NMT's DX11 mobile production facility

In August of 2001, National Mobile Television added a new face to its fleet of 46 mobile units, unveiling its latest digital mobile television production facility. It resides under the name DX11. DX11 represents an innovation of design and technology.
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In August of 2001, National Mobile Television added a new face to its fleet of 46 mobile units, unveiling its latest digital mobile television production facility. It resides under the name DX11. DX11 represents an innovation of design and technology.

In an effort to please both production and engineering, a collaborative approach to the design and construction of this unit was used. DX11 is a 53-foot production trailer with a 47-foot curbside expando that opens up an additional five feet, bringing the overall width of the trailer (with stairs) to almost 21 feet! This design allows clients to enjoy a large and open production area, yet still provides ample room and access for engineers to work. DX11 achieves all of the goals NMT set for its new production facility, providing ample production and engineering space that allows smooth workflow and houses state-of-the-art technology.

NMT’s floor layout design

The floor layout represents two different designs already in use by NMT’s DX6, A35, HD1 and HD3. Working with Aluminum Body Company and then Gerling and Associates, NMT made several innovations to the DX11. Starting in production, there is an extra-wide front row, allowing seating for up to four production crew members, including the technical director, and a split row that can accommodate additional production or technical personnel. It is here that NMT has installed a Grass Valley Group Kalypso live production switcher and Accom’s Dual Twin DVEous. All of the production crew benches, including that of the graphics operator, have been equipped with Marshall Electronics flat screen LCD courtesy monitoring. The production monitor wall consists of over 90 B&W and color monitors, and the wall itself has been ‘toed-in’ some 15 degrees on each end to provide an inviting environment for the production crew. The production monitor wall is set up in two halves so that when placed into position, it leaves one half in the expanded section of the unit. Rather than create extra expando floor supports outside the unit, or risk ruining the tiling by rolling the monitor wall into place, this half of the wall slides into position on overhead rails that are supported from the expando ceiling with additional support on the floor. This makes for ease of set up, and helps to relieve a great deal of weight that would otherwise be placed on the expando floor.

DX11, like two other NMT units, DX6 and A35, places the audio booth in the center of the mobile unit between the production and videotape areas. This design allows engineers and operators the comfort of access to all working spaces without ever having to step outside. The Solid State Logic Axiom MTP audio console was chosen for the DX11. Located above the Axiom console, NMT once again employs the use of the Marshall LCD monitors, again to reduce weight, but also to reduce the amount of heat created toward the rear of the console while increasing the amount of cold airflow around the console. The console can handle over 200 inputs.

The videotape area also features a new rack layout and design. Five Sony DVW-A500 Digital Betacams and one Sony BVW-75D are housed in the upper third of the tape racks with all monitoring located beneath. This allowed NMT and Gerling to recess the monitors in the wall below to create almost two feet of workspace depth for the videotape operators. This also lowered the sight line for the operators’ crucial color monitors, allowing a more ergonomically correct and productive operator’s position. DX11 is designed to accommodate two-dozen tape- and/or disc-based recording and replay devices. DX11 enters the 2001 NFL season with 16 channels of DDR capability installed and can be expanded to accommodate several more devices.

The rear bench in videotape is home to four sets of dual Marshall Electronic flat-screen LCDs and two 17-inch Marshall Electronic LCDs. Utilizing this flat-screen technology with every monitor on the rear bench affords the EVS operator and any other production staff more workspace. As with most tape room environments, this rear bench rolls in for transport; however, with its lighter, more energy-efficient design, the desk provides a productive workspace that sets up quickly. The layout for the terminal and transmission area is a natural evolution from our HD units, with one important change. The floor in this area has been raised approximately four inches to allow for increased airflow return to the two 10-ton air-conditioning units on the front of the trailer. This was done without compromising headroom and engineering workspace in the terminal area, and provides the necessary cooling for all of DX11’s major components, such as the THOMSON Multimedia Venus 192x192 analog and digital routing system and RTS/Telex 128-port ADAM intercom system. The terminal and transmission area have also been given their own outside access door, so engineering can come in and out of the truck without disturbing any of the production or operating areas. Because the racks in the terminal and transmission area face the street side of the unit, NMT installed access doors along the outer shell of the trailer, providing access to the rear of each rack, including transmission, videotape and audio.

The video operators’ area of the mobile unit is located parallel to and behind the terminal area at the head end of the trailer (beside the rear bench in videotape). This location gives the video operators their own entrance from outside and the ability to close off from production. The rear of the CCU controls for the THOMSON Multimedia LDK 10s and LDK 20s open up into the terminal area, allowing ease of access for maintenance and troubleshooting for NMT’s engineers.

National Mobile Television and its integration and wiring partner, Bennet Systems, were careful in laying out and wiring DX11 to ensure complete flexibility and future integration with other NMT mobile units. By standardizing major systems on all of the DX series of digital production units, NMT is able to provide large production facilities for any size event. Communications, switching and routing systems can all be combined to create systems that allow productions such as the World Series, The Masters and the X Games to fully use and exploit the digital features of these units.

Chris Brown is operations coordinator for the CBS Sports Field Operations of National Mobile Television.