In 2008 Thoroughbred Racing Productions (TRP) was a greenfield start-up company with three Sony designed and built HD outside broadcast vehicles. In 2017 Sony won the contract to build a further two OB units for South Australian Racing when TRP won the outside broadcast rights contract. Fast forward to the current day and Sony were engaged once more by TRP to design and build another truck, but this time it was to be a replacement for the company’s flagship unit and it needed to be built in record time.
TRP Engineering and Technical Operations Manager Charles Cole explained, “It was a good fit to continue our long-established relationship with Sony and for them to design and build a replacement for our flagship OB unit. Sony and TRP’s commercial arrangements have been open and transparent and with their highly qualified and talented project and engineering management we were confident that we could meet the budget and timeline that had been set for the new truck.”
When TRP were in the planning stage for the replacement of their flagship OB unit the SMPTE 2110 protocol had just been released and manufacturers were releasing product accordingly. TRP had to make some decisions and act quickly.
Cole continued, “I provided the basic floor plan to be housed in a 14.6m trailer. Sony then designed the base chassis which was signed off by a mechanical engineer with the chassis geared towards having a useful working life of more than twenty years. Once the chassis design was approved detailed layouts were completed by TRP and Sony and all stakeholders were consulted and asked for feedback before final sign off.”
In total, to completely kit out the new truck TRP purchased multiple Sony HDC-3100 cameras, 4K native HDC-3500 cameras and took delivery of the new HDC5500 cameras with 8x slo-mo software. They also purchased a Sony XVS vision switcher and large Sony preview and technical monitors.
Aside from SMPTE 2110 there were additional reasons that this project needed to be completed in record time.
Cole explained, “We signed off the project in late 2018 and needed to take delivery at least six weeks before the Spring Carnival started. This eight-month timeline was very ambitious, but Sony committed to the build deadline. The Sony Beresfield manufacturing facility went into overdrive with the chassis and all the components being built in parallel while their SI department were pre-making cables. As soon as the racks were completed they were populated and then craned into position. The manufacturing team worked very long days and the TRP team came in and performed acceptance testing and set up at the facility. This project was completed without a minute to spare.”
With their new flagship OB truck TRP became the first company in Australia to employ the Axon Cerebrum control platform. This now enables the broadcaster to control inputs to the vision switcher, tallys, multi-viewer design and pips and to monitor all the power I/O, UPS status and environment with the touch of a virtual button.
Clever stuff according to Cole that didn’t stop there. He added, “As well as the unique Axon Cerebrum control platform we also integrated a clamshell design for the OB as this makes the setup of the truck so simple it can be done in less than three minutes. Also, when there is inclement weather we deploy weather protection along the clamshell and with 14 operational positions and no need for additional room and rack space that’s usually provided by an expando, the clamshell design is ideal.”
When asked about their new flagship OB unit it’s clear that Charles Cole is not only impressed but delighted with the truck as he concluded, “The new truck has performed flawlessly out of the box. This is the sixth OB unit Sony has built for TRP and the manufacturing techniques and the quality of the componentry used is simply excellent. They have craftsmen that take so much pride in their work and the results can be seen in the quality of the fit and finish on the unit. Add to that the best and most reliable cameras and vision switchers available and this truck will provide us with years of trouble-free operation. Both Sony and TRP knew what was at stake with the tight deadline and both teams had to be agile, available and creative to complete the detail of the unit. I’m delighted to say that everybody who worked on this project delivered to the very best of their abilities.”