NCP Brings Showtime in To Customize Newest Truck

When NCP set out to build its latest ring-sport–specific truck, NCP XIV, the company turned to the client, Showtime, for input on the design specifics.

“We have had a long history of providing trucks for Showtime Networks for their boxing and ring sports,” says Mike Werteen, SVP of sales and client services for NCP. “The requirements for ring sports are subtly different than for a general-purpose truck, and we wanted to make sure that we incorporated those nuances into NCP XIV.”

Incorporating the Calrec Hydra networking system, MADI audio, and fiber infrastructure, NCP XIV has the resources available to do large productions like Showtime boxing and mixed-martial-arts (MMA) events but can also run as a single unit and serve as a general-purpose truck for other NEP/NCP clients.

Colin DeFord, technical producer for Showtime, worked directly with NCP to make the truck more efficient for the network’s uses, especially in the area of audio.

“We have so much audio that goes to ringside. I wanted to bundle that into a more efficient solution,” he says. “We got all of the ringside audio and video down to two TAC-12 cables, so all of the video, audio, and communications go over about 14 strands of fiber. We are a completely fiber solution at ringside, and that really speeds up our process.”

In helping to design the truck, one of DeFord’s main goals was to give some setup time back to the production team. With the economy down in recent years, he says, production teams no longer have the luxury of a setup day, so making a move to fiber gave production time in the afternoon to do camera checks and work on effects and lighting.

“Instead of spending half the day running copper and going through the troubleshooting issues of copper, now it’s all plug-and-play,” DeFord says. “All we have to wait for is the utilities to pull in two TAC-12s to ringside and the audio guys to roll in a case that fits underneath the ring and plug it in.”

Inside the truck, an ST fiber patch panel offers additional efficiencies, because engineers no longer have to run behind the racks to interconnect all of the ST fiber coming into the truck. All of the data now runs on Ethernet over the fiber as well, so both lighting directors on an MMA show can see the router data more efficiently than ever.

“I’m thrilled that we were able to take the latest technology and incorporate it into this new truck,” Werteen says. “There have been a lot of advances made in the industry, and I’m thrilled that we were able to incorporate them into this truck.”

At the core of the truck is a Grass Valley Kalypso switcher, Calrec Sigma Bluefin audio console, and Utah Scientific 400 router (288 HD in, 564 HD out; 216 AES in, 184 AES out; 72 analog in, 104 analog out). NCP XIV runs with two Sony HDCAM and four XDCAM recording devices, the first NCP truck built with a significant number of XDCAM devices. The truck also has four six-channel EVS replay servers, 10 Ikegami CMOS cameras (wired for 18), and a Chyron HyperX2 graphics system.

NCP XIV travels without a B unit, but NCP built one to travel all the Showtime-specific equipment.

“It’s always great to have your own truck,” says Gordon Hall, VP of production for Showtime sports and events programming. “And it’s great to have a truck specifically designed for your needs. The volume of shows that we’re doing made it more affordable, too.”