At Home on the Road

Game Creek Video in Hudson, N.H. has deployed Grass Valley’s Kayenne Video Production Switcher in its Liberty OB vehicle.

HAMILTON, N.J.— As the need for compelling television content grows, especially for live sports and special events, mobile production truck companies are seeking a larger variety of switchers. At the high end of the market, Grass Valley production switchers continue to dominate on 53-foot expandos that crisscross the country covering top sports and entertainment events.

But mid-range and compact production switchers are in demand for smaller trucks and Sprinter vans that cover regional and local sports and events. While the high-end switcher market is focused on dazzling viewers with unprecedented firepower and whiz-bang effects, the mid-range market wants to conserve money and space while delivering solid production values viewers expect.

At Grass Valley, the research and development of new production switchers, like the latest Kayenne, often involves the input of technical directors in the process. Experienced TDs who are sought after to preside over live telecasts like the Super Bowl or World Series insist on Grass Valley switchers because they’re familiar with their operation and workflow.

Blackmagic Design’s ATEM production switchers are popular choices for companies offering small mobile units, vans, and flypacks. “The convention of putting more and more buttons on ever bigger control panels had to stop. Through our close association with top TDs in broadcasting, we’ve perfected the control panel of Kayenne to allow faster, easier access to the most commonly used features,” said John Naylor, senior director, production switchers for Grass Valley in San Francisco. “We’ve also added many new TD-inspired timesavers like Source Rules, among other improvements to streamline workflow. Source Rules automates tasks, such as bringing up the sponsor’s logo whenever a particular camera is on the program-output.”

Also, Grass Valley added over a hundred 2D/2.5D DPMs (DVEs) to Kayenne, making it easier to do effects, such as box-outs of many different sources. “For auto racing, the TD might box-out 16 drivers’ in-car cameras capturing their expressions as they wait at the starting line,” Naylor said.

Available in 6- or 13 RU frame sizes, Kayenne and its processing component K-Frame are field-upgradable and consume less power to hold the line on operating costs. NEP in Pittsburgh, Game Creek Video in Hudson, N.H., Lyon Video, in Columbus, Ohio, and Mobile Television Group in Denver, are among the mobile production companies using Grass Valley Kayenne switchers for major league sporting events.

Kahuna 360, Snell’s flagship production switcher in the Kahuna line, is designed for flexible configuration and resource sharing as well as concurrent multiformat operation. According to John Carter, senior product manager for production switchers for Snell in the United Kingdom, “Several production control rooms can share the firepower of one central Kahuna 360 rather than buying multiple units dedicated to each suite. This allows flexible scheduling, less complex wiring, and less space and power consumption.”

KBVO, the MyNetwork TV affiliate serving Austin, Texas, uses a Broadcast Pix Granite 1000 Video Control Center to produce local high school football and basketball games. One control room could utilize all of the switcher’s resources, or several control rooms can share the inputs, outputs, and sources from their own control panels. “This is also true for truck fleets where the main truck produces the program feeds but auxiliary trucks can share switcher resources to produce secondary shows, like live Webcasts,” Carter said.

“On large events, the switcher drives signals to the multiview display and oftentimes big screens in the venue as well,” he added. “If operators switch the main show in 1080i HD, the switcher can simultaneously feed 1080/60p to progressive displays. This avoids the slight delay caused by converting signals for display. This is critical for a tightly produced show, like a music concert, where picture, sound, and effects must be cut in perfect sync.” Carter adds that Kahuna 360, as well as the midrange Kahuna Flare, supports industry standard user interfaces making it easier to crew trucks and events.

Russian truck company ANO Sports Broadcasting (Panorama) acquired 12 units of Kahuna 360 and several Snell Sirius 840 routers for its expanding fleet of OB trucks to provide HDTV coverage of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi for millions of Russian viewers, among other productions.

With increasing demand for live local and regional high school and college sports, one of the biggest trends is the growth of the mid-range switcher market. One switcher that satisfies the needs of this budget-conscious market is the Ross Carbonite C2M production switcher paired with a Ross Xpression CG. Both ESPN and Fox Sports Net hire Miami-based mobile production company Mobile Content Providers to cover high school and college football, volleyball, and other regional sports from a large van equipped with this Ross gear.

“ESPN asked us to base our remote production on a Ross Carbonite switcher and Xpression CG and told us this is the direction they’d like us to go,” said Ray Colaiacovo, co-founder of MCP. “We pull up to an event, plug in Ethernet, lock into ESPN’s server, download their latest graphics and branding… and do their live remote from a small format vehicle. We’re able to do three different events at three different locations in three consecutive days… and produce shows at the quality level ESPN expects… because of the way we’re set-up.”

While Carbonite C2M is a compact 2RU system, its ergonomic control panel easily accesses all its features, including 2-M/E’s, 32 source selection buttons, up to 8 DVEs and transitions, and assorted keyers. Ross’ new ViewControl, part of Carbonite v7.0 software, seamlessly integrates the switcher, CG (with data-driven graphics), and Ross BlackStorm server, and displays all show elements on a clean, intuitive touchscreen control interface.

“With ViewControl, users can operate every element of their production via a touchscreen, not just the production switcher but graphics and clip playback as well, greatly simplifying operation,” said Nigel Spratling, marketing product manager for production switchers for Ross Video in Iroquois, Ontario. “Carbonite and Xpression have all the features and capabilities customers need to produce live shows with a big network look extremely costeffectively.”

Since Blackmagic Design introduced its ATEM production switcher in 2011 the company now has a range of compact, cost-effective ATEM products. These include: the ATEM 1 M/E (8-input) production switcher and ATEM 2 M/E (16-input) production switcher; ATEM 1 M/E and 2 M/E broadcast panels; and the ATEM Television Studio (6-input), which outputs realtime H.264 signals for Webcast.

In July 2012, Sky TV, a satellite broadcast and production company in Lansing, Mich., used the ATEM Television Studio and ATEM 1 M/E switcher for a live Webcast of the 2012 USA Water Polo Junior Olympics from the Avery Aquatics Center at California’s Stanford University. Besides the live Webcast via its portal, Sky TV produced game day entertainment for display on jumbotrons in the aquatic center, as well as commemorative Blu-ray and DVD discs. “Our low-cost, compact switchers are enabling customers to produce HD programs where it wasn’t practical before,” said Bob Caniglia, senior regional manager for North America, based in Marlton, N.J. “We also provide solutions for other remote production challenges. Our ATEM Camera Converter ties in with the switcher and enables the conversion of SDI and HDMI to optical fiber with talkback, tally, and mic inputs. Customers can now have longer cable runs and use low-cost HDMI cameras.”

Caniglia said ATEM production switchers are popular choices for companies offering small mobile units, vans, and flypacks, such as Proshow Broadcast in Vancouver and Scheff- Tech, a truck company in Peoria, Ill., focused on regional sports events throughout Illinois. NFL Network uses an ATEM production switcher in a remotecontrolled configuration at its New York City headquarters.

KBVO, the MyNetwork TV affiliate serving Austin, Texas, uses a Broadcast Pix Granite 1000 Video Control Center to produce local high school football and basketball games. The Granite integrated production switcher resides on the station’s 20-foot HD production trailer. Granite 1000’s Fluent workflow tools allow a two-person team to produce a professional broadcast, including data-intensive CG graphics, from the trailer.

According to Korey Wisland, KVBO’s production manager and director, “We wouldn’t be doing this the old conventional way—it costs too much. With a larger production crew, the numbers don’t work.” Granite 1000’s integrated functionality makes it possible for KBVO to cost-effectively produce two high school football games per week, Big 12 college football and SEC college football, among other regional sports.

For-A’s HVS-300HS HD/SD production switcher was part of a large equipment order placed by Casablanca Online, a leading provider of satellite communications services based in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

With one of the largest fleets of HD/SD DSNG trucks in South America, Casablanca Online backhauls TV signals for a wide range of sporting events, including over 1400 soccer matches each year, for such customers as Fox Sorts Latin America in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The HVS-300HS 3G/ HD/SD 1-M/E production switcher offers frame synchronizing and re-sizing on every channel, as well as integrated 3D DVE transitions, chromakey, DSK, dual picture in picture, still stores, and a 16-channel multiviewer.

“Video signal conversion is especially critical in South America and Central America since there are three different DTV broadcast standards in use as well as multiple formats and resolutions simultaneously,” said Pedro Silvestre, Latin America and SouthEast Sales Manager for For-A Corp. of America in Fort Lee, N.J.