Gearhouse Broadcast, in common with Sony Professional Services and Thomson, are positioned to provide big, multi-purpose trucks.

HD1, which debuted at IBC this year, was built for one of Gearhouse's Australian subsidiaries - with Gearhouse claiming that the 28 camera 13.6m triple expanding OB is the biggest truck built in Europe to date.

Clients in the driving seat
Says managing director Eamonn Dowdall: “We are seeing increasing demand for large production areas in our trucks, but that doesn't mean the layout is standard. The seating arrangements determining where the vision engineers and EVS operators sit in relation to the production area often depends on the taste of the client - which varies from region to region. We can use our experience to advise clients, but a lot of this is down to individual clients' tastes.”

HD1 will take about 12 months to build although its debut at IBC extended the process says Dowdall who adds: “However most trucks of this sort are built to be ready for a specific job at a specific time. The build simply can't go over the deadline.”

“HD1, which we debuted at IBC, was needed back at the warehouse days later. So as soon as the truck shell arrives back from Amsterdam the pressure on this will increase when we are installing the wiring and equipment.”

Although much of the equipment in HD1 will be OB standard such as the Calrec sound desk and the Sony MVS8000 vision mixer, Dowdall points out that even this kit is often built after the order is placed and can be subject to delays: “The Calrec desk has a three to four month lead time and is hand built. Similarly the vision mixer can take two months to build. Any delays have to be incorporated into the timeline.”

The result is a triple expanding 28 cameras HD OB truck with up to three versions of 5.1 Dolby surround sound, and three tiered production desks seating up to 12 staff each - ideal for large events.

The front desk houses the Sony MVS8000 4ME vision mixer and space for 84 monitors. The second desk provides 16 monitors and comprehensive communications. The third desk provides 32 monitors, comprehensive communications and monitoring facilities.

Cool kit
When fully expanded, the air-conditioned unit has room for a second desk in the VTR area to provide space for up to 11 operators and a co-ordinator. The unit is wired for up to 12 EVS/14VTRs editing and playout systems. In the vision area there is control for up to 28 cameras by seven operators, plus an engineering test position. The vision router is 576 x 576 and the audio router is 256 x 256 AES and analogue, while the audio room contains a 64 fader digital sound desk with surround sound capability.

While at one end of the market there is demand for OBs to get bigger and bigger, there are limits, as Dowdall explains: “The weight, height and width of the truck when on the road is a big part of the systems integration process. There are an increasing number of regulations. Increased weight means increased emissions and environmental regulations are becoming more stringent.”


7 December 2007
Gearhouse is approached by Australian client, and initial consultation begins. Gearhouse books a slot with coachbuilder ASGB.

8 January 2008
Gearhouse signs off a design with client following liaison with ASGB, Gearhouse orders technical equipment, wiring and racks from manufacturers.

8 February
Coachbuilders begin six-month chassis build, while Gearhouse starts on wiring design.

8 August
ASGB chassis arrives at the Gearhouse warehouse. Preparation to show truck at IBC. Five-week wiring installation starts.

8 September
Gearhouse showcases at IBC.

16 September
Truck back at Gearhouse Warehouse, five week wiring installation starts.

21 October (EST)
Specialist sound desk manufacturer Calrec begins week-long equipment installation.

4 November (EST)
Gearhouse begins exhaustive two-week test QCing every area of the truck, including router system, monitors, vision mixers cameras, VTR and EVS.

18 November (EST)
Acceptance process begins with 20 cameras set up on the warehouse floor - Gearhouse runs through all the features and functions of the truck with client. Likely to take two weeks.

2 December (EST)
Truck to be delivered to Australia.