Sure Shot Transmissions is a mobile production and satellite services outfit with offices located in New York, Dallas, and Youngstown, Ohio. Last fall, owner Dennis Kunce added a fourth 40′ full-service expandable truck to its offerings. The Cynthia Lee, outfitted with DiGiCo’s SD10B console, will handle sporting and entertainment events under the direction of EIC Kory Loy. Kunce picked the SD10B based on a recommendation from one of the audio principals at ESPN, as the console has been a mainstay in X Games’ submix trucks for the past several years at events around the globe.
Since hitting the road back in September, the Cynthia Lee has made its debut handling install feeds at a host of high-profile events including the 39th Ryder Cup for the UK’s Sky Sports News, the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship and the Daytona 500 for ESPN in the U.S., as well as the 2013 Super Bowl for Nippon TV in Japan. The console’s ability to interface with the other trucks via MADI and fiber networks, as well as its easy learning curve, made it a natural fit for these fast-paced events.
“Our intention when we built the truck was to meet ESPN’s need for a mid-level production truck; one that was more like a 6-8 camera production rather than the typical 10-15 one,” explains Sure Shot owner, Dennis Kunce. “We worked closely with ESPN to determine what audio board would be suitable for them in this specific application and DiGiCo is what they recommended and gave us their blessing. The people at DiGiCo worked with us to meet our price point to stay within the budget. But more importantly, the SD10B’s footprint, versatility, and power—all those things came into play in our decision. DiGiCo was also very supportive with their training; they came to our facility in Ohio and worked with Kory and our chief engineer Scott Tucker to show us the things needed to make the board workable out in the field. You’ve got to have a console that is very user-friendly or else you’re in trouble and the DiGiCo console offers us the kind of flexibility and versatility we have to have as an independent contractor working with all the major networks including NBC, Fox, Turner, ESPN, Sky Sports… right down the line. The exposure we’re getting by having the board in our truck has been very positive. Overall, it has been a very positive experience across the board.”
“As the engineer in charge of the mobile unit,” explains Loy, “I’m tasked with ensuring that all the pieces of equipment in the truck are up and running for the freelance crew to operate—everything from the audio console to the video switchers to the cameras. So, even though I’m not one of the hands-on operators at these events, I do have to train, or at least show the different operators how to use the console, with only a couple days training. A lot of our events are setup, shoot and strike and in a single, 10-hour day and I’ve got to give individuals that have never operated the console before a generic overview in 45 minutes to an hour time before I have to move on to doing other functions in the truck. And I believe I’m able to do that rather well because the console is very easy to use.”
This spring, Sure Shot will be covering a host of major league baseball and basketball events for the major networks and ESPN, as well events as for the NHK channel in Japan. “We will be handling a lot of split feeds for them, the same thing as we did for the Super Bowl,” Loy says. “Nippon TV operator Shuhei Anraku took generic feeds from the NFL, supplemented by several of their own cameras, to create and produce their own game with their own announcers, which was fed to the broadcast headquarters in Japan.”
Loy says the fact that everything can connect via fiber is a huge bonus for them. “Another benefit is that the console is scalable, you can literally have as many inputs/outputs as you want. So, if we ever find a need for more ins or outs, we can add a few and connect them via fiber. Having MADI available in and out (the SD10 has 2 MADI ins and 2 MADI outs), also makes it very flexible to integrate either into a router or an intercom system. Another added benefit of DiGiCo is being able to assign any input to any fader on the console.”
For Janice Stief, a 30-year audio veteran who has worked on sporting and entertainment events ranging from the Olympics to the most recent Ryder Cup in the Sure Shot truck, this was her first outing on a DiGiCo of any variety. “I was handling cut-ins for the Sky Sports news show back in London. I had about 8-10 mics set up around the course, from stick and RF mics to in-studio lavalieres. I was handling EVS inputs into my console for playbacks, as well as program feeds from NBC and the world feed, which added up to about 36-40 inputs on the console in addition to mikes I was controlling. Prior to getting started, I was given a quick tutorial from Kory, who was fantastic and very knowledgeable. There’s a lot to the console that clearly you have got learn over time; you can’t learn it all on one show. It has a lot of depth. I liked that once I would attention a fader, I could do most of my adjustments to that fader input right from the corresponding touchscreen strip, without moving to other areas of the console. Adding delay, which we often need to do on golf in order to sync up on-air talent to RF cameras, is quick and easy.”
“I think the neatest feature of the DiGiCo SD10B is the ability to have MADI interfacing to the trucks and Optocore to the SD Racks,” adds Shawn Peacock, who was the main console operator for the Daytona 500 and has worked with DiGiCo consoles on several X Games events in Los Angeles. “The ability for us to talk across MADI in these situations is huge.”
Ultimately, however, the measure of a good manufacturer goes beyond that of its gear, and Loy says DiGiCo’s customer support is stellar. “When every single thing in the truck is a computer, chances are stuff is going to fail. It’s how a manufacturer supports its products after the gear is sold and installed that gives a good or bad impression. DiGiCo’s training and customer service in that area is exceptional.”