Pair of Turner Studios HD Mobile Units Set To Hit the Road in Early 2013
Turner Studios is poised to roll out two remote-production trucks in the first half of 2013, marking the launch of a new era for the Atlanta-based mobile-unit provider. After debuting in 2001 as SD trucks, Turner’s current pair of mobile units were gutted and upgraded to HD in 2004 and will now be retired after nearly 12 years on the road. The new units are set to debut in February and April, respectively.
“We are still running trucks that are close to first-generation HD, so this is a big step up for us,” says Ernie Watts, senior director of technical operations, live events and field operations. “It opens up the door and gives us the backbone to do a lot of new things like 3G and 1080p in the future. We feel this equipment will serve us well in the future, and we are now a couple of steps ahead of the game, from a technical standpoint.”
The identical 53-ft. expando trailers were built by Gerling & Associates and integrated by Beck Associates (which also integrated the original SD units in 2000-01) in Austin, TX. Turner Studios, which supplies the trucks to Turner Sports and a variety of outside clients, expects the units to have a lifespan similar to their predecessors’.
“On trailer bodies, we like to see a 10-year service life,” says Director of Technical Operations Bob McGee. “And over the life of the truck, we know they are going to undergo anywhere from one to three substantial renovations — up to and including redoing all the wiring and infrastructure.”
Turner Studios began investigating design of the new trucks in late 2009, when much of the gear that will end up in the final product had not yet begun to hit the market. For example, both trucks will feature the latest Grass Valley Kayenne switchers (4M/E), Evertz EQX video routers, and Sony HDC-2500 cameras, all of which either had not yet been released or have been significantly updated since 2009.
In addition, the two new trucks will offer a Calrec Alpha audio console (with Bluefin technology), Chyron HyperX3 graphics, 12 Sony HDC-2500 cameras with Canon lenses, and a total of 33 NEC LCD monitors throughout the audio, production, tape, and video areas.
Although the complement of EVS replay servers will initially match that of Turner’s current trucks (two six-channel and two four-channel EVS XT2+ servers), the two new units are wired for 10 eight-channel EVS XT3s, providing plenty of room for expansion.
“The new truck is wired to have a very large EVS [complement],” says McGee. “Production needs never seem to decrease, just increase, so we have to be prepared for whatever they might ask for in the future.”
In designing the new trucks, Turner Studios Field Operations focused heavily on lighting, to reduce energy consumption. Using low-power and low-heat Whelen LED technology rather than traditional halogen bulbs for much of the interior and exterior lighting, Turner significantly cut down on consumption and lightened the load on air-conditioning units.
“We use LED everywhere in the truck, including the outside strike lights,” says McGee. “Yes, the lights are pricier, but they are very bright, and the stated service life is now about 40,000 hours, which is pretty much unheard of. The main reason for going this way is lower power consumption and reduced thermal loading on the A/C system.”