Game Creek’s Jason Taubman on the ‘Truck of the Future’

SVG caught up with Jason Taubman, VP of design for truck designer and builder Game Creek Video, between panels at the SVG League Technology Summit on Monday and asked him about the “truck of the future,” the phrase that represents the transition of remote-broadcast trucks to fully digital operation. He opined that, for the most part, that future is already here but the company isn’t making too big a deal out of it.

“The patchbay is window dressing,” he said flatly, referring to the analog TT-type cabled patchbay routing system that has been used for decades to route audio signals on trucks and is still used as the interface even for trucks that have fully integrated routers on board, such as Game Creek’s newest, Victory and Justice, which are deployed by ESPN for NFL and NBA broadcasts.

The networks that commission these trucks, Taubman said, are reluctant to make significant changes to their onboard technology, primarily because they are operated largely by freelance A1s, who depend on being instantly familiar with every piece of gear on a truck.

The migration to an all-digital truck is well under way, he added, noting that it’s an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one, with “window dressing” at key points to make that transition less anxiety-provoking.

“The patchbay looks like an old-style analog patchbay,” he pointed out. “But strip it away, and it’s all digital inside.

Nonetheless, an all-digital truck still has compatibility issues. The main “flavors” of digital audio types, including AES and MADI, are represented but “at the edges” of the router: at peripheral input points, from which such signals are channeled to a central processor for conversion to the router’s proprietary digital format — on Victory and Justice, for example, to the TDM format used by the Evertz router.

MADI could offer more interoperability as the main central digital format, Taubman noted, but it can’t accommodate the huge numbers of channels, soaring well into the thousands, that digital trucks need to handle in the 5.1-discrete era.

“It would be nice to find a new high-density format that everyone could agree on,” he said. For now, the truck of the future still has a bit of Babel to contend with.