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Cosby And NEP: Innovating In Outside Broadcast

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Outside Broadcast unit builder Cosby is one of the longest-standing and most experienced coachbuilders in the UK. Founded in 1957 and run by engineers Raymond Duffin and his son Philip Duffin for many years, the business is now owned and operated by the management team.

Cosby has always been an engineering-led coachbuilder and moved into the specialist vehicle market in the late 1980s and then the outside broadcast sector in the 1990s, initially building SNG vans for BAF and Multipoint. Building a full range of broadcast vehicles including SNG, audio and rigid outside broadcast (OB) units for companies including Visions, Sony, Megahertz, WTS and Gearhouse Broadcast; it was with the progression to expanding OB units that Cosby’s engineering expertise came into its own.

In 2009 NEP Visions commissioned Cosby to build the Gemini trailers based on Cosby's unique external and internal double expanding design. The goal was to use the additional size and innovative design to do the job of three existing vehicles while increasing operational capability, reducing rigging and breakdown times and parking requirements, and increasing fuel efficiency.

At the time Steve Jenkins, Managing Director, NEP Visions, said: "The challenge was to move Outside Broadcasting forward, and to provide a feast of technological innovation and power framed in a new and exciting truck design. Gemini 1 and 2 are what superior technical design is about; they encapsulate the future and provide a fantastic addition to the NEP Visions fleet."

The completed HD units entered service in 2010 and had 130 m2 of floor space and support for 30 cameras initially delivering Premier League coverage for Sky Sports and going on to cover Wimbledon in 2011.

Cosby continued to build and improve its OB units over the next few years but in 2016 production peaked as a result of a fire at NEP’s Bracknell HQ which destroyed a number of large OB units including the Gemini pair. Over a two year period Cosby built 8 OB units for NEP including an initial interim unit completed in only 12 weeks.

In early 2018 NEP took delivery of two new rack-ready units from Cosby ready for wiring and fitting out. Based on the latest iteration of Cosby’s flagship OB design, they feature full wireless hydraulic deployment. Externally there is a coach-built CTP and power bay, rack access panels and four staff doors. Internally there are rooms for audio, production and engineering separated by fixed internal walls featuring sound-insulated wall panelling and oak-trimmed internal doors. Furniture is bespoke for each area with powered production monitor stacks adjustable in all directions.
NEP believes these units, which can support up to 32 staff on-board, create an industry benchmark for OB platform topology by delivering SMPTE ST 2110 support using Arista 7504 switches which provide ample data throughput and data linking capacity to realise NEP’s 'single virtual truck concept'. Rob Newton, NEP U'’s Engineering and Technical Director said: "This is the first time we’ve been able to effectively make our trucks larger - the only limit is the number of ports available on the switch.  We can put the truck in any location and connect multiple IP systems, be they our flypacks, our trucks or our media hubs, creating fully scalable and large broadcast system - the kind that you would only previously find in a fixed studio set up."

After initial shake-down tests the first major job for these two new units was to capture the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in UHD HDR.

For more information on Cosby’s Outside Broadcast units please contact the team on +44 116 286 2564 or by emailing
Solidmate Ltd Memory Card Hire London

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