Top Tech: OB equipment suppliers

Top Outside Broadcast technology suppliers in the spotlight.
Delivery & Transmission



EVS is one of the most well known names in outside broadcast. Several EVS units can be found in the Middle East, whether it’s for Al Jazeera Children’s Channel, ART in Saudi Arabia, Qatar TV or LIVE in Abu Dhabi.

EVS entered the OB van market with the idea of replacing the tape with its XT[2] production server combined with targeted software applications such as the well-known Multicam[LSM]. Several reasons have contributed to the success of this solution as the XT[2] allows rapid ingest of HD and SD feeds directly from the field under various market leading open encoding/decoding video/audio format. Its multicam [LSM] application complements the XT[2], and offers, besides the famous “slow motion replay” mode function, a full range of on-the-fly editing actions.

EVS’ CleanEdit Suite, an integrated software solution for highlights, news stories and live production and its IPDirector, a collection of video production management applications are also popular in this market. With EVS, customers have the choice of using a tapeless workflow, which provides cheaper and faster solutions to clients.


The company’s specialty is on-air graphics for TV. wTVision’s platform, which is fully configurable with over 90 different plug-ins, interfaces with real world devices such as timers, scoreboards, GPS positioning systems, SMS gateways and so on. The company focuses heavily on sport and does more than 1500 live sport broadcasts every year in over 40 different sports for a variety of broadcasters and audio visual producers around the world.


German company Lawo is well known in the OB world for its digital audio mixing consoles. One that is especially popular is the mc²56, with its diverse panning characteristics and multiple audio output formats.

With built-in redundancies for its PSUs, its DSP boards and its router board, the mc²56 is said to be a fail-safe live OB mixing console. Recently, the console was deployed in four new OB vehicles commissioned for the 2010 FIFA World Cup by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).


While there is increasing demand for professional, HD quality recording and LED coverage of public events, there is not always the budget to hire a TV OB van and no interest from a TV station to broadcast such events. However, there might be a need for documenting the event on video. To fulfill such requirements, TK-3 has designed a new OB-Van called the Small Event Van (SE-Van). 

Based on Sony’s PMW-EX3 cameras, TK-3’s SE-Van is a car dedicated to record and broadcast live small concerts, political and public meetings, sport events as well as small TV programmes in HD. The SE-Van is the smallest possible OB car based on the VW caddy design but is equipped with five cameras, related video and audio switchers as well as two recorders.

The objective is to minimise human intervention during live events and reduce the cost of technical resources. Two cameras are remotely controlled from the van by the video switcher operator. The new Sony switcher BRS-200 supports this feature. For audio recording, the van is equipped with six wireless mics and an audio switcher. Optionally, a three-channel Slomo system can be installed.

TK-3 developed a fibre-optic adaptor for the EX-3 cameras. This allows the HD video signal to be transmitted up to 1 km and is a useful feature to add to a low budget camera.

Recording is provided by two Sony tapeless XDCAM HD recorders.

Only two engineers are required to operate and set up the SE-Van, which is available off the shelf.
Expect to see the SE-Van at IBC 2009.


Calrec is one of the top console suppliers to Outside Broadcast facilities with 60 percent of HD trucks on the road in North America today using its systems. Its Alpha, Sigma, Omega and Zeta consoles are used in trucks worldwide. The large sports and entertainment trucks tend to prefer the larger Alpha console, although it was the addition of the Bluefin DSP which gave Calrec a further edge as it provided OB companies with significantly more power within a smaller space. The fact that any Alpha or Sigma digital console could be upgraded with Bluefin — without purchasing a new console — also struck a chord with our customers. The new OB van for Qatar TV (page 6) carries a Zeta console, the first digital Calrec console in an OB unit in the Middle East.


Sony is one of the most well known systems integrators in the Middle East with OB integration being a significant part of its business. See Page 8 on a recent Sony installation for Dubai Media Inc.


Megahertz Broadcast Systems (MHz) is a major independent player in the international broadcast systems integration business and has been in operation since 1985. From its inception, the integration of outside broadcast vehicles has been at the core of its activities. In fact searching through the archives reveals that MHz has completed over 150 vehicles of all shapes and sizes during that period.  The company’s production vehicles continue to operate worldwide — from the Middle East, South Africa and the Philippines to Sweden, the Czech Republic, UK and Ireland.

MHz not only designs and builds vans from scratch, but also delivers a significant return on investment (ROI) for customers with its phased refurbishment approach – for both fixed and mobile applications.


The key systems integrator for one of the biggest HD OB fleet in the Middle East undertaken for Abu Dhabi-based LIVE Broadcast Production and Facilities, Thomson is well known in the Middle East. Thomson works closely with its local systems integrator Tek Signals on most of its projects. The Grass Valley Professional Services and Integration Business Unit with its Competence Centre for OB Vans in Germany has an impressive track record  in building OB Vans and has to date delivered more than 1000 units to customers worldwide.

Thomson offers everything from consultation on up-to-date technology and system architecture and turnkey realisation to system design, integration and training.


ARET, a major provider of turnkey broadcast facilities, turnkey video and audio integrated systems for broadcast, cable, satellite, production/post production and mobile television, has delivered several OB vans to the Middle East.


A well known systems integrator, Tek Signals is one of the few companies that undertake integration of OB vans including air conditioning, satellite integration and equipment installation from within its factory in Abu Dhabi. Tariq Raja, managing partner of Tek Signals claims that Tek Signals has done at least 60 to 70% of the OB production units in the Middle East with clients including Duniya TV, Al Dafrah Music Channel, Al Kass & Al Dawri as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jeddah among others.

Raja justifies the company’s decision to do some of the integration locally stating that often European integrators are not aware of the harsh desert conditions in which the OB vans have to operate.

“We do the air conditioning locally because we have better service providers here who can respond immediately if there is a problem. Many of the systems coming from Europe cannot withstand the heat. We do coach building in the US but we do most of the electrical systems locally and we have the facilities to undertake this integration,” Raja adds.


Well known in the Middle East, Ikegami’s popular models for the Middle East market are the HL 65W (SD cam) and the HDK 79 EX3 camera. Ikegami cameras were deployed most recently in a high profile HD van installation for Al Dafrah TV in Abu Dhabi.


Visions is one of the major OB facilities companies in the UK with more than 25 years of experience in this field. Visions has one of Europe’s most extensive range of OB and production facilities including a fleet of 20 trucks that also comprise edit facilities, OB fly-pack units, production  and studio facilities.

It has helped with the production of several premier events in the world of broadcasting including three Olympic Games, football and rugby World Cups, the Asian Games, Premier League and the Champions League Football.


Fujinon has a wide variety of lenses that are used to capture different types of sport. Its XA101x8.9BESM-SK and XA  88x8.8BESM-SK lenses incorporate the manufacturer’s Precision Focus assist system to cover fast paced action or moving sport and both include a built-in stabilisation system.

The XA  76x9.3BESM also comes with a built-in stabilisation system). On the ENG side, the HA13x4.5BERD is the ideal wide-angle lens, while the HA16x6.3BERD is a new standard 2 in 1 lens, where the user has to carry only one lens instead of one wide and one telephoto.

The optional Precision Focus (PF) and optical stabilisation systems support camera operators by instantly acquiring perfect focus. The manufacturer has found great success throughout Europe among clients whom have utilised the PF system in live production environments.

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