With Abekas Mira, Coastal Media Group Packages MLB Games for One-Third the Price
For the Coastal Media Group, outfitting its Truck 1 five-camera HD production unit with a six-channel EVS XT production server was simply out of the budgetary question. The provider of live-event management and mobile satellite transmission wanted to offer a digital server on Truck 1 without breaking the bank. In April 2009, the company turned to the Abekas Mira, and, two years later, the four-channel server is still paying dividends, with Fox SportsNet using Truck 1 to broadcast a slate of 11 MLB spring-training games.
A Viable Alternative
“We were looking for an alternative,” explains President Bob Adler. “Every time a client asked me for an EVS, I lost the job. When we found the Mira, which, with a DNF controller, costs around $40,000, that was pretty darn cheap, compared to the alternative.”
The Mira, he is quick to point out, offers only four channels to EVS’s six. However, he adds, when Coastal Media Group can offer the Mira server as an add-on for one-sixth the price of an EVS, it wins sports packages it might otherwise lose.
“In a sports environment, an EVS operator should be able to come up to speed on this thing in about 15 minutes,” Adler says. “This is the second season we’ve used the Abekas Mira for our Fox SportsNet Major League Baseball contract, and if you watch the games, you really wouldn’t know that they’re not using an EVS.”
For the spring-training contract, he says it was not an extraordinarily hard sell to get Fox to buy into using the Mira, but he did have to explain its capabilities. In addition to working as an EVS stand-in, the Mira can be used for iso records, which eliminates the need to rent extra DVCPRO tape decks.
“It depends on what the client needs are,” Adler says. “If we’re going to post or a client wants an iso record of a production, it works out very well. In a non-linear format, it’s very simple to use.”
More Keyers, More Leg Room
In addition to the Mira production server, Truck 1 is equipped with a Chyron HyperX character generator. All of the keyed sources added for new transitions, in addition to graphics, stretched the limits of the existing FOR-A HVS-300HS switcher, so Coastal Media Group added another one, an older FOR-A HVS-500 eight-input switcher, which allowed the network to add additional keyers to handle the workload.
“This year, we also accommodated a separate trailer, so there is an additional workspace adjacent to the satellite/production truck,” Adler explains. “The director, TD, and graphics are in the workspace, leaving all sorts of leg room for the other technical crew sitting in the truck. We’ve got a pretty good show for them that’s quite economical.”
For the slate of four-camera–shoot spring-training games, including the truck, gear, and satellite space, Adler is able to price the Fox SportsNet production package at less than $8,500 per game. That number, he says, is less than one-third the cost of a typical sports truck and transmission, thanks in part to the price point of the Abekas Mira server.
“This truck is really built for smaller productions, as well as for a unilateral option for a larger production,” Adler says. “You can take router feeds, add two or three cameras, and international could switch another show. This truck has done exactly that for PGA golf and a couple of soccer games. The truck is really gathering an audience as a lower-priced option for doing real HD.”