NAB Perspectives: Dome Productions’ Ken Brown, Mike Johnson Show Off Digital ‘Sidecar’

With an established reputation as one of the top mobile-production–truck companies in North America, Toronto-based Dome Productions has added a focus on the burgeoning multiscreen industry.

At NAB 2013, Dome Digital is showing off its newest facility, Sidecar, which is aimed at serving as a secondary vehicle for broadcasters looking to add a strong second-screen experience to their television broadcast.

Dome Productions' Ken Brown (left) and Mike Johnson see second screen applications becoming a bigger factor in the truck industry.

Dome Productions’ Ken Brown (left) and Mike Johnson see second-screen applications’ becoming a bigger factor in the truck industry.

According to Ken Brown,director of Dome Digital Services, the desire to design smaller, more cost-effective vehicles came straight from their clients.

“It’s a little thing called this Internet,” says Brown. “We’re finding that a lot of the younger generation is actually consuming their content on iPads and other mobile devices. We’re a service company. We service our clients with whatever they need to do their television show, and it’s clear our clients are looking for ways to deliver their content not just to the main screen but to multiple screens.”

While it functions independently, Sidecar is fully connectible and integrated with larger Dome expando units.

Inside, the car is equipped with a Newtek Tricaster 850 Extreme production switcher, Newtek 3Play 820 (eight in/two out) replay device, NewTek Live Text for graphics, three Sony EX3 cameras, a Digital Rapids StreamZHD encoder, and a Mackie 1402 VLZ 14-channel audio mixer.

The truck targets two market segments, large broadcasters looking for a supplementary unit for second-screen offerings, and smaller content producers (e.g, colleges) that are looking for a cost-effective method of Web-streaming a live event.

To Director of Engineering Mike Johnson, Sidecar’s capabilities on the social-media side are prevelant.

“In the main production, any kind of secondary component that you want to feature, in the case of tying into the video servers there, we can take those files, transcode them, and publish them to them,” he says. “Then, say, if [a fan] wants to see a replay that didn’t make it on the air or it’s already passed the main broadcast by, you can access that replay and watch it whenever.”

Sidecar — and Dome Digital’s other, slightly larger digital truck REVU — has been very active since the launch last year, and Brown says he wouldn’t be surprised if Dome Digital continues to expand its capabilities.

“I think, down the road, what’s going to happen is that this kind of technology is going to be built into the main trucks,” says Brown. “Think back to the days where they had back-bench splits. I can see that coming back again today but in a Web way.”

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