Mobile TV Group Travels Two-Trailer, Dual-Feed Path With 37HDX, 37VMU
Over the past two years, Mobile TV Group has begun to dramatically transform its truck fleet. The single-truck, dual-feed-production model that MTVG helped pioneer during the rise of regional sports networks throughout the 2000s has segued into the company’s vision of the future: a two-trailer, dual-feed mobile unit that provides enough space and technological firepower for both the home and visitor production teams.
The transformation continues with the launch of 37HDX and 37VMU, MTVG’s fifth two-trailer dual-feed system, which will be based in Detroit and work primarily for Fox Sports Detroit but can also be used as a powerful A/B-unit single-feed system.
“This [two-trailer unit] is what we anticipate all of our trucks to be as we build in the future,” says MTVG co-owner/GM Philip Garvin. “I think it’s fair to say we are building up the infrastructure of these trucks — in terms of space and capability — as we look towards the truck of tomorrow.”
Kayenne, Fiber Tie It All Together
37HDX and VMU carry a complement of core gear similar to MTVG’s first four two-trailer, dual-feed units: notably, a Grass Valley Kayenne K-Frame HD switcher, which provides the home show with 4M/E and a four-stripe control panel and the visitor show with 3M/E and a three-stripe control panel (total of 96 inputs and 48 outputs).
37VMU is fully networked to the A unit with extensive fiber connectivity, making all cameras and record trains and the RTS intercom system available to both trailers. Garvin says advances in fiber connectivity — along with the Kayenne switcher, MADI interfaces, and embedded audio in the router — are key to making this workflow possible. With that in mind, MTVG has launched its own fiber-manufacturing department to cater to these fiber-connected units.
“We believe enough in our fiber that we even have our own connector system now,” says Director of Business Development Nick Garvin. “We just weren’t able to get fiber quick enough before, so we now have our own fiber-connector–manufacturing capability. It’s a whole process involving our in-house clean room, and we are even building SMPTE fiber systems now.”
Audio Goes Big
Differentiating the 37 unit from its four two-trailer predecessors is more space in the home truck’s audio room, which features a Calrec Artemis Beam audio mixer (56 fader, 64 inputs, 265 routable inputs via MADI). 37VMU’s audio room, meanwhile, is built around a Studer Vista 1 audio console.
“The expando on 37 is 5 ft. longer,” says Garvin, “which allows for a back bench in audio for a submix position or second-language position for a Spanish-language feed.”
Grass Valley 6X Super-Slo-Mos Get Zoom
In terms of cameras, 37 carries nine Grass Valley LDX digital triax cameras with Canon lenses and Vinten Vector P/T heads, an LDK 6000 booth camera, and two LDX ExtremeSpeed 6X super-slo-mo systems. The 6X super-slo-mos have seen rapid adoption since Grass Valley launched the model last spring, and MTVG is leading the charge, having already purchased more than 20 systems and building all new MTVG trucks standard with two systems.
“You now have to have at least two 6X cameras on a truck doing pro sports or upper-level college sports,” says Garvin.
Moreover, MTVG has added zoom capabilities to its 6X super-slo-mo systems. Garvin says, for a very small extra charge, telecasts can create zoom-in replays similar to 4K super-zoom systems now widely deployed but without the motion blur that comes with standard frame rates.
“Obviously, a 4K input with HD zoomed-in output has become very common in replay,” he says. “But that is at standard frame rate. With 6X zoom-in, you don’t start with 4K resolution, but you do start with 6X the frame rate, so you get rid of the motion blur that goes with 4K regular frame rate. Ninety percent of the time when zooming in, you are focusing on action. 6X zoom gets rid of the motion blur, and the results are outstanding.”
Garvin sees huge potential for this application in hockey coverage, where MTVG has tested it in capturing tight, up-close views of close goals and saves.
On the replay side, 37 carries three six-channel EVS XT3 full-editing replay servers (4-in, 2-out) and two four-channel EVS XT3 RO units (2-in., 2-out), and a four-channel EVS SpotBox with lance control (two channels per show on duals). 37VMU has two EVS operator positions.
In addition, MTVG has deployed an eight-channel Grass Valley K2 Dyno replay system to handle the 6X super-slo-mo cameras. With 37 (and soon all MTVG two-trailer units), the visitor feed will have its own K2 Dyno control networked with the main Dyno in 37HDX to make both 6X super-slo-mo feeds available in real time.
“The visitor will now have instant and continuous access to the two super-slo-mo cameras,” says Garvin. “The traditional way only allowed the visitor to do a super-slo-mo replay of their own after the home operator had created a clip. Now the visitor can access both super-slo-mo cameras instantaneously without waiting for the home show.”
Kaleido-X Multiviewer Headlines the Best of Rest
The 105-monitor production wall in 37HDX and the seven-rack, 58-display wall in 37VMU also have newer functionality than the previous two-trailer units. MTVG has opted for Grass Valley’s Kaleido-X multiviewer system to provide the TD with increased flexibility in laying out the monitor wall, thanks to its intuitive click-and-drag user interface.
Other key gear aboard 37HDX includes an Evertz video router (216×538) and Evertz EMR audio router (96 analog, 48 AES pairs, 18 64-channel MADI inputs and 244 analog, and 16-channel embedded audio), ChyronHego HyperX2 graphics (VMU features a HyperX3 system) and two SketchHD+ touchscreen telestrators, an RTS Adam 96-port matrix intercom system and Studio Technologies IFB system, and RTS beltpacks and headset boxes.
The trucks travel with a variety of mics, including Audio-Technica short shotguns, Sennheiser long shotguns and stick mics, Sony lavalieres, Crown PCC Series mics, Sennheiser headsets, and Daltch talkback boxes.