SDTV Overhauls HDLA Expando With Upgraded Switcher, Replay Servers

With the MLB All-Star Game playing in its backyard this summer, San Diego-based Satellite Digital Teleproductions (SDTV) was called to bat by Fox Sports San Diego to provide the home for the local RSN’s studio-show production. Working out of HDLA, SDTV’s 40-ft. expando mobile unit, FS San Diego was able to cover the All-Star festivities using a three-camera remote production while its own studio-control room housed Fox Sports 1. Following this successful stint, SDTV removed HDLA from service and got to work on a much-needed upgrade of the eight-year-old truck.

HDLA first hit the road in 2008 as a fully HD mobile unit. In addition to its current gear — including a Calrec Zeta digital audio board, NVision video and audio routers, and dual-channel ChyronHego HyperX3 graphics engine — the truck featured a first-generation Sony switcher and two six-channel EVS replay servers. SDTV opted to replace the aging switcher with a Grass Valley Kayenne switcher and upgraded to EVS XT3s, XFile3s, and a four-channel SpotBox.

The upgraded HDLA houses a Grass Valley Kayenne switcher.

The upgraded HDLA houses a Grass Valley Kayenne switcher.

“It was a huge investment, but we also know that, if you want to stay relevant in the marketplace, either you’re going to do some upgrades or you’re going to close shop, because people want to work in a new environment,” says SDTV Operations Manager Mark Parikka. “We think we pretty much have a new truck.”

HDLA is wired for eight Sony HD cameras with HD lenses and typically supports six- to eight-camera productions. SDTV’s HDLA clients include Fox Sports West, ESPN, CBS Sports, Showtime, HBO Sports, and others, typically covering high school football, college basketball and baseball, boxing, and many more sports events. SDTV had previously upgraded the unit with MPEG-4 encoders to better serve its clients.

EVS equipment added to HDLA includes XT3 servers, XFile3 file transfer, and a four-channel SpotBox.

EVS equipment added to HDLA includes XT3 servers, XFile3s, and a four-channel SpotBox.

“We pretty much discovered that clients, if they’re doing any type of a sporting event, when they want to transmit, they don’t want to have to spend money for the whole 36 MHz of bandwidth,” says Parikka. “With the MPEG-4 transmission, you can get much more data [using less] bandwidth, so that was a very important upgrade.”

SDTV worked closely with EVS to upgrade the replay servers in mid June and installed the Kayenne switcher with the help of Grass Valley in mid July. According to Parikka, the new EVS XT3s, XFiles, and SpotBox will make the load-of-show process for clients much quicker and easier; the switcher, he says, is both intuitive and user-friendly.

“We consider our truck to be definitely in the top tier of the most powerful mid-range mobile production units that are out there,” says Parikka. “For us, this was a significant investment in new technology to make us state of the art. We have a tradition in the mobile industry being a state-of-the-art unit, and we know that we have [raised] ourselves back up there.”

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