Lawo’s VSM Broadcast Control System Key to New Zealand Horse Racing

New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) recently called Lawo to revise and streamline its production model.

The NZRB handles New Zealand’s Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) operation for thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing, scheduling daily racing and selling racing and sports bets through a retail network, online and telephony channels. NZRB is also behind the broadcast of racing on two national television channels and Trackside Radio.

By 2017, the organization's OB trucks were close on a decade of hard use. Because the NZRB handles more than 1,000 OB days of racing across the country each year, it was decided that the gear needed updating.

The solution was to update the OB trucks, while shrinking the number from six to four. The solution created 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) for integrated control.

VSM provides operators with overarching control over their systems in an extremely adaptable way – user panels and interfaces can be configured without limitation in order to meet the requirements of different workflows and applications, with the whole system under redundant control.

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.

NZBR OB truck. Director's chair. Lawo VSN provides the required connectivity and switching. Click to enlarge.<br />

NZBR OB truck. Director's chair. Lawo VSN provides the required connectivity and switching. Click to enlarge.

VSM provides operators with overarching control over their systems in an extremely adaptable way – user panels and interfaces can be configured without limitation in order to meet the requirements of different workflows and applications, with the whole system under redundant control.

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.

Rear truck connector panels provide rapid setup and tear down along with monitoring for the field crew. Click to enlarge.

Rear truck connector panels provide rapid setup and tear down along with monitoring for the field crew. Click to enlarge.

The new OB design maintains the NZRB’s ability to cover the full extent of its racing, but now with a physically smaller presence, while also providing greater cost efficiencies across the production. Internally, the trucks provide cost-efficient yet scalable industry-standard capabilities with VSM providing integrated control of switchers, routers and a replay server as well as the connecting network. 

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.

VSM supports all of these requirements, with the capacity to adapt to any future changes or expansion of the NZRB broadcast operation.

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