Meet Mildred, One of the Most Sophisticated Outside Broadcast Vans In The World

You might be wondering why the name “Mildred” is popular in the information technology world. Well that is because a company has taken Outside Broadcast (OB) Van technology to another level and decided to give that van a unique name. The team of Engineers at a leading company in the infortech world, 3xScreen Media, paid attention to details of the principles of innovative technology and designed a remarkable OB Van with stand-out features.

 

Mildred is the next generation of modular outdoor broadcast and live streaming van; custom designed to make the live broadcast and online streaming of your next event cheaper and easier without compromising on the broadcast quality of the final product.

The team at 3xScreen Media have put countless hours into designing and assembling Mildred, whose capabilities now rival those of OB trucks of any major media organisation – but re-engineered for improved affordability.

Amongst an impressive list of innovative broadcasting capabilities, Mildred boasts independent connectivity meaning she can be used to produce and live stream events in remote and unconnected locations.( https://theworldnews.net/zm-news/startimes-hands-over-new-znbc-outside-broadcast-vans).

The idea behind the construction of Mildred was simple: utilize the latest connectivity, broadcast and production technologies in new and innovative ways to capture the essence of the traditional OB van with unprecedented elegance and efficiency. Mildred takes the functionality of a very expensive, traditional OB workflow and with a few twists and turns, provides this functionality with the benefit of being re-engineered for improved affordability.

This may not be reinventing the wheel, but what Mildred represents is the future of outdoor broadcasting. What is being seen across the board is kit being reduced to fewer pieces that have greater functionality and mobility. Crew is smaller yet more multi-skilled and connectivity has more flexibility and reliability than ever before.

3xScreen managing director Scott Robinson says, what we wanted to do, and what we knew we could do very well, was replicate the functionality of traditional OB workflows, but without replicating the exact kit and details. Taking such a unique approach in utilizing new technologies, the team of live streaming engineers at 3xScreen Media have created a next-generation OB Van that makes broadcast quality live streaming available without the traditional OB price-tag.

Mildred’s full capabilities are listed below.

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  • 8-camera vision mixer that can mix and match camera sources up to 1080p HD
  • full motion graphics and media players
  • audio mixing including compressor/limiter on all sources
  • ISO recording of up to 8 sources in ProRes
  • File-based ProRes editing via Gigabit Ethernet network and placement of removeable Hard Disk Drives in HDD caddies. Live edit via Thunderbolt interface
  • 6-channel replays with 4 input sources and 2 fully independent, simultaneous playout channels
  • Full SDI workflow with SDI routing of all inputs and outputs
  • Monitoring of all camera sources
  • Network connectivity consisting of self-seeking KU-band broadband satellite dish, KA-band fly-away broadband satellite connections, 4G connectivity and seven 3G connections spread across all Operators plus the ability to connect to venue Ethernet and WiFi up to a distance of 1km
  • Truck can run on conventional 13A domestic mains power – or be self-powered with Honda generator. UPS and power monitoring integrated
  • 1km of lightweight mil-spec tactical fibre optic cabling for video to/from camera and commentary positions
  • Production comms integrated in to fibre optic cabling system

NewTek 855 Tricaster with 850CS Control Surface

  • 8 simultaneous live video sources – any combination of HD-SDI, HD Component, SD-SDI, SD Component, Y/C (BNC) or Composite connections and resolutions
  • 24 switcher channels – 10 external, 6 internal, 8 virtual inputs
  • 2 network sources – from any networked computer or Apple AirPlay device

2 independent SDI output signals – fully independent audio and video.

  • PAL formats supported up to 1080/25p and NTSC up to 1080/30p – Note. NTSC and PAL camera sources cannot be mixed in same production.
  • Backup vision/audio mixer:  Blackmagic Design TV Studio (4 input, SD/HD-SDI, sources must be all the same format).
  • 40×40 Blackmagic Design Videohub router.
  • All cameras, non-camera source, program and auxillary outputs and replay inputs and outputs displayed on truck monitors.
  • Waveform and Vectorscope monitoring on all camera inputs.
  • SDI monitor able to be switched via Videohub to monitor video and audio of all inputs and outputs.
  • 5 media players integrated in Tricaster – 2 DDRs, Still, Title and Sound.
  • 2 Livetext laptops provide network-style scrolls, crawls, title pages and lower thirds and connect to Tricaster as network sources over Ethernet.
  • Livetext laptops can also be connected via database lockup, RSS and XML to third-party information sources – for example, to show a live Twitter feed on screen.
  • Tricaster graphics consists of 2 primary DSK channels and dedicated upstream overlay per virtual input, each with independent transition controls, 3D positioning, scaling, cropping and integrated effects.
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  • Audio mixing integrated in Tricaster.
  • Audio inputs of 8 Embedded SDI, 8 AES3/EBU and 8 x 2 Balanced XLR (Mic/Line) with Phantom Power Support.
  • Audio outputs of 3 Embedded SDI, 2 AES3/EBU, 4 Balanced XLR, 4 Balanced XLR (AUX), 1 Stereo 1/4″ (phones)
  • Integrated multi-channel audio mixer for internal and external audio sources, outputs, stream and headphones
  • Seven-band equalizer and full stereo compressor/limiter per input and output
  • Digital audio inputs equipped with audio time-base synchronizers
  • iPad audio mixing for touchscreen remote control of audio mixer.
  • Commentators are provided with Coles lip mics, a program output monitor and talkback comms. Commentators can be located anywhere within the ground.
  • Production comms is integrated in to the truck’s fibre optic cabling system with wireless production comms hired in to supplement wired comms as required.

 

  • ISO recording of up to 8 simultaneous channels – cameras, dirty and clean program, etc via Tricaster recording functionality.
  • Native recording in up to 1080p with timecode. Encoding format selectable per source – QuickTime, MPEG-2, AVI and H.264
  • Additional camera-top monitoring and recording in ProRes via 3 x Atomos Samurai field recorders.
  • Files available for edit in ProRes format across Gigabit Ethernet network and via hard disk drive caddies utilising removal hard disk drives taken from Tricaster and Samurais after match.
  • Live SDI feed with embedded audio available for input in to Mac (and some latest Windows-based) computers  via Thunderbolt.

 

  • Replay functionality provided by 6-channel NewTek 3Play 425 replay (EVS) machine.
  • 4 simultaneous HD-SDI switched via BMD videohub.
  • 2 fully independent, simultaneous playout channels which can be presented to Tricaster as SDIs or network source.
  • Format support up to 1080/25p and 1080/30p.
  • More than 30 hours of combined 1080i storage across internal drive and removable drive with recordings made as MPEG-2.
  • Replays managed by dedicated controller with T-bar, jog wheel, speed presets, and clip transport.

 

  • 16A power input with the truck drawing a total of less than 5A so it can be supplied by a conventional domestic 13A supply.
  • UPS and Powerbrite power monitor integrated in to truck. Honda generator provides power when 13A or 16A mains not available.
  • The truck has an integrated self-seeking KU-band broadband satellite terminal, dual KA-band fly-away broadband satellite terminals, 4G connectivity and seven 3G connections spread across all Operators plus the ability to connect to venue Ethernet and WiFi up to a distance of 1km.
  • LiveU LU70s are used to provide a live feed from the truck by bonding together all available connectivity sources to provide a live point-to-point video feed at up to 720p/1080i resolution.
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  • Camera and commentator connectivity is provided by a combination of 1km of military-grade tactical deployment single mode fibre optic cable and Blackmagic Design ATEM Camera and Studio Converters.
  • One fibre run can support two HD camera feeds including embedded audio or an external mic source, two return HD feeds from the truck (ie. Program output to the commentators or a program output monitor to the cameramen) and production comms for two camera positions.
  • The 1km of fibre is cut in to a combination of lengths from 50m to 200m and weighs a total of 30kg – and takes up the volume of two IATA check-in bags. Since the fibre is so lightweight and talkback is integrated, no rigger or tender vehicle is required.
  • The BMD ATEM camera converters utilised at the camera locations can be used on their integrated batteries.
  • Wireless camera connectivity is provided by Teradek zero-delay Bolt 5GHz wireless links.
  • Cameras can be any mix of formats. No power is supplied to the camera positions from the truck so they need to either be powered by battery or to be connected to mains power.
  • Remote control of broadcast cameras is not supported by the fibre optic system that used to connect cameras.
  • Wireless tally lights to five camera positions is provided.
  • Beauty shots are provided by a combination of GoPro Hero3 point of view cameras and steerable Axis HD camera heads that are powered over Ethernet and can be remotely controlled by an iPad or PC.

(https://3xscreen.co.uk/outdoor-broadcast-van/)

 

 

 

 

 

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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