Upgraded CTV OB Trucks Cover Test Cricket

The first Test between England and Pakistan began July 29 at Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire, with newly refurbished outside-broadcast trucks providing both the television host and UK highlights coverage.

CTV OBs, facilities provider for Sky Sports, has upgraded its OB4 to HD and 5.1 surround sound on the main live feed, and terrestrial broadcaster Five’s edited coverage comes from NEP Visions’ HD10 and HD12, which are former in-line SD units.

Before the upgrade, OB4 was used as the second truck on Sky’s cricket broadcasts, covering 20-20 matches while OB2 worked on Test or other international fixtures. OB4 now takes the lead role because it has a larger vision area, which is needed to accommodate the additional facilities that Sky is using this season.

These include four infrared Hot Spot cameras, which show if a ball has made contact with the bat, and the run-out cameras, which are used to determine whether a batsman is “in” or has been dismissed after running between the wickets.

CTV Technical Director Hamish Greig explains that, in past years, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had brought in a small truck to house monitoring equipment for the run-out cameras but, with the extra space available in OB4, this is now in the main scanner.

“Because OB4 is fully HD,” Greig points out, “we can have the run-out monitors in the same unit as the main coverage, which is better for matching the feeds.”

These cameras and the Hot Spots are fully HD, as is the other equipment used for Sky’s host transmissions. The primary cameras are 12 Sony HDC1500s, with eight Sony HDC3300 super-slo-mo systems. Other special cameras include HD stump-cams, a radio Steadicam, and fixed units in the commentary box. Six HawkEye cameras have been installed by HawkEye Innovations for tracking analysis.

The host facilities are completed by two ENG units, two edit suites, and 12 networked EVS recorder/playout servers. The commentary, third-umpire, and match-referee positions are now fully HD, which has been made possible by a four-year programme undertaken by CTV to install fibre in all ECB venues.

OB4 features a newly installed Calrec Audio Apollo console running on a Hydra fibre network for additional connectivity. Sky is moving towards 16-channel embedded sound, so, says Greig, the Apollo has the routing needed for this and works with Axon embedders.

Five is broadcasting nightly highlights of the Test matches, produced by Sunset+Vine, on both its SD and new HD channels. Facilities are provided by Visions, which is using the newly upgraded trucks HD10 and HD12, previously known as D10 and D12.

Both vehicles are on large articulated chassis and can house up to 20 cameras each, with room for six disc-based recorder/player systems and six VT decks. “As demand for HD production continues to grow, we see these assets as a flexible and cost-effective solution for sports clients that have the need for an HD truck but have limitations on access and budget,” says Brian Clark, contracts director at NEP Visions.

Dylan Jane, series producer for Cricket on Five, adds, “We at Sunset+Vine are delighted and excited to be working with Visions on producing Cricket on Five in HD for the first time this summer.”

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