Game Creek Video’s Spirit Hits Road for ESPN with New Audio Mixing Layout
ESPN’s college football production team will have a new production truck to call home for the Saturday Night College Football package as well as the Rose Bowl and College Football Championship Game on January 12, 2015, in North Texas. Game Creek Video’s Spirit, a new unit that hit the road earlier this month.
Pat Sullivan, president of Game Creek Video, says it has been a busy period for his engineering team as it has rolled out Spirit as well as Riverhawk for CBS and is also upgrading the Fox trucks, Victory for ESPN college football, and a new small truck, Discovery. Oh… and then there are new Fox trucks that will roll out in early spring of 2015 in time to handle the U.S. Open golf tournament in Chambers Bay, WA, next June.
“All are a little bit different because the requirements are different,” he says. “Spirit was built to provide a massive infrastructure via Evertz routing and EVS XT3 servers along with a big Calrec Apollo console and Sony 2500 cameras. It also has a lot of people space as all the replay operations are in the B unit and it has been constructed so that virtually any work position can be anywhere.”
Jason Taubman, Game Creek Video’ VP, Design and New Technology, says Spirit very much follows the design philosophy of Pride and Glory but with a couple of twists, literally.
“We turned the audio room 90 degrees so that the audio board is facing the same direction as the front bench,” he says. The result is a space that is more conducive to Surround Sound mixing and also space for an A2 or communication system position. There is also space for two support engineers to sit side by side.
In terms of core truck design some heavy legacy power components have been removed from the unit to allow it to expand the sides all the way along the length of the truck. Taubman says a KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) routing system from IHSE USA was responsible for the change as it brought more flexibility to moving operator positions out of the A unit.
“The new, hot thing is being able to do anything, anywhere and now EVS, Vizrt, or Chyron Duet operators can sit down and call up devices from anywhere,” explains Taubman. “So that took the size of the original tape room in the A unit out of the equation so we could expand the audio room.”
Spirit will rely on RTS TBX-Tribus expanded intercoms and also have a little more headroom in the Evertz routing switcher that allow for a second row of monitors to be added into what used to be the EVS area. That gives the unit a “sandbox area,” which is increasingly required as broadcasters look to add in next-generation enhancements like 4K.
As for the B unit, it also expands and includes a big production area, an edit area, a sub-mix area, and another small sandbox room.
“Our goal is to keep the trucks flexible so that the Spirit B unit can do a production on its own as some shows don’t need a second truck,” adds Taubman. “When it’s not doing college football the Spirit A and B units need to be more nimble and do smaller shows.”
As for the other recent projects, the Fox upgrades include new embedded audio routing, new camera viewfinders, new OLED video monitoring, and upgraded EVS XT3 servers.
“It’s a nice refresh and it should be able to shoulder on for NASCAR for a few more years,” adds Taubman.
The 44-foot Discovery unit, meanwhile, is getting some retired equipment off of other trucks and will have Sony 1500 cameras, as it will be used primarily for visiting team feeds at regional sports broadcasts.
“Victory is only 2.5 years old and we are making an unprecedented investment to keep the trucks up to date for our customers,” says Sullivan. “Our investment in new equipment in the next six months will exceed $30 million and that is a sign that we are prepared to continue to keep our fleet updated and as state of the art as we can.”