Token Creek’s Plans for ’11: New Truck, Convert Hiawatha to Expando

Token Creek Mobile Television has some big plans for 2011. In addition to finalizing plans for its newest truck, a 53-ft. expando that will mirror its existing Varsity unit, the company will be converting a straight truck to an expando — and attempting to do so at minimal time and cost.

The newest truck to hit the road from Token Creek is slated to be ready for fall 2011.

“We are in the process of securing funding, in the hopes that we will be able to place our order in January,” says President John Salzwedel. “We would like to have it ready for football season next year. On every truck, you do a little bit of tweaking and add an extra bell and whistle, but this truck will basically mirror what we’ve done on Varsity.”

That means 12 Grass Valley LDK 8000 cameras (wired for 16), a full 4.5 M/E Kayenne switcher, a Calrec Artemis audio console, PESA routing, and a Chyron HyperX3 graphics system. The truck will also carry two six-channel EVS servers, one four-channel and two four-channel ROs, and a SpotBox, XFile, and XHub.

“It’s designed for everything,” Salzwedel says. “It can handle football, basketball, hockey. The bulk of our work ends up being college sports, and we are very happy in that market.”

In addition to building the new truck, Token Creek will take its Hiawatha truck off the road for a few weeks to give it a larger home. The truck, which has spent a little more than a year as a 53-ft. straight truck, will return as a 53-ft. expando, giving the company a total of three such trucks by the end of 2011.

“We just put that truck on the road as an HD truck last year, so, technology-wise, we’re all set,” Salzwedel says. “What we’re going to have to do is physically take the truck off the road for about six weeks and move everything over to a new trailer, we hope with minimal cost.”

He decided to convert the truck because the volume of work it has been receiving does not match that of the company’s Varsity truck, which is an expando.

“While a lot of clients are saying that they want a small truck, we’re finding that they really do want an expando,” Salzwedel says. “They still want the physical space, because they want to cram people into the truck, especially up at the front. Right now, with a non-expando, the producer and director are constantly rubbing shoulders and elbows. Since that’s the part of the truck that decides whether they want our truck or not, the decision for us is pretty clear. In order for us to stay competitive, we need to turn Hiawatha into an expando.”

The top priority of the conversion is to give crews more space to work, but taking the truck off the road for six weeks does give Token Creek an opportunity to make some technical changes as well.

“We will tweak it to some extent,” Salzwedel says. “Hiawatha is a very well-equipped truck. People absolutely love the truck and its capabilities, but I’m sure we’ll put in another EVS and maybe another camera or two.”

Hiawatha is a quality HD production truck as it stands today, but he hopes that the conversion to a larger, expanding space will give the production crews working inside the room what they need to take their broadcasts to the next level.

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