Selecting the core component of your new outside broadcast truck from the show floor of a busy trade show may strike many as the very definition of impulse buying.
But when Gary Snyder, president and engineer at Clark Media, sealed the deal for an Imagine Communications’ Platinum™ IP3 router to power his brand new mobile production vehicle at last year’s NAB show, he was being anything but impetuous.
“I had a different router in mind,” says Snyder, recounting the unconventional transaction from outside the entrance of his fully functional and field-tested OB truck, which was on display at this year’s NAB Show. “But with so much still up in the air concerning the latest technologies, I wanted a platform that would be state-of-the-art when things solidified. After seeing the IP3 at NAB last year, I knew Imagine was up to the challenge.”
In particular, Snyder was concerned that the momentum behind moving to Ultra High Definition (UHD) video quality and IP-based infrastructures would soon make his investment obsolete if his new truck was not designed with the future in mind. Clark Media required a mobile production facility that could deliver both HD and UHD quality and be capable of seamlessly and quickly shifting between the two resolutions as customers required.
“We currently do about 90% of our production in HD,” says Snyder, adding that many of his customers are now discovering that the benefits of delivering content in UHD justify what remains of a rapidly shrinking cost differential. “Already this year we are seeing that ratio shift significantly.”
Though the hybrid SDI-IP and HD-UHD attributes of the Platinum IP3 are critical to Clark Media’s current and future competitiveness, an even more valuable feature of Imagine Communications’ flagship router is its ability to store and instantly retrieve a variety of configurations. This means that a mobile production company can essentially customize its OB truck to meet the exacting requirements of each customer, shifting between HD and UHD or accommodating a wide degree of customer preferences in a matter of minutes.
The quick-config nature of the IP3 is especially valuable to Clark Media, which, unlike many mobile production companies, works in a variety of settings, rather than specializing in a single genre, such as sports or news. On any given week, Snyder’s newest vehicle could be called on to transmit the sights and sounds of a music concert, a corporate event or even a graduation ceremony at a private university. Later this year, says Snyder, the vehicle is booked for both the Republican and Democratic conventions.
"Imagine’s services and sales teams, as well as the way they go about putting together a next-gen solution, mesh tightly with the way we do things at Clark. Imagine Communications gets it."
Clark Media’s eclectic client base required a vehicle that was both a workhorse and hired gun on wheels. The company’s “Have truck, will travel” operating model demanded an OB vehicle with a router at its core that was capable of nearly on-the-fly adaptations to a variety of environments.
Snyder describes his new OB truck as “router-centric.”
“Every signal and all monitoring feeds go through the router,” he says. “That allows us, when we’re finished with a customer engagement, to simply save the settings. When we go back to the client, maybe a year or so later, we just need to recall the configuration.”
Another attribute of the IP3 that attracted Snyder’s attention, in addition to its ability to function seamlessly in a hybrid SDI-IP environment, is the consolidation of so much functionality into a compact container. The IP3 integrates mixed-format video and audio routing, multiviewer functionality, mux/demux, frame sync and advanced I/O options, such as MADI and fiber — all within a single, space-saving frame.
Imagine Communications’ family of routers also includes the Platinum™ VX, a small to midsize utility router designed to meet today’s requirements for additional scale and functionality. By leveraging the latest processing technologies, the company is able to bring to market large-scale router performance and reliability at utility router price points.
In the end, though, it was Clark Media’s close and longstanding relationship with Imagine Communications and its sales and technical people that made the successful transaction far from impulsive.
“We’ve been working with Imagine for 15 years,” says Snyder. “Imagine’s services and sales teams, as well as the way they go about putting together a next-gen solution, mesh tightly with the way we do things at Clark. Imagine Communications gets it.”
Snyder is confident that his new production vehicle is built to handle whatever assignment it encounters today or down the road — save for combat zones. “Check that,” he adds. “We are handling this summer’s political conventions.”