Voiceover: TV Pro Gear’s model 3224 video production truck is designed for shooting sports, concerts and live events. Because equipment has been getting smaller and lighter, productions that used to require a 40 foot truck can now be done in a 32 foot truck; equipment machine room is no longer required because all the equipment fits in and under the production consoles. This saves money and lets the truck go where bigger trucks cannot go. The productions can be transmitted in real time via microwave or over the internet. A satellite uplink is optional.
Voiceover: The truck is equipped with a computerized auto leveling system. Electric awnings are included to shade the truck and keep rain and snow out. They will retract automatically if the wind or a storm gets too strong. Powerful LED work lights surround the truck. In case of a power failure, all equipment will keep running on the automated backup battery system until the operator turns on the 20,000 watt diesel generator. Redundant dual five ton air conditioners keep the truck at a comfortable temperature, even in hot tropical climates.
Voiceover: Inside the main cabin of the truck is the production area. The 4A HVS 390 switcher has two mix effects buses, six keyers, 24 inputs and eight outputs. A six channel instant replay system is used for shooting sports. The truck is wired for eight cameras with full remote control. The shader controls the cameras by using the wave form monitor, Vectorscope and precision LED monitor. A robotically controlled camera with a 36 time zoom lens is mounted on top of the 56 foot microwave mast. SSD recorders are used for both the line cut and camera ISOs.
Voiceover: Two frame synchronizers with up/down and cross conversion ability enable the truck to input or output any type of video signal, including SDI, component and composite. Graphics and titles are created using a dual Chyron LEX3. A Streambox 9450 internet encoder is used for streaming to the internet. Six channels of intercom are available – two wired and four wireless. In addition, there are four IFB channels for cueing talent or announcers.
Voiceover: The audio room features a 40 input digital mixer. The mixer has extensive audio effects, sound processors, delays and filters. A second area is provided for an audio assist operator. TV Pro Gear trucks are built to last. The rivetless aluminum construction won’t leak or rust. The outside door handles and locks are of the highest quality so the equipment inside will be secure.
Larry Jordan: Andy, I have to ask – how much is that truck?
Andy Maisner: That one is $1.6 million.
Larry Jordan: I could afford three of them. This is great.
Andy Maisner: Sure. Well, we offer low interest finance. That one went to Trinidad, by the way, to the PBS station in Trinidad.
Larry Jordan: And it had six cameras?
Andy Maisner: Actually, it had six but it was wired for eight and the interesting thing on that was that Trinidad was a British colony, so it’s right hand drive, which was kind of a challenge.
Larry Jordan: I can imagine. What are clients speccing in trucks these days? What gear do they want?
Andy Maisner: Of course, there’s the traditional Grass Valley/Sony, but there also has been a lot of activity with Ross open platform because it’s a little less money without a sacrifice in quality and because so many things come from Ross, the way they interact, you get a lot more power in the capabilities.
Larry Jordan: Are they looking for HD? 4K? How are they speccing in terms of resolution?
Andy Maisner: Everything’s HD. Of course, all equipment now is digital and is menu switchable – HD, SD, PAL, NTSC. Basically, our systems do any frame rate and any format. They’re all universal.
Larry Jordan: Are clients speccing the gear or are they looking to you for recommendations on what gear to use?
Andy Maisner: I would say 80 percent go with what we recommend, 20 percent will have a preference. We are authorized dealers for over 120 manufacturers, so we don’t really care except we try to give our best advice.
Larry Jordan: How do you decide which gear to recommend? Do you put it through tests?
Andy Maisner: In Glendale, California we have our TV technology center, which is actually a fully working television station, and we don’t use it for anything except seminars, testing and client demos and training. It allows us to test equipment under a real world environment and everything gets run through and we see how it works and its functionality.
Andy Maisner: The other thing that we really have of benefit is that we do at least one lunch and learn every week, where we have a different vendor come in, they go through all their products, what the features are, what’s new, what’s out. Our challenge is to always stay on top of everything, just so we know what to recommend.
Larry Jordan: Thinking of that, it’s more than just television production that’s doing video work. There are churches and schools. Are you seeing interest in your gear from those venues as well?
Andy Maisner: Yes, we do quite a few schools and churches. We did Lancaster Baptist out in Lancaster, California, with five robotic cameras and then two operator controlled.
Larry Jordan: Would they be more permanent installations or are they doing fly packs?
Andy Maisner: No, those are with a control room. The most interesting one we did recently is for 40 years the Navy has had the Nimitz class aircraft carriers. There’s a completely new design called the Gerald Ford class and we got the contract to build the on-ship TV and radio station and it is an entirely functional TV station.
Andy Maisner: A typical aircraft carrier has over 5,000 sailors so it’s a floating city and, as you can imagine, they have hip-hop bands, rap bands, country and western bands, so the sailors can actually make their own videos on the ship which are then available live and on demand. It’s also used by the captain and officers for mission statements and, most importantly, what are called best practices.
Andy Maisner: For example, if a sailor finds a better way to service some little pump or turbo charger, he can make a video on this new procedure and then it’ll be propagated throughout the Navy to every ship using that same part.
Larry Jordan: That is so cool.
Andy Maisner: Yes it is.
Larry Jordan: One of the things you talked about at the beginning that I want to take a look at is this whole concept of fly packs, which are essentially shippable production gear. If I remember correctly, there’s a fly pack that you created back in 1978 – I want to see if we can take a look at that.
Andy Maisner: Of course, I wasn’t born then.
Larry Jordan: No, you were way too young, but let’s see if we’ve got that photograph of a fly pack and see what that looks like. Wait a minute, the guy in the red jacket has got hair. What is the problem here?
Andy Maisner: Not only that, he’s much thinner than me. I think he’s related.
Larry Jordan: This has got a two inch portable quad videotape recorder. That was before u-matics came in.
Andy Maisner: Before one inch, before u-matics, yes, and that recorder made by Ampex cost $90,000 in 1978. That would be like a million today, and it worked about half the time.
Larry Jordan: Yes, I remember those and they were so fragile.
Andy Maisner: And so noisy, remember how noisy they were?
Larry Jordan: I do remember. I remember just trying to pick up a quad tape. A 90 minute quad tape required an extra derrick to be able to pick up.
Andy Maisner: Right. Yes, this was before satellite distribution of signals.
Larry Jordan: Let’s go to what the fly pack looks like today. Now, this is the brand new one. This is a full production console.
Andy Maisner: Right. That particular fly pack has six cameras, six channels of instant replay and slow motion and two channels of computer graphics. It has a 64 by 64 video router and audio router, wireless intercom and wired intercom, so it can pretty much do anything you need to do.
Larry Jordan: Just to ask a hard question, why wouldn’t somebody get a Tricaster? It would be much smaller, fits into a smaller space, would probably not cost as much. Why should they invest in a fly pack?
Andy Maisner: Actually, we built a fly pack with a Tricaster switch, one of the ones we built for Bloomberg has a Tricaster. We built another fly pack for CMAC Public Access in Fresno, so we do build Tricaster ones. If people have a constrained budget, they’re very good but there always is that possibility of the blue screen of death, and so if you’re a network or a… station, you can’t afford to ever go down, so those cases we don’t generally recommend the Tricaster.
Larry Jordan: The fly packs that we were just looking at, price range would be what?
Andy Maisner: The Tricasters start out at about 80,000. The six camera full blown Ross open platform is about 600,000.
Larry Jordan: As you’re looking at trends from clients speccing gear and where video’s headed, what are you watching? What’s the thing that’s going to happen in the next six to 12 months that we need to pay attention to?
Andy Maisner: I do think 4K is the way of the future. I always pooh-poohed 3D. I had a saying that the path to bankruptcy is paved with bricks made out of efforts on 3D, I’ve seen them come and go in my life, but 4K I believe, will happen because it does have some advantages.
Larry Jordan: Even for broadcast and cable?
Andy Maisner: Yes.
Larry Jordan: So how are they going to cram it in? Is that where the H.265 spec comes in?
Andy Maisner: Yes, there’s HEVC also, which is H.265, so there’ll be new ways. Then bandwidth to the home will increase over time, so it’s viable. And, of course, you can still broadcast in HD – the evergreen factor – so as a producer if you’re creating material that may be reused or has value over time, you really should be doing it in 4K to preserve the value, just like in the old days, if you did black and white when color was coming out.
Larry Jordan: True, or if you can shoot 35 versus 16, if you can afford it, you’ve always got the higher quality to work with.
Andy Maisner: Right, right.
Larry Jordan: For people who want to hire your services or ask for a donation of a remote truck for a well deserving podcast like ourselves, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Andy Maisner: Tvprogear.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s tvprogear.com. Andy Maisner is the founder in his garage in 1997 and the CEO of TV Pro Gear, which is based in Glendale?
Andy Maisner: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Can people come and take a look at the stuff you’ve got?
Andy Maisner: We love people to come over and play with our toys and gadgets.
Larry Jordan: And seminars, where can they go to find out about those?
Andy Maisner: Those are posted on our website and also if they sign up for our newsletter. We don’t bomb people with emails – once a month, that’s it.
Larry Jordan: Perfect. Andy, thanks so much for joining us. It’s been great fun.
Andy Maisner: Thank you for having me.
Larry Jordan: Take care. My pleasure.