Creative Technology Helps Caterpillar Get "Dirty" at ConEXPO

03 June, 2020

When the dirt starts flying, the first company that comes to mind is Caterpillar!

Their iconic yellow machines have been building the world’s cities, digging the mines and powering the largest vehicles since 1925. And when it comes to showcasing their products at the bi-annual ConEXPO construction trade show in Las Vegas, big is what they do. To support this ambitious project, their production partners at Agency EA looked to Creative Technology to provide full video, LED and audio support.

The highly planned event, where literally thousands of tons of specially produced dirt is dug, bulldozed and graded is more akin to a Blue Arrows display than the average construction site. Led by CAT’s big rig choreographer Chad Cremeens, communication between the operators is critical to a safe and effective demonstration of machines weighing hundreds of tons each and working just inches apart. Additionally, the operators themselves present to the audience & field questions during the demonstrations, all while needing to keep their hands on the joysticks & wheels of these highly complex machines.

Creative Technology’s Director of Audio, Philip Barrett was brought into the process at a very early stage in the planning and design. “The operators were already used to presenting and driving at the same time, the problem we had to solve was how to safely translate this from their formal proving grounds to a more fluid & less controlled environment.” Working with Agency EA Producer Jeff Sasz and Element Studio’s Technical Director Jeff Pugrant, Barrett settled on a communications and presentation package designed around CT’s large inventory of Riedel Bolero wireless intercom systems.

“The Bolero, with its powerful programming capabilities, was the perfect solution” says Barrett. “Each operator had a beltpack which remained permanently keyed open to both intercom for driver communication and to the Riedel matrix for audience presentations. Chad’s Bolero pack was then programmed so that with the push of a button he could make himself and any operator live to the house mix console to create the informal, interactive audience experience they wanted. As a fallback, each driver also had a mic kill switch we built specifically for this event, clipped to their safety vest & within easy reach to mute themselves in an emergency.”

Programming this complex system was CT’s intercom technician Alex Olivares who integrated the Bolero package into the show management Riedel Artist system allowing the Stage Manager Producer and multiple ASMs to further direct operations. Finally, CT A1 Jim Ostrom mixed the audio feeds from the operator Bolero packs into the overall live and broadcast

“For 3 days of competitions and demonstrations the system performed flawlessly” claims Barrett. “Coverage was obviously never a problem, even through safety glass and plate steel, and with the power of the Riedel programming we could adapt quickly to the changing and growing needs as the production team realized the power and flexibility of the system and how it could help further enhance their event.”