At US Open Debut, NEP’s SS16 Offers Live Preview for CBS
Before CBS Sports’ production crew takes the controls of NEP’s latest mobile-production truck, SS16, for the NFL, the CBS Sports team has a unique opportunity to witness the truck in action. SS16 is making its debut this week at the US Open tennis tournament, where it is providing production support for the world feed of the Grandstand court. Although the truck has the same infrastructure as SS18 and SS20, allowing the CBS team to take a look inside provides a significant level of comfort before the NFL season begins.
“SS16, 18, and 20 are sister trucks,” explains Michael Fernander, president/GM of NEP’s U.S. mobile units. “You could take a crew from one, put them in the next one, and they would feel like they’re in their own truck.”
When SS16 parked at Flushing Meadows, the CBS crew had an opportunity to take its time inspecting the truck, and the reviews were raves.
“They came through, saw it, and said it’s perfect,” says Mike Werteen, SVP of sales and client services for NEP. “They know that it’s going to fit in perfectly from an ergonomics standpoint, and we know technically that it’s going to fit in with what their production needs are.”
SS16 is currently without a full-time client contract, but, after several days in the US Open truck compound, Werteen says he has already had requests from clients to make it their own. “It’s a sought-after truck because it has the latest technology wrapped in a quick setup with quality engineers.”
Big Shows, Quick Setups
“Because of the engineering firepower that [CTO] George Hoover and his team have put into it and the infrastructure that they’ve put in there, SS16 has the ability to do the largest shows and also set up very quickly,” he says. “It’s something that our clients have talked about for a number of years now, and we’ve been able to effectively do it.”
SS16 uses the same design as SS18 and 20, featuring a virtual-monitor wall, Grass Valley switcher, Calrec Sigma with Bluefin audio console, and EVS XT servers. The truck is capable of operating with or without a B unit, so, when it’s finished with its NFL duties on Sundays, it can handle a midweek NBA or NHL regional game.
“This type of a truck will be able to handle 12-15 camera shows eloquently and still be able to go do a four-camera college basketball game, set up in an hour, and be out of there in 11 hours,” Werteen explains. “That is not something that has historically been a significant portion of the NEP business, but it is now becoming just that.”
As part of his Supershooter responsibilities, Fernander oversees the U-PARC dedicated integration facility. All design, integration, and workmanship for all of NEP’s trucks takes place at U-PARC, located a five-minute drive from Pittsburgh headquarters, allowing the company complete oversight throughout all stages of construction on its mobile units.
“Once we take delivery of the trailer, they take care of every wire that goes in,” says Werteen. “It’s almost like building a house: we’re able to say I want these cable outlets here and those lights to go there.”
Says Fernander, “U-PARC is where all of the truck design is done. They are part of the process from beginning to end, so the wiring people are part of our staff. We often don’t think about things like where every light goes, but they do. It is a unique capability, to have them such a part of the process.”
As with any new product, Werteen and Fernander always expect to have a certain failure rate when they roll out a new truck, but, time and again, U-PARC integration proves them wrong.
“The failure rate for U-PARC is zero,” Werteen says. “Because SS16 is a new truck, once some of the new modules were put into the field for this show and used, they failed, but that’s just a piece of equipment. Once those were identified, there’s no searching for why a certain wire doesn’t work. Overseeing the workmanship from our corporate offices and making sure that it’s up to the quality that we expect is significant for us.
“The core organization of any truck company is going to be the engineers,” he continues. “When they see the pride taken in the workmanship of a truck, that is truly regarded and appreciated.”