Media Giant's High-Def Truck Hits the Road

There's a new HD-truck vendor on the streets: Clear Channel Entertainment. The company's 32-foot production truck, complete with Sony HD cameras, Ross Video production switchers and even Sony HDCAM decks, has about 30 events on tap this year, ranging from firework displays to concerts to The Tom Joyner Show. W.M. Mitchell, HDVT Truck general manager, Clear Channel Television (the truck is maintained by the TV-station group's engineers), discussed the vehicle with B&C's Ken Kerschbaumer.

The truck is a little smaller than the typical HD production truck. Why?

Have you ever tried to pull a 53-foot expandable truck down an alley? It's rough. But the straight-body, 32-foot truck lets us go with ease in and out of Manhattan and Los Angeles and to the venues Clear Channel owns without having to shut down streets.

National Mobile Television has also rolled out smaller production trucks. Do you think the smaller HD truck will become a trend?

There's still a huge need for 53-foot trucks, but technology is such that almost everything is based in a computer system. It's not like in the analog days, where everything you had was an individual component.

So can Clear Channel's TV stations sign up to use the truck for local events?

Yes. With the stations being mandated to move to HDTV, we can not only service the Entertainment division of Clear Channel but also the station group. We have an online calendar that's available over our Intranet.

Any advice for someone planning on building an HD truck?

Sure. Take your costs and double them, and then take your timetable and double it. We've found that way much more of our time is consumed with scheduling the truck. Once we get there, the setup is a breeze, and the technology is great. But getting the truck from point A to point B will make an old man out of you. But it's still fun.