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Belden Brilliance

Dome Productions in Toronto recently launched Trillium, a new mobile production studio. The truck is equipped to provide complete turnkey HDTV production and transmission services on a contract basis to clients covering professional sporting events, as well as concerts, awards shows and other high-profile public performances. Trillium is the eighth mobile in Dome's fleet and the third high-definition, multiformat mobile production studio designed by the company in the past three years.

Inside the truck

Building and equipping the trailer took nine months, with three months of that devoted to cable installation and a final month for systems configuration and testing. When the design and engineering plans were completed, Dome selected Toronto-based FCI Technical Installations for the broadcast system installation. Over the past decade, the company has installed all of Dome's production fleet and also provided prebuilt and on-site installation services for the Bell ExpressVu satellite network and for various broadcasters at the past six Olympic games.

When it came to the hundreds of thousands of feet of A/V cabling required to support the truck's complex applications, Dome wanted a thoroughly tested product with consistent quality and reliability. The company chose Belden Brilliance cables.

The entire digital production and transmission studio is housed within an over-the-road trailer truck that measures 53ft long by 8ft 6in wide and 13ft 2in high. A 5ft expansion side extends over nearly its entire length. The truck is capable of supporting 1080i, 720p and 24p HD formats in widescreen 16:9 or traditional 4:3 for standard definition. In addition, Trillium is fully equipped to provide 5.1 surround sound.

The trailer's layout includes a back deck in the audio room for easy add-on of additional gear required for larger productions. Functional spaces inside the trailer include distinct areas for audio, production, VTR and VIDEO/TX.

The mobile has a production monitor wall with an Evertz 10 output virtual monitor driver system and 47 conventional color monitors. A multiformat HDTV digital mobile facility requires an extensive array of electronic equipment, including video tape recorders, cameras and lenses, audio console, intercom/communications equipment, routers, servers, switchers, microphones, interconnect and other system equipment.

The biggest challenges in designing and installing a full-service mobile production truck are the interior space limitations and the over-the-road weight constraint of 80,000lbs. The space has to accommodate all of the cabling, production and transmission equipment, a high-powered air-conditioning system, and workspace for a crew of up to 25 people. Everything must be well-thought out to be clean, compact and efficient. Accomplishing this requires ingenuity and creativity. For example, in this truck, the AC return air ducts act as a conduit for some of the cabling.

Equipped with rack-mounted HD transmission encoders, decoders and modulators, the mobile is typically used by clients providing their own production and transmission crews. Some clients ask Dome to source camera and production crews. The need for HD trucks is growing, especially for sporting events. To ensure reliable performance, Dome conducts extensive testing of the system and performs its own certification before contracting the unit out to clients.

Cabling the mobile broadcast infrastructure

Approximately 371,000ft of Belden Brilliance A/V cables have been installed in the Trillium mobile digital production truck. Specifically:

  • 150,000ft of miniature coaxial video cable (1855A)
  • 57,000ft of precision video coaxial cable (1505A)
  • 35,000ft of DigiTruck subminiature coax for broadcast mobile trucks (179DT)
  • 78,000ft of line level analog audio cable (9451)
  • 14,000ft of RG-11/U type video triax cable (1857A)
  • 1000ft of shielded multipair snake cable (8777)
  • 36,000ft of Cat 5e UTP cable for data transmission (1583R)

Belden sweep tests and certifies these video coax cables to 4.5GHz to ensure superior return loss performance, even at higher frequencies. And the DigiTruck (179DT) cables are lightweight, crush-resistant precision video coax designed specifically for use in mobile broadcast trucks where load-weight and space are prime concerns. The cables deliver high-quality performance in analog, SDI, HDTV and AES/EBU digital audio transmissions. Because of the sheer volume of audio cable in and out of the patchfields, and the physical limitations of the cable pathways, this tiny coax increased capacity, in addition to providing weight savings.

Mobiles keep busy

After the truck's inaugural event covering NBA Toronto Raptors basketball, Trillium was contracted to cover a variety of high-profile events in a wide range of locations, including NHL hockey in Montreal and Ottawa; Major League Baseball in New York, Toronto and Chicago; and a Coldplay concert in Toronto.

Kip Coates is marketing manager of entertainment products and Dave Kennedy, project manager for the Dome Production project at Belden.