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A record of OB firsts

Mike Clark finds out how Italian company Telerecord delivered a high definition OB van for Qatari broadcaster Al Kass Sport Channel and how the truck boasts special features to be able to cope in Arabian climates and conditions.

Mike Clark finds out how Italian company Telerecord delivered a high definition OB van for Qatari broadcaster Al Kass Sport Channel and how the truck boasts special features to be able to cope in Arabian climates and conditions.

Italian OB company Telerecord, which celebrates 35 years’ activity this year, has added another ‘first’ to its list. As well as being the first in Italy to experiment digital technology (in 1996), the first to use HD OB facilities (in 2004) and the first to cover events in 3D (in 2007), the firm – which is strategically based in central Italy (near Florence) – has delivered its first HD OB van built in-house for a foreign broadcaster.

Run by Giovanni Bertini, his son Fabio and daughter Rosella, Telerecord’s OB vans are familiar sights at high-profile sports and music events throughout Italy and further afield (their first foreign HD project dates back to the 2005 Champions League Final in Istanbul) and the firm decided to put its lengthy experience designing OB units (its current fleet ranges from motorbikes to a 45-foot 20-camera HD truck) at other companies’ disposal.

Telerecord’s Founder, Bertini Sr. explains: “We took a partially-equipped truck, based on an Iveco 150.25 E 5, to the IBC expo in Amsterdam as a ‘sample’ of what we could do and it caught the attention of Qatar broadcaster Al Kass Sport Channel.”

The Qatar Olympic Committee, founded in 1979 and a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1980, bought the completed truck, which in fact bears the Olympic logo and the ‘Sport for Life’, and is operated by Al Kass Channel, whose Technical Adviser Samer Younes explains, “Al Dawri & Al Kass is an Arabic-speaking satellite sports channel launched in September 2006 and located in Doha, Qatar. The channel, which broadcasts round the clock, free to air, covers international sports news and events with a major focus on football, particularly in Qatar and the GCC. It is the official broadcaster of the Qatar Football Stars League (QSL), Qatar Stars Cup (QSC) and was host broadcaster of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011 held in January.”

The year after the channel’s launch, Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram held a survey among the 200 best-known sports journalists in Arab countries, who voted Al Kass number one Arabic sports channel for the year 2007, due to ‘its quality programming, in-depth coverage and professional analysis.’ Al Kass played a major part in the broadcast of the 15th Asian Games-Doha 2006 and the 18th Gulf Cup, with a high profile coverage that got excellent critiques from most of the major newspapers and sports websites on the GCC.

Younes continues: “The new OB van bought from Telerecord was used during all the AFC Asian Cup 2011 matches held in Qatar and during the DTFF (Doha Tribeca Film Festival), and other events we have covered recently have included the 16th Asian Games, the 20th Gulf Cup in November 2010 and the AFC Champions League 2010 – 2011. The van is being used on all three channels operated by Al Dawri & Al Kass Sport Channel: Al Dawri & Al Kass, Al Kass HD and AL Kass Plus (+).”

As far as on-board equipment is concerned, Giovanni Bertini explains, “We suggested the equipment we normally use on our own trucks. This includes three Evertz VIP 7767 multi-image display processors, used with Sony LCD monitors (42-inch versions in the production and VT zones and 32-inch in the audio zone, Harris(Leitch) 3901 Sys-3 Master Timing Generator, Leitch audio and video distributors and up/down converters and four For-A FA-9100 frame synchronisers.”

The client, on the other hand, specified the Grass Valley cameras (ten LDK 8000 Elite multi-format HDTV cameras and two Live Super SloMo LDK 8300 HDTV triple-speed cameras and the production switcher, a Grass-Valley Kayak HD 2.5 M/E 48 In/24 Out. Other key equipment includes three EVS XT[2] HD broadcast servers and, for communication, a Trilogy Commander Digital Matrix intercom.

The production truck is divided into three areas: at the front end, the sound control room comfortably seats two engineers and hosts a Yamaha PM5D-RH digital console, Dolby E and Pro-Logic encoders, Audio Tool DP570 GPI0 controller and a Genelec 5.1 audio monitor system (an G7050 subwoofer and five G8020 enclosures, identical to the pair in the main production area).

The central production area with the expansion hosts the main desk, which hosts four operators at the Kayak switcher and Avid Deko Cast graphics/title generator system. The rear production desk is equipped as a VT zone with three operator positions, while at the rear of the truck, there is the engineering zone with two operator positions and another recording/VT zone, with two more.

The van’s specialist coachbuilder is another Tuscan company, Resti of Figline Valdarno near Florence. Telerecord designed the truck, supervised the work and installed all the equipment and cabling and, as far as special features required for work in Arabian countries were concerned, Bertini explains, “The main differences from the vans we use in Europe were necessitated by the temperatures and airborne sand and dust in the locations which the channels are using the truck. We boosted the Climaimpianti/Daikin air conditioning system, adding an extra 10 kW unit with three diverters, to ensure a comfortable working environment in the various areas of the vehicle and dust problems were addressed by installing a spring door return and double rubber seals on the access door.”

As well as the main production van Telerecord also designed and supplied an 11-metre support vehicle, also based on an Iveco truck — a 180.28 E5 plus a considerable range of other equipment. This includes two Steadicam Clipper 324, two Link Research L1503 HD-SD wireless camera systems, two Iconix Studio2K net cameras, a Sony HDWF 900R HD camcorder, a Stanton Triangle Extreme (30-foot reach) jimmy-jib, an 18 kVA UPS and a series of Vinten tripods (five Vision 250 and four Vector 90) and an Avid Dekocast HD graphics system. The trucks’ cable drums, 12-channel audio cable and XLR stage boxes are manufactured by another specialist Italian company: Rome’s Link.