ProShow Broadcast Ups Its At-Home-Production Game With New ‘Opus’ Truck
Proshow Broadcast has found itself at the forefront of “at-home” production as the production model’s popularity has skyrocketed over the past three years, catering to the likes of Pac-12 Networks and ESPN in their efforts to deploy minimal resources onsite and integrate the telecast in a control room at the broadcast center back home. After rolling out a trio of 24-ft. HD Mercedes Sprinter vans (Solo, Trooper, and Busker) over the past couple of years, Proshow has launched a 27-ft. truck that boosts the equipment complement and the footprint for at-home production.
“This was really about the at-home–production market and where we see it going,” says Proshow Broadcast President Tim Lewis. “We have found ourselves at the forefront of [at-home production] with our Sprinters, but we always knew we would have to be prepared to take it to the next level. We have clients that are pushing the boundaries of at-home and want more cameras, lensing, and cable. So we set out to create the next generation [at-home mobile unit] with the same operational concept and layout of our Sprinter and just put it on steroids.”
A Magnum Opus
Dubbed Opus, the 27-footer builds on the knowledge taken from the company’s previous three Sprinter vans but scales up the footprint (24-ft. to 27-ft. body), weight capacity (from 11,000 lb. to 26,0000 lb.), and equipment offerings (standard complement from four to six cameras and six hard lenses).
Capable of serving as a traditional mobile unit, as it did at the Squamish Valley Music Festival Aug. 5-7 in British Columbia, the unit was specifically designed and built to serve at-home production. It will primarily serve Los Angeles RSNs Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and Deportes on their MLS Galaxy and WNBA Sparks away shows.
The Gerling Nomad Series trailer (on a Peterbilt chassis) rolls with six Sony HSC-300R HD triax cameras (wired for eight) with Canon lenses, a Blackmagic ATEM 2M/E 16-input switcher, a Blackmagic 72×72 HD-SDI/fiber router, Yamaha QL-5 32-fader digital console with Dante, and an RTS ADAM-M intercom system with RVON and Dante/Omnio. There is no replay or graphics infrastructure since these operations take place at the central control room back home.
“There are more accessories and equipment to make for a potent package on the road,” says Lewis. “It does have an audio board and small switcher, so it has enough versatility to do a very small standalone production for entertainment or news, but that is a secondary usage. It is designed specifically as a truck to support at-home production.”
Opus also boasts a more robust audio component, including a much larger audio board and increased use of Dante audio-over-IP infrastructure for field audio, booth kits, and intercoms.
“We are using this truck as a test bed over the next year for newer technologies on the audio side, so we have built a fiber kit and are looking to roll a lot more of the booth and field audio connectivity away from DT12 and onto fiber,” says Lewis. “We are doing that in parallel in this truck: we have the old-fashioned DT12 on board, but we also have some new fiber equipment that we are working with. We are not going to fully commit to it until we have used it for a season and decided that it is 100% reliable before we stake our clients’ shows on it.”
New Home for TWC Sportsnet, Deportes
TWC Sportsnet and Deportes have deployed Proshow Sprinter vans throughout the summer to produce Galaxy road games, using an at-home production model in which camera/audio feeds are sent to a control room at TWC’s broadcast center in El Segundo, CA, via Level 3’s fiber network (occasionally using satellite uplink when fiber is unavailable). However, with the Sprinter vans committed to Pac-12 and ESPN college productions in the fall, TWC Sportsnet will now call Opus home for its Galaxy and Sparks road productions.
“We have been doing Galaxy [games for TWC] out of our Sprinters, which worked well,” says Lewis, “but it maxed out every single input and output. We have now moved them onto this new truck very successfully.”
For Galaxy games, TWC takes a routable clean feed from the home truck and adds in four unilateral cameras of its own. Sparks games are produced as standalone shows with no reliance on the home truck, and Opus supports four cameras, all effects mics and booth audio, and a clock-and-score feed.
TWC produces two independent shows from two separate control rooms in El Segundo for Galaxy games: an English version for Sportsnet, Spanish for Deportes. This means that Opus is responsible for supporting two of everything on the audio side in the field, including announce booths, sideline/locker-room interviews, and comms.
“It’s a bit of a unique project because we are out in the field feeding two full shows,” says Lewis. “They also do a half-hour pre show that rolls right into the game and then a one-hour post show, and we are supporting all of that in the field. It’s everything that used to be done with a 53-ft. dual-feed truck but moved to a control room back home and our truck in the field.”
On the Horizon: More At-Home Production
As the use of the at-home model has increased for live sports productions like college basketball and Olympics sports, MLS, WNBA, and more, so have Proshow’s bookings and truck construction. As a result, Lewis says Proshow plans to roll out another two trucks based on the Opus design in the next calendar year to accomodate increasing demand for at-home production trucks.
“We certainly see this is growing,” he says. “Clients have had great success in that they have been pleased with the quality of production they can deliver while reducing some of their costs — especially around travel. That is proving to be a winning formula, so it seems inevitable to me that it will continue to expand.”