NMT, CBS Sports gear up for HD PGA coverage with Sony, fiber interconnects

By Ken Kerschbaumer
NMT is putting the final touches on HD12, a new three-trailer mobile unit that will be at the core of CBS Sports operations beginning in late January. The truck will handle all CBS Sports PGA coverage as well as NCAA men’s basketball and the network’s football coverage next season.

“We only have 12 weeks where it isn’t committed to work next year,” says John Kemps, NMT chief engineer.

The new unit consists of three 53-foot trailers that will make their professional debut the last weekend of January in San Diego at the Buick Invitational. That will follow a couple of weeks of testing at NMT’s facility in Torrance, CA.

Units A and B are double expando with the A unit serving as the main production and graphics area while the B unit handles audio, replay, and main engineering. The C unit, a single expando, will have an edit room, a sub-mix room, maintenance and storage. “Everything about the unit is for speed of set-up and ease of use,” says Kemps.

All the trailers will be connected via fiber and all of the Pesa video and audio router units will be tied together as well giving the unit a massive 1,072×1,344 inputs on the video side and 1,472×1,728 on the audio side.

All of that interconnectivity was an enormous challenge as every destination is connected to the router. “We have operator positions in all three units that are fed from the engineering rooms in the B unit,” he says. “Getting the switcher mainframe, control panels, routers and consoles to talk together, with redundancy, was a big design challenge.”

The unit will help CBS Sports make some history, as it will enable an entire season of end-to-end HD golf coverage. A Sony MVS-8000A production switcher and 20 Sony HD cameras will be at the center of the coverage (the unit is wired for 64 camera paths and can harness 32 base stations) while seven EVS servers, including two IP Directors and two xFile SQ database units, will handle replay and be complemented by two Sony SRW5500 decks and Digital Betacam machines for archive needs.

“We’ve fit the replay in just 12 racks of space,” says Kemps. “With replay operators using EVS there just isn’t the need for as much space because there aren’t tape machines. So there are more channels but less operators.”

The production wall in the A unit will have 170 Sony Luma nine-inch monitors and two 24-inch CRT monitors. “The truck has been designed so that we can put in 17-inch monitors for football,” adds Kemps. “We’ll be able to make that switch in about three hours.”

The production bench is roughly 20-feet long, giving the production crew some space to breath. “Splitting the audio off from the A unit gave us the space to have that long of a monitor wall,” says Kemps. Chyron Deko units will also be in the A unit for graphics with a couple of Vizrt units expected to join the party. Three roll-around benches in the graphics area can be in use or taken off the truck to open up more space.

The decision to stick with CRT monitors in a flat-panel world came about after a shootout of the technologies. “The quality of picture on the Lumas won out pretty resoundingly,” adds Kemps.

The B trailer features a Calrec Alpha as the main desk with Telex Adam intercom communications, the Pesa router, and Aja distribution gear also on hand. NVision embedding and proc-amp gear, a Harris transmission package, Leader T&M scopes and more Sony monitoring gear are also in the B unit.

“The audio area is a pretty large room with enough space to monitor Surround Sound effectively,” says Kemps. Also, by moving the audio portion out of the main truck the mixer will have another benefit: less noise.

“You could make the argument that from a noise standpoint it’s more effective to have the audio area out of the main production unit,” says Kemps. “But from our standpoint it also helped because we could contain the primary video feeds in one truck and not have them bouncing back and forth between trailers.”

With roughly 64 fiber paths between the trucks Kemps and company have plenty of room for bouncing signals. Ethernet, Serial Data over fiber…it’s all in play thanks to expanded-beam four conductor cable.

With a little more than a month before its official on-air launch the NMT crew is cranking away with final details in New Jersey. Then, when it’s officially road-worthy, it takes to the highways to cross the country for testing, ensuring that it’ll be up to speed before the trip down to San Diego for the first tee.

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