Systems integrator Broadcast Solutions has built a new six-camera OB for WDR, the largest of Germany’s public broadcasters. The OB (Ü3), is at the heart of a new approach by WDR to multimedia production and is the first of a cross-media fleet of production tools.

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Broadcast Solutions: Inside WDR’s flexible new Ü3 OB

The compact vehicle has a well-thought-out room concept with eight flexible workstations and focuses on flexible production approaches with novel interconnectivity and the use of stageboxes.

During planning and implementation, WDR looked again at the function and application of a TV OB van, and it was designed in combination with two new radio OB trucks, also built by Broadcast Solutions.

The concept was based on creating a multimedia approach for OBs, reflecting how media production is changing. At the same time, WDR and Broadcast Solutions also had to take into account how Ü3 interacted with WDR’s other mobile production units (legacy and new, TV and radio).

The vehicle will primarily be used as a TV OB for smaller productions and is equipped with all necessary video and audio technology. In case the audio capacity (a Lawo mc256 console with currently 16 faders is installed) of Ü3 reaches its limits, perhaps at larger productions such as classical concerts, Ü3 can work in combination with a radio OB taking over the audio production. Ü3 will then work purely as a video production tool. In such situations, the entire audio production is outsourced and handled by the radio OB. The audio workplace in Ü3 can then be used for other activities.

Ü3 is built around a decentralised Riedel MediorNet UHD structure, which marks the first-ever use of the new UHD cores worldwide. Six of these devices are installed at different places within the vehicle. Another seven are mounted in stageboxes, which contain the camera CPUs as well as all audio, control and IP interfaces, and can be placed flexibly in the set or near the stage.

The cabling is done exclusively via fibre optics with Neutrik MTP12 connectors. Entire productions can be realised with just one cable coming from the back of the OB van – a second cable provides full redundancy. Ü3 and one of the radio OBs can be connected by the same system using one fibre optic cable and a Riedel MicroN running in the audio OB van.

All workstations within Ü3 are planned for maximum of flexibility. Tasks and teams can easily swap between workplaces and work can be distributed very flexibly.

To further ensure production flexibility and to maximise workplace and equipment utilisation, the team implemented the hi human interface control system, an in-house development from Broadcast Solutions. To support the flexible workstation concept and the unique camera/video/audio stageboxes, the hi system is claimed to offer many advantages. All system components and their configuration can be addressed and modified easily by WDR staff without the need for external support. WDR’s requirement for a vehicle that is IP- and UHD/HDR-ready is also supported and anticipated by the hi control system.