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Mobile AV: Santa Cruz County Remote CTV, Part 2

May 10, 2011 7:00 AM, with Bennett Liles

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You're doing a lot of sports with the truck, how are you handling instant replay?
We used to have BUF Tech Sport slo-mo replay—a single-channel unit in a couple of trucks that I worked in, or we had one or two of those…I went to the last show and I saw Tightrope ZEPLAY four-channel system was like 50 grand and I thought up several other server-based systems that Elvis's were using and they were upwards of $75- and $85,000 for a four- or a six- or an eight-channel replay system. First off, we have four cameras even though my operators are very good—they are somewhat skilled, not excellently skilled, so we decided to go with a NewTek 3Play. It's been very stable. It has a excellent interface, and I put a Matrix Switch Corporation 8x4 HD SDi router in front of replay so I'm sending all the sources in the truck: program, clean feed, width graphics, plus the cameras all to the eight-input router so the replay operator has anything in the truck at their fingertips and can route whatever mix they need to, to any of their three inputs on the 3play and then they can choose the play they want, they can change angles on it, they can change a in and out time, they can very easily make a highlight reel and make notations to it. It's a very good interface and it's proved really stable for us and I'm pleased. It was about 25 grand compared to 45 grand—65 grand—85 grand. They just weren't into…it wasn't in the picture for us to have something that complicated or expensive. [Timestamp: 11:43]

And in the recording system, how much multi-track recording capability do you have?
Because our truck is not just a sports box, we wanted it to have a greater flexibility, and so for sports I probably only needed maybe a 24-channel mixer or smaller. I went with a 32-channel mixer and all of the ins and outs and all of the aux ends and the groups are all patchable and on the patch bay I also have a Zoom, a R16 multi-track SD card recorder. It's called 16 track but it's really—it has eight inputs and so to me that's eight—I'm not an audio pro because we're not doing post production with it, it's primarily to record music concerts, and so we have a custom-made Whirlwind 500ft. snake and 24-channel mult box with four returns so one of 24 channels come into 24 inputs through the patch bay on our first 24 inputs on our Mackie. You can do a pretty good job either getting a feed on a straight patch across at a music venue, or you could actually mic the show yourself and then create a somewhat broadcast-quality concert mix right there in the truck. We've yet to do a music show other than some tests with it, but I'm looking forward to that first opportunity. We've only had the truck for not even four months yet. [Timestamp: 13:08]

I'm sure that'll expand your audience too. I mean, local sports stuff really gets people in there. The viewers for that are really into it, but it's great that you already have the versatility built into the truck to widen your audience maybe with music productions. So how long did the whole project of outfitting this van take?
I bought the Coach in February of 2010 and it basically sat parked for two months, until about May when I knew we were going to get our funding in May and so from July and August I gutted it and then I sent it across the state to get a skin. I checked on a paint job for it. It didn't really need a paint job, but we wanted something nice looking. So I checked into the cost of paint jobs and they were all upwards of $10-20,000 and I was able to get a vinyl wrap for about $7,500, so we designed a custom vinyl wrap for it. At our website at you can see what it looks like. It's got a big wave, like you're surfing a wave in Santa Cruz coming in…and so we sent it away to get that wrap, I got it back, and I finished gutting it and then by about Thanksgiving, I started receiving the equipment and actually doing the wiring and the racking and the furniture in there in September. I did it myself, I had several very good specialist technicians come in and do other stuff with me, and a couple of helpers who just volunteered here and there, but it took me about three months, all-told, time there in the warehouse to gut it, have it wrapped, and then get the rack, furniture in, redo some of the walls, we custom-made a bulkhead in one of the baggage galley bays, got all of the I/O installed through there, pulled all the cables, redid IT system in there, and had it ready to go by about Thanksgiving and did a few weeks of tests with it, and then we rolled it out December 18th for its first show. [Timestamp: 15:05]

So what's the response been from the viewers on the high school sports events?
Very good, I'd love to say the phone never stops ringing and checks from sponsors keep pouring in, but that's not the case. But Comcast had a game here for over 20 years and then when it went away people didn't know why it went away. They just realized over time, "Wait a second, there's no more game of the week anymore," and so it's going to take some time to get back on people's radar. Everyone is really excited about it, who we come in contact with…schools, teams, coaches, administrators, the leagues, parents. They're all really enthused. We have high def, podcasts, and we're shooting the game in 16:9, 1080i and that resolution—the graphics in the Broadcast Pix are great. It just looks so exciting. It's fun to be part of something like this again. [Timestamp: 15:56]

Well it sure sounds like it and it sure makes it worth the effort when you can have a lot of fun doing it and work in a truck that you put together with your own hands. I really congratulate you on a great job and it's been great having you on here, Craig. It's Craig Jutson from Community Television from Santa Cruz County, Calif. and maybe we can get back with you when you start doing music shows and see how that's going.

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