AJA FS-HDR Hits The Road For Mobile TV Group 4K/UHD HDR Broadcasts
Piecing together the right combination of equipment for a mobile production truck is challenging, but establishing a workflow for a 4K/UltraHD HDR truck is a whole new ball game, one that Mobile TV Group’s (MTVG) Peter Wehner excels at. As Director of Engineering, Wehner is one of the architects behind MTVG’s 30 mobile production units, which service more than 4,000 sporting and entertainment productions a year for CBS, CNBC, Fox and DirecTV, among others.
Working alongside MTVG CEO Philip Garvin, Wehner helped build out MTVG’s 53’ 4K HDR Double Expando, the first mobile production unit to deliver a live 4K/UltraHD HDR telecast in the U.S. The mobile unit houses 14 AJA FS-HDRs for real time HDR conversion and 4K/UltraHD/HD frame synchronization as well as 12 AJA FS1-Xs and 12 AJA UDCs for HD up, down, cross-conversion and frame-synching.
After successfully delivering its first UltraHD HDR production for DirecTV’s NHL broadcast in December, MTVG opted to produce all live 4K shows for clients in HDR moving forward.
“We’re big on picture quality and always looking at technology like the FS-HDR that can help us advance the quality of content for audiences. Our clients also love the extra punch that HDR offers, and from a production standpoint, you get more bang for your buck, so the move to HDR has been a win-win for us,” says Wehner.
HDR displays, however, are not standard in most homes yet, so when MTVG delivers an UltraHD HDR broadcast, it simultaneously produces a live HD 1080i or 720p SDR feed, which a majority of the audience sees, in addition to a 1080p HDR feed. Although most of MTVG’s cameras are HDR-capable with wide dynamic range, the team also works with a number of SDR sources and camera formats from in-arena POV to robotic or overhead cameras and beyond, making the flexibly of FS-HDR crucial. FS-HDR’s function on the truck varies depending on the show requirements. One day it may feed and convert a 4K HDR signal to 1080p SDR, and the next day up convert an HD SDR feed to HD HDR, all in real time.
“Our needs change daily, and at every location we’re working with a different set of sources, but FS-HDR makes it easy to adapt. We can handle nearly anything that comes into the truck and convert SDR to HDR; HDR to SDR; UHD to 720p/1080i; 720p/1080i to UHD; 720p to 1080i; and 1080i or 1080p to 720p,” says Wehner.
“I find it amazing how much AJA can cram into one rack unit; not only do we get HDR and format conversion, but also live color correction. It helps us ensure a consistent look for 4K HDR and HD SDR feeds, even when working with mixed camera sources and formats.”
Confident HDR is the future of live production, Wehner expects that FS-HDR will be integrated into most of MTVG’s newer trucks moving forward, starting with Mobile Unit 43 FLEX.
“FS-HDR gives us the flexibility to do more with less. Rather than investing in multiple converters to do what the FS-HDR can, we can bank on one unit to do four channels of HD HDR conversion, making it a great fit as we ramp up for more 4K HDR productions,” Wehner says.
“The per channel cost is so much lower than that of competitive tools, which are often tailored to one purpose; with FS-HDR you get so much more and with a smaller footprint, which is key on a mobile production truck where space is at a premium.”
AJA FS1-X converters/frame synchronizers are also deployed regularly on the truck when MTVG brings in HD feeds for live color correction while the UDC up, down, cross-Mini-Converters are also leveraged to help convert a range of formats from 720p to 1080i and 1080p.