Cobalt Digital Helps Make the Most of Monitoring Inside New High Rock Mobile Truck

Cobalt Digital Helps Make the Most of Monitoring Inside New High Rock Mobile Truck

by Barry H. Bennett, Owner and Chief Engineer, Bennett Systems Inc.

My company, Bennett Systems, specializes in large-scale mobile systems integration. Our staff has 40 years of combined experience in technology and integration. We’ve designed and built more large-scale mobile units than most other integrators combined. In fact, Bennett Systems has pioneered many of the systems in many of the largest trucks on the road today.

One of those trucks is High Rock 1, the first mobile production truck for High Rock Mobile Television, the new mobile-production arm of Carr-Hughes Productions. As a longtime packager and producer of some of the world’s biggest sports events, Carr-Hughes decided it was time to channel its expertise and resources into its own mobile unit.

High Rock 1 is essentially a full-fledged 53-foot expando “A” unit that fits into a smaller, 40-foot dual-expando box. Built initially to cover horseracing, High Rock 1 will eventually cover football, baseball, and other sports and entertainment events. In other words, it’s capable of handling the same events as its larger cousins, but with a smaller footprint.

High Rock 1 rolled out in late summer equipped with all the professional gear you’d expect to find in any large, high-end outside broadcast truck — including a Grass Valley switcher, a Utah Scientific router, a Calrec Artemis Light audio console, Sony cameras, and EVS replay and digital disks. Signal processing and monitoring comes courtesy of a full slate of Cobalt Digital distribution amplifiers, converters, frame sync/color correctors, and more. The engineer in charge can set up, maintain, and monitor nearly all equipment from a single network computer.

The centerpiece of the Cobalt system is a collection of 54 9970-QS  multi-image display processors that create a massive virtual monitor wall inside the truck. Each processor takes in five professional video feeds and outputs a single image to a monitor on the monitor wall. Thanks to this capability, the virtual monitor wall can be reconfigured to display any number of pictures of any size for any given show. The information displayed for each feed typically includes audio meters, video formats, tally/UMD information, and the display name of each feed from the system router. The very-low-latency Cobalt image processors provide the highest quality video so that operators can make decisions on every aspect of the production in real time.

I recommended Cobalt products for High Rock 1 because I’ve had very good success with them over many years and many builds. Cobalt’s designs have always been innovative, easy to use, and virtually problem-free. Also, I really like that all the Cobalt gear —multiviewers, display cards, distribution amplifiers, frame syncs, etc. — fits into the same card frame and can be monitored and controlled through a single software package. Being able to roll everything into card cages and software helps conserve real estate, which was especially important with High Rock 1 because we had to pack 53 feet of functionality into a 40-foot truck.

In addition, because Cobalt’s system is card-based, it’s easy to start small and build up to the size you need — flexibility that’s important when designing space-constrained production trucks. In High Rock’s case, that flexibility allows engineers to scale the monitor wall to make the most efficient use of the multiviewers without tying up space that could be better used elsewhere.

“We have been extremely happy with our Cobalt products. They have allowed our High Rock Mobile Television engineering teams to be very flexible in our setups for monitoring on our various productions and for our clients,” said Jim Carr, president of High Rock Mobile Television. “In addition, the gear has been easy for our staff to set up and understand and gives us the power to handle various levels of production. Cobalt’s customer service has been outstanding as well.”

Barry H. Bennett is the owner and chief engineer of Bennett Systems Inc. He founded the Sunbury, Ohio-based mobile-systems integration company more than 30 years ago. He can be reached at