Proshow’s Maestro Aims to Master Mid-Level Mobile Production Market

As the number of 53-foot HD production trucks on the road continues to grow and SD trucks gradually make their way into the halls of history, a growing mid-sector has developed in the sports production market that demands HD quality at the former SD price-point. With this in mind, Proshow Broadcast is poised to launch its second 40-foot HD mobile unit this August with its sights set squarely on this burgeoning market.

“We are not chasing major sports contracts; that market is well served already. But there is a lot of room for B-level work and lower where we see opportunity,” says Proshow President Tim Lewis. “We have already proven that can serve that market well. This is just the next step so that we are able to serve it better.”

Living Up to a Prodigy
Dubbed Maestro, the new truck follows on the footsteps of Proshow’s Prodigy, a similar 40-foot unit that has served a variety of mid-to-low-level HD shows over the past three years, including college football (Oregon Ducks), NBA dual feeds (Phoenix Suns), minor-league sports (WHL hockey for ROOT Sports), and a variety of entertainment shows.

While the Prodigy experiment proved to be a rousing success, Vancouver-based Proshow saw room to expand further into this mid-level market.

“We loved that sweet spot that Prodigy seemed to hit, but we wanted to take it to the next step without having to get into a full trailer,” says Lewis. “There were a couple key deficiencies in Prodigy that prevented it from getting to the level we wanted. First, we were more than a little tight on space. Secondly, we needed to get a switcher and an that people were used to.”

Every Inch – and Ounce – Counts
Maestro is housed in a Gerling Associates 40-foot Super Stallion (on a Peterbuilt chassis) with 30-foot expando (Prodigy was a straight truck), alleviating the issue of crammed quarters. In addition, Proshow worked with Fred Gerling and his team to develop a unique air-conditioning system and floor plan to maximize space (40’L X 8’6″W X 13’3″H) and weight.

“We wanted a bit of a bigger footprint, but still stay in that compact 40-foot head-to-tail truck,” says Lewis. “We obviously don’t roll B units with these trucks, so you have to keep it compact and make it easy to pack and unpack.”

Maestro’s unique layout accommodates eight seats in the production room, five in the EVS/tape area, and two in the video.

“We think people are going to be really pleased with it,” Lewis continues. “Once they get inside, they are going to be surprised that they are not in a full trailer.”

Standardizing the Gear
With the expanded footprint in place, Proshow turned to the gear complement. Prodigy features a Sony MVS8000 switcher and a Yamaha audio console, both of which served Proshow well but created issues with some regional freelance operators who were used to Grass Valley switchers and Calrec audio consoles. Hoping to eliminate this issue in Maestro, Proshow built the unit around a Grass Valley Kalypso 4 M/E switcher and a Calrec Omega console with Bluefin technology.

“This will be a very familiar environment with the standardized gear that they know almost across the board,” says Lewis. “We just saw more market opportunity if we were a little bigger and a little more standardized on the switcher and audio board.”

Maestro’s equipment complement also includes two six-channel EVS XT2 replay servers (though it is wired for a total of three 6-channel EVSs and eight VTRs) and an EVS XF2 X File, a Chyron Duet HyperX3 HD graphics system, a Sony HDS Series Router (128×128 HD Video
or 128×128 AES audio pairs) and a BMD HD video router, and an RTS ADAM-CS 64 Port Matrix Intercom.

The truck carries a full eight-camera complement (Sony HXC-100s primarily with Canon lenses and a Sony PMW-EX1 XDCAM EX camcorder) and is wired for a maximum of 12 triax cameras.

The production room features a Marshall LCD Monitor wall with Miranda multiviewers.

Taking over for SD
With Maestro joining Prodigy on the road in August, Lewis and company will focus all their mobile production efforts on the two 40-footers with plans to sell off Diva, an SD RV-sized unit previously used for screen switching and in-house video shows.

“We are all HD and have dropped the last of our SD gear,” says Lewis. “There is still quite a bit of SD out there, but we see that coming to an end very quickly and we feel we can fill that niche. As those 53-foot SD units start going offline more quickly, the demand will rise for HD but no one is willing to double their cost for it. We are in a good position for those smaller networks that are looking for an HD solution that can do a six-camera game at a good rate.”