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A new 4K OB truck for BT Sport

13 October 2016
A new 4K OB truck for BT Sport

BT Sport has partnered with UK mobile broadcast service provider Arena Television for its ongoing 4K/UHD broadcast plans.

Arena chose solutions from Grass Valley, including a scalable IP core and broadcast-centric edge devices. Arena’s new OBX mobile production unit, the first of three new units planned, provided simulcast UHD and HD signals on an IP network for the BT Sport broadcast of the Liverpool vs Leicester City Premier League match on 10 September.

Arena started designing the new truck, OBX, in 2014 with the goal of leveraging 4K and IP technology from Grass Valley. In discussions it was agreed that a proven COTS switch from Cisco would provide the ideal IP foundation. Grass Valley solutions in the completed OBX include 28 LDX 86N Series cameras, four GV Node Real-Time IP Processing and Edge Routing Platforms with 54 KMX-4911 multiviewer cards, 180 Densité IPG-3901 Gateways and a Kayenne K-Frame Production Switcher, working together to provide a complete IP workflow. The package also included the Cisco Nexus 9000 series switch and Lawo Virtual Studio Manager.

By offering direct IP interfaces on its products, Grass Valley tries to make it easier to move the data across the network. The LDX 86N camera offers the ability to capture native 4K and native 3G/HD on the same device, utilising TICO compression to deliver a signal across a single wire and reduce the physical cabling requirements. OBX is completely signal-agnostic, offering the ability to switch easily between UHD 2160p50, 3G 1080p50 and HD 1080i50, while using less cable for a total weight that is lower than an equivalent SDI installation.

Jamie Hindhaugh, COO of BT Sport, said: “This is not our first foray into 4K/UHD, but we needed to build on our experience in season one to move to a standard workflow for season two that would allow us to deliver HD and UHD from the same truck so that all of our viewers, no matter which channel they were watching, would see the same coverage. Arena took on this challenge and they designed the solution that supported this ambition, pushing further by utilising IP infrastructure opportunities. It’s the beginning of a new way of doing business.”

“We talked to the usual technology partners that OB firms tend to use and it became apparent that only one company was thinking outside the box in how to move technology forward,” “The demands of a 4K/UHD signal are much more easily met with an all-IP network, so the emerging 4K/UHD and IP technologies from Grass Valley were an obvious fit for us,” said Arena managing director Richard Yeowart. “What we have now is the most powerful OB solution which provides greater flexibility going forward, is future-proofed and better able to one day roll out HDR and higher frame rates as and when they are required.”

Two more trucks, OBY and OBZ, are in construction with the same design.

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