The project was commissioned in October 2010 following completion of a three-studio complex by C2S Systems for SuperSport and sister company, M-Net, in Nigeria. The first half of the project, OB1, was delivered in April this year. The two OB’s were ordered as part of SuperSport’s expansion and upgrade plan, to provide enhanced coverage of Nigerian football and basketball in HD, freeing the current fleet for coverage of other sports and events. Both new OBs will also be used as general production units for M-Net.
Because of difficult African road conditions, the broadcaster's OB requirement was fairly unusual. Instead of a single truck using articulated trailer-lorries, common for OB in Europe and the US, C2S Systems provided SuperSport with two smaller and more mobile rigid chassis trucks, designed to join together once on location to make a single OB.
Four Mercedes Axor-R 2529’s were selected as the base vehicle for the OB units with each of two further vehicles being used as a twinset generator, platform and cable tender.
Each operational pair provides enough space for production, audio and replay areas in one truck and an engineering and uplink area in the other. The production area was designed to include capacity for six VTs and three on-air graphics systems, while the engineering truck includes capacity for five EVS media servers for slow-motion replay and highlights editing.
Each OB is equipped with twenty HD system cameras, including one super slow motion model, plus two HD box cameras on robotic heads.
The units provide all the functionality of a single truck with the advantage of additional operator space and an on-board uplink removing the need for a satellite van. Dolby D and E encoding enables 5.1 audio capabilities. The two complete OBs were designed to be almost identical with only the choice of audio mixer differing between them.
“The real challenge and the unique element of this build was joining the two units to give a seamless overall system,” said Jonathan Lyth, C2S Systems’ head of projects.
“Connecting the two had to be easy and relatively quick for operators on location, so we based the interconnection around four duplex fibre cables capable of carrying a total of 96 bi-directional HD-SDI signals and intercom. Audio is carried by eight 64-channel MADI streams over copper, which integrated directly into the router. Because the local skill-set is still developing, these units will generally be used by less experienced operators than might be found elsewhere, so we factored this into the overall design, using a customised control solution to help simplify both operational and engineer tasks, while still allowing for upgrade and expansion in the future.”
“It was going to be a complex and ambitious integration project from the outset, so having previously worked with C2S Systems on our studios in Nigeria; we knew they had the right team to design and build the units to the standard we were after," said Andre Venter, Director of SuperSport Media Solutions Africa.
"They already had experience in the region and a strong relationship with our team; we were impressed by their commitment to understanding the intricacy of our operations, designing a solution to perfectly suit our needs. We needed mobility and scalability as well as space, so there were a lot of problems to solve. Our mission is to provide viewers with the highest quality picture and audio possible, with these new OB units, C2S Systems are helping us to deliver this promise to our audience.”
The OB units are equipped with: Snell interfacing, Pyxis routing and control systems; Sony camera systems (16x HSC-300, 3x HDC-1550 and 1x HDC-3300 models); 2x Bradley Engineering fibre and PTZ head systems with Sony P1 HD box cameras; Sony MVS8000 2.5ME 81-Input 24-Output 2-DME vision mixer; a Yamaha M7CL Audio mixer in OB1 and a Lawo MC56 Audio mixer in OB3; EVS XT2+ and XT3 replay servers and networking; Sony LMD2451, LMD2051 and PVW-L1700 LCD monitoring; Harris clocks; Telex comms, including 3x Cronus talkback matrices; 2x Web controllable Glensound commentator systems with AES interfacing; Evertz VIPA8 and VIPA16 multiviewers; Evertz CDWM fibre mux systems; an Evertz SPG system; and Advent Newswift 1.8m Ku DSNG antenna in 1+1 configuration.