A DiGiCo SD10B is the newest edition to NEP‘s Hawaii-based Supershooter 3 (SS3) mobile broadcast truck. The expanding 53’ trailer outfit with modular workstations and removable equipment racks is a unique and versatile broadcast facility that can serve as either a mobile production truck or as a fly-pack unit. Under the direction of NEP’s General Manager on Oahu, Rodney Kobayakawa, the truck will be used by Oceanic Time Warner Cable to cover mostly high school and University of Hawaii (UH) and high school sporting events as well as a host of other music, comedy and entertainment productions across the islands. With the addition of the DiGiCo console, now even these second- and third-tier productions can affordably offer surround sound and high-definition quality audio to match the video.

“Initially, we had one standard-def and one HD truck but wanted to get more business,” recalls Kobayakawa, who has been NEP’s local GM since 1994. “The concept was to get a truck that could be ‘de-rigged,’ and also used as a portable fly-pack.  That would give us enough versatility to go virtually anywhere. We tried to do it on the cheap and I had originally spec’d another digital console, but the design was all being done in Pittsburgh at NEP headquarters by Joseph Signorino, Vice President NEP Systems Integration, who insisted on doing it right. So he was the one who came up with the idea of the DiGiCo SD10B. He was familiar with it from looking at it at NAB. He liked the price-point, and although we are Calrec fans, the console had to be small, portable and affordable. It turned out, too, that locally Pat Ku from Rhema Services is a major DiGiCo production outfit, so we did some calling and Pat only had great things to say about the console. In the beginning it was a bit of a challenge because a lot of the operators were not used to a reprogrammable, flying fader type of console—not a full-blown digital computer map board. But the learning curve has been seamless.”

Since the truck’s completion in November 2011, NEP Hawaii landed the Time Warner contract to do all of the University of Hawaii sports packages. “The truck has been working nonstop since. We still have yet to use it in the fly-pack mode, but we’ve built a frame—again, Joe Sig’s hallmark design—so the DiGiCo board can unbolt easily and fit into a modified shipping case. Now everything from monitors to cables is modularized and can be accommodated into 3-4 flight cases. The console is the most powerful, problem-free device in that whole truck!” 

The DiGiCo SD10B is running at 48kHz is typically handling 96 inputs (with 37 Flexi faders/40 mic inputs) with embedded routing (16×16 Embedd and De-Embedd) and interfaces to an external DiGiCo SD-Rack (with 40×40 analog and 8×8 AES) via MADI I/O to a PESA 64×64 AES router (D>A and A>D conversion), a Lance Announce System with four consoles,Neumann KH120 monitor speakers, and a Wohler stereo MADI-8 Pre-Listen Station. 

“Having everything embedded, audio and video—we have 16 embedder inputs and de-embedder outputs—enables us to take 16 video feeds and de-embed the 8 channels of audio associated with that video feed,” Kobayakawa explains. “Then we give it straight to the audio console and mixed as needed. The router will also embed whatever we tell it to back into the video stream so they can record both audio and 8 channels of audio on one coaxial cable, along with the video. Besides that there’s also the MADI audio monitors in the truck, which supply monitoring for everybody in the truck except for the main speakers in the production room, which is discreet regular speakers. That’s being fed from the console. The console itself has its own speakers, for which we used the Neumann KH120s. The console feeds the router, which is embedded with the program video from the switcher, and then we provide an audio embedded HD feed to the uplink. But we also can provide AES feeds and analog feeds to the uplink if they so desire. There’s also a CD player, a DigiCart, and an iPod rig. The talent microphones, IFBs, and Intercom use a fiber-based, IP-driven system by Lance Designs and are processed to a Cat5 cable using a system called CobraNet which is similar to Ethernet and converted to optical fiber, which comes back to the truck and is converted back to CobraNet/Ethernet and then goes to the Lance system. The Lance System is amazing and it will break it back out to its analog components. It then gets fed into the console, intercom and IFB equipment.

“The stage box is located inside of the console room,” he adds, “so everything is analog from the outside world. We use the MADI in the video router section and convert it to AES. The DiGiCo SD10B is the main console and everything goes through it: all the talent microphones, IFB feeds, monitoring sources, etcetera… it does everything. I’d say at this point, we’re tapping maybe 40 percent of the capability of the inputs and outputs. There’s a lot more assets available that we haven’t tapped yet. Our shows are pretty small and the board is quite big. We might get into trouble with the limited number of analog inputs that we ordered, but there’s always workarounds that we can work from analog to digital and get to the digital inputs. The learning curve of the console is less; it’s easy to use, and it seems to be a heck of a lot more stable. The console just keeps going and going and going. The fact that it’s so independent, with its own separate engine for each section, is nice. You can set the board up the way you want it.”

“When I heard we were getting a DiGiCo in SS3 it was actually pretty exciting,” raved Sean Rowbottom, the main engineer/technical liaison at NEP Hawaii since 2008. “This was our first digital console in a truck here and to know it was a DiGiCo was actually pretty cool. I come from a live sound background and had heard great things about the console. I love the capabilities of the MADI, the AES, and since our truck is all AES and MADI and everything’s embedded—we hardly have any analog besides what comes out of the rack itself, which makes everything wonderful and very easy. The console itself is so user-friendly and very intuitive.”

Looking to the future, the truck is booked on an on-going schedule of UH collegial events ranging from football, basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball, and recently worked on a PGA golf tour production for NHK in Japan, as well as a Comedy Central special taping with comedian Gabriel Iglesias, aka Fluffy. “They wanted to do an all ISO record,” says Kobayakawa, “so we used this truck to do it and it was all embedded again into the coax of the video using the SD10B.”

“We had an engineer from Los Angeles who mixes a lot of comedy events for television on the Fluffy show,” adds Rowbottom. “He had never worked on a DiGiCo, and within a couple of hours he was up and running and enjoyed learning the console.”