Hedgehog, a Lebanese production company, recently rolled out a 14-camera High Definition OB truck, reportedly the first in Lebanon. The vehicle boasts state-of-the-art kit capable of executing an end-to-end production. Vibhuti Arora takes a closer look Beirut-based production/post production house Hedgehog recently completed the integration of its first OB truck. Capable of both live and […]
Hedgehog, a Lebanese production company, recently rolled out a 14-camera High Definition OB truck, reportedly the first in Lebanon. The vehicle boasts state-of-the-art kit capable of executing an end-to-end production. Vibhuti Arora takes a closer look
Beirut-based production/post production house Hedgehog recently completed the integration of its first OB truck. Capable of both live and recorded productions, the van is claimed to be the first High Definition (HD) van in Lebanon and the largest available multi-format vehicle in the country at 14m. It features a 10m expandable side, and is designed to run a production in full HD.
Hedgehog CEO George Moufarrej and Managing Director Nabil Nasr have ambitious plans for their company and the OB truck is believed to be part of that effort. A state-of-the-art OB van will help venture into live production. While the van is presently leased out to a regional broadcaster, the company doesnt rule out using it for in-house productions in the future.
Hedgehogs journey into production happened gradually over the last decade. From a young post production house back in 2003 to a full-fledged production company offering end-to-end services, the company has come a long way.
Our services range from acquiring show formats to developing ideas and concepts, and producing them. We are specialised in tailor making shows to suit the requirements of each region and even produce them at cost-effective rates with international standards, informs Moufarrej.
In the process, however, Hedgehog found it increasingly challenging to address its HD requirements as equipment, OB vans and parts of the chain were not easily available in Lebanon. Building an HD OB van seemed to be the answer to empowering the production house to handle large-scale, high-end productions.
We have been a very successful post production house; the next step from there was to venture out into other territories. We started producing TV magazines for a few clients including Abu Dhabi TV, which turned out to be a great success and a lot of fun.
In the course of our work, we built close relationships with TV producers and broadcasters and got to understand the broadcast industry better. Thats when we realised that there was a gap in HD production, which we saw as an opportunity waiting to be explored. The OB van offered the perfect opportunity to do this, explains Moufarrej.
The van is presently fitted out with 14 LDK 8000 Elite cameras although wired for 16 should there be a need to expand in the future.
With live events and pre-filmed productions under its scope, the OB van caters to a wide variety of shooting requirements be it indoor or outdoor shoots.
We hope to work on live talent shows and singing competitions such as The Voice, Arab Idol, and Arabs Got Talent. The audio system that we have installed in the van is top-notch and is designed to meet the requirements of such high-profile shows. In fact, everything that we have integrated in the van right from the cameras to the servers boasts the latest and the most advanced gear, and the audio system is part of that package, explains Moufarrej.
The truck and its offerings
The van was assembled in the US by Ohio-based Gerling & Associates. The work on the vehicle started in June 2012 and Hedgehog was handed over the product as an empty shell with interior sound-proofing and carpeting in place by December 2012. The OB van was fully fitted and ready to roll in Q2 2013.
The systems integration was carried out in Lebanon by Beirut-based engineers who drew out the design and executed the final project. Hedgehog worked closely with the systems integration team led by Jean Claude Rahme, who was previously the head of broadcast transmission at Abu Dhabi TV.
Since there was very high demand for HD cameras in Lebanon, we rented out our equipment as soon as we received them. This was back in Oct 2012. It was used as a flyaway kit for the first programme titled Impossible Duets produced by a regional broadcaster. Once this show was filmed, our engineers and crew started extensive work on the integration of the truck beginning December 2012. This took around three months resulting in us having the complete integrated van by the end of April 2013, adds Moufarrej.
The main role of the OB truck has been to provide any upcoming production with a full range of HD equipment in terms of cameras, audio systems and broadcasting infrastructure.
The company selected an end-to-end workflow consisting of cameras, production switchers, routing switchers, router control systems and replay systems for the truck from Grass Valley. These live production solutions provide the mobile backbone for the Hedgehog OB van so that it can provide quality HD coverage of live events. Grass Valleys local partner in Lebanon, Pharaon Broadcast provided local support.
A full series of LDK 8000 Elite cameras featuring three high performance 9.2 million pixel HD-DPM+ sensors to capture HD images natively and switch instantly between multiple formats and frame rates has been installed. A Kayak HD 3 M/E video production switcher offering 14 affordable systems for flexibility, and several high-end features is also a part of the key kit. In addition to that, a Trinix NXT digital video routing switcher offering three different redundancy options with Multiviewer, 128 frame HD 64 x 32 giving a 30% cost cut forms a key element of the workflow. The replay system installed is K2 Dyno, which includes a K2 Summit HD/SD production server with 80 hours of ingest, clip store, highlight reel creation and replay.
An impressive part of this van is its audio. Hedgehog has installed a 32-fader Calrec Artemis Light console in a 40-fader frame in the truck to complement the HD video by delivering high-quality audio for Hedgehogs mobile TV production projects including live television shows, sports and entertainment events. The Artemis Light manages 240 fully featured DSP channels, and its surround spill controls make it easy to create 5.1 mixes. The consoles configuration gives Hedgehog room to expand the number of faders by simply plugging in an additional panel. Likewise, Hedgehog can increase the number of inputs and outputs by plugging in new I/O boxes to the integral router using a fibre or copper connection.
The Artemis Light desk also allows for linking high-quality audio directly to the HD picture coming from its other equipment, which is something that would have been impossible before. Instead, Hedgehog would have had to match HD video with lower-quality audio from the studios less sophisticated audio system. Integrating the Calrec console into the new truck means Hedgehog can offer a full line of services with consistent high quality in both video and audio.
An additional Calrec Hydra2 analogue I/O box is connected to the studio by fibre, which makes the application even more flexible and easier to handle, according to Moufarrej.
With the best quality in mind throughout the selection process of everything that was chosen for this truck, right from the cameras to servers, the truck is equipped with the most advanced gear, and the audio system is no different. Based on the latest trends in the business, well likely be working on where the audio system is of utmost importance. Thats why we turned to Calrec. The Calrec console gives us immense power and scalability with full redundancy on every critical component of the system, explains Moufarrej.
In addition to this, the company has a dedicated crew for the van which includes a Video Engineer, an Audio Engineer, an AV Operator and an OB Captain. The rest of the crew is hired on a project-by-project basis depending on their respective requirements.
The truck is leased out on a project-by-project basis. The company has a long association with a host of production houses in the region.
The truck has been leased out for five months to a leading regional broadcaster, with more bookings in the pipeline. Besides that, there are enquiries and requests from other production and event companies based in Lebanon.
The OB truck is sent to whichever studio the production house decides to use for the project at hand. The cameras and audio system are then locally wired out of the truck onto the set as required. It remains there throughout the filming and execution phases of the programme. Once that is complete, all of the VTR recordings are sent to the production house for editing and the remaining steps of the production chain.
The truck seems to be quite busy now working on a tight schedule for clients, but it wont be long before Hedgehog employs it for in-house productions, which is on the cards, according to Moufarrej and Nasr. <img class="alignleft wp-image-18624" title="Hedgehog OB Truck" src="http://www.broadcastprome.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/hedgehog-ob-truck.jpg” alt=”” />