CBS Delivers HD Madness

CBS coverage of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament that began a week ago today officially enters its all-HD phase beginning tonight with games in Atlanta and Oakland.

In the first round of the tournament games from American Airlines Arena in Dallas and JonH.HuntsmanCenter in Salt Lake City were in standard definition because the CBS infrastructure in New York City simply doesn’t have enough capacity to handle all of the incoming HD feeds. With fewer teams involved, and fewer games, there is now plenty of capacity to carry all of the games in HD.

CBS has enlisted the support of four production truck vendors, NEP Supershooters, NCP, Core-plex, and F&F Productions. F&F is pulling Final Four and Championship game duty with its GTX14 truck (which was originally built last year for CBS SEC football coverage) serving as the primary production truck at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis the weekend of April 1.

“In recent years we had gotten ourselves into the regional market but with this truck and the move to HD we’re back into the national events,” says Connie Vizaro, VP, F&F Productions operations and sales.

The truck includes a Grass Valley Kalypso HD production switcher, 121 Ikegami HD-79 cameras with Fujinon lenses, four Sony HD5500 HDCAM VTRs for recording and replays and three EVS LSM (Live Slow Motion) systems that are server-based replay devices.

While GTX14 gets the call for the Final Four, it’s NEP’s SS24 units‑ which actually consists of two 53-foot trucks‑ that is the current “gold standard” in outside broadcast vehicles. The use of two trucks gives those who work inside them enough room to move around fairly easily. SS24 will be in use tonight covering the games in Atlanta.

Why isn’t the truck heading to the RCA Dome? Because three days after the end of the NCAA tournament it needs to be in Augusta for the Master’s Golf tournament which will be held beginning April 6 (we’ll dive into that massive HD undertaking, which involves 54 cameras, in the next issue of B&C HD Update).

Equipment in the NEP SS24 that truck includes a Sony MVS8000 production switcher, Sony BVP-900 cameras, Sony BVP-950 handheld cameras, and a Calrec Alpha audio console.