New Trucks Fine-Tune for the Future, Part III
While a wave of 53-ft. HD expando trucks from such vendors as NEP, Game Creek Video, and F&F Productions hit the road this year to cover large-scale sporting events at major broadcast compounds, a few smaller HD units were also introduced to serve smaller venues and/or budgets.
Chicago-based Trio Video’s new Tempo, a 48-ft.-long unit with a split axle, is designed to get into tight spaces at big-city venues, which was sometimes difficult with the company’s three existing 53-footers: Phoenix, Rhythm, and Tango. In addition to taking up less space when parked on a city street at a theater or marathon venue, Tempo is equally adept at squeezing into big-event compounds that might already be populated with a dozen mobile units.
“The strategy was to get a truck that would be able to fit in some tighter spots but also have the power of all the bigger trucks,” says Trio Video Project Manager Roger Redensek.
Tempo has a 29-ft. expando section and a central control-room area with a monitor wall with some 67 discrete Marshall 10.4-in. LCD screens. Like previous Trio trucks, it is equipped with a wide array of Grass Valley equipment, including a dozen LDK 8000 cameras, a 4M/E Kalypso switcher, a Trinix NXT HD video router, and a Concerto Series audio router. The Concerto is used to distribute AES digital and analog audio signals, timecode, and machine-control commands. Graphics are handled by Chyron HyperX3 systems.
The only major difference in equipment from previous Trio trucks is the use of Cobalt Digital signal-distribution and infrastructure gear. Redensek likes the flexibility of the Cobalt products, which are based on the openGear modular standard and allow video- and audio-processing cards from multiple manufacturers to be supported in the same 2RU modular frame.
“That allows me to interface with other manufacturers’ equipment as we’re preparing for the capability of easily moving our infrastructure into the 3-gig world,” says Redensek.
While many sports trucks have moved to virtual-monitor walls driven by multi-image display-processing systems, Redensek chose discrete LCD monitoring for Tempo. That move saved space, he says, because the rack spaces for the monitors can be shallower. He also prefers the look of discrete monitors and believes they cut down on setup time.
“It gives you a little more definition between monitors, rather than having them all together,” says Redensek. “And I like it for the ease and speed of setup: it doesn’t become a choke point waiting for the EIC [engineer in charge] to program the monitor wall.”
On the East Coast, HD-2, the 40-ft. expando truck from Metrovision Production Group, was launched last spring with the express purpose of expanding the HD-programming slate for regional sports network YES. A hybrid production/satellite-uplink truck, HD-2 was designed to produce special pre- and post-game shows during the Yankees baseball season, occasional remotes for The Mike Francesa Show, and Ivy League college football and college basketball coverage during the fall and winter.
The truck boasts much of the functionality of a conventional 53-ft. HD truck while also having a 1.8-meter Sat-Lite Ku-band antenna and Ericsson MPEG-2 encoders and transmission gear, which lets YES pump HD from smaller venues that don’t have fiber connectivity. The satellite dish is mounted up front, countersunk between the cab and the front wall, to save precious headroom in the main production space. The truck can seat up to 20 for entertainment events.
HD-2 travels with a 31-ft. support unit and provides two-tier seating for nine people. Key gear includes a Harris Leitch Platinum 256×256 router and Centrio 96-input multiviewer, a Grass Valley Kalypso 4M/E switcher, Sony HDC-1500 cameras with Fujinon lenses, Sony HDCAM VTRs, Chyron HyperX graphics, a Calrec Omega Bluefin audio console, and an RTS Cronus intercom system.
So far, HD-2 has handled its expected load for YES as well as picking up plenty of work from other clients, says Metrovision President Jim McGillion. Sportsnet NY used it to cover a Mets-Marlins series in Puerto Rico, TSN for Toronto Blue Jays coverage, and CBS College Sports for an Army football game at West Point; NHK has also deployed it for international telecasts. Other work includes concert and parade coverage, including this week’s Veterans’ Day parade for NBC. Most clients take advantage of HD-2’s satellite uplink, either as the primary transmission path or as backup to fiber.
“People like it because it’s a small footprint where there are multiple trucks,” says McGillion. “They’ve been talking about using it for the Masters, Super Bowl, and NCAA basketball.”
He adds that, if Metrovision is able to win a long-term commitment from another RSN and secure the necessary financing, the company might build another small hybrid truck like HD-2 next year. “In our market, the small trucks have been received well by the regionals, by entertainment, and by foreign broadcasters. They think it’s a cost-effective solution, either as a split truck or as B truck for games.”