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Mansion Mobile to Launch New HD Truck

Mansion Mobile is building its first HD truck, which will bow at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in April and be displayed at the Calutech Mobile Solutions booth.

The new 53 foot vehicle has a Calutech body and will be equipped with over $2 million worth of equipment from Grass Valley, including 11 of Grass Valley's new LDK 8000 Elite HD cameras and a fully loaded Kalypso HD Video Production Center.

"This is our first HD venture," said Brad Palmer, Mansion Mobile vice president of operations. "We decided to build the truck because the owner wanted to keep up with the sports market and the entertainment market which are being driven by HD."

The vehicle is expected to be completed by April 16 and then driven to the NAB convention.

Diversified Systems designed and installed the truck's equipment.

No deals have yet been signed, but Palmer expects the truck to be used over the next year for Major League Baseball, National Football League and collegiate games, as well as other sporting events and concerts.

Mansion Mobile already has a SD truck that produces about 65 live sporting events a year and does extensive concert and entertainment work. It is part of Mansion Entertainment, which owns two theaters and a recording studio in Branson, Mo.

"One of the things we like about the LDK 8000 cameras is that it has the 1080p 24 [frames per second] option, which allows us to do a film-style look," Palmer said.

Palmer also cited a number of reasons for choosing Grass Valley, including their longstanding relationship with the vendor, which supplied a Kalypso Duo switcher for their SD truck, customer services, the high resolution of the cameras that allow them to shoot in native 720p, 1080i or 1080p, and the ability of the Grass Valley system to handle long triax runs. "That is very important for some of the racing events we do," he said.

The Kalypso HD switcher includes a 4 M/E panel, four auxiliary bus panels and is loaded with various options. Seven of LDK 8000 cameras will be used in fixed positions in a SuperXpander configuration with box style lenses and four will be set up in a handheld configuration so they can move throughout the various venues. All use a variety of Canon lenses.

Going into the NAB, Bruce Lane, director of system sales at Grass Valley, still sees strong demand for HD upgrades from mobile truck providers.

"Mobile units were the first to go HD, driven by sports and entertainment," Lane said. "That demand will slow down at some point, but we are still seeing it continuing, especially for the good operators. The Kalypso switcher has become standard in most of the production trucks I see and a high percentage are using the LDK cameras."