New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) recently called on solutions from German broadcast innovator, Lawo, to revise and streamline its production model. Now operating four OBs instead of six, with three Mercedes Sprinter vans and a fixed site to cover metropolitan race events from a central control room, using Lawo’s Virtual Studio Manager (VSM) provides integrated control.
In 2017, and with OB trucks that were close on a decade of very hard use, the NZRB faced 1,100 OB days racing across the country each year – the number of events and variety of scale bringing into question its previous production standards and raising the opportunity of mixed OB and Remote Production. Following moving to an IP Layer 3 network, Phase 2 of the project saw the NZRB team work with Sony on four HD-capable and scalable OB trucks to cover its existing and very demanding nationwide OB workflow. As part of this design the NZRB team identified VSM as integral to achieving the same flexibility and scalability as seen in the Remote Production model, allowing the shared use of ‘expansion’ vehicles to seamlessly enhance capability such as extra workspaces and camera count.
“One of the key selling points of VSM was the portfolio of support and compatibility for third-party protocols, in addition to Lawo’s own products with Ember+. This was key given the wide range of products used in the design of the HD OBs, without compromising on capability,” said Michael Tompkins, broadcast engineer, NZRB . Professional Audio & Television (PAT) was instrumental in the successful application of the advanced technology underlying the migration. “Initially, we had several whiteboard sessions that gave us confidence we had a solid idea that could work,” said Jamie Annan, Vision Capture Project SME, NZRB.
Using the 1Gbps Layer 3 network between remote site and control room, and 10Gbps Layer 3 between control rooms, the new model uses a mix of J2K, SMPTE 2022-6, and AES67/Ravenna to provide video and audio between each layer of production under a VSM control system run from two separate locations, ensuring geographical redundancy. The OB design had to maintain the NZRB’s ability to cover the full extent of its racing, but be physically smaller in size, while also providing cost efficiencies across the production. The basic daily OB setup for a truck covers running up to ten system cameras, with capacity for 12 and other SDI, Commentary, Presentation area and roaming interviews, on a typical day internal crew is Director/Vision switcher, Sound Op, Replay op, Engineer and a Vision Control op – all operating from within the truck.