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Big Things in Small SpacesClear Channel builds an HD mobile production pocket rocket
(6/20/05) Clear Channel, one of the largest media companies in the United States, owns 40 television stations, over 1200 radio stations and also includes television entertainment and sports production divisions. Supporting all these video efforts is a new HD production truck conceived by William Mitchell, Clear Channel TVs HDTV Truck General Manager, and Allen Finne, the trucks builder and Director of Engineering for Clear Channel HD Mobile. In this exclusive interview with Digital Media Nets Charlie White, the two men talked about the design and construction of this smaller truck thats packed to the gills with state-of-the art HD gear.
DMN: Give us an overview of this new truck. Its a medium-sized, 32-foot truck, and it fills a certain niche in the HD market, doesnt it?
William Mitchell: I would say medium-to-small size, actually. Its a 32-foot truck with a small eight-foot expando section in it. The reason that we decided to go with a truck that size is because its difficult to get a 53-foot expando in an alleyway. A lot of the time when youre doing concerts or comedy shows in some of the older venues like in New York or any large cities, you get into size limitations and space limitations to where you are parking in an alley or on a side street. Its literally impossible to get a huge semi into that area. Well, with a 32-foot truck it becomes a thousand times easier to do, and it makes a little easier on our driver. Thats why we went with that.
DMN: Looking over this list of equipment inside, you have eight Sony at 750 HD cameras, a couple of POV cameras and then there are two choices of switchers. It looks like for a 32 foot truck, a client, director or producer isnt going to have to make big compromises using this smaller truck, are they?
William Mitchell: No, were really not.
Allen Finne: I would not think so. We basically have a complement of equipment that would match a physically larger truck, so probably the only compromise they might have to make is, there typically are some folks who will hang out in a truck during an event, just kind of hangers-on, and that might be the compromise where it you really need to get down to your core group of folks in this truck due to the size of it.
DMN: So this does not leave a whole lot of elbow room in there for all these extra people, I see.
Allen Finne: You give and take, and the advantage of the smaller size is that you can fit this truck into the very small back alleys behind venues, clubs, and whatnot, and in order to do that, of course you lose a little bit of physical interior space.
DMN: This not your first HD truck, is it? Didnt you guys have a larger HD truck before?
William Mitchell, Clear Channel TV's HDTV Truck General Manager
DMN: When did you complete construction of this new 32-foot truck?
William Mitchell: We were able to roll on our first show around the first of March. The construction was actually complete by the second week in January, and then it went through rigorous testing here for almost six weeks.
DMN: It sounds like its state-of-the-art. What are some of the innovations on board?
Allen Finne, the truck's builder and Director of Engineering for Clear Channel HD Mobile
DMN: It sounds like youre taking advantage, Allen, of this unstoppable trend where things are getting smaller and less expensive every day.
Allen Finne: Yes. Some of these conversion units, even when theyre only three or four years old, are tremendous heat producers. I mean, you plug this stuff in, and you can warm your feet on a cold winters day with it. Whats amazing is the fact that you can take the Miranda gear or the Ross gear and you put your hand in front of the blower fan, you might get just a bit of warm air but thats about it. Certainly its not heat. That allowed me to stack equipment very, very densely. Thats one of the ways I got all this stuff into this truck. Even five years ago, I would have had to space things out a whole lot more. You couldnt put a big enough air conditioner in, not because you couldnt physically cool it, but because in order to fit it into this truck you wouldve had to stack without empty air spaces. With this new gear, you can pretty well stack in very tight, use medium-sized air-conditioning and environmental control, and youre good to go. Plus its also an advantage to pull up on a site and your power requirements are typically a lot less with this newer truck than they were with an older truck.
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