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NNPS-TV prepares small truck for big things

NNPS-TV Broadcast Engineer Greg Lesko has been building out the smaller TV production truck, which was donated by WVEC.
Photos by Beth Scott

NNPS-TV's production team goes on shoots at all the NNPS schools all the time, recording video and cutting it together into shows like "This Just In" and "School Board Spotlight." But generally they do not broadcast live or do many multi-camera productions, but that may change in the near future.

With a small-scale TV truck donated by WVEC (13News Now), NNPS-TV will be able to expand its capabilities, and the "wheels are spinning" as to what that might entail.

NNPS-TV Station Manager Jim Anklam envisions having a "multi-camera vehicle ready if we want to not only record an event, but perhaps go live with it."

He plans to be able to live stream on the internet using the truck and also possibly broadcast on live TV (Cox Channel 47/Verizon FiOS Channel 17, Roku and Apple TV) as well.

What's more, Anklam notes, "we are designing it so we can bring students into the process of production."

"How great of a teaching tool would this be," he said, "to show students right at their school."

NNPS-TV got the truck - a 2008 General Motors vehicle - a couple of years ago. Little by little, as the budget allows, NNPS-TV Broadcast Engineer Greg Lesko has been fixing and refurbishing it to make it an up-to-date TV production truck and a rolling classroom.

First of all, of course, it needed to be road worthy.

"The transportation department mechanics at the SCOT Center had it for a month," said Lesko.

The brake lines had failed and the fuel lines, too, he said. Both had to be replaced and because GM doesn't make those parts anymore, the mechanics had to make them themselves.

A new fuel pump was installed and other repairs were done to get the truck up to proverbial and literal speed.

"Now we can begin the build," said Lesko.

He has designed the system he wants to build in the truck using CAD software called "WireCAD," which he learned to use at a workshop at an NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) trade show.

"It's much easier to make changes on paper" than in the truck, he said.

Lesko says the truck will be UHD — Ultra-High-Definition — compatible, meaning 4K resolution-capable.

The smaller TV truck will be easier to deploy.

Building the truck with the latest technology means it won't have to be upgraded anytime soon.

The truck may be used to teach and inspire young students who work on their school's morning shows, or to instruct older students interested in communications but not enrolled in NNPS Telecom classes. It could also be used for special news reporting from a school site.

"We are testing the waters with events streaming on the internet," Anklam said, "and we can record it and air it on TV."

NNPS-TV's current TV production truck is a customized media truck that is very large — 30 feet long. It has about one foot of clearance in the parking area under the Hampton Coliseum when it's used for graduations. That truck is used solely by Telecom students, the instructional staff, and their broadcast team.

Prior to that truck, NNPS-TV had an old Winnebago that was configured as a TV truck. It was used in tandem with a microwave van, which was necessary for the television signal, so it was a huge undertaking to go out and broadcast with it.

"This is a smaller vehicle and it takes less to get it up and running," Anklam said, "so it will be something we can send out a little more easily."

"Of course, it's a completely additional thing to add to the work flow," he noted. "We have to see if it is feasible, and once feasible, we need to make it practical."

NNPS-TV's quick response vehicle:

Lesko inspects the Input/Output panel. Lesko adjusts the componants.