Columbus – our US-based mobile unit – is about to enter its second year of operation. Launched in April 2017, it is the first mobile unit to feature a full 4K monitor wall, ‘one button’ hydraulic deployment and integrated RF, among other unique attributes.
Columbus was designed and built for 4K/UHD sports and entertainment productions, and employs a virtual management system to control complex signal flow. The unit also has a second control room for digital streaming, additional languages and image magnification.
Columbus reinforces our commitment to serving the North American market, and augments our wide range of existing offerings for broadcasters, studios, networks and production companies throughout the US, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Developed with specific needs of the US market in mind, the unit is IP-ready and equipped with 24 Boland 4K monitors in the main control room monitor wall – driven either as quad splits or single input 4K monitors from the main router – giving total flexibility in HD or 4K. It also features 16 Sony HDC-4300 4K/HD cameras, with the capability to add an additional six RF cameras or a further four Sony HDC-4300s. Hitachi SK-HD1200 camera systems will be deployed for applications outside of 4K.
Columbus’ master systems control (VSM) gives operators ultimate control, and maximum flexibility, with wi-fi tablets available to control and assign sources and monitoring in the various operational areas, including the monitor wall. This facilitates the initial set-up of the unit for production, and allows the operators to easily make changes during production with a single touch, rather than having to re-route video, audio and control features independently.
Columbus was built by renowned specialist coachbuilder A Smith of Great Bentley (ASGB Ltd), under the supervision of Gearhouse’s System Integrations team. It’s spacious and air-conditioned, and operators can even change the level and colour of the interior lighting scheme. We intentionally loaded Columbus with multi-format video and audio capabilities, so directors, producers, engineers and operators can work with ease and in a comfortable environment. For high-pressure, live broadcast situations, this truck gives productions the ability to adapt quickly: the unit is automatically deployed and levelled via remote-controlled hydraulics, with no physical intervention required, and its technologically advanced infrastructure provides every level of service broadcasters need.
Not long after its debut, Columbus was put to the test at a major event in downtown LA. That weekend saw one of the biggest storms to hit Southern California in over a decade. But despite being hammered by high winds and torrential rain, there wasn’t a drop of water anywhere on the inside of the unit, and production continued as normal. Columbus performed beyond expectations, proving our design and technical expertise are a force to be reckoned with – even when up against Mother Nature.