SVG@NAB Perspectives: Azzurro’s Lowden on New ‘Satellite Truck in a Suitcase’ System
Azzurro Group’s nifty “satellite truck in a suitcase” solution on display at its booth (SU9910) this week promises to be an economical, easy solution for sports-content creators. The Azzurro TX portable transmission system delivers dual HD/SD broadcast-quality transmit and receive over the public internet with low latency.
Azzurro TX, which is priced at $28,000, can stream as low as 3 Mbps or as high as 25 Mbps (the demo at NAB is 10 Mbps). The system features full remote management by Azzurro HD Network Operations Center in New York and can be set up onsite in minutes, allowing users to start streaming automatically with no technical expertise required. The system includes two HD-SDI inputs and two HD-SDI outputs (with embedded audio), one HDMI and one XLR analog audio output, two VoIP phone lines (can be used for IFB/PL/coordination), and a multiviewer display with two monitor transmits and two receives simultaneously. The impact-resistant rolling-luggage–style housing weighs 35 lb. and is TSA-certified as carry-on luggage.
Most notably, one of the largest sports networks in the U.S. has already ordered four systems, and plenty more interest is on the horizon, according to Mark Lowden, EVP, sales, Azzurro Group. SVG spoke with Lowden at the company’s booth regarding the development of Azzurro TX, how it streamlines and cuts costs for small remote productions, and how he sees its being a major hit with sports-content creators.
Tell us a bit about Azzurro TX demo you have here at the show.
Our newest product is Azzurro TX, which is essentially a small satellite truck in a box. Here at NAB, we’ve bought 10 Mbps of business-class internet from Cox Cable for the show. We are transmitting and receiving two paths to and from our video-switching center in New York City over that 10 Mbps. We’re controlling the lights and everything remotely as well as changing the [virtual] background from here. We’re currently transmitting on Transmit 1 and 2 and another camera here at the booth.
The idea is, you can roll up to a remote site, plug in two cameras, and iso them back to the studio just like that. Coming back to the remote are the receives. It also has an HDMI output, which is mirroring Receive 1, so you can put the signal into a monitor. It has analog for IFB and comes with two VoIP phone lines. It also has a USB connection for data and [Ethernet] for internet access so you can plug in your laptop.
Plus, it’s in a 35-lb., TSA-approved case. [Azzurro Director of Technology] Dave Lanton brought this to Vegas on the plane. So you can do an event at a hotel, for example, with no satellite truck, no permits, none of that. You just roll it in, you turn it on, you plug it in, and it goes back to our video-switching center, where we monitor the health of all the components, and then we route it to wherever it needs to go. Without exaggeration, we came here right from the airport to set up the booth. The internet connection was ready, we plugged it in, and, within 90 seconds, we were getting two receive paths already.
What has been the response of the live-sports-production community to Azzurro TX?
We had a [beta version] of this at CCW [in New York in November], and we received massive interest, so we decided to move forward with debuting it here at NAB. We have already had a major sports network commit to four of these, and we’ve got more demos coming up shortly with more sports organizations. We’ve also seen a lot of interest from rental businesses.
How does this compare with or differ from a cellular-bonding transmission system?
This is a two-way system, not a one-way like the majority of those systems are. LiveU and TVU and those kinds of systems are excellent solutions for lots of applications, but the latency gets longer and longer as more people are using [the cellular network]. This has 10 Mbps of public internet, and nothing else is getting pulled from anywhere else. It’s 10 Mbps, and it’s going to stay 10 Mbps.
How does this integrate with the Azzurro Cam and the rest of the Azzurro’s robotic camera offerings?
It actually dovetails directly to our robotic camera system. The sports network that we have sold this to didn’t know that they could control the robotic camera systems and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could control our cameras through that.” And we said, “It’s already built in; it comes with that.” So we brought one of our cameras, plugged it in to the system, and showed them that it’s baked in to the system.