Proshow Broadcast’s Latest Mobile Unit Caters to Pac-12 Networks’ Production-Over-IP Workflow
In just its second year of existence, Pac-12 Networks will produce 750 live athletics events — up from 550 last year and set to increase to 850 next year. Two hundred of these events (up from 50 last year) will be produced remotely by piping audio and video signals over a dedicated Pac-12 fiber network back to a central control room at the company’s San Francisco headquarters, where the production team cuts the show and inserts graphics and music, and announcers often call the game.
This “@home production” workflow requires a much smaller on-site footprint, eliminating the need for a 53-ft. mobile unit and opening the door for smaller, cheaper options. Enter Busker, Proshow Broadcast’s new 24-ft. HD Mercedes Sprinter van custom-designed for Pac-12 Networks’ unique needs.
“This was specifically built for Pac-12 networks,” says Proshow Broadcast President/founder Tim Lewis. “It is a great little form factor. There is no front bench or control room and no tape [room] on board — though we are wired for some small tape machines should we need them. All of that is remoted back to San Francisco, and we are just putting the key necessities out in the field.”
Proshow began supplying its other two 40-ft. mobile units — Maestro and Prodigy — for Pac-12 multicam-over-IP broadcasts last season. This summer, Proshow worked with Pac-12 to develop a mobile facility more specifically targeted to its needs, hence Busker’s debut in September. It will work a wide variety of sports, focusing on basketball, soccer, and volleyball.
With the exception of the primary control-room gear, Busker has been equipped with much of the equipment typically seen on a full-size mobile unit, including four Sony HXC-100 HD triax cameras (the same ones carried on Maestro and Prodigy), Sony EX1 POV cameras for lock-off shots, Canon 40X and 33X lenses, Sennheiser shotgun and stick mics, announcers-booth kit and lighting, and an RTS Zeus 24-port matrix intercom system.
Busker interfaces all HD video, audio, intercom, and tally paths back to San Francisco over Pac-12’s proprietary fiber system, where the producer, director, technical director, A1, replay operators, graphics, and even the talent, in some cases, are all located. The field team comprises camera operators, a video and shading operator, an A2, and a handful of utility operators and runners.
“Part of the goal in building this was that it had to have the same quality of audio and images that you would get out of any other truck,” says Lewis. “Oftentimes, in small trucks, people will go with cheap cameras or lenses. But [Busker] has all the things that are typical on any sports truck but just in a smaller quantity.”
Although Busker was designed specifically for Pac-12, Proshow did also install an eight-input Blackmagic ATEM switcher and a 16-input Mackie 1640 audio console and wired it for six replay machines and two channels of graphics. This allows the unit to produce smaller news, entertainment, or corporate events should the opportunity arise.
As Pac-12 Networks continues to tweak and perfect these remote-based workflows, Lewis expects units like Busker to become more commonplace in remote production.
“I can’t ever imagine a show like Monday Night Football being done like this, but I think a lot of the major sports broadcasters see the advantages of this kind of setup for lower-level stuff,” he says. “Pac-12 has the unique ability to build and leverage a network to provide this kind of connectivity. That is going to be the primary challenge for others, but, once the connectivity gets there, I think you’re going to see more of this.”