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To Infinity and beyond

Turin company Global Production recently took its new 30-camera HD OB truck, ‘Infinity’, on its first outings, covering the World Cycling Championship in Florence and the Ferrari Challenge at the Mugello circuit. Mike Clark took a look inside Italy’s largest HD OB truck.

Turin company Global Production recently took its new 30-camera OB truck, ‘Infinity’, on its first outings, covering the World Cycling Championship in Florence and the Ferrari Challenge at the Mugello circuit. Mike Clark takes a look inside Italy’s largest HD OB truck.

Infinity is the fourth HDTV OB production truck currently fielded by Global Production, whose high profile sports coverage in recent years has included the 2006 Winter Olympics, Beijing Olympics and the World Alpine Ski Championships.

Global Production’s Infinity is pulled by an Iveco Stralis 480 tractor, has four expansions and measures 46 x 8.3ft closed and 49×17.5ft when fully deployed, with an impressive 70sqm of comfortable stylish workspace.

The ‘Infinity’ truck is the world’s first based round the powerful 4K-ready Harris Platinum IP3 576×1024 multi-format 3G matrix (351×240 HD SDI 3G, 32×32 analogue video, 128×128 analogue audio and 128×128 AES audio) and, as far as scalability is concerned, has the largest capacity on the market. The impressive system also features six HView SX PRO 64×6 multi-display management modules and 32 Magellan Router Control Panels (24 LCD, four RCP-48LCD and four RCP-64 LCD).

Glue includes seven Harris 8900 mainframes, 40 HD/SDI/3G DA-DHR 6804 distribution amplifiers, 14 HMX 6803 HD/SDI/3G video embedders, 10 HDX 6803 de-embedders, 20 VEA6800+ analogue video DAs and 20 ARG6800+ audio remote gain Das.

Setting the bar high

On the reason behind investing in such an impressive project in a period in which the economic pinch is pretty widespread, Davide Furlan, Global Production’s business manager and one of the company’s founding partners, explains: “When there is a big shrinkage in the market, there’s obviously more supply than demand, so we decided it was best to set the bar high – we’ve always had innovation at the core of our corporate strategy and for years have invested all the company profit on machines and human resources.”

The high profile rig (most of which is 4K ready) includes a 96-input GV Kayak HD300 4.5ME vision mixer while audio is mixed on a Digico D5 Live console and Dolby E processing facility. Intercom is courtesy of a Riedel Artist 128 matrix with 24 LCD-panels and 92 4-wire ports.

With the exception of 10 Sony PVM 1741 OLED monitors in the engineering area, all others are LG LCD models: six 55-inch (Main Production Area), four 47-inch (Sub Production Area) and sixteen 32-inch (slo-mo area) units.
Furlan continues, “Apart from the unequalled combination of the powerful matrix and multi-viewer system, combined with thirty cameras HD/3G, 10EVS six-channel and a vision mixer with 4.5M/E. Other key features of Infinity are not strictly speaking broadcast gear, but ensure the truck’s secure operation, such as the (totally redundant) cooling system and back-up batteries enabling the set-up to run for 20 minutes in the event of a power failure.”
The truck’s Harris Selenio media convergence platform features 10 Frame Synchronisers with Colour Corrector, 18 HD/SD Cross Converters with Frame Synchroniser. The WSG–4MTG system includes two WSG-4 MTG Master Timing Generators with GPS Antenna Receiver and a WSX-11-3G multi-format sync changeover unit. A Videotek TVM 9100 PKG video and audio analyser, three Videotek CMN 91 multi-format analysers and two Harris DL-870 2-CH Legalisers are also on-board.

The slo-mo system comprises 10 EVS XT[2] with EVS Network and the 10 recorders are a combination of HDW 2000P HDCAM and XDS-PD1000 and PDW-HD1500 XDCAM. There are also two BlackMagic Hyperdeck Studio Pro 4K.

Easy, intuitive and fast
Camera-wise the truck currently fields up to 30 GVG LDK 6000/8000 and although the on-board technical team obviously varies according to the type of production at maximum capacity the truck is able to host a chief technician, four camera control ops, 10 EVS ops, three sound engineers, two mixer video mixer ops, two directors, four production assistants, two producers and a graphic operator, each with his or her own workspace.

CRV Sistemi, of Limbiate (Monza/Brianza) was responsible for the integration of the Infinity’s broadcast system, the realisation of the electrical system for the project (with over 100km of cable), as well as supplying all the passive components.

After installation by CRV Sistemi, system integrator Nicola Dall’Asta programmed the equipment. He explains, “The revolutionary aspect of this project is that the OB-VAN doesn’t need a PC to set different parameters on cards, patch cords to route audio/video signals or panels and specific systems to handle alarms and configurations. Everything can be carried out via any matrix panel installed on the OB-VAN in a clear, simple and rapid manner. After the programming, the Global technicians and I were astonished by how easy, intuitive and fast it was to control such a large system – from when it’s switched on, the van is up and running in just four minutes.
Furlan enthuses, “We were the first to install the new Harris IP 3 matrix on an OB van with the new HView SX PRO modules, which ensure maximum quality and only 20 milliseconds delay, along with a NanoLED monitor set-up, which guarantees the production team spectacular realistic viewing. We opted for all-Harris glue (video distributors, embedders, de-embedders, cross-converters, frame sync, etc) which, combined with the CCS Navigator control software, enables configurations to be set or changed very rapidly, with just a few clicks, and video and audio flow to be controlled in realtime.”

A sporting future
The OB production market in Italy has shrunk considerably and with the exception of a few music and entertainment events, the only ones standing up to the current situation, justifying large-scale live coverage and financial outlay are sports, so Global Production studied the on-board areas and chose the technology according what would be the most frequent type of use, which in fact has resulted in space for a completely independent twin production set-up. Large live events with on-board integration with therefore be the truck’s staple diet.

Furlan concludes, “We’re a young, sound and dynamic small/medium company – we know and respect our Italian and international competitors, but it would be stupid to hide our intention to export our technical facilities and expertise to satisfy foreign producers’ needs.”

Pullquote: “We’ve always had innovation at the core of our corporate strategy and for years have invested all the company profit on machines and human resources” – Davide Furlan, Global Productions