Solotech and Transmission Squelch Combine Premium Equipment and Expertise to Produce a Technically Flawless Broadcast
Honoring the best of Canada’s music industry, the 2012 Juno Awards was broadcast live on the CTV network on April 1. This year’s show, hosted by iconic actor William Shatner and featuring a wide range of live performances, was held in a packed Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.
Charged with ensuring the flawless operation of dozens of wireless systems utilized on the broadcast was Transmission Squelch. The wireless needs for this year’s show included 42 microphones, 28 in-ear monitoring systems, and 28 intercom systems. The systems included eight channels of Shure Axient™ wireless microphones and 18 channels of Shure PSM® 1000 in-ear monitors.
“The wireless systems themselves were provided by Solotech, who brought us in to provide the coordination of all the systems,” says Christian Pageau, co-owner of Transmission Squelch. Pageau was particularly impressed by the Shure Axient system, which utilizes frequency diversity and advanced interference detection technology to ensure flawless wireless operation. “Solotech offered the opportunity to try the Axient and I was very interested, so we agreed to try it during rehearsals,” he notes. “We did a lot of tests during the week, and it worked really well. In fact, it was my decision to use it in the show, and to put it on the main host.”
Shure’s Axient system is particularly well suited to the most difficult RF environments. In addition to its ability to detect and avoid interference before it can be heard, the system boasts a host of tools designed to ensure reliability and ease of use. “The filtering on the receiver is really good, so you can put more frequencies in the same range,” says Pageau. “I also love having remote control of all the transmitter functions. To change the gain, or mute the RF, or even change the frequency at a distance, is incredible.”
During the telecast, Pageau dedicated two Axient channels to host William Shatner, with additional channels assigned to the award presenters. “The two channels for the host were in frequency diversity mode, which was set up to prompt me if a frequency problem was detected,” Pageau states. “They can also be set up for automatic operation, but I prefer to keep my hand on the steering wheel!”
For the show’s musical performers, Solotech provided 24 channels of in-ear monitors, 18 of which were Shure’s new PSM 1000, which features diversity reception to ensure an uninterrupted signal. “Transmission Squelch had tested the PSM 1000 previously on a show in Montréal called Star Academy, and the results were very good,” reports Pageau. “So we asked Solotech to supply them. The diversity worked well everywhere in the venue, even backstage. Everyone was very happy with the system.”
To make all the on-stage wireless work smoothly along with the intercom systems in use by the crew, Christian Pageau used frequency calculation software developed by a Canadian company, EazyRF. He also designed and installed the antenna system for the show. “We ran all the systems for the show with only four antennas – two to receive and two to transmit,” he states. “It was a full active system. For the reception, I was doing a star system, going through a distribution amplifier. The antennas were about 35 feet above the stage on either side. The transmitting system was active combining, with one helical antenna for intercom and another for all the in-ears.”
To keep track of everything during the broadcast, Christian Pageau used Shure’s Wireless Workbench 6 software to complement his own Anritsu Spectrum Analyser. “Workbench 6 was a beta version of the software for the Mac, and it worked perfectly,” he notes. “I use it two ways. I use it to transfer labeling data, which is quicker than dialing each name on each receiver. Then, of course, I use it to monitor the systems during the show.”
As a result, wireless performance on the 2012 Juno Awards broadcast was flawless. “It was really a team effort between Scott Nickerson of Insight Productions, Solotech, and Transmission Squelch,” concludes Pageau. “We did a lot of advance planning and used the best systems available to us, and I am happy to say that everything went very smoothly, with no frequency changes or dropouts. Everything worked perfectly.”