NEP Broadcasting Rolls Out Cost-Conscious SS18
By Carolyn Braff
At this weekend’s NHL All Star Game in Montreal, several “YoungStars” players won’t be the only ones making their nation-wide debut. NEP Broadcasting is rolling out its latest HD production truck, SS18, a cost-conscious unit designed for efficient turnarounds between network clients.
Designed by Howie Naugle, Terry Kulchar, and Mike Naugle, SS18 is geared not toward the 30-camera shows that NEP’s larger double production trucks handle but rather toward the eight- to 14-camera shows that are more prominent on the regional level.
“Obviously, we have some very large trucks that are doing
Monday Night Football,
Sunday Night Football, those events where you’re going to put out 20, 25, 30 cameras,” explains George Hoover, chief technology officer of NEP Broadcasting. “This is targeted to the NBA, NHL, where regional or national networks are going in for a day or two.”
With 30-camera shows like
Monday Night Football, the same crew generally works in the same truck for 20 weeks in a row, but SS18 is designed for smaller shows, where one network may be in the truck on Wednesday, a different one on Friday, and a third on Sunday.
“The truck needs to be able to rapidly go between each network’s preferences and configurations, so it is totally recallable,” Hoover explains. “You can walk in and say, we want to set it up to do Turner Sports, and you can bring up the standard Turner audio, monitor wall, and switcher mapping.”
The Harris Centrio multiviewer on board also helps with that transition process. Its virtual-monitor wall is fully programmable, allowing the layout to be saved and carried on a thumb drive.
“When SS20 comes out later in the spring, monitor-wall files and all other configurations will be identical and can be carried between trucks,” Hoover explains, noting that SS20, contracted to ESPN college football and NBA basketball, will be identical to SS18. “A technician can do an NBA game in New York City on Saturday night, carry the thumb drive to L.A., and load in the exact configuration of the truck used in NYC to the L.A. truck in a few minutes.”
Going forward, all single-trailer and twin Supershooter HD trucks will be designed with transportability of setups. Currently, SS17, SS18, SS20, SS24, ND3, and ND4 all contain the feature.
To cut down on costs, SS18 was built without a B unit. Using a mix of aircraft composite materials — along with the virtual-monitor wall — the truck’s weight is manageable enough to keep all equipment, cabling, and gas tanks in the same truck.
“Obviously, everybody now is trying to reduce cost,” Hoover explains. “That includes the amount of time spent on-site, the speed at which you can set up, the speed at which you can tear down. We wanted to get rid of having to drag that B unit around — the gasoline that goes with it, place to put it, electricity to make it work, all of those hassles.”
Because SS18 is designed specifically for eight- to 14-camera shows, no capacity has been sacrificed in the design. “I think it gets as much firepower as you’d find in a big double production truck like our ND3 or ND4 but scaled to a more appropriate size,” Hoover says. “There’s plenty of room, plenty of configurability, plenty of capability.”
The back-to-back design of the replay room allows seven operators to have easy in-and-out access. Equipment-wise, the truck features a Grass Valley Kalypso switcher, DVEous, Thomson LDK-8000 World Cams, Canon Lenses, Calrec Sigma digital Audio Console, and EVS XT servers.
With several more trucks of this size coming down the pipe, NEP has shifted its focus.
“Most of the 25-camera big events are already contracted to mobile vendors, so that work is taken care of,” Hoover explains. “Now we’re looking at the marketplace for smaller events and regional sports. The continuing demand for HD is out there, so we see a need for this size truck with this level of efficiency.”
After its debut with the NHL this weekend, SS18 will be one of the primary mobile units used by Turner Sports for the NBA season and MLB playoff coverage.