Game Creek readies new trucks for Fox

New Hampshire-based sports production truck vendor Game Creek is in the midst of constructing four new 53-foot HD vehicles for Fox Sports. Expect three of the trucks to be completed by August in time for the 2006 NFL season and the fourth, a mobile studio truck, to be completed in December for the 2007 NASCAR season.

Two of the trucks will have two main units with production in one unit and graphics, replays, and engineering in the second. The third truck will have editing facilities while the fourth will be the mobile studio.

Pat Sullivan, Game Creek president, says the trucks will embody his company s philosophy of building router centric trucks. A number of routing switchers from Pesa Switching Systems will replace the traditional patchbays that most trucks use for signal distribution (although a patch bay will be available as a backup).

Pesa has been working with us on developing new routers that can scale to large numbers on inputs and outputs, says Sullivan. By using routers we have all of the sources and monitors in the router so that Fox can store different configurations for different sports or venues. A game produced in Fenway Park, for example, might require a different set-up than Yankee Stadium. Another benefit is that once sources and monitors are hooked into the router everything can be switched instantaneously.
Other gear in the trucks includes Grass Valley Kalypso HD production switchers and Sony HDC1500 cameras. Audio will be handled by a Calrec Alpha 100 board, a smaller Calrec Sigma submixer and a third board from a maker that is still to be determined. The audio in the trucks is a little larger than previous trucks, says Sullivan.
The graphics and replay area will feature a complement of EVS gear as well as VizRT graphics. Graphics used to be the second bench in the main vehicle but it is so much more advanced that most trucks now need two graphics devices, sometimes three, plus the clocks, says Sullivan. While there is still a huge base for Chyron Duet graphics gear the trend is toward VizRT and, sometimes, both.

Building LCD monitor walls is another trend and the new trucks will have both LCD monitors and CRT monitors with the latter handling main quality control. Game Creek has spent five years waiting for the refresh rate and resolution of LCD monitors to get to an acceptable level and it s finally made the grade.

We ll be using the Evertz VIP system to do a quad split on the LCD screens and we re enthusiastic because the resolution we re getting out of them is getting better and the size of the monitor is larger than the traditional 9-inch monitor, says Sullivan. The four trucks will have the equivalent of almost 600 monitors.

The deal with Fox, says Sullivan, is only one of a number of new opportunities for truck makers as new TV contracts are signed and properties move from one network to the next. The truck market now is pretty robust, says Sullivan. There are a number of deals in play, especially at the high end of the market.