Bexel Wears — and Offers — Many Hats at NAB
Bexel provides broadcast services for a wide variety of applications and events around the world, and the company’s NAB booth is as varied as its portfolio. From 3D to Q-Balls to college systems, Bexel’s offerings touch every level of sports broadcast.
The 3ality of 3D
Perhaps the flashiest announcement to come from Bexel, a member of the Vitec Group, revolves around the show’s flashiest trend: 3D. Bexel is showing a 3D camera system based on the 3ality Digital camera systems and software; it will begin renting in June. Through its partnership with 3ality Digital, Bexel will supply side-by-side and beam-splitter–style camera rigs, stereo image processors, and the software needed to run them. Both Panasonic and Sony cameras are available for the rigs, in addition to a variety of HD lenses and support gear.
“3D now is very similar to where we were with HD at this show 10 years ago,” says Jim Richardson, director of sales for Bexel. “Then, there were 17 different formats of HD being proposed. Now, with 3D, I think there are a lot of workflow issues that have to be worked out, but, for us, it’s good because it’s new demand. People know how many decks and replay devices they need for a given show, but the 3D is all new demand. This presents a whole new revenue stream, possibly. It will be interesting to see where the state of the art is one year from now at this show.”
Q It Up
In the meantime, Bexel has plenty of 2D innovations to keep customers on their toes.
“New to us this year is the Camera Corps Q-Ball,” Richardson says. “The demand for that line of cameras is huge.”
The Q-Ball is Camera Corps’ latest robotic HD pan-and-tilt camera system, and Bexel is the exclusive U.S. distributor and rental agent for the HD/SD minicam system. The Q-Ball incorporates a 10x zoom optical lens in a fully weatherproof aluminum 4.5-in.-diameter sphere.
“The cameras are great because it’s a Sony CMOS imager in the camera,” Richardson says. “It functions well in low light, and the form and footprint is much smaller than the old robotic POVs. Where we’re seeing a lot of interest with every major sports league is bench, dugout, and locker-room shots and reverse shoots of the announce booth, because it’s not invasive.”
Forward to College
“The collegiate sports market is ripe right now,” he points out. “Everybody’s clamoring for solutions. The resource that they need is below what the truck companies offer but somewhere above just sending a flypack in. A multicamera SD or HD solution is sorely needed for the collegiate market, and we are positioning ourselves to serve that market.”
Through a partnership with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, Bexel has created a branded Bexel-NACDA help desk.
“If you need to rent a microphone for the wrestling coach’s press conference, we’re there,” Richardson says. “Our 30-plus years of service and solutions are now available to the collegiate market. Everything that we’ve learned from our broadcast brethren we can scale to the collegiate market.”
College and university video professionals can access the help desk through a dedicated entrance on Bexel’s Website.
Vancouver for Sale
Bexel Broadcast Group is in the midst of its post-Olympic sale, offering much of the gear that was purchased new for the Vancouver Winter Olympics at extremely competitive prices.
“A lot of the gear that we purchased we used once for the Games, and now we’re selling it off,” Richardson says. “That ranges from lenses down to small terminal gear, Panasonic P2 cameras, cards, etc. Some of our purchase plan was to keep some equipment in rental, but we’re selling off the excess capacity.”
If the company’s booth had been twice the size, Bexel would have set up its popular Hercules flypack.
“It’s not designed to replace a truck; it’s designed to be an HD production facility where a truck is not feasible, cost-prohibitive, or physically not possible,” Richardson says. “We can custom-configure Hercules for any type of project and scale from 10 to 20 cameras.”
With a Sony MVS8000 switcher at its heart, the flypack runs full 1080p and can serve as a temporary control room. Some might see the PESA router and Calrec audio board as too large for on-the-go applications, but Bexel always goes above and beyond.
“Any time we’ve ever built any flypack, we have always built it bigger than we’ll ever need,” Richardson says. “That gives us the scalability that we need.”