the capital’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, 40,000 spectators were entertained by an opening ceremony that featured cultural performances and pyrotechnics on what is understood to be the largest scenic build for an opening ceremony; a 120m-long stage in the shape of a towering mountain with a waterfall and a simulated volcanic eruption.


Asian Games 2018 opening ceremony at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo by Gunawan Kartapranata / CC BY-SA 4.0

The initial sequence of the Opening Ceremony showed a video of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on his way to the opening ceremony. The president was seen to be stuck in traffic, getting out of the car to take a motorcycle to get through the traffic. On the way to the stadium, the President weaved the motorbike through Jakarta’s small roads. As he reached the stadium, he waved to the audience and then moments later appeared in the VIP box.

“We were in Jakarta since early June, and the opening sequence of the show depicts a scene which is commonplace”, said PAP Head of Department and Project Manager Campbell Waller. “The traffic is something that does take some getting used to”.

Jakarta also has a notoriously busy RF environment, with the stadium being in the heart of 9 million people; With The P.A. People’s wealth of experience and RF filter design, they worked with FiveCurrents and the local regulator to provide a high-quality solution with very limited frequency separation.  The system design included 24 half duplex base radios and 24 simplex base radios interfaced to the matrix intercom frame, along with 600 portables with a wide range of accessories.

The P.A. People provided an extensive Clear-Com IP based wired communications system for the Ceremony.

The system featured a pair of Eclipse HX Omega matrix frames with both native Dante and MADI connectivity, and around eighty V Series lever and rotary Key Stations. The matrix system was supplemented with Clear-Com Helixnet digital partyline beltpacks for follow spots and mechanical operators in the ‘mountain’, and an integrated Clear-Com FreeSpeak II system to support the stage management team.

The full duplex FreeSpeak system provided full stadium coverage, including all vomitories and selected back house areas, as well as coverage for an additional 15 packs in the rehearsal venue 500 metres from the stadium.

For this project, and for the venue intercom systems at Pyeongchang earlier this year, the team were trialing the new V1.5 firmware release for the FreeSpeak II system. “The coverage in this environment is amazing” commented Campbell, “it is a great improvement”.

Another significant aspect of the system was the cast’s In-Ear Monitor system. Given the RF environment, a decision was taken early to use an out-of-commercial-band FM solution. The P.A. People supplied five channels of transmitters, 6,000 receivers, and 12,000 earpieces for the cast.

The P.A. People supplied a significant event IT solution to assist the FiveCurrents team with the delivery of the event. The team supplied and deployed:

• 35 WiFi Access Points distributed across the site including BOH areas such as props and catering
• 40 Network switches and a high-availability network core
• Five kms of fibre optic cable
• 17 UPS systems for backup and protection
• One 60 GHz link to the rehearsal venue

The P.A. People solution in Jakarta was rounded out with a 10 camera EyeCue CCTV system. Ten Bosch and HikVision Full HD cameras, six additional inputs from broadcast, the rehearsal venue, and a weather station, Lenovo 21” all-in-one monitors, and an Exacq server package provided technical operators and stage management with the vision they needed to provide safe and accurate decisions.


L to R – Scott Daw, Curtis Tennant, Paul Barrett, Matthew Deal, Campbell Waller, Andrew Carson, Agniya Amelkina, and Scott Davidson

The team then went through the transition from Opening Ceremony to sport mode and then a reconfigure of the system for the Closing Ceremony which occurred on Saturday September 2nd.

The Closing Ceremony was extremely successful, providing both athletes and audience with a thrilling experience, despite the heavy rain that fell during the event. The Freespeak II system provided great coverage of the entire stadium and was used by both the Ceremonies production team and the Chinese handover team; the city of Hangzhou, China will host the Games in 2022.

“The team from The P.A. People have again acquitted themselves well on a show that could not support all the bells and whistles. The team and system have been an integral part in assisting FiveCurrents deliver another spectacular Ceremony program,” noted Nick Eltis, the show’s Technical Producer. “We look forward to working with them on another project soon.”



From the November 2018 edition of CX Magazine. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues – available in print and online. Read all editions for free or search our archive
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