By Christine Bunish
The rubber met the road for a number of new HD production trucks and support vehicles this year. Major vendors introduced expandos, hybrids and B units packed with the latest gear to handle any sports or entertainment assignment. Designed with forward-thinking 3G and stereo 3D-ready infrastructures, they represent the first of a new generation of multi-purpose trucks to meet client demands today and tomorrow.
[Right ]Lyon Video’s new MU-11.
Audio room in Lyon Video’s MU-11 with
Calrec Apollo board with Bluefin.
Lyon Video Expands With Super Expando
Bob Lyon, president of Columbus, Ohio's Lyon Video (www.lyonvideo.com) says the company's new MU-11 HD truck is “the largest we've built to date: 53-feet with a 51-foot expanding section. It's physically about the largest expando you can do in a trailer.”
MU-11 continues Lyon Video's “tradition of updating our fleet with the latest generation of equipment,” he reports. “We built the truck to do stand-alone events as an A unit and interface via fiber with our B-5 unit which was built for it.” B-5 is a new 53-foot B unit with 40-foot expanding side. “We went for people comfort,” says Lyon. “The big shows require B units for support for more slow mo, graphics, separate audio mixes and more carts and equipment.”
MU-11's first job was a pre-season Bengals/Colts NFL game in Indianapolis. Major League Baseball coverage for FOX Sports, when the Cincinnati Reds headed into the playoffs, followed along with NCAA football and NBA coverage for ESPN and ABC. The truck has also been used for ESPN's SportsNation show.
“MU-11 can do entertainment, too,” Lyon adds. His company does all the Antiques Roadshow programs in HD for WGBH/Boston.
Gerling & Associates in Sunbury, Ohio built the trailers for the new trucks; Lyon Video handled all the integration for B-5 and shared integration on MU-11 with Bennett System, also in nearby Sunbury. MU-11 is wired and engineered to be 3G compliant and 3D ready.
MU-11 boasts a full-featured Grass Valley Kayenne switcher, Calrec Apollo audio board with Bluefin – “the largest mixer on the road today,” says Lyon – six 6-channel EVS media servers with XFile and Hub systems, a Chyron Duet HyperX3 and optional Vizrt graphics. The truck is pre-wired for 24 cameras and is stocked with 16 Grass Valley LDK-8000 Elites, two Grass Valley LDK-8300 Live Super SloMo cameras for three-times super slo-mo and an array of Fujinon glass, including 101x and 88x lenses. MU-11 offers triax, SMPTE fiber and ST fiber for cameras.
“We feel loaded for bear technically, but we wanted to give people-space due credit as well,” Lyon stresses. “When you're designing a truck it's very important to consider the input of clients' production teams, operating engineers and our own EICs to make a truly user-friendly environment.”
Replay/tape/edit room in Game
Creek Video’s Larkspur.
Audio room in Game Creek Video’s
Larkspur boasts a Calrec Alpha audio
board with Bluefin.
Game Creek Trio Debuts
Hudson, New Hampshire's Game Creek Video LLC (www.gamecreekvideo.com) introduced three new trucks within a span of three weeks: Larkspur, a 53-foot HD single expando which debuted in July and Dynasty, a 53-foot HD double expando, and GCV B-1, a B unit, both of which hit the road in September.
According to president Pat Sullivan, Larkspur is committed to ESPN covering its College GameDay football show then moving on to college basketball in tandem with B-1, although Larkspur was designed “to be able to operate without a B unit to save clients transport costs.”
Larkspur represents a “next-generation design effort” with a 3G-capable backbone and embedded audio, he reports. “It's a step up from what we've built in the last five or six years.”
Dynasty is largely devoted to YES Network programming. During the Major League Baseball season it covered all the New York Yankee games at Yankee Stadium as well as team dates in Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Toronto. It was assigned to the National League championships in Philadelphia then to the World Series in Texas for FOX. The truck next covers eight weeks of NFL Network games.
Dynasty is very similar to Game Creek's Liberty double expando, which was rebuilt last year after a devastating fire. “We made Dynasty 3G capable and added quite a few features we think will withstand the test of time over the next five years,” says Sullivan.
After Gerling & Associates built the trailers, Larkspur and Dynasty were integrated by Hudson-based Icon Broadcast in Game Creek's shop. They are outfitted with Sony HDC-1500R HD cameras, Canon lenses, Grass Valley Kayenne switchers, multiple EVS media servers and Calrec audio consoles.
By building two trucks simultaneously Game Creek was able to secure “pretty aggressive pricing” for equipment. “We got two-fers,” Sullivan points out. “Anybody coming to the table wanting two sets of everything is clearly a lot better off than somebody wanting just one.”
Although B-1 typically works as a hauler, it also features production space and graphics and videotape gear “so it becomes a supplementary production tool for clients,” he explains.
Audio area in F&F Productions’ GTX-16
is equipped with the country’s first Calrec
F&F's Sweet 16
GTX-16, a 53-foot HD double expando from Clearwater, Florida's F&F Productions (www.fandfhd.tv), debuted August 22 doing U.S. Open Tennis for CBS and ESPN.
“Demand from customers made it the right time to build a new unit,” says senior vice president Ryan Hatch. “We were tired of telling clients we weren't available and having them go elsewhere,” adds Marc Orgera, vice president of sales and marketing.
The new truck is almost identical to F&F's double expando GTX-15, which covered the opening and closing ceremonies at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. But GTX-16 features the “latest and greatest” equipment available and packs substantial “firepower,” notes Orgera, including the first Calrec Apollo audio board in the country, a Grass Valley Kayenne with K-2 Summit video server, five 6-channel EVS media servers and a full virtual monitor wall in production and tape. It is 3G compliant and pre-wired for 24 cameras and 25 decks; it currently offers 12 Ikegami 79EC cameras.
“An entertainment show, like the Artist of the Year Award for CMT in November, requires a large amount of decks, and it's no problem to install them along with extra cameras,” Orgera reports. “They're all in a single unit, not in a B unit, which makes it easier for the operator.”
GTX-16 is now covering 'A' college football games for CBS Sports and is booked for the Biathlon World Cup in Maine (with 31 cameras) and Division One Men's Rounds 1 and 2 of the NCAA's March Madness; it will serve as the main truck for CBS during the Final Four.
“The truck has been very well received by CBS and ESPN,” Orgera points out. “In fact, we've got so much good feedback on GTX-16 that we're considering building GTX-17 in 2011.”
F&F integrates its own trucks; builder SPEVCO of Winston-Salem, North Carolina delivers a rack-ready shell of the company's design, then F&F equips it as required. “GTX-16 was delivered to us on July 23 and less than a month later we were the main truck at the U.S. Open,” Orgera notes. “We can turn around a truck quickly and still deliver a flawless production.”
HD-2 from Metrovision was home to TSN’s
Sportscentre show at various communities
in Canada during the summer.
Metrovision Packs Horsepower in a Hybrid
The latest truck at New York City's Metrovision Production Group (www.metrovision.tv) is HD-2, a 40-foot expando hybrid HD production and satellite truck that made its debut on the New York Yankees' opening day.
“We built HD-2 after getting more and more calls for our HD-1 40-foot expando for visitor and split feeds for international broadcast,” notes John Brown, vice president of mobile production. “We decided to put a dish on this truck for a turnkey solution at venues without transmission or fiber.”
Built at L-3 ESSCO in Ayer, Massachusetts which also integrated the Tandberg HD/SD transmission components, HD-2 has a unique configuration and many new features, Brown says. “The dish is countersunk between the cab and the front wall to keep the height of 13.6 feet with a full 31-foot expandable section; other HD satellite expandos are notched in the back losing valuable height and rack space. The dish also has the capability of rotating 360º making it easier to park and find the satellite.”
Inside Metrovision’s new HD-2.
HD-2 is equipped with a Grass Valley Kalypso switcher, two 6-channel EVS media servers and a Calrec Omega audio console with Bluefin. The truck is wired for up to 10 cameras and currently has eight Sony HDC-1500 HD cameras with Fujinon lenses.
HD-2 did a lot of baseball coverage last season, including MLB international split feeds and the Little League Cal Ripkin and RBI tournament championships. Its biggest test came last June as the game truck for the New York Mets/Florida Marlins series in Puerto Rico where it provided “a turnkey solution for the Mets” servicing the games and offering a transmission platform for broadcast, Brown explains.
Beyond baseball, HD-2 covered the western spur of the Kraft Celebration Tour in Canada where TSN's flagship sports news show, Sportscentre, was televised from various communities; just finished Ivy League football; and is now covering some NBA and NHL visitor feeds. Coming up are the MLB winter meetings in Orlando and spring training.
“HD-2's interior design supports all the production and transmission activities of a 53-foot truck without feeling like a 40-foot unit. We often get feedback on the roominess from the EVS and tape crews,” Brown reports.
Production area in CSP Mobile’s HD3.
HD Times Two at CSP Mobile
CSP Mobile Productions LLC in Saco, Maine (www.cspmobile.com) recently transitioned a 53-foot Standard Definition straight truck, built in 2004, to HD “changing over pretty much every piece of equipment” and christening it CSP HD3, says president Len Chase.
“Most of our clients have moved or are in the process of moving to HD broadcasting,” he reports, citing ESPN, FOX and Comcast. “A large part of our business is college sports, but now we're starting to branch out into regional pro sports, too,” such as NHL and NBA coverage in the Boston market.
CSP HD3 was built and designed by CSP. It is wired for 12 cameras and now carries eight Ikegami HDK-77EC HD cameras; six Ikegami super expanders for hard-camera conversions; and one 100x, two 86x and three 72x Canon lenses. Other key gear includes a Grass Valley Kayenne 400 4.5 M/E switcher with internal still store with KlipCache, 6- and 4-channel EVS media servers, a Calrec Omega audio board with Bluefin and Chyron Duet HyperX3 graphics.
CSP HD3 will soon have an HD companion: The company plans to launch its first expando, the 53-foot CSP HD1, January 1. “It will be similar to HD3 but with more equipment and a lot more elbow room,” Chase reports. “Since we plan to do more professional sports we needed an expando.”
CSP HD1 is being built by Calutech in Hammond, Indiana and will be integrated by Little Bay Broadcast Services of Madbury, New Hampshire.
It will be wired for five EVS servers and 14 cameras. Both HD3 and HD1 offer fiber and triax.
“HD1 is 1080/60p-ready so we can go into the 1080p realm down the road,” says Chase.