UK’s Cloudbass Hits The Road With IP-Centric HDR-Capable 4K Production Truck

Looking to address an increase in demand for 4K UHD production, UK Outside Broadcast specialist Cloudbass has completed work on an end-to-end 4K UHD with HDR Outside Broadcast vehicle based on the ST2110 video-over-IP standard. At its core is Axon Digital Design’s Neuron signal processing technology.

The new OB9 was officially unveiled this Fall and has now covered eight major live productions in the truck’s first 40 days—for Sky Sports, including the UEFA Football Euro 2020 Qualifiers, and for the RugbyX Tournament on ITV.

The 20-camera truck, built with help from local systems integrator ES Broadcast, brings together best of breed products from many different manufacturers, including Arista Networks, Calrec Audio, Evertz Microsystems, Grass Valley, Reidel Communications, Ross Video and Sony. It uses Axon technology to seamlessly integrate these separate products into a fast and highly flexible workflow that is ideally suited to live sports coverage.

In total, OB9 features 21 Neuron units, each packed with a plethora of processing features such as edge synchronizers and converters. Every unit offers an impressive 200 Gb/s and 64 1080p signals or 16 UHD channels with up to 80 SDI connectors, all in a single 1RU.

Michael Beaumont, Cloudbass Technical Director.

Michael Beaumont, Cloudbass Technical Director.

“Neuron’s processing power means that it can do a lot more in just one box,” Michael Beaumont, Cloudbass Technical Director, said. “As a result, we need less hardware and external glue, which reduces the weight of the truck and makes it cheaper and easier to move, without impacting on workflow.”

Axon said that one of the main technical challenges of this project was integrating the ST2110 standard because different manufacturers use different block packing methods to transmit and receive data. Beaumont said Axon’s onsite support team helped identify these challenges during the build phase and worked hard to overcome them.

“Axon Neuron accepts streams from any of the kit in the truck no matter what packing method or standard the manufacturer is using, making it by far the most flexible piece of equipment we have,” Beaumont said. “By removing the need for lots of external processing, Neuron gives the truck enormous flexibility, which proved particularly invaluable during our first UHD job for Sky Sports Boxing. Having up/down/cross conversion available to every path allowed me to run the truck internally UHD/3G and down-convert all of the feeds required for the other broadcasters onsite. Without Neuron, the amount of extra external glue required to provide frame-sync, color correction and Up/Down/Cross conversion on every router input/output would be unimaginable.”

He adds that combining Neuron with Axon’s Cerebrum Control and Monitoring software was key to best of breed integration and guarantees an unprecedented level of control, all in one GUI.

“In our unique IP environment, interoperability of signals works well but controlling all the endpoint devices is still more complex than in traditional systems,” Beaumont said. “Cerebrum helps hide some of the complexities to the operators, and in some cases gives us critical work arounds to issues that are still to be resolved in hardware. A great feature of using Cerebrum with the Neuron platform is having the ability to create visual pages that can control and monitor many different signal statuses usually read from multiple devices. This helps our engineers diagnose issues and faults.”

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