Inside Centro Televisivo Vaticano’s new HD truck

Italy: One of the most high-tech OB trucks in Europe rotates around La Santa Sede (The Holy See) and most of all The Pope, writes SVG Europe Italian Correspondent, Roberto Landini. Described by Padre Federico Lombardi, director of Centro Televisivo Vaticano in Rome as “a part of a wider communication strategy including also a new web portal,” the Padre also sees it as a potential vehicle – if you’ll pardon the pun – for widening the uptake of HD in Italy.

“The new OB van started its operational life at the Christmas 2010 celebrations and festivities, featuring new and beautiful pictures thanks to the new HD standard,” he says. “Due to the exchange nature of such material with the other national SD broadcasters involved, it will also be a strong influence for them to qualify their equipment and switch as soon as possible to HD.”

Measuring 13 x 4 x 2.5m, the truck cost an approximate total of €4.5m, less a special €900k discount offered by Sony recognising the long-standing proactive partnership with Centro Televisivo. It’s a cutting-edge solution ready for operational future needs, willing to meet all the different trends which may arise in the future. Blessed personally by Pope Benedict XVI, what’s more, after the initial project was kick-started by Sony UK, it was then fulfilled exclusively with local Italian resources headed by Sony Italia.

Among the several companies involved in the project were Tomassini Style from Perugia, which specialised in certificate creations of the body of the vehicle; CRV, near Perugia, which took care of AV cabling; and Trans Audio Video (Caserta and Milan) which supplied Canon lenses for the cameras plus Vinten pedestals.

The truck is equipped with 16 Sony HDC-1400 cameras, expandable up to 24 when needed. The heart comprises two control rooms which can operate simultaneously. The primary is controlled by a multiformat Sony MSV-8000 video mixer with 24 SDI outs, coupled with a Lawo 5.1 digital audio console. The secondary control room is based on a MKS-9011A Sony video switcher, with Avid video editing and a Yamaha audio mixer. The VTR area is equipped with Sony HDCAM VTRs, while the kit list is rounded out by a Harris Centrio multiviewer and signal distribution signed by Axon Digital Design.

Many elements of the 3G-truck have been enriched: a double air conditioning system is more powerful in the technical area but milder towards the control rooms; there is a particularly neat crosspoint for the external cameras and equipment with fibre and coax connections; the truck features an intelligent domotic management of control room inner lights and comfort; there is a clever and complex stabilization system which automatically handles the situation even on uneven grounds; and lastly, a double hydraulic expansion of the control rom operational areas creates a wider and welcoming environment of around 36sqm.

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