Broadcast Solutions is one of Europe’s (but not only) leading end-to-end design and construction companies of various types of end-user broadcast vans, studios and broadcast and media infrastructures. This German company has 14 offices worldwide, with 300 employees directly involved in technology and broadcasting. To date, the company has completed more than 450 projects, which is a very impressive result. The company’s vast experience and its professional team have led to dynamic growth in many areas.

Sascha Franke is responsible as Director of Project Delivery for the overall project coordination at the Broadcast Solutions headquarters in Germany. His vast experience, backed by both technical training and practice, means he can help new projects be delivered to a very high standard. I invite you to a conversation with Sascha in which we are discussing the design and construction of broadcast vans and the development of technology in the broadcast area.

Sascha, how did your adventure in designing transmission vehicles begin?

Sascha Franke, Broadcast Solutions: I started my career in the broadcast industry 23 years ago as a system engineer in the system integration division of Philips Broadcast in Germany. I went through different roles within the company, and in 2006 I started to take over the first OB-van projects as a project manager. In 2014, I switched to Broadcast Solutions as a bid and project manager. Here I went through different management roles, and in 2020 I was appointed as Director of Project Delivery. In this role I’m in charge of the overall project coordination at our headquarters in Germany. Throughout my career at Broadcast Solutions, I kept on managing projects myself until today.

I know that you have completed technical studies in the field. Is the knowledge you gained at the university useful in your present career?

The knowledge gained at university was a good basis for understanding broadcast technology. However, project management does not only require an understanding of the technology that is involved in a project. It also requires skills like managing the commercial aspects of a project, managing international teams or contract and change management. This is a never-ending learning process as every project comes with its particular challenges and with every project new experiences can be gathered that will be usefull for coming projects.

Besides your role as Director of Project Delivery you are still a project manager at Broadcast Solutions. What areas of the business are you responsible for?

The SI project manager is the main contact for the client’s project manager and is in charge of project coordination within Broadcast Solutions. The project manager takes care that the project is delivered on time, on budget, and in line with the quality standards that have been agreed upon. He works closely with the teams of all trades that are involved in the OB-van design and manufacturing. Besides audio and video, this includes mechanical construction, acoustics, power, and air conditioning. The project manager also acts as an escalation point for the project teams in case of upcoming issues.

How has OB truck technology changed over the recent years?

Broadcast technology has evolved a lot over the recent years. After the transition to UHD production formats in the baseband (SDI) world we faced the advent of standards for IP streaming technologies. New standards and protocols like SMPTE2110, PTP or NMOS came into play. Discreet video and audio connections between broadcast devices were replaced by IP network topologies. This technology change required new engineering skills from both, system integrators and end-users. Broadcast Solutions has always been an early adopter of new upcoming technologies and we always try to contribute to the shaping of such technologies from an SI, but also an end-user perspective.

You have completed many projects together with your team. What does the A to Z process of designing and construction of an OB truck look like?

Usually we start with a high-level design for both, the audio/video system that shall be integrated into a vehicle and also the vehicle itself. Once this high-level design is approved by the client the engineering teams start to develop the detailed design including detailed wiring diagrams, desk- and rack-layouts, mechanical drawings etc.. Once the design freeze has been accomplished the detailed design documentation will be handed over to our manufacturing teams. For the coachbuilding works we partner with several coachbuilders that fulfill our high expectations for the quality of workmanship. All of our partners have a vast track record in building outside broadcast vans of all sizes. The coachbuilders usually deliver only the empty vehicle shell. All interior finishing, cabling, furniture etc. is done at our own workshop in Germany.

Is the construction process divided into stages?

It is divided into stages, but there is an overlap between those stages in order to make the best use of the construction time as possible, because delivery time is always one of the main KPI’s of a project. As all manufacturing except the coachbuilding is done at our own workshop we are able to implement this streamlined manufacturing process.

What does the selection of technology look like for a particular truck? Could you give 
an example?

The selection of technology mainly depends on the production requirements, but of course the project budget always has to be taken into consideration as well. Aspects like customer preferences, the regional production environment, operator skills or local service support are important as well. For example, if an OB-van has to operate in the Middle East area with very high outside temperatures or in the Nordics with very low temperatures this needs to be thoroughly considered in the air conditioning concept from the very beginning.

Today’s transmission vans rely heavily on computer networks. What protocols and network devices do you use during the design process?

In mobile broadcasting units, the use of network technology is becoming increasingly important. Modern audio and video devices are mostly controlled via a web interface. Many control systems rely on the underlying network architecture and use it as a transport layer to communicate with audio and video devices. That’s why even baseband-based OB vans are already equipped with network components today.

Basically, Layer 2 protocols are used here to achieve line redundancy with the help of LACP. Layer 3 protocols like HSRP or VRRP provide redundant routing endpoints. Building upon this, many control systems utilize protocols like Ember+ or SWP08.

With the introduction of new production formats resolutions are increasing, and the number of transmitters and receivers is multiplying, requiring higher bandwidth for the transmission of audio, video, and control signals. In such fibre-optic network environments transmission is usually achieved through the use of high-bandwidth multicast data streams. IGMP and PIM ensure the subscribing and routing of multicast traffic between networks.

Another challenge lies in synchronizing audio and video signals. What used to be traditionally solved through Blackburst/Tri-level sync in the baseband-world is now addressed through PTP in the IP domain.

I am closely involved with sound issues so I would like to ask about this aspect. What are 
the most common consoles selected for OB trucks, and what does the audio equipment look like depending on the size of a vehicle?

Broadcast Solutions works closely together with all major manufacturers of broadcast audio consoles. The scaling of these systems depends on different aspects. Of course the type of productions is important in this context. Multi-language audio requirements will have a significant impact of course and last but not least the experience and habits of the operators play an important roles as well.

Sound is closely linked to acoustic adaptation. What do the acoustic measurements and 
the design of such a studio room look like?

Broadcast Solutions employs it’s own acoustic specialists. Depending on the acoustic requirements of a project specific measures have to be taken into consideration for the coachbuilding design in order to provide a proper basis for acoustic isolation. This includes the selected materials for the coachbuilding on the one hand, but also the way, how the coach is being constructed. This process continues when it comes to the interior fitting. Room layouts, materials for covering walls, floors and ceilings, encapsulated equipment racks and other aspects strongly contribute to a proper acoustic environment inside an OB-van.

One of your latest projects is a new IP-2 truck for SuperSport?

Yes, IP-2 was the second IP OB-van we delivered to our customer SuperSport in 2023. It is the smaller version of IP-1, which is the largest OB-van in terms of physical dimensions that Broadcast Solutions has ever built in its company history.

The IP-2 is 4.5 metres shorter. It is also considerably smaller than the IP-1 model. Does that make it more mobile?

Yes indeed, IP-2 has been designed for productions that require similar production capacities to IP-1, but need a smaller footprint of the production unit due to limited space at the venues.

How has it been equipped on the audio and video side?

IP-2 includes the following core equipment:

  • Sony HDC-3500 & HDC-5500 cameras
  • Fujinon lenses
  • Sony XVS-9000 video mixer
  • EVS XT-VIA replay servers
  • Broadcast Solutions hi human interface broadcast controller and network orchestration
  • Arista/Cisco network switches
  • Imagine Communications Selenio Network Processors
  • Riedel Virtu IP signal processing
  • Riedel Fusion gateways
  • Bridgetech VB440/Telestream MPS-200 video/audio measurement
  • Sony/Konvision video monitors
  • Telestream SPG-8000 Master Sync
  • Calrec Artemis audio console incl. ImPulse Core and stageboxes
  • Riedel Artist-1024 intercom
  • Genelec audio monitors

Using the IP-2 truck as an example, can you talk about the design process and the construction itself?

IP-2 is based on one of our Streamline concepts of OB-vans and has been tailored to SuperSport’s needs. The Broadcast Solutions Streamline family of OB-vans is a set of pre-defined OB-van concepts that Broadcast Solutions developed over the years based on more than 20 years of experience in building mobile production units for customers all over the world.

Communication technology looks very interesting Will you tell us a bit more about it?

The heart of the intercom system is a Riedel Artist-1024 frame equipped with 5 I/O cards. In combination with the 1200 series Smartpanels and the Riedel RiFace and Bolero radio systems, it provides a very powerful communication solution.

A smaller vehicle means less interior space for engineers and editors. But have you found 
a solution for that too?

Of course, workspaces in an OB-van are always a compromise in terms of space and comfort for the operators. But due to well proven layout and room concept with IP-2 we managed to keep the production power on a similar level like the much larger IP-1, while still providing a very good level of work comfort for the operators.

In which applications will the IP-2 truck be used most frequently?

IP-2 will be applied for all kind of major sports productions. One example is the Sunshine Golf Tour that requires a more compact vehicle than IP-1 in order to get to the golf courses.

Jakub Krzywak


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