CP Communications Packs Five Trucks Into One Hybrid

CP Communications is poised to unleash a first-of-its-kind hybrid truck that incorporates five dimensions of the mobile-production ecosystem: audio, video, communications, fiber distribution, and production. Dubbed HD-5, the multiuse 53-ft. straight trailer is set to hit the road in June.

CP HD5 is an audio/video-routing and -distribution ESU truck capable of supporting any signal (including 3D) for multiple clients at one venue within a complete fiber-optic network. It will also function as an eight-camera HD RF mobile unit complete with audio and video QC rooms. When this area is not in use for video shading, it can be used as a B unit complete with a routable monitor wall, RTS communications, and a digital audio-submix facility.

“We’ve packed a whole lot of stuff into this thing,” says Kurt Heitmann, SVP of sales and marketing. “It can have five individual sections. Normally, you’re just going to have an RF truck, or you’re just going to have a B or C unit for the submix or just an ESU truck. Well, we’ve got all that in one truck.”

The trailer was previously deployed as RF-5, an HD RF mobile unit with a large storage area in the back half. However, at the 2010 MLB All-Star Game, Heitmann and company used this storage area for a variety of other purposes, and the concept of a five-dimensional truck took hold as a result.

“The concept started at the [MLB] All-Star Game last year, where we did all the RF cameras, we laid 60,000 ft. of fiber, we provided all the terminal gear, as well as [a variety of] other things,” says Heitmann. “We had all that just laid out in the back of this truck, which was used for storage in the past. That’s when we said, wait a minute, this is a mess. So we decided to build it out specifically for [these additional uses].”

As a fiber distribution trailer, HD-5 is capable of 4096×4096 audio and data routing and 256×256 video and data routing over a single fiber-optic network. Each client can send and receive multiformat audio and video signals from a single distribution point.

Video routing and fiber distribution rely on Multidyne 144-port nine-blade optical routers and HD-4400 fiber-optic frames, as well as Evertz 7700 modules for up/downconversion and distribution. Video and data are supported at the remote trucks via “base devices” that are dropped down at each mobile unit. The video is bidirectional 32×32 HD-SDI or SDI in any format up to 4.25 Gb. The system is scalable up to 64×64 video at each truck. All signals are supported and monitored in the ESU fiber room.

“The main portion of the truck is the ESU,” says Heitmann. “Our ESU is different than other ESUs in that there is no copper; it is pure fiber. Everything comes into us fiber, and everything can route optically to go out of us fiber. But you can bring copper in, too, if it’s needed. We’ll take copper in and convert it to [fiber] and send it wherever you want.”

In addition to the fiber distribution, the truck can support up to eight RF HD cameras of any type (including Sony, Thomson, or Ikegami). RF audio, data, and communications are also supported via fiber and a 53-ft. mast for transmission.

CP HD5 has two complete video RF QC positions capable of shading up to 12 cameras. When not in use for video shading, this area can double as a B unit. In the B-unit configuration, the engineering room becomes the main video QC room, monitoring all video routing and distribution.

The digital audio-submix portion of the unit is based on a 32-fader/160-channel Stagetec Crescendo mixing console and a Stagetec Nexus digital audio-router system.

“Being out there on the road, I saw a lot of B and C units in action, and I felt that many clients were not really getting the maximum amount of utilization out of them,” says Heitmann. “I realized that I have this truck doing plenty of RF work, but I could still keep it busier. That’s where I saw a niche.”

The truck is scheduled for completion in May and is expected to hit the road in June, just in time for the U.S. Open Golf Championship.

“We hope to have it at the U.S. Open golf tournament, and we’re pretty confident that we will,” says Heitmann. “We expect it to stay very busy because it can do so many different things. It’s all there, and then you can pick and choose the parts of the truck you want. If you’re not using it for one thing, you can use it for another.”