Dome Productions Advances Along IP Trail With New Gateway Production Truck
Technology from Grass Valley does the bulk of the heavy lifting
With a majority of onsite productions shelved by the pandemic, the past year has been hit or miss for many mobile-production-unit providers. As crews slowly head back to the compound, next year looks a lot more promising, and Dome Productions is intensifying its commitment to IP-capable offerings with its new Gateway mobile unit.
“Gateway’s equipment is working with an environment based on SMPTE 2110,” says Mike Johnson, director, engineering, Dome Productions. “The truck has built-in diversity redundancy, so every device has two paths to its destination.”
The truck’s main highlight, the new IP infrastructure will be navigated by Grass Valley’s GV Orbit dynamic system orchestrator. With the power of IP, Dome is poised not only to expand its onsite connectivity within the compound during any given broadcast but also to fortify and strengthen its preexisting technologies to handle more production responsibilities.
“We’re looking forward to the versatility of IP,” says Johnson. “There are a lot of technical challenges that we still need to learn and experience, but we’ll have the opportunity to bring in multiple resources and link [other] trucks together. We may also be able to size up for those larger-scale shows to make our [onsite] facility grow.”
Construction of the new 53-ft. truck had its fair share of challenges stemming from the global COVID-19 crisis. In previous years, schedules were followed with minimal deviation, and custom-made pieces of technology arrived relatively on time. In the effort to maintain proper health and safety protocols, especially during the early months of the pandemic, parts of the process were postponed.
“[COVID-19] has really delayed a lot of things,” says Johnson. “We got our trailer late because the whole process of custom fabrication was impacted by limited onsite workers and not being able to meet [with] suppliers.”
Physical meetings may have been hampered, but, from an operational perspective, delays were a blessing in disguise, allowing Johnson and his team to further refine the new IP and UHD workflows. In addition to the logistical hurdles, prolonged suspension of the NHL and NBA seasons freed up a schedule usually filled with Toronto Maple Leafs hockey and Toronto Raptors basketball.
“On the plus side, it opened up a little bit more time for us to dig into what we needed to accomplish in terms of planning and integration and go back to review what we already had in place,” Johnson explains. “Based on the regular patterns of the NHL and NBA, we expected to be fully under way in October this year, but, with the changes in their season, we’re set with testing and commissioning different things.”
Along with IP and other sophisticated capabilities, the truck’s interior boasts a sophisticated roster of production tools, including a Calrec Apollo audio console, ChyronHego Mosaic XL2 graphics platforms, a Grass Valley GV K-Frame X production switcher, Image Video/Ross Tally system, and EVS XT-VIA live-production server and XT4K ingest/playout/replay server. One of the truck’s most impressive acquisitions is 12 Sony HDC-5500 cameras for more optimal sports coverage.
Speaking of sports, the NBA season is primed to start the 2020-21 regular season near the end of this month. With COVID-19 cases hitting an expected uptick and the Parliament of Canada tightening restrictions on who’s allowed in the country, the Raptors will be playing their home games in Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. Having hosted a crew in the parking lot for games played in the NBA bubble in Orlando this past summer, Canada-based Dome Productions is no stranger to facilitating remote productions for a team that’s south of the border. No matter the circumstances, Gateway will be at the front of the line in 2021, and, for Johnson and his colleagues who worked countless hours, completion of this project is on the short list of victories in 2020.
“I want to give a huge shoutout to our ownership for supporting us through this time,” he says. “They recognized that there was still a strong need to move forward and what it meant to [construct an IP truck]. Others [in our industry] haven’t been able to experience the same kind of support that we had, and it has been fantastic.”