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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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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

Community Television of Santa Cruz County, Calif. is using their new remote van to cover local sports and viewers can't get enough. Craig Jutson is back to tell us about the audio and recording systems on the new truck, all of which he designed and installed personally. That's coming up next on the SVC podcast.
Craig, thanks for being back with me for Part 2 from Community Television of Santa Cruz County, Calif. and the new remote truck that you've got out there doing local sports and other things. We were talking in Part 1 about the video switcher and the cameras, but a central part of this is going to be how you record these events, so what kind of gear did you go with on the recording system?

Well, we wanted to go with a file-based workflow and not have to go to tape, and the only tape in the truck is duct tape and gaffers' tape. We have an MPEG-2 server in our master control so I wanted to think of…at the end of the day the last out in the baseball game, the point of it is to turn it around and get it to master control and ready to play and the fewest man hours possible so it's getting with a file-based workflow on something that maintained quality yet didn't take nine hours to render. So I chose two recorders for file-based and then I have a backup DVD recorder, an old Pioneer PVR-LX-1 makes great DVDs and it's simple to use and it's very dependable. For our MPEG-2 portion of our show we chose a Datavideo HDR-50; the rack-mount recorder has one input and it has removable 250GB drives so I bought a couple of spare drives. I haven't had any failures, of course, yet and we're recording to an M2T file and it's FAT-32-formatted so it works still has VTR controls on the face of it—stop, start, play, etc. It works very simply; it's very dependable. We haven't had any failures in all of our tests or any of games since December, with it, and when we're done we just unplug that drive and then mount it on a laptop. Datavideo supplies a simple Windows file concatenater so we just open that drive with the file concatenater and then save it and it concatenates in about 1/7th of real time so an hour-long game…in less than ten minutes or so, you've concatenated all of those files and of course some games are two and three hours long—extrapolate there. So in only a few minutes we're able to concatenate all those files together and we have our pre-game, the body of the game, and our post-game, typically. So I'm working with three files and then I put them into a TMPG MPEG encoder3, it's a simple editing and conversion trimming software, if I have anything extra like some interstitials that I'm not using that's roll ins in the show I just take all those files and put them in the timeline in the TMPG software which costs like I don't know what it a hundred bucks or whatever and in about 1/5th of real time we can completely re-encode the game and raise the audio if we need to, trim out any extra black that we left when we rolled that, and it spits out one assembled and concatenated MPEG-2 file in 16x9 standard def and then we just put it on a thumb drive and then bicycle that to the TV station. And so, while the crew tearing down the shoot the editor, usually me, or the graphics operator can concatenate the file, trim up off the black, use TMPG to slap it all together and in 45 minutes to an hour after the last basket or after the last whistle of the game the show is done and it takes that long and a little bit longer to finish packing up all of the cables and cameras and stuff. So while the crew is wrapping, the tech for the truck is finishing the show so we drive off…we have an MPEG ready to copy into the server. [Timestamp: 4:34]

You were talking before about how if you're going to be putting that amount of resources into a production truck to go ahead and equip it for HD. So how are you handling HD with respect to say, routing and conversion and getting the signal to those recorders?
Well the second half of the recorder is we're doing the exact same show in high def and I'm just not down converting it. We're going straight to a Convergent Design nanoFlash which we have mounted right by the other recorders in the truck. We're recording to Compact Flash card. We have several SanDisk 64GB cards and we can record an entire game on two 64GB cards and we do the same basic thing with that. We use a concatenater,add the files together, and we come back with a high-def MOV. Of course it takes a little longer to render, so we're typically taking that back to the station, rendering it, and then we're using that to create our MP4, because we're on iTunes with our games the next day, and then of course we upload them to our website so they can be webcast on demand on our site by usually the next day. You can watch a high-def version even before it's made broadcast, because sometimes our broadcast delay is several days depending upon what day of the week the game is played, within a day or two of the podcast and the webcasts are available as well. So what we're doing inside the truck is…I wanted to stay 1080i all the way through so the output of our Broadcast Pix 1000 is 1080i we're taking the Mackie 32-channel audio mixer's output and using anEnsemble Designs BrightEye. It's kind of like a cigarette case-size unit. We have three or four of those doing different jobs in the truck. Anyway the Ensemble Designs BrightEye 71 is an embedder or disembedder. In this case we're using it to embed the analog audio channels 1 and 2 into the HD SDi video and then we're DA'ing that through a BrightEyes 41,and so I've got five or six HD SDi-embedded inputs. We're also throwing a little bit of delay on the audio as it comes in to compensate for the processing on the Broadcast Pix. So we've got synced audio, we're DA'ing it with the Ensemble Designs units, and I'm sending that to engineering, I'm sending that to HD record, I'm sending that to our high-def replay recorder, and I'm also sending that to the bulkhead where I can have a couple distribution points. We're taking the HD SDi program with embedded audio and right in front of our standard-def recorders and our standard-def distribution amps we're down converting with the Ensemble Designs BrightEye in 9D-A cross converter, down converter with audio out so I can take the HD SDi in and then it gives me a variety of flavors all out HDMI which I am sending into a balen. So out of our 9D-A cross converter I'm taking a program video and I'm throwing it into a component balen and I'm taking the HDMi out and sending that into a balen which is throwing it to Cat-5 and so I can throw my monitor up to 500ft. away from the truck and all I have to do is run a Cat-5 line out to the talent or any other place I wanted to run an extra monitor and I have a couple balens for that. [Timestamp: 8:11]

How are you doing audio in the van? I noticed you have a Mackie Onyx 32-4 mixer.
I had furniture custom-designed for the van to my spec, and one of the audio booths has a Mackie 32-4 Onyx. I chose that because I was really familiar with the Mackie. I had several before. The Onyx series has built-in compression that's assignable so we're running the audio in groups. Anything that's a nat sound or the commentators, we're running through a couple of groups and then we can assign compression to that but not to any of the other inputs into the Mackie. So the Mackie is output at…everything is patched through a series of patch phase. You can reroute it to what degree you need to and we have a MP3 audio player and SD card audio player. It can play wavs or MP3s and then we have a CD player that can play MP3s or CDs. So I've got several sources of audio where we have our music open all on a SD card and the operators play that and then all the cameras have two audio inputs, a microphone, and a line in, and we're running ambient sound off all the cameras and then I have four shotguns are running ambient sound and I have for basketball a couple of net mics: ambient, wireless mics—lavaliers we put on the backboard and then we usually have a couple other lavs. To me, sound in the sports broadcast is really important. It's one of the things I learned when I was covering Sanford basketball is if you spend time to make the audio portion of the program really rich, then it pays back on how enjoyable it is. And so we spend a good deal of time making sure we have a lot of nat sound to play. It makes the audio operator's job pretty interesting but that contributes a lot to this show so the Mackie and all of its…the devices and sources are routed into the embedder where we're combining it with the video from the Broadcast Pix and that's the audio portion of our show there. [Timestamp: 10:06]

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