Pliant’s CrewCom Magic on Penn & Teller — AV.technology
Systems’ Flexibility and User-Friendly Interface Prove to be Reliable for Season 7 of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us”
Known for their outrageous blend of magic and comedy, Penn & Teller’s Las Vegas show takes a unique approach to live entertainment with provocative, hilarious, and often amazing results. When looking to upgrade the intercom system for season seven of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” Comms A2 Tony Kremer, founder of Kinetic Productions, turned to Pliant Technologies’ CrewCom wireless intercom system. The show required a solution that offers increased flexibility and usability, and seamlessly integrates with the venue’s existing hardwired intercom systems for broadcast and theatrical use. Since 2014, America’s favorite comedy/magic duo has presented their “Fool Us” television show at the Las Vegas Rio Hotel and Casino.
“With our previous system, each base station offered only four 2-channel beltpacks, limiting our capabilities in terms of communication,” says Kremer. “When looking to upgrade our wireless intercom, it was of utmost importance to deploy a flexible system that simplifies frequency coordination and offers up to 4-channels per pack. I was thrilled to find exactly what we were looking for, and then some, with Pliant Technologies.”
Pliant’s 900MHz CrewCom wireless intercom system for “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” consists of a CrewCom Control Unit (CU) located backstage connected to two radio transceivers (RTs/antennas), supporting four 4-channel Radio Packs (RPs) and four 2-channel RPs. With the 4-channel RPs, Kremer can offer additional paths of communication between the four stage managers, house/stage personnel and the All Mobile Video truck throughout the show. Additionally, Kremer chose to go with Pliant’s 900MHz CrewCom model to avoid any interference issues, which is very important given today’s congested RF landscape.
“One thing that immediately impressed me was the ability to configure both 4-wire and 2-wire ports on the same conference within the control unit,” adds Kremer. “This allows for up to eight possible intercom paths within a single control unit for maximum versatility. All paths are adjustable within the CrewWare software, so matching levels was a breeze. Another benefit of the CrewCom system is its advanced assignable ISO feature, which can be engaged on any RP channel via a simple push of the volume button. This allows for private communications between wireless users without interrupting hardwired users in the production truck or the theater. However, the absolute best feature is the automatic assignment of the frequency hopping patterns in the 902-928MHz band, which eliminates the need to coordinate frequencies with the RF microphones and IFBs. This is an amazing timesaver.”
Kremer finds CrewCom RPs to be a sturdy and user-friendly solution that can keep up with the fast pace of live productions. “The rubbery, textured construction of the RPs makes them durable and easy to grip — they literally bounce off the floor if we drop them, instead of falling apart like our previous beltpacks. Also, the four separate volume controls make the user experience much more pleasant and intuitive. Kudos to Pliant for keeping it simple for the non-technical end user.”
In addition, the expandability of Pliant’s CrewCom system has proven to be beneficial for “Penn & Teller: Fool Us.” “Another great feature of the Pliant system is that the CU can accommodate up to 18 RPs, so adding additional packs is easy to do at any time,” says Kremer. “We started off with four RPs and have happily worked our way up to eight. For next season, I plan to add at least four more RPs and one additional radio transceiver, with perhaps some fibre connectivity for long-range applications. I look forward to expanding my CrewCom system and using it on many more shows in the coming years!”