PSSI’s New Remote-Production Bus Is Sat Uplink, Live Studio, Greenroom Rolled Into One
While there is no shortage of branded tour buses at major college football games these days, this season, PSSI has rolled out a tour bus of its own that not only increases brand awareness onsite but also serves as a mobile live-production studio with full satellite-uplink capability.
“This is certainly not the only bus servicing the sports industry, but almost none of [the others] are satellite-equipped,” says PSSI GM Matt Scalici. “They are really just traveling greenrooms with a little bit of equipment on board. But this is truly a rolling mobile studio with full satellite-transmission capability. [We can serve] whatever [the client’s] needs may be — whether it’s behind the camera or in front of the camera.”
Integrated by Frontline Communications and equipped with greenroom/live studio, small control room, standup location, and Ku-band sat-uplink, the mobile-production was custom-built for a major college-football package this month and will be on the road delivering live onsite studio shows and reports throughout the season.
A Viewing Area, Too
The main front area of the bus can serve as either a greenroom for talent and staff or a multi-camera studio. The single expando section features leather sofas and pop-up tables, as well as seven LG LCD TVs (five 22-in. and two 47-in.) equipped with a pair of advanced digital-satellite-service-distribution systems that allow up to seven channels to be simultaneously routed to the monitors — both while on the road and parked at the stadium.
“It’s comfortable so you can entertain guests, or it can suddenly become a working area that can house six or eight people,” says Scalici. “Then, if the crew wants to keep an eye on every game that’s going on that day, they have the full suite of games right in front of them. And we can do a multi-camera, multi-talent shoot right from there as well.”
Two Panasonic AW-HE120 robotic PTZ cameras make it possible to produce a show from the same location. A 24-volt LCD lighting strip down the center of the ceiling lights the set, and motorized shades provide the option of shooting with windows open to show the background or closed.
The Control Room at the Center
Behind the main front area is a small room capable of serving as both control room and standup location (equipped with another Panasonic robotic camera) for a single on-air talent with a backdrop.
“They can have a single talent sitting there with a backdrop of college-football brands doing a two-way [interview] with somebody at [the broadcast center] back home,” says Scalici. “A coach or a player or a commentator can sit and be interviewed right from that location.”
The control-room area is outfitted with a Panasonic AV-HS410 switcher, Yamaha QL1 audio-mixing console, PTZ and shade controls for the robo cams, full satellite-transmission control, comms, and other peripheral gear. It is also equipped to produce a six-camera studio show from outside the bus (without graphics, which are integrated back home at the broadcast center).
“From that one spot, the entire bus can actually be operated by a single operator, [who has] access to all of the satellite-uplink controls as well as the production gear from that little cockpit,” says Scalici. “They also can do multi-camera shoots from outside the bus, with this serving as the control room. Quite often, if it’s a beautiful day on a beautiful set, they’ll just do the whole show from outside, and the bus serves essentially as a production truck and probably the finest little mobile greenroom you’ve ever seen.”
A Beast of a Power System
In terms of satellite uplink, the bus delivers a two-channel mux and is outfitted with a 1.8-meter Ku-band antenna and Ericsson dual AVP-3000 satellite encoders and RX 8200 satellite receivers.
“In terms of [satellite transmission], this makes 40 in our fleet, and we are the world’s leading provider of satellite-transmission trucks,” says Scalici. “Our guys have great technological training, and their forte is transmission to ensure that our clients get the product from any remote site back to the network. And that’s exactly what this bus does.”
The mobile-production bus is also equipped with dual diesel generators on board, as well as an extensive battery and inverter system and a massive alternator so that the batteries can be charged while the bus is moving.
“It is a pretty extraordinary power system on board because it has to be autonomous,” says Scalici. “Since it’s not typically going to pull up and have stadium power or generator power like a typical broadcast compound will, everything is on board. It’s like a ship at sea in that it can completely survive on its own.”
More on the Horizon?
The unit was a custom-designed and –built unit, but Scalici acknowledges that its scaled-down, all-in-one blueprint is sure to attract interest from additional broadcasters.
“We have already been approached by some other customers about the possibility of building a purpose-built bus like this for them,” he adds. “So, yes, I certainly can see this expanding. It’s not for everybody, but, when you have a specific job that needs to be done, this is a great solution.”