YES Productions rebounds from Katrina with HD truck

By Ken Kerschbaumer

For most Americans Hurricane Katrina will always evoke strong feelings of tragedy and loss but as time passes it will also become associated with rebirth and new beginnings.

Remote production truck vendor YES Productions, based in Metarie, LA, is an example of the latter. The company lost one of its two production trucks in the storm, a 48-foot straight SD truck that was constantly at work, handling LSU games, New Orleans Hornets games, and various sporting events for Cox Sports.

“We had both of our trucks working a pre-season Saints game and while we were able to get one truck out to Houston the other one was stuck and sat in water for three weeks,” says Jim Moriarity, YES Productions VP and GM.

With only one truck in hand the company decided it was time to not only tap into the power of friendship but to also make a bold move into the HD era. On Nov. 3 the company officially returns to full force when its new 53-foot HD production truck broadcasts its first event: a San Antonio Spurs home game on Nov. 3.

“We had no experience in the HD world but we have some great friends that have been working in HD for the last three or four years,” he says. “They gave us some ideas and thoughts and we really appreciated it. The competition may be stiff but they helped out immensely.”

The new HD truck from YES Productions is a mix of the usual and the unusual but also typifies a move to control rooms that run along the side of the truck rather than one end of the truck.

“It’s a pretty good size control room,” says Moriarity of the 15.5-foot room. “Entertainment trucks were the first to have the rooms sideways but it makes for a really spacious room.”

With the help of Austin-based Beck Associates YES Productions revamped the truck that it bought from Corplex earlier this year. Equipment includes a Grass Valley Kalypso HD production switcher, Chyron Duet graphics gear, nine Ikegami HDK-79E cameras, and a variety of Fujinon lenses that include two XA101x8.9ESM field lenses, four XA87x9.3 ESM field lenses, one HA13x4.5ERM HD lens, and three HA 22×7.8 ERMs HD lenses with the Precision Focus Assist system. Replay is handled by four EVS servers and an XFile.

The audio portion of the truck includes an SSL MT Plus audio console with 96 channels with an NVision audio router handling signal distribution. A Pesa Cheetah router is onboard for video distribution. “Pesa has been very responsive to the mobile truck community and they really listen and have guys who have been in the field as engineers,” he says.

Samsung flat panel screens are also on board, helping cut wait and give the truck a sleeker look. “Flat panel technology has definitely arrived,” says Moriarity. “We still have glass for the program, preset and quality control but everywhere else we have flat panels.”

Making the move to HD is not for the feint of heart and YES Productions quickly found that designing and building an HD truck is very different from building an SD truck. “Our CE Dave Kennedy was able to dig into the project with the guys from Beck Associates,” says Moriarity. “And it was a whole new experience from day one as we tried to figure this out but we had a lot of great friends who helped.”

For now Moriarity is basking in more than the glow of the Samsung flat panel displays. “This HD truck is going to give us a boost for the next five or 10 years and will eventually help us drag the other truck into HD,” says Moriarity. “We would have never had this opportunity if it wasn’t for the storm but now we’re here and in business.”

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