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01.08.2010
BUF Sport Makes Replays Fast and Easy
Mike Bacon

TWINSBURG, OHIO
Classic Teleproductions is an Emmy Award-inning video production company founded in 1980. We're based in Northeast Ohio, and have evolved into a full service production company with a 15,000 square-foot studio and four remote units.

Like any company, our success lies in our ability to meet our customer's needs in an ever-changing environment. In 1997, a client approached us with a unique opportunity. Our response transformed our company in many ways—all because of the way we built our first mobile unit.

DESIGNING A NEW PRODUCTION VEHICLE

Our goal was to map out a niche for not only this core client, but the industry as a whole. We designed a 24-foot production truck, which included five cameras, 24 channels of audio, graphics and multiple channels of replay—and at an attractive price point. There are numerous considerations in building such a mobile unit. The cameras, audio and graphics were pretty straightforward. One area that we spent a great deal of time in analyzing was video replay. At the time, videotape-based replay was the standard. Tape—while reliable—was slow, cumbersome and maintenance intensive. Back then, a few manufacturers were introducing disk-based replay systems. The concept of disk-based replays intrigued us, due to its instant access, elimination of costs associated with tape head replacement, and the benefits resulting from decreased weight and equipment real estate requirements—all key considerations in the niche we were trying to create.

We purchased a two-channel unit from an established manufacturer, installed it as the primary replay in our truck and immediately found that reality was not in line with the concept.

We had trouble from the start, as the disk-based replay unit we selected was unstable and unreliable. In the end, we went back to tape-based units for the sake of reliability.

SEEING THE LIGHT WITH BUF

Finally at NAB 2003 we witnessed a demonstration of BUF Technology's Sport. The unit was the size of the proverbial breadbox, and while beautiful in its simplicity, it was loaded with features. We shared our experiences with disk-based systems with the BUF engineers at the show. They explained in detail why their product would be different. That convinced us and we placed an order for a single Sport that summer.

Originally, we were considering the unit for our second mobile unit, a new and smaller 18-foot truck. We took delivery of the Sport in August and were really impressed. It worked flawlessly right out of the box.

That initial unit found its way into our primary mobile unit at the start of the football season. Within a month, we bought a second Sport, and then we just kept adding more and more units.

Currently each of our remote units has one or more of BUF's Sports installed—there are now seven in all. Everyone loves them. Operators find them very intuitive, with an experienced tape operator being able to just review the instructions and then be creating play lists in a matter of minutes. Engineers appreciate the units, as they install like a tape machine but are only about 1/5 of the size. And best of all, we have never had a problem with them.

Mike Bacon is a 19-time Emmy Award winning producer/director, and is vice president of Classic Teleproductions. He may be contacted at michael.bacon@ClassicTeleproductions.tv.

For additional information, contact BUF Technology at 858-451-1350 or visit www.buftek.com.



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