Dome Productions Marks Silver Anniversary With Truck Acquisitions, New Builds
By Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, and Jason Dachman, Managing Editor
North of the border, Dome Productions is celebrating 25 years with gusto. In addition to building Kodiak earlier this year and planning to roll out Silver early next, the Toronto-based mobile-production provider recently made headlines by acquiring CAMERON PACE Group’s quartet of 3D mobile units.
Dome plans to convert the four 3D units — the 53-ft. double-expando and 48-ft. single-expando ShadowCaster units and a pair of 48-ft. straight trucks that will serve as B units — into 2D HD production trucks.
The 48-ft. ShadowCaster unit, rechristened Dome Shadow, hit the road on Oct. 24, featuring a Grass Valley Kayenne switcher, Calrec Artemis audio console, Sony cameras with FUJINON lenses, and an NVISION router. The 3D technology was removed, and the router reconfigured for 2D production.
“The first thing for us in looking at this [acquisition] was capacity, because we are growing,” says SVP/GM Mary-Ellen Carlyle. “When I went down and saw the [48-ft. expando] ShadowCaster truck, I knew right away that it could be a great hockey truck for us. Of course, we are doing work to it, but we knew that ShadowCaster could fill a role for us in Canada immediately.”
The company is still evaluating its options for the 53-ft. double-expando, the first ever in the Dome fleet.
“In terms of the double-expando unit, we are not quite sure what we are going to do with that yet,” she says. “It’s the first time we’ve ever had a double-expando, so we are evaluating the best place for it.”
Regardless of where the double-expando ends up, the Canadian company (co-owned by Bell Media and Rogers Broadcasting) expects to continue along a path of rapid growth in the coming years — especially in the U.S. Having launched two HD trucks in 2012 and one in 2013 and planning another one for early 2014, plus the former CPG units, Dome is set to hit the 14-truck mark. To support its increased capacity, it has hired more than 20 people over the past two years, including its first U.S.-based employee, who is tasked with finding business in the States.
“There is definitely an intent to grow our business,” says Carlyle. “We do have our internal business through SportsNet [also owned by Rogers Broadcasting] and TSN [also co-owned by Bell Media], but we are growing well beyond that. And I am confident that a lot of that growth is coming in the States.”
Before acquiring the CPG units, however, Dome added Kodiak to the fleet. The 40-ft. remodeled trailer hit the road in January, featuring a Grass Valley Karrera switcher, Calrec S2 analog audio console, Chyron HyperX3.1 and Lyric Pro, six Grass Valley LDX-6000 cameras with Canon lenses, and two six-channel EVS LSM XT2+ replay servers.
“It has a very nice, small footprint for downtown street parking or crowded venues,” says Director of Engineering Mike Johnson. “It’s a very capable production facility that will fit into different spaces, and then it also lines up really nicely against some of our client requirements and some of the shows that we’re asked to participate in.”
In May, Kodiak’s small footprint came in handy when Dome was tapped to cover Rumble on the Rails, a live wrestling event in Grand Central Terminal. Produced by Carr-Hughes Productions for NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports, the production featured the U.S., Iranian, and Russian national teams competing in Vanderbilt Hall, located adjacent to Grand Central’s Main Concourse. Unlike a larger combination production/transmission truck, Kodiak could easily park on bustling East 42nd Street and hook up to a separate uplink truck (Carr-Hughes used a truck from New York City-based American Satellite Uplink truck for transmission).
When paired with a satellite-uplink truck, such as American Satellite Uplink’s unit or Dome’s Ku-band Rico, Stargazer, and Upstream, Kodiak easily serves sports productions in smaller venues where fiber is not accessible.
Next year, Dome continues its expansion with Silver, which will hit the road on Feb. 25, coincident with the NHL’s return following the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.
The 53-ft. expando, named in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary, features a Grass Valley Kayenne switcher, Calrec Artemis Beam audio console, 10 HD cameras, Chyron HyperX3 and Lyric Pro, and two six-channel XT3 replay servers.
Though closely mirroring the company’s Pacific and Atlantic mobile units, Silver features a modified tape area with additional encoding and support infrastructure geared toward alternative coverage.
“We’ve adjusted the rack layouts so that we can feature something like an alternate production,” said Johnson. “Our intention there is that we want to be able to service that group that would choose to create an alternate program for the purposes of Webstreaming, alternate distribution, or different production on-site with whatever the main event is.”
Dome Productions remains dedicated to building mobile units with the clients’ current needs in mind, with an eye on expectations and future requirements.
“1080p is a feature that we want to make sure we have capacity for. [However,] we’re not getting a big demand for 1080p right now,” explains Johnson. “I think people are starting to be a little bit more focused on 4K and what that might bring to productions. So we’ve been spending some time looking in that space.”