Group One Limited Vice President, Chris Fichera

Group One Limited Vice President, Chris Fichera

How Calrec & Group One Are Helping

By Chris Fichera

We are in extraordinary circumstances, but as the title of this blog suggests, the shows must go on and we are here to help. Of course, our first priority is the health and safety of our staff, their families, our partners and the people who make up our wider community. Our second priority is helping our customers and potential customers continue to be as productive as possible.

Before I get to that in more detail, I’m going to briefly explore how our relationship has developed with Calrec and how we use our expertise and US market knowledge to work closely together to ensure that its console and networking technologies reflect the needs of US customers.

For those who don’t know, Group 1, which I co-founded with Jack Kelly about 30 years ago, has an extensive history across the media and entertainment market. Prior to forming Group 1, I have a history as both a recording engineer and sales engineer.

When we started working with Calrec in 2016 our initial job was to understand in more detail what the US market needed, talking to integrators, consultants and potential customers to understand requirements. There’s no two ways about it — that certainly took time!

But that process helped to cement our relationship with Calrec and our input was essential in order to achieve the growth we are seeing in the US. Let’s take Type R as a key example. Initially launched two years ago as modular, expandable, IP-based radio system (Type R for Radio), working with US customers we could see that it would also have applications in the TV market. We went back to Calrec and had extensive discussions with the technical team so that they understood how the product could be evolved so that was suitable for both the TV and radio marketplaces. And that lead to the development of Type R for TV.

That’s a prime example of the dynamic relationship between Calrec and Group 1, and it also shows that our efforts didn’t fall on deaf ears. It’s vital that we listen to our customers, and feed that back to the development team in the UK. This may sound like an obvious thing but how many companies really do it? As well as customer visits, which can involve members of the UK development team, it also involves sitting down at trade shows and getting face-to-face time with key customers so that everyone understands what they need to do.

So how can we help given the current situation? With NAB cancelled along with other shows, we’re working with Calrec to provide virtual ways to educate, advise and help train our customers (both existing and potential), and to understand how their needs have changed in the short, and possibly long term, too. We have solutions out in the market already in terms of remote production – with RP1 – and virtual mixing with VP2.

We are setting up interactive demonstrations of Calrec Assist, the VP2 setup and control application that runs in a web browser on Mac, Windows and Linux devices, giving users a virtual desk running on a laptop. Calrec’s virtual environment is set up via a web browser to connect to Calrec Assist’s straightforward UI and allows the user to set up shows, memories, fader layout, patching, bus setup, labelling on their own device, anywhere in the world.

We want to show and not tell, providing participants with a virtual panel and showing them how they can mix a show virtually. People can experience this in real-time. There will be more news about this soon. This is a good time to help people understand what the possibilities are, again both in the short and long term.

We have already completed a number of IP webinars direct with customers, and we are looking at expanding that; AoIP is, of course, one of the key subjects (we will return to this in a future blog), as well as remote production and virtualised consoles.

We know that everyone is under extreme pressure in multiple ways and we are doing all that we can to help. Please get in touch to find out how we can specifically help you and your organisation.

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