UAE-based Se7en Production and Events is the leading provider of mobile production services in the Middle East. In October, 2010, in order to support the region’s accelerated demand for HD production, it became the first local independent company to build a full HD truck.
Our aim with the HD truck was to provide local and international clients with solutions that would make multi-format production for high profile live events as uncomplicated as possible, using the very latest in HD technology.
At 16.8m long, our semitrailer OB unit has four production rooms, two video production areas, one audio control, and one video control. It was designed with capacity for 18 fiber cameras, and we’re proud to say it’s the first production truck in the region to offer two production rooms and two director positions (for main and studio productions). When it comes to football matches, the main match is directed in one production room, with direction for the studio performed in the second production room; based on three to four cameras.
Of all the crucial pieces of kit within the truck, the core router and surrounding infrastructure are probably the most significant; both with regards to long-term investment and criticality. There were four key elements on our wish list for the truck’s router. These were a high-level of redundancy, easy fiber connectivity, true multi-format capability, and rapid reconfiguration between productions.
Since our HD truck hit the road last year, we’ve covered a myriad of events such as the Doha Athletic league, the Samsung Diamond League Athletics Grand Prix Series, the first regional edition of the inaugural World Robot Olympiad Competition in Abu Dhabi, and the opening ceremony of Asia Net’s STAR VIJAY TV channel. Currently we’re working on UAE football league, Camel Race.
These prestigious events are viewed by audiences worldwide and have a lot of sponsorship riding on them. This means that it’s essential to have a sound business continuity plan in place in case of any failures – and this is one of the main reasons we chose Miranda’s NVISION 8500 Hybrid router.
As the router sits at the heart of the truck, literally routing everything in and everything out, redundancy is obviously a very high priority. If a failure should occur, maintenance work must not impact our on-air or production operations. We rely on the NVISION router’s full 1+1 redundancy capability. If something ever goes wrong, all of the truck’s outputs can be “gang-switched” to a redundant crosspoint card during the next vertical interval. So far we haven’t experienced such an occurrence, but this level of redundancy gives us real peace of mind.
Another necessity with regards to routing within the truck was fibre. All 14 of the truck’s SONY HDC1500 cameras are fib34, along with most of the other equipment within the truck. This includes a SONY DVS8000 HD Vision Mixer, 6-channel EVS, Pro6 Digital Sound Mixer and Eclipse Intercom.
Our NVISION 8500 Hybrid router provides fiber inputs and outputs, using SFP modules. This means that we can easily mix fibre and coax within the same frame as required. Unit 7 also has to deal with multiple formats, from analogue to digital to high-def. In fact, I believe the truck is the only mobile unit to offer multi-format (HD16) cameras across the Middle East.
Currently, the router is configured with a mix of SD and HD as 98x42, but we’ll be expanding the router I/Os up to 144 x 144 very soon. As the router provides an easy upgrade path to 3Gbps, we’ll be also ready for 3D production when the demand picks up. With regards to control, we selected two different control panel types to sit under Miranda’s NVISION 9000 system controller: The NV9602 button per source panels and NV9601 XY/multi-destination panels. Seven redundant control panels are installed with the router so that each one can operate independently, with two further NVISION Compact routers acting as back-up, and for the engineers to make additional changes.
The NVISION 9000 controller enables us to address many different workflow requirements. This allows our truck to be quickly reconfigured for any event, sport or TV production that may come our way. The controller’s software uses a SQL relational database, so key data only needs to be entered once. When the production is ready, the Miranda configuration makes it obvious as to how operators should route and distribute feeds; no matter how complex the job.
Alongside the router, we use Miranda’s Densité signal processing modules for up/down/cross conversion. These processors simplify signal management with multiple functions on a single card, and with multiple cards housed in a highly space efficient frame.
In summary, our router system has maximized resilience and saved space, weight and power consumption. It’s designed to support us in any production situation – whilst making our operations simpler, even in the most demanding circumstances. This type of capability is essential as we build our regional production services across the Arabian Gulf.
Wolfgang Reeh is owner and Managing Director of TV Skyline.