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SVG Sit-Down: Game Creek Video's Jason Taubman Goes Inside Latest Truck Builds, Tech Refurbs, Evolution of GCV Anywhere

26/02/2024

SVG Sit-Down: Game Creek Video's Jason Taubman Goes Inside Latest Truck Builds, Tech Refurbs, Evolution of GCV Anywhere Varsity, Gameday, Moonshine launched in 2023; HD trucks are being revamped to extend their life By Jason Dachman, Editorial Director, U.S.

Monday, February 26, 2024 - 2:30 pm

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There's never a quiet day at Game Creek Video's shop in Hudson, NH. Whether it's building new mobile units, refurbishing existing trucks, or architecting new flypacks and RAPS (remote-access production systems) solutions, SVP, Technology, Jason Taubman and his team are always busy.

In 2023, Game Creek rolled out three new state-of-the-art mobile units: Varsity, Gameday, and Moonshine. Varsity served ESPN/ABC's lead college-football package throughout the fall and is now the broadcaster's NBA A-game truck, with the NBA Finals on its schedule this spring. Gameday also was built for ESPN, specifically for the College Gameday remote studio show. And Moonshine serves GCV's growing entertainment-based client base (although, because of the WGA and SAG strikes in Hollywood, it did more sports than expected last year).

At the same time, the company is refurbing several of its baseband HD trucks to extend their life. For example, both Apollo and Victory were upgraded to HDR last year for, respectively, Fox Sports' Big Noon Kickoff and college-football B-game package.

In addition, GCV Anywhere continues to grow. The company's remote-production solution, which leaves all the major technology assets in place on the truck while shifting production crew and operators back home, has already been adopted by several regional sports networks, and the company sees it as a growth vertical.

SVG sat down with Taubman to discuss the new trucks and refurbs, the continued evolution of GCV Anywhere, how demand for large-scale trucks continues to grow, where its clients stand on the 1080p vs. 4K debate, and how the live IP-media ecosystem continues to progress.

Tell us a bit about the trucks that you launched in 2023.

We launched three trucks last year: Varsity, Gameday, and Moonshine. Both Varsity and Gameday were ESPN projects over the summer, while Moonshine is focused on the entertainment market. All three trucks have Lawo/Arista routing cores and are cut from the same cloth.

We replaced the truck that does College GameDay with one of our new Lawo-based IP trucks. It's the tenth truck that we've built [based on that model]. It did all of College GameDay this year, and ESPN was very happy with it.

Right on the heels of the GameDay truck, we built Varsity. That is a two-truck system that was designed to replace the college-football truck we built for ESPN about five years ago called 79, which was one of our first IP trucks built with Evertz infrastructure. Varsity is built with Lawo infrastructure and is designed to take the [ESPN college-football package] into the future.

And what about Moonshine?

Moonshine launched in March and is another copy of that Lawo-based design that we've been doing. The key difference there is that we took a fresh look at the layout with respect to some of our entertainment clients. We made some pretty significant adjustments in the audio department at their suggestion. The layout of the production room is similar to what we would do in a sports truck, but we adjusted the video-shading area and also what you would consider the replay area in a sports truck. The technical space for engineering is also in a different spot. We took a fresh approach to the truck layout, with a nod towards doing a lot of the entertainment. It was a bit quiet at first because of the Writers and Actors Guild strikes, but it's getting back into business now that those are settled.

New Game Creek Video Gameday Lawo-based IP truck replaced the unit that handles College GameDay last year.

Does any particular piece of technology stand out in these new trucks?

All three are top-of-the-line across the board, but I would say one of the innovations that stands out is the way we did the production-monitor walls. Starting with Moonshine, we began using Boland 31 -in. OLED displays in the production-monitor walls, and they're spectacular. They look amazing. Moonshine benefited from that, as did GameDay, Varsity, and the Prime One system that we built last year for Thursday Night Football [on Prime Video]. People walk into those production rooms and see those monitors and are just blown away. It makes for a great space to work in.

What else has the Game Creek shop been up to in New Hampshire?

We're also looking at how we can preserve and make the best use of the assets we already have. A lot of our existing baseband trucks - like Victory - are still very active and very relevant, but they've reached an age when they need a little TLC, so we're refreshing them.

Think about it like this. In 2004, we built our first two big HD trucks with Patriot and Yankee Clipper. Both had a great run, but, midway through the life of Patriot, we did a refresh with a new monitor wall and routing to make it all HD instead of part analog and part HD. That refresh in 2012 extended the life of Patriot until just last year, when we finally retired Patriot. That truck had an almost 20-year run, while its sister, Yankee Clipper, which was built at the same time in 2004, did not get that refresh and was retired in 2012-13 for a variety of reasons. Investing midstream in a truck and overhauling some of the infrastructure almost doubled the life of Patriot.

We're taking the same approach with Victory, which is about midway through its life and needed an overhaul in much the same way. A lot of the technology that was used in that truck was reaching end of life, especially multiviewers. We needed to find a way to refre
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2024/02/26/svg-sit-down-game-creek-videos-...
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