The Mobile TV Group provides HD and SD production trailers throughout the United States. Our emphasis is on regional professional sports production, but we do all kinds of events, including national network, college sports and concerts.
The company launched in 1994 as Mountain Mobile TV. We built our first HD trailer in 2001 and now have six HD units. All of these are dual-feed-capable, which means they can produce two highly differentiated versions of the same event from the same mobile unit. This capability is important in allowing one mobile unit to provide feeds for different broadcasters or, for example, home (primary feed) and away (secondary feed) versions of one sports event. Fox Sports Net regional channels and Rainbow use this dual-feed feature extensively and with great success.
10HDX, the newest addition to our fleet, was built to fulfill our new contract with Fox Sports Net West in Southern California. The truck was designed and constructed by Colorado Studios and provides an array of equipment, including PESA's Cheetah routing system. The 53ft-long SD/HD unit expands to 13½ft-wide and features 11 cameras, numerous decks and replay/edit systems, as well as support for a broad range of incoming and outgoing feed formats.
A high-quality dual-feed HD production truck is extremely complex, and configuring the truck in a timely manner is a challenge. The routing in our 10HDX is complex and extensive, and PESA routers, including a 64×64 Cheetah HD router and a 128×256 Cheetah analog router, gave us the size, weight, efficiency, multi-level, quality and cost parameters we needed to route all the HD signals and a large number of analog paths for monitoring.
A key component to the success of the router is its 3500PRO control system. PESA has spent a considerable amount of time working with mobile truck users and understands the time constraints put on configuring and re-configuring production setups. The 3500PRO can be reconfigured quickly and makes it easy to load new setups or change them on the fly. Built-in diagnostics and Ethernet connectivity allow for simple adjustment and checking of critical signal paths, while the system's spreadsheet-style configuration setup provides time-saving, intuitive menus.
Much of the equipment incorporated in 10HDX is designed to provide the HD feeds increasingly in demand, while also satisfying the continued need for SD production. Although our newest truck is large, these hybrid solutions deliver valuable space and cost savings that help us put the most functionality into the smallest possible amount of space. They also give operators a new level of flexibility in working with different formats from a variety of sources.
In addition to our PESA gear, the 10HDX equipment list also includes 11 Grass Valley DK 6000 triax cameras (1080i or 720p switchable at the head), five EVS replay systems (including the HD SpotBox-XT), a Grass Valley Kalypso HD video production center, a dual-twin Abekas Dveous system, a Euphonix System 5 audio mixer with 96 inputs and 96 outputs, and two Chyron Duet character generators.
For storage and playout of video, we looked to EVS and its networked replay and edit systems. A 2RU EVS Xfile digital archive provides access to all images recorded by our EVS LSM-XT and maXS servers. As clips are created on the HD server, a copy — pure data — is transferred automatically to the removable media inside the Xfile.
The Kalypso switcher installed in the truck has an internal still store and transform engines, and may be switched between 1080i or 720p formats. The switcher maintains the same user interface, feature set and effects-generation capability as the SD version while supporting either SD or HD programming. The dual-twin Dveous/MX universal-format DVE system, also designed for hybrid operations, lets operators create real-time video effects in SD or HD with just a quick setting change.
The visitor-feed side of 10HDX's dual-feed capability is the largest we've ever built, providing a robust production environment for the secondary broadcasts as well as the primary. It has a full 5RU-wide production wall that is as large as a straight-body truck. It runs with a 1-M/E panel from the Kalypso, which provides four keying layers, and operates along with a companion audio trailer equipped with a 32-input Soundcraft mixer.
Mobile production units have always been on the leading edge of SD and HDTV technology, and broadcasters and cable networks depend on these units to produce many of the high-profile events seen in HDTV today. Every piece of HD equipment selected must be dependable and reliable; failure is not an option when we're on the road.
Phil Garvin is the manager and co-owner of the Mobile TV Group, and owner and operator of systems integrator Colorado Studios.