Ross Mobile Productions Scores Efficiency Points with MultiDyne Fiber-Optic Systems
With five 1080p-capable trucks covering North America, Ross Mobile Productions is consistently tasked with the challenge of working across a variety of indoor and outdoor venues, many of which have either an outdated cabling infrastructure—or lack any infrastructure whatsoever. The company has looked to fiber to solve these problems, especially in large open-air stadiums on university campuses.
“In one venue where we must equip the broadcast booth ourselves, our set-up time has been reduced from six to three hours by transitioning from Triax to fiber cabling,” said Sean McCluskey, Ross’ National Production Manager. “One big difference is that we can now use two easily transportable TAC-12 fiber optic cables, instead of six bulky Triax cables that are heavy and cumbersome to freely to move around.”
Upon evaluating the various fiber concavity options on the market, the Ross Mobile Productions team opted for MultiDyne LiGHTCuBE and SMPTE-HUT systems, which are shared amongst all five trucks. The LiGHTCuBE system provides Ross Mobile Productions with a ruggedized, high-density solution for managing video, audio and data across long distances – all within a compact 14-inch cube.
Meanwhile, the SMPTE-HUT simplifies SMPTE camera power and connectivity at great distances. This enables conversion from heavy, bulky SMPTE hybrid cable to standard single-mode fiber and back again, along with power re-injection.
“We needed a way to move broadcast signals and data around using lightweight, compact, and easy-to-use fiber optic equipment and cables,” said McCluskey. “We chose the LiGHTCuBE because it had everything we needed in terms of connectivity within a small package. The SMPTE-HUT extends that value by allowing us to put cameras wherever needed, without concerns tied to distance or signal reliability. And both take up far less space on our trucks than the older Triax systems we used, while also reducing expenses related to transport weight.”
The fact that many college stadiums are not wired for broadcast means that Ross Mobile Productions is saving money with MultiDyne through fast and consistent setup and tear-down strategies.
“This is where fiber optics has made a real difference,” said McCluskey. “Just two TAC-12 cables to the broadcast booth and back can give announcers everything they need in terms of audio and video, data inputs from the scoreboard, and intercom/IFB, plus connectivity back to the truck.
The LiGHTCuBE’s dense array of I/O ports makes connecting and disconnecting simple and flexible for any project. “The audio inputs are all switchable mic/line, which means we don’t have to worry about mixing up signals in a configuration where one side is traditionally mic and the other is line. MultiDyne’s LiGHTCuBE eliminates that problem,” said McCluskey. “We also have gain control on the box, which allows us to balance levels right at the source and ensure outstanding audio quality.”
McCluskey also appreciates the flexibility of the LiGHTCuBE’s video I/O capabilities. “The LiGHTCuBE can handle 4K, but we usually run 1.5Gb/s HD either as a program feed or ISO from the truck’s router to the booth; or a 1080i or 720p camera coming down. The LiGHTCuBE handles all of these formats very well, plus when we occasionally use it for 1080p 3Gb/s when the project calls for that format.”
Meanwhile, Ross gets great distance performance out of its MultiDyne SMPTE-HUT camera transceiver. “We were at one venue where we had to pull 1000 feet of TAC-12 cable from the truck to the camera, just because of how the stadium is laid out,” said McCluskey. “We fed two cables to the HUTs, ran one to each camera position, and everything worked perfectly. That saved us hours of set-up time. And since the HUTs also allow you to switch voltages, we can mix CCUs and cameras made by different manufacturers, without any power compatibility issues. It’s a seamless transition between any of those products.”
MultiDyne additionally offers a version of the HUT with a built-in optical repeater, designed for customers with a limited budget for optical transport over long distances from a SMPTE camera. This repeater is also available as a standalone unit to support 12GB/s applications.
In the end, transitioning to fiber optic-based remote production backed by MultiDyne technology has saved Ross Mobile Productions time and money on every sports and live event production. “We have discovered a far more efficient way to mux all of our signals together, and move them around using just a few cables thanks to MultiDyne,” said McCluskey.