Czech Republic OB firm invests in major new truck. Philip Stevens reports.
Reckord is a Czech Republic based company that provides outside broadcast and production services for clients throughout Europe. Founded in 1996, the company maintains an operational centre in the town of Chomutov -- about 80 km west of the capital city, Prague.
“Our work involves almost every possible kind of production,” states company director, Robert Kallista. “This includes live sport events, television shows, concerts, theatre performances, and the production of music DVDs. We work closely with both broadcasters and production companies to provide a variety of services – mainly in the area of outside broadcasts. However, around ten per cent of our time is devoted to programmes that we have originated ourselves.“
To complement its existing fleet of SD trucks, the company has recently invested in its first high definition outside broadcast vehicle. Known as REC 5, the expandable truck measures 14 metres in length and almost five metres with the sides extended.
“We decided to build this vehicle before the current economic difficulties arose – but it was still logical to proceed with its construction,” declares Kallista. “It was the next step in the evolution of company and was absolutely essential if we were to preserve our competitiveness in the market.”
HD work is limited in the Czech Republic at the moment: the arrival of this truck actually doubles the number of such vehicles available for hire in the country. “It’s true, you can only hire two HD trucks. One is our REC5 HD and the other is owned by the state television organisation.”
Kallista continues, “There is no reliable broadcasting network in the Czech Republic which would be able to achieve saturation of the HD signal. In fact, there isn’t a single DSNG in HD. Viewers can only receive the signal through satellite – and that doesn’t carry every Czech channel. Because of this situation – and the fact that the television market in the country is small – there is no pressure on Czech broadcasters to invest in the facilities needed for HD broadcasting.”
That situation goes some way to explaining why the opening production for REC 5 was outside of its home country. But not only was this a first for the Reckord vehicle, but also the programme itself was a premiere – the first HD broadcast in Slovakia. This was a 12 camera production of a television personalities award show.
Although most of the build and installation of the truck was carried out by Reckord’s own staff, they were helped in the design by Sony and by Prague-based solution provider Kit Digital. Not surprisingly, much of the equipment for the vehicle originates with Sony. The vision mixer, for example, is an MVS 6000/8000. “This was an obvious choice,” says Kallista. “It is a standard HD switcher, and we know from our experience that it offers reliability, functionality, logic and user comfort. And we have received very good support with previous Sony products.”
When it came to selecting cameras, Sony HXC-100 and super slow motion HDC 3300 were the choice. There is also one wireless adaptor available for use on productions. “We have equipped the truck with up to 24 cameras and we chose these models for basically the same reasons as the switcher -- reliability as well as outstanding technical parameters. The lenses are a mixture of Canon and Fujinon.”
He continues, “It won’t come as any surprsie to learn that our VTRs are also from Sony.“ The van is equipped with HDCAM and XDCAM HD, as well as EVS disk servers including X File.
When it came to audio choice, Reckord opted for a 42 fader version of the Studer Vista 5 mixer. As well as allowing a single operator to control the 42 input channels simultaneously, it also can be used for a two-person operation of the desk. The input bay situated on the right hand side of the mixer can be isolated from any global adjustments made on the left of the desk using the ‘lock’ mode. This means, for instance, that adjusting fader layers or sections on the left-side will not affect the right-hand side channel faders.
Indeed, the right fader section includes its own control panel to switch in or out the processing and EQs -- allowing two operators to have direct access within their own sections and avoiding the need to make unnecessary moves across the console. When not in the locked mode, all channels on the desk follow the global view changes of the displayed parameters, as well as following any section/layer changes.
“This simply completely fulfilled our expectations. Of course, it has a 5.1 system, it is the right size, and comes with equipment for the whole audio system. It provides the possibility to work with both analogue and AES/EBU signals, has GPI compatibility with the vision switcher to allow audio follow. It also includes intuitive controls and the possibility of expansion as our needs develop,” explains Kallista.
Communications was entrusted to a Riedel Artist system, capable of processing analogue and digital signals. Eleven Artist 2000 series control panels are used in the OB truck, incorporating 8-digit LCD displays and custom colour control keys. The panels are connected via AES over CAT-5. To integrate professional mobile radios into the communications infrastructure, Reckord's HD OB truck uses a RiFace, Riedel's universal radio interface.
Despite the current slow market and low visibility of HD productions, Kallista is very optimistic about the future. “There are growing viewer demands and when these are turned into action, we will be ready to meet the high definition OB needs for Czech broadcasters. We are very pleased with the way our new truck is performing.”
So, with HD struggling to find a foothold in the Czech Republic, what are the chances of 3D becoming a reality? “Personally, I am fascinated by 3D and I am watching closely all the developments and trends in this area. To be realistic, though, substantial deployment of the technology will take a great deal of time. I’d be lying if I said I did not want to extend REC 5 HD to 3D. Its size means it is capable of making the change. We will have to wait and see,” concludes Kallista.