Astro Productions on the Road with Megahertz

Megahertz will be demonstrating its comprehensive systems integration and vehicle design capabilities at IBC 2013 stand 11.F20

One of the most attention-grabbing exhibits at last year’s IBC was a new, large-scale outside broadcast truck on the Megahertz booth. Immediately after the show it was delivered to its new owner, Astro Productions in Malaysia, where it joined a sister vehicle. Between them the two trucks now cover at least 10 productions a week, ranging from major sporting events to entertainment spectaculars.

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Astro and Megahertz worked closely to design the trucks, working to twin goals. First was flexibility in operation, so it is easy to move from football to music to golf to dance. Second was reliability, ensuring that the trucks were up to a life on the sometimes challenging roads in this steamy, tropical environment.

The trucks are readily re-configurable, around a standard 20 camera capability. As the requirements of entertainment and sports are very different, it is important to be able to reset the functionality virtually instantly, so that the production team can get to work as soon as they arrive on site. Extensive use is made of Ethersound and Madi, for example, to get complicated sound rigs established quickly with the minimum of fibre cables.

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This flexibility could not be at the cost of additional weight in the vehicle. With rough roads minimising wear and tear on the vehicle, and protecting tyres in the tropical climate, is important to ensure that the units arrive safely at their location.

Astro HD OBVan Inside View

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“I am very proud of what we did with Megahertz to make the trucks more flexible and still meet our practical considerations,” said Dennis Dovale, head of operations at Astro. “The air conditioning is the best I have ever seen, running cold inside the trucks on barely more than half the capacity. And we built big UPSs into each truck, which run the whole system apart from the air conditioning. It smoothes the power as well as providing protection until we can run up the generator.

“We take a lot of Astro’s popular entertainment shows on the road, and audiences expect to see exactly the same production values they get from a studio,” he added. “We can do this on a fast turnaround, thanks to the flexibility we built into the design.”

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Steve Burgess, technical director at Megahertz, said “The art of OB design is all about the art of the possible. What we discussed with Astro was the need for a powerful unit, capable of covering sport and entertainment equally well, which could move over difficult roads without problem, and provide comfortable production and technical space even when it is very hot and humid outside. Megahertz has the experience to take this list and turn it into reality, and we are delighted to continue the relationship with Astro in Malaysia.”

Megahertz Broadcast Systems, a Piksel company, is a leading independent broadcast systems integrator. Its highly experienced engineering team provide a complete service from engineering planning and design through product evaluation and project management to commissioning, training and support. The team is as adept at file-based architectures as it is in traditional broadcast infrastructures. Recently completed projects include outside broadcast vehicles, high definition studios, playout facilities and earth stations, as well as audio visual installations for applications as varied as mosques and the London Stock Exchange.           

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