CNN's new mobile news bureau takes HD election coverage on location

CNN first used a mobile news bureau to cover the presidential campaign in 2004, which was a 1980 tour coach. Though crude in design, with folding tables and virtually no connectivity, its potential for much more was obvious.
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Newsroom technology

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CNN/Frontline Communications

Design Team

CNN: David Bohrman, Washington bureau chief and sr. VP; Matt Speiser, Washington deputy bureau chief; Tu Vu, VP, broadcast eng. and sys. technology

BEST: Tom Bentz, resource mgr.; Nathan Payne, assoc. sys. admin.

Frontline Communications: Doug McKay, national sales mgr.; Jeff Steele, sys. eng. mgr.; Robert Donovan, sr. design eng.; Claudio Araoz, design eng.

Parliament Coach: Mike Costello, production mgr.; Ben Cummings, electrical eng.; Paul Tudor, eng. mgr.; Patty Willet, interior designer; Rick May, assistant general mgr.

Technology at work

Apple

OS X servers

Mac Pro stations

X RAID

Final Cut Pro

Building4Media FORK Evertz VIP-12 multiviewer

Harris Leitch Panacea MCL Twin 400W Phase Combined KU HPA

RTS Cronus intercom

Vertex 18SMK4L antenna

CNN’s new mobile news bureau takes HD election coverage on location

CNN first used a mobile news bureau to cover the presidential campaign in 2004, which was a 1980 tour coach. Though crude in design, with folding tables and virtually no connectivity, its potential for much more was obvious. In 2005, CNN decided that a fully customized conversion could provide a premier workspace and give the connectivity that had been missing from the previous coach.

David Bohrman, CNN’s Washington bureau chief and senior VP, wanted to create a multiuse platform that would provide a combination HD studio, satellite transmission center and newsroom with an editing suite. The project required contributions across several disciplines. Frontline, a builder of satellite transmission trucks, provided overall project management and installation of the broadcast electronics. Parliament Motor Coach provided coach interior outfitting and chassis modifications.

The interior was divided into two distinct sections. The front area provides space for the combination newsroom and studio. It features 18 workstation positions capable of providing power, Internet access and communications for each correspondent or producer. When needed, the workstations can be stowed, making way for the interview studio. An integrated makeup space is adjacent to the Final Cut HD edit station. The edit suite houses multiformat ingest VTRs and is integrated with a 17TB, multichannel XSAN for clip storage and playout. Eleven HD monitors provide access to the onboard CATV system, DSS system, off-air signals or the HD router. A 5.1 surround-sound system is also available.

The rear houses five equipment racks for the broadcast transmission center. The broadcast systems comprise a four-path HD digital transmission infrastructure, a 128-port intercom system, several audio mixers and a variety of terminal equipment and patching. The IT data switching system can connect via satellite, or in a variety of different hard-line configurations. The large I/O panels on both the street and curbside allow the system to connect via DS1, DS3 or ADSL. WiFi distribution is available inside and outside the coach.

When completed, the bus was first deployed in July 2007 to Charlestown, SC, where it played a major role in the CNN/YouTube debate. The newsroom and editing facilities were the focus of activity as producers and anchor Anderson Cooper selected video questions submitted by YouTube users. During the debate, the video questions were played off the bus’ server system while the satellite dish fed the program back to CNN in Atlanta.

CNN’s willingness to think outside the norm in broadcast vehicle design illustrates its commitment to deliver the highest quality news reporting to its affiliates and viewers.