F&F's new GTX 16 truck ready to roll for U.S. Open

GTX 16, the latest production truck from F&F Productions in Clearwater, FL, (and its fifth HD-capable unit) will be used by both CBS and ESPN for production of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in Flushing, NY, beginning Aug. 30. CBS will also provide a feed to the Tennis Channel, USA Network and international broadcasters such as the UK's BSkyB.

The 53ft double-expando truck, built by Spevco (Pfafftown, NC), is designed with movable production and tape/replay benches to allow for various configurations. A dozen Ikegami HDK-79E HD (1080i) cameras with Canon HD lenses will be used. The truck can accommodate up to 24 cameras when necessary.

The production control area of the truck is equipped with a Grass Valley Kayenne production switcher and a Grass Valley K2 Dyno HD Replay System (made up of a Grass Valley K2 Summit server and Dyno Replay controller). It also features five 6-channel EVS XT[2]+ servers and a Calrec Apollo audio console. A 3 Gb/s Evertz router with 288 x 576 inputs and outputs makes the truck usable for both 3-D and 1080p productions. (The Ikegami HD cameras will get new 1080p60 chips in the near future for entertainment events to support these higher-quality projects.)

Flat-panel monitor walls throughout a redesigned tape area with 24 source decks allow operators to be located on both sides of the center console. For 3-D productions, the unit's LCD monitors can be taken down and replaced with 3-D models.

Once it completes its assignment at the U.S. Open, the new GTX 16 truck will work with CBS Sports on a number of college football games, to be televised in 1080i, including SEC college football and the NCAA's Men's Final Four college basketball tournament in April 2011.

As a separate production, NEP Productions, based in Pittsburgh, PA, will send its SS3D truck to capture the main tennis action on Center Court for CBS in 3-D. The 3-D coverage will be broadcast on satellite TV operator DirecTV's n3D channel, which is also sponsored by Panasonic, and (maybe) cable TV channels from Cablevision and Time Warner Cable locally.

The CBS Sports crew will use six stereo pairs of Sony HD cameras to produce the 3-D coverage, including one or two rigs using a new combination 2-D/3-D rig called Shadow D made by 3-D specialists Pace and lens manufacturer Fujinon.

The Pace rig allows the camera operators to shoot 2-D and 3-D from the same camera position. The operator has two joysticks, one for 2-D and the other to control dual lenses mounted on top of a box-style Fujinon HD lens. The rig is designed to limit the need for extra camera positions and thus save premium seating inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. It also cuts down on extra crew. The ability of production companies to cost-effectively produce a dual telecast using these types of "simultaneous operation" techniques is critical to the success of 3-D production.

The rig has been demonstrated at various industry events and uses two Sony HD box cameras and 16-bit encoders inside dual Fujinon HD lenses mounted side-by-side for wider and atop stadium (overhead) shots. Beam splitter rigs will be used for tighter shots and cameras located closer to the court. It also employs a "frame link" software and hardware system. The innovative rig allows the camera operator to think about 2-D widescreen framing while shooting 3-D images simultaneously. There also are two tally lights for talent if necessary.