NAB tech has sports industry ready to buy

It was a busy NAB for sports industry professionals, with truck vendors, network execs and even team representatives looking for the latest and greatest in production and distribution equipment.

Now comes the hard part: evaluating what one saw and deciding whether or not to make a purchasing decision.

Patty Power, CSTV senior vice president of operations, says one technology that caught her eye was a low-cost transmission system from GSM. We re interested in permanently installing it at some of the schools to help us offset production costs and allow us to gather more video from each campus, she say.

The GSM system includes a Configurable Messenger Transmitter (CMT), what the company claims is the world s smallest HD microwave transmitter in the world (throughput is up to 63 Mbps with latency of two frames). It can be configured for SD-only or for user-selectable SD and HD video operation via firmware downloads. It can also be mounted in a mobile ENG vehicle or on the back of a camera or battery.

Carl Roszczybiuk, Trio Video director of engineering, says he was impressed with the Grass Valley Infinity camera and its open approach to video formats. I also liked Thomson s upgraded camera sled that gives easier in and out access and has a great ergonomic panel in the back and a new viewfinder, he says.

Focus on lenses
His team also checked out Canon s auto-focus technology that was on the show floor as a technology demonstration. We put it through the ringer and it was really nice and can come in handy when a cameraperson is shagging a ball up close as it heads into the stands, says Roszczybiuk. Fujinon also showed its auto-focus technology that is currently available for the studio lenses. The challenge, says Roszczybiuk, is figuring out if the additional cost of the system (roughly $25,000) is worth spending to put on all the lenses or only the 101x lenses.

With camera weight always an issue Trio Video took a look at some of the flat-panel display options but issues like viewing angles and color temperatures cause some buying hesitancy. But Roszczybiuk says 8.4-inch and 10.4-inch HD panels from Marshall and Sony will both be useful for trucks by the end of the year.

Pat Sullivan, Game Creek president, says the evolution of HD flat panels has gotten to the right level of maturity. We think the flat panels are far enough along to be used on the new trucks we re building for Fox, says Sullivan. We ll be installing a bunch of those and splitting the screens, with some being 21-inch panels and a couple being larger 42-inch models.

HD bang for the buck
And while pricing of HD gear isn t dropping tremendously the capabilities are growing, delivering more bang for the buck. An HD frame sync that used to cost $5,000 will still cost the same but now it will do color correction, up-and-down conversion, says Sullivan.

In terms of audio Trio Video placed an order at the show for Calrec s new Sigma audio board. We were basically getting our order in line because they ve been selling a lot of them, says Roszczybiuk.

He also took a look at Pesa s news Cheetah DRS audio router that can allow audio facilities to be located up to 300 feet away from the main router hub. It s a great little stacking product that can save on audio cable and remove router space and location issues, he says. The only negative is you still need patch panels in the audio area.

Game Creek also has been impressed with the new Pesa system. We think it presents a number of advantages, says Sullivan. It makes it possible to lash multiple trucks together and create a virtual large scale router without needing a lot of space.

Infinity surprises
Billy Vizzini, video director for Florida State University, says he also was impressed with the Infinity camera but says the current weight of the camera (over 10 pounds) could make it tough on long handheld shots. But I m sure the weight will come down in the future, he says.

Another product that caught Vizzini s eye was the Anton/Bauer ElipZ 10k battery and charger that can run for more than 7 hours on a single charge with a 10-watt camera load. It s designed for smaller camcorders like Sony s PD-150 or Panasonic s AGHVX200. That unit is something our production people are already talking about purchasing, says Vizzini. It s perfect for smaller cameras.

Avid s Interplay system, which brings digital asset management into the production process and allows for equipment from different manufacturers to more easily work together, also caught his eye. While it s designed more for the news production environment I can see where it s going and how it ties everything together, he says. It can definitely be useful for the sports market.

Vizzini head to NAB without a buying list but that wasn t the case for YES Network VP, operations Ed Delaney. Delaney and his team are in the early stages of planning the network s move to broadcasting in HD 24/7.

We were looking at servers, cameras, switchers, everything, says Delaney. While he can t tip his hat and comment on which products he liked at the show (outside of saying the Sony HD Super SloMo was outrageous ) he was very pleased with the general state of the HD equipment market.

The maturity of the products is where it needs to be and the prices are affordable, he says. Also the products are at a level where there are a few vendors offering strong products in each category which is good for the industry.

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