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Help with wireless IFB for comm systems


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#1 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 09:00 AM

A little while ago I bought a used Lectrosonics R1/T2 wireless IFB transmitter/receiver, so I could go wireless for comm in multicam shoots.

The basic tx/rx functions work fine, but I have had unexpected problems integrating it into comm systems. Between 5-pin vs. 3pin XLR, powered connectors, etc. with different brands of comm systems, etc. it is not turning out to be the handy little gadget that I'd hoped it would be. I've not yet been able to successfully feed a signal from a comm system into my transmitter.

Am I missing something simple here? What cables/connectors/knowledge am I lacking? The unit was supplied with one line level cable and one cable padded to mic level output.
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#2 Martin Stacey

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 11:46 PM

A handy peice of kit for that situation is a cheap 4 channel mixer. You can outpu their comms into that and then send the output of that to your IFB transmitter at any level etc. you prefer. You can then also give them a balanced feed back if needed.

Cheers,

Marty
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#3 John atkinson

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 06:20 AM

A little while ago I bought a used Lectrosonics R1/T2 wireless IFB transmitter/receiver, so I could go wireless for comm in multicam shoots.

The basic tx/rx functions work fine, but I have had unexpected problems integrating it into comm systems. Between 5-pin vs. 3pin XLR, powered connectors, etc. with different brands of comm systems, etc. it is not turning out to be the handy little gadget that I'd hoped it would be. I've not yet been able to successfully feed a signal from a comm system into my transmitter.

Am I missing something simple here? What cables/connectors/knowledge am I lacking? The unit was supplied with one line level cable and one cable padded to mic level output.



5-pin out of camera to IFB, have custom cable made with a short mic built into 5-pin at back of camera to mini pin to IFB. That sits on rig. The receiver on you. Get custom ear molds from future sonics. Requires visit to hearing aid place for molds. Best set up for live TV.

JA
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#4 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 08:00 AM

Thanks for the replies.

I know I have to block/isolate out the powered output of the comm system, this looks straightforward with a 5pin to mini adapter. Pardon the ignorance but is 5 pin line level xlr connector the most common? Then I ran into a system with three pin XLR outs, but those connectors also carried power according to the audio guy.

I asked a local film audio dealer (who doesn't do much with comms) and they said they thought I'd need an XLR with a blocking cap or something wired inside. They said that this would need to be specific to the power on the line for different comm systems, if the voltage/current differed.

So that's when my head started to hurt. Are there a lot of different comm systems with differing connectors/voltages out there that would each require a separate custom cable?

John, are you saying I would need a second IFB to wirelessly transmit my mic audio back? I'm confused about your setup. Sorry, my multicam experience is limited and usually has involved Varicams or other standalone camcorders pressed into multicam service.
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#5 Tom Wills

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 10:39 AM

Hey Mark,

The usual intercom system I run into has a 5 pin connection for the headset. That's the connection you'd get on a standard intercom box, or on the back of an OB camera. I've never seen anything else on any of the live gigs I've worked - but then again, I'm usually working off of pretty big mobile units, so possible that smaller trucks might have something non-standard.

That system, as far as I found doing some research, gives you a pretty simple audio out and microphone in - nothing complicated, no power, etc. The 3 pin connection with power that you ran into is the line straight off the base, which needs to be plugged into a PL box to give you a headset output. Just work from that 5 pin output, as John Atkinson said. And yes, if you want to transmit audio back wirelessly, you'd need another IFB system - however, as John said, a few live operators have discussed having a small mic on the back of the camera, which means that all you'd need to do is lean in towards the camera, hit the talk button, and speak (which you usually don't much during a show).

Hope this helps!
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#6 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 11:07 AM

Thanks, Tom, that helps a bunch.

<Do you have the pinout handy for the 5-pin XLR connection?>

EDIT:

So I've been researching the Clearcom and Telex headsets and most of what I've seen online is for a 4-pin XLR (female or male) headphone connection, not 5-pin.

So, I'm confused again. What am I most likely to encounter "in the wild" for headset connections...4 pin, 5 pin, male or female? I understand that studio cameras have 5 pin female, so is that pretty much standard for the belt pack headphone jacks now too?
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#7 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 02:21 AM

Hi there, Sorry to throw in another curve ball in your head. I've worked live stuff for a while and have been investigating the proper way to get the same thing done. John has decribed the perfect set up. But there are different XLR set ups. I personally don't like a big clunky wireless belt pack, so I bought my own Beyer Dynamic headset. It came with a 4pin XLR female, I took it to work and the back of the Ikegami HD cameras we have there are ALSO 4 pin Female, SOOO, I had engineering make me a 4 pin Male to Male, now My headset works fine. I plan to get a wireless system, whether comtek or lectro or sennheiser depends on price and what's around when I finally decide to take the plunge.
I'll have to make 2 cables to be sure I'm 90% set. One will be a 4 pin Make XLR to the input of the wireless transmitter, and the other a 5 pin XLR to the input of the wireless Transmitter. The receiver can be velcro-ed or attached in anyway to your vest if you'd like and connect your custom molded earplugs to it. And for talking back, I'll have a short stubby mic, maybe even the end of a mic on an old broken headset and have that sticking out of the rear of the XLR connector itself,( like 2") so like was previously described before, you press your talkback button, and speak into the connector.
I remember Manny Bonilla having that set up when I worked with him last year.
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#8 John atkinson

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 06:40 AM

Thanks for the replies.

I know I have to block/isolate out the powered output of the comm system, this looks straightforward with a 5pin to mini adapter. Pardon the ignorance but is 5 pin line level xlr connector the most common? Then I ran into a system with three pin XLR outs, but those connectors also carried power according to the audio guy.

I asked a local film audio dealer (who doesn't do much with comms) and they said they thought I'd need an XLR with a blocking cap or something wired inside. They said that this would need to be specific to the power on the line for different comm systems, if the voltage/current differed.

So that's when my head started to hurt. Are there a lot of different comm systems with differing connectors/voltages out there that would each require a separate custom cable?

John, are you saying I would need a second IFB to wirelessly transmit my mic audio back? I'm confused about your setup. Sorry, my multicam experience is limited and usually has involved Varicams or other standalone camcorders pressed into multicam service.


Mark, The system consist of 2 piece IFB for back of camera with 5 pin only. I never encountered anything on truck shoots

Transmitter-lives on camera, 5 pin cable in back of camera with mic sticking out to talk. 5 pin cable to IFB mini phono plug

Receiver-Lives on you. Mini plug to your custom in ear monitors. Sound proof and crytstal clear. Each IFB requires 9V battery.

In essence you transmit from camera to you.

JA
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#9 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 12:23 PM

Thanks, John. I'm clear on that setup now. I'm still fuzzy on the kind of shoots where they're using Varicams or other standalone camcorders, and the comms are being run via belt packs, strung back to the control booth.

I'm gathering that I'd need to set my belt pack nearby, with the transmitter plugged into the headset jack on the beltpack. So my question is on how standardized those headset jacks are...?

Mark, The system consist of 2 piece IFB for back of camera with 5 pin only. I never encountered anything on truck shoots

Transmitter-lives on camera, 5 pin cable in back of camera with mic sticking out to talk. 5 pin cable to IFB mini phono plug

Receiver-Lives on you. Mini plug to your custom in ear monitors. Sound proof and crytstal clear. Each IFB requires 9V battery.

In essence you transmit from camera to you.

JA


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#10 Ryan Beatson

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 08:18 AM

Hey all, I have never worked on any multi-camera shoots so I can't help you out with the original question, however I have had a reasonable amount of exposure to talkback comms systems... So I'm just wondering if the IFB send is a stand alone channel from the director to the steadicam op or is it just an easy way to take the wired party line comms system wireless so you're not tethered? And just thinking about it, is there really that much talking that the op does? or are they just receiving stand by and go cues?
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#11 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 01:44 PM

It's a way to untether from the beltpack comm system. Listen only, except some ops have attached mics to the back of the camera for the occasional time they need to talk.
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#12 Joseph Stunzi

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 07:36 PM

Mark,
Can we get a final synopsis of the system you are/have built and perhaps any future modifications you'd like to add or problems you foresee? I know you've been through quit a lot of troubleshooting and research on this.
Joe Stunzi
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#13 Anthony Violanto

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 01:35 AM

I think you guys are making this out to be much more complicated than it needs to be. If you are just trying to listen, that is pretty easy with an IFB. If you are looking for a communication solution and need to also talk, it is a lot more complex.

I think your best bet is to use the packs provided. Otherwise you need to purchase your own wireless comms system (wireless pack and base station), then integrate it at every location (assuming you are working multiple locations). I recommend you look at HME packs. I like the BP850 pack the most. It offers multiple channels. You would be able to configure the primary buttons to talk with truck - You can also assign a secondary button to speak pack to pack (you would be able to put your assist on a pack and have private conversation). You can get a belt pack with either 5 or 4 pin. Personally I would purchase a 5 pin headset and carry a 5 to 4 pigtail for when needed.

Comms companies don't play along, just like camera companies don't play along. You can't throw a DVCProHD tape in an Arri Alexa, and they will never develop a single form of media...

Even with the pinouts correct, you will still run into issues depending on what type of mic is in the headset (dynamic, electrolet, etc...) On a camera you can adjust that by a menu, but with a belt pack, you often need to open it up and change an internal setting - if you can change it at all.
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#14 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 12:36 PM

Anthony,

Thanks for the additional info and perspective. I mainly want to get the listen-only thing happening for my Lectro IFB. Thanks to advice from Robert S as well as a local truck owner, I think I have my adapter needs sorted out to interface with a typical beltpack. (4-pin, 5-pin, male/female.) I'm looking into a custom earpiece, too. I'll post again once I get things wired up and tested.

Definitely owning a small wireless comm system would be an elegant solution!
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#15 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 04:39 PM

Mark, what John said is correct
and easy

Also, Molded ears for your headset rules!!!

I have two sets for traveling and one for studio, They range in price from $150 to $1000 depending on how much you want to pay and how good the quality of sound your hoping for.

They double as awesome ipod headphones on airplanes, skiing, mt biking under helmut stuff
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