TNDV, the Nashville, Tenn.-based mobile production facilities provider, is known among the sports and entertainment TV communities as a go-to source for remote productions where six or fewer cameras are needed, says Nic Dugger, owner and president of the company.
Since May, however, when the company hit the road with Exclamation, its latest mobile production vehicle, that notion has been changing.
“We’ve been in business for 13 years now and have the reputation of being the small truck guys, which is not a bad thing,” says Dugger.
But TNDV has been hearing from clients for the past couple of years that they would like to give Dugger’s company more production assignments, if only he had a larger mobile facility.
“I said, ‘OK, you want big. Let’s go big.’ ”
Exclamation, the company’s eighth vehicle, is a 53-foot, double-expando Class A truck built for native 1080p and 4K production.
The expansion feature allows one complete side of the truck to be pulled out, making way for a hallway that otherwise would eat into the space available for production.
It also enables the eight-foot-wide monitor wall in the production control room to be expanded outward by 24 inches.
The net result is Exclamation has enough room for 30 people, 15 of whom can be seated in the production control area.
But size is only part of the Exclamation story, says Dugger.
Another noteworthy aspect is the unit’s support for 3G 1080p production, including signal routing, switching, graphics and monitoring.
That’s largely a function of TNDV’s client mix, says Dugger. About 60% of the time, the company provides facilities for entertainment production.
Frequently, those multi-camera shoots go to post production before being aired.
“We find that when we are shooting an event that is not necessarily live — a music special in particular — that clients prefer the progressive option, particularly with the 24p option,” he says.
“They prefer that higher resolution and greater color space in post production,” he says. “It allows them to do more color correction, and with the 24p option we can match some of their more cinematic footage.”
Exclamation is equipped with Hitachi SK-HD1300 camera systems. It can support up to 20 cameras.
For the relatively small number of clients needing 4K-UHD, the truck can easily be configured for quad-link signal transport and production.
TNDV chose quad link HD-SDI baseband signal transport and production technology rather than IP because “that’s what’s out there,” says Dugger.
“I can buy a camera; I can buy a recorder; pass it through our Grass [Valley] switcher today,” he says.
“The IP alternative is clearly where the industry is going. It’s just not there yet. If we were designing a truck for two years from now, this might be a different conversation.”
Exclamation’s 4K complement of equipment includes a Grass Valley Kayenne 4K-ready switcher and AJA Video Ki Pro recorders.
The truck’s routing backbone is based on a 512×512 Imagine Communications Platinum video router and a PESA audio router with support for 128×128 analog I/Os, 128×128 digital I/Os, and up to four MADI streams.
The Platinum router includes four Imagine HView modules and 12 quad split cards, for a total of 24 multiviewer outputs.
Production monitoring is done with 25-inch Flanders-Scientific monitors and 42-, 49- and 55-inch Boland Communications OLED production monitors with true 3G inputs.
TNDV selected Flanders-Scientific and Boland Communications monitors after holding a monitor shoot out involving multiple vendors at its headquarters, says Dugger.
Being based in Nashville, TNDV is frequently called upon to provide production facilities for music awards and entertainment shows as well as music videos, so a special emphasis was placed on Exclamation’s audio setup.
“It’s everything a Nashville recording studio would have on wheels,” he says.
A Studer Vista X Series console with 128 inputs and an onboard DSP that can boost the number of inputs to more than 300 is the centerpiece of the audio room, which is big enough to hold five audio engineers, says Dugger.
Everything is wired for 5.1 and 7.2 Surround Sound, and audio monitoring is done with top-of-the-line JBL monitors, says Dugger. An RTS ADAM intercom matrix facilitates communications among production personnel.
Exclamation rolls out into a production world in flux. For TNDV’s clients, 3G 1080p HD and live HD for 1080i distribution are the mainstays, but 4K is growing in importance.
Designing a truck to meet these varied requirements wasn’t difficult for Dugger because he was guided by an underlying approach he’s taken since the beginning of his company 13 years ago.
“My philosophy going into to it is prepare for today with the best options out there –the highest quality people are asking for today– and currently for us that’s 1080p.
“But don’t be foolish and think it’s not going to change,” he says.
More information is available on the TNDV website.