NEP Revamps 3D Truck Fleet With Overhauled SS31, Brand-New SS32

Just in time to keep pace with ESPN3D’s growing event schedule, NEP Broadcasting has hit the road with two new 3D mobile-production trucks: a revamped version of its original SS3D1 and a brand-new truck, SS32. Rather than work within the framework of the original SS3D1, the first mobile-production truck built to support live 3D events, NEP retired the old truck, using some of the pieces to build its replacement, SS31.

“The old truck served its purpose to let us develop and try 3D techniques,” explains George Hoover, CTO of NEP Broadcasting. “It was time for it to come out of service and be replaced by what we had learned.”

Those learnings included creating bigger and better-organized tape and video areas, incorporating improved 3D wiring infrastructure, and building a monitor wall to match that of NEP’s second 3D truck, SS32.

“We had a six-week window to move based on workload, so the challenge was to work within that timeframe,” Hoover explains of the changes to SS31. “Rather than taking something that was HD and adapting it to do 3D, we had the opportunity to start over and really get organized for the left and right eyes.”

Similar to its original incarnation, SS31 is a single-expando with a front-to-back control room and a Calrec Q2 audio console. The truck also has the same switcher – a Sony MVS-8000A – along with EVS XT2 servers, support for 10 tape machines, and the ability to support 14 PACE 3D camera rigs in a variety of configurations.

“The other addition is it now has a B-unit to house stereographer and convergence people so they no longer have to share space,” Hoover says. “We’re now able to give everybody the room that they’re accustomed to working in.”

SS32, NEP’s second dedicated 3D mobile production truck, also has a separate B unit for stereographers and convergence, but as a slightly bigger truck, SS32 can support 20 3D camera rigs.    “It is a 3-gigabit-capable production truck with a Sony MVS-8000X switcher in it,” Hoover explains. “That’s a significant improvement, being able to produce in 1080p, but otherwise both trucks are functionally the same.”

SS32 is also equipped with a variety of PACE 3D rigs that include Sony cameras and Fujinon lenses, EVS XT2plus servers, Sony SRW and Panasonic DVC Pro tape machines, and a Calrec Alpha audio board with BlueFin.

SS32 is contracted out to ESPN as the primary mobile unit for ESPN’s 3D coverage and will make its debut at the Home Run Derby on July 11.

“We’re looking forward to getting down to the serious business of really doing 3D as a regular recurring thing, not an experiment, not a demonstration, not a test, but real television shows,” Hoover says. “The part that makes it so exciting is to have the same group of people working week in and week out on shows so that techniques can be refined and improved.”

With two 3D trucks already on the road, is a third NEP 3D unit far behind?

“We’re talking about it,” Hoover says. “I wouldn’t be surprised. Essentially we have retired SS3D1 for the moment, but the pieces and parts will ultimately come back as something. We’re not sure what just yet.”