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Visions “super-trucks” get London launch

NEP Visions' new 3G high definition 5.1 OB units get their official launch in London today (2nd September), writes Kevin Hilton.

NEP Visions’ new 3G high definition 5.1 OB units get their official launch in London today (2nd September), writes Kevin Hilton. The two “super-trucks” were designed for Sky Sports’ coverage of English Premier League football and work as a pair, one handling VT and engineering, the other concentrating on production and audio, with two sound areas. Gemini 1 and 2 replace three older vehicles and went into operation just before the start of the English Premier League season when they were used for the Wales-Luxembourg international. The pair’s first league match was at Tottenham Hotspur, followed over the opening weekend by games at Liverpool and Manchester United. Steve Jenkins, the managing director of NEP Visions, explains that part of the impetus behind building the new units was finding ways to move the field of TV sports production forward. “We’re constantly looking at how to reduce set-up time,” he says, “and that ties in with what Sky is expecting from its suppliers.” Gemini 1 houses two Calrec Audio Apollo consoles in separate sound suites. During match days one room is used for mixing audio for the game, while the other handles presentation. This can also include incoming feeds of reports from other matches. The trucks were coach built by Cosby Suppliers and systems integrated in-house by Visions engineers. Each has a single expanding side to create 1400 square feet of floor space. When working together they are connected using fibre, with what head of sound Paul Fournier describes as “an enormous TDM buss”. This brings together the Evertz routers in both vehicles, which have MADI capability. Audio is moved around the trucks as discrete embedded signals and encoded using Evertz stand-alone processors. For transmission purposes the feeds are sent to Gemini 2 for distribution as Dolby E streams. Communication between the vehicles and broadcast centres is through a Telex intercom system. Across the whole group Visions is a big user of Calrec consoles. Director of engineering Rob Newton says the Apollos will be networked together, mirroring what was done previously with Visions’ Alpha desks. “The intention is for us to be more efficient,” he comments. A further consideration is to be compatible with the Apollo desks due to be installed at Sky’s new Harlequin 1 broadcast centre. “Apollo handles MADI easily,” comments Fournier, “and, looking to the future, we’re keen to start making use of Calrec’s Hydra networking protocol between our trucks and Sky’s studios when and where the fibre infrastructure is available.”