Sony MVP trailer proves size doesn’t matter during debut at Big 12 Baseball Tournament

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Oklahoma City and the Big 12 baseball tournament at AT&T Bricktown Park, home of the Oklahoma RedHawks, hosted more than just a tournament this year. It also hosted the inaugural use of “MVP” a new concept in remote production design from Sony and NMT’s Venue Services Group that is designed to address the demands of those who need mobile video services but can’t justify building a $12 million, 53-foot HD trailer.

The trailer, which measures about 18 feet from front to back and is about 10 feet wide, housed a small production crew that was taking in video from four Sony cameras in the stadium and pumping it out to the Web for streaming via Broadcast One and onto the in-house Daktronics scoreboard. The scoreboard was fed a downconverted HD signal.

“It went very well,” says Pete Dilorio, Sony Electronics senior marketing manager, systems solutions. “The pictures were gorgeous and it looked great on the Daktronics screen.” The only major problem? An overly zealous groundskeeper who habitually ripped up the fiber cables on the field.

Along with the four Sony HDCX300K box HD cameras with Camplex fiber interfaces the unit also have an XDCAM F350 HD camcorder (configurable for field or studio use) and a Sony MFS2000 multiformat production switcher with 16 inputs and 1.5 mix effects. An XDCAM PVWS70 is on hand to record the event while two DSR1300 decks handle playback and replay. A ClearCom intercom and a single-channel Chyron Duet system round out the complement in the main control room while a separate audio area has a four-channel Mackie mixer and a full range of processing gear for two-channel audio (if desired a second audio board can be located in the main production room). Routing is handled via patch or auxiliary buses on the switcher.

The truck, which Sony has driven down to Orlando for this past week’s National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics convention, is ideally suited for high school or collegiate athletic events that will be streamed on the Internet, displayed on scoreboards, or delivered over local television. With pricing beginning just under $1 million the unit could be purchased and then drive around campus to various sporting and other events, giving students an opportunity to experience TV production first hand. Dilorio says the truck also allows for a more professional production than otherwise possible.

“When a venue like [AT&T Bricktown Park] needs to do a production they’re lucky if they have an in-house production facility that can do the job,” says Dilorio. “If they don’t they have a shoestring budget and can’t afford to rent a truck from the large remote production companies. But some of those companies are interested in MVP to do smaller events.”

Lessons are already being learned about how to make the truck more user friendly. “We think a two-channel Chyron Duet system will be more robust and we also might end up changing the replay controllers to improve functionality,” says Dilorio.

Redesigning the jackfields is also being considered to make it easier to set up. “We want to keep set up as simple as possible because there might not be a dedicated engineer in charge,” adds Dilorio. “We want to make a full-blown remote as much plug-and-play as possible.”

Even ad insertion is possible. Earl Patton, Sony Electronics sports marketing manager, says a variety of corporate sponsors at the ballpark had their commercial spots played off of disk recorders (they were dubbed in via a DVD recorder usually used for reference recording). “Momentum and interest in MVP is gaining,” adds Patton. “We’ll have buyers on the line shortly especially as we continue to display the unit and show its functionality.”

With one event under its belt and a second demo occurring this week it’s clear that Sony and Venue Services Group are looking to solve a vexing problem for the industry: cost-effective, high-quality productions of events that simply don’t have enough revenue to support high-end prices.

“The user can pick the features they want, like higher-end cameras or an MVS8000 production switcher,” adds Dilorio. “We change the bits and pieces until the customer is happy.”