Industry veteran will leverage his extensive business and technology experience to transform the company into a solutions provider for the content creation market
New York, NY, January 23, 2019 —CP Communications, a leader in innovative solutions and services for live event productions, has appointed Jerry Gepner as Chief Operating Officer. Reporting to CEO Kurt Heitmann, Gepner will drive strategic and business development efforts to help transform the company into a broader media-centric solutions provider that goes beyond its core broadcast focus.
CP Communications has long been an industry leader in RF content acquisition for live production. The company provides services and solutions for many of world’s largest annual sports and live broadcast events, including the World Series, Super Bowl and the U.S. Open, the annual open championship of golf.
Gepner’s appointment comes at a time of aggressive growth for CP Communications, including an increased focus on IP, cloud solutions and bonded cellular technologies for content acquisition and streaming using its Red House Streaming solutions. Gepner will oversee the continued development of the Red House Streaming solutions offering, including the addition of new services and technologies that serve a broader array of platforms and customers.
“The broadcast and production industry’s acceleration towards an IP infrastructure has opened new business models and opportunities for content producers and distributors, as well as suppliers and service providers,” said Gepner. “CP Communications has provided content acquisition services for broadcasters at the premier level for three decades, and is well-positioned to spread its expertise into adjacent markets. My background in senior management, finance, technology, and services, including a strong awareness of marketplace dynamics, offers the tools we need to collaboratively grow the CP Communications business with our employees, customers and partners.”
Gepner brings extensive experience to his new role, with proven success in creating and implementing transformative strategies for mid-sized technology businesses. He has held diverse executive-level positions of increasing responsibility with industry suppliers, broadcast networks and service providers over nearly three decades. This includes several years as EVP Field Operations and Engineering for FOX Sports, and CEO of The Vitec Group’s Services Division. He most recently served as CEO of Tekserve and T2 Computing, which were acquired by Axispoint, Inc. in 2017.
Gepner is also a successful entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of Sportvision, the Silicon Valley company that created products ubiquitous in televised sports today. Sportvision, acquired by SMT in 2016, created innovations that include First & Ten®, the virtual first down line used in American football, Racef/x®, the GPS-based auto tracking and data systems for NASCAR, and the Emmy-winning K-Zone® for baseball broadcasts. He is also a five-time Emmy Award winner for technical excellence in sports production.
“Jerry’s impressive track record demonstrates the rare ability to transform niche businesses, opening them to a broader marketplace, leveraging new technologies, business strategies, and organizational structures to build something new and exciting,” said Heitmann. “We’re pleased to welcome him to CP Communications in this important role as he helps to lead the company into its next era of growth and profitability.”
About CP Communications
For more than three decades, CP Communications has provided high-quality, cost-effective live event production solutions to major broadcasters, sports leagues and teams, and event and production companies. Our solutions include access to experienced professionals, state of the art equipment, and innovative technologies and techniques for wireless audio & video content acquisition, transport and delivery. Our culture of innovation, coupled with the highest quality assurance standards and passion for customer service, promote collaboration with our clients to determine the best custom solution for each live event, whether it’s the U.S. Open, Super Bowl, World Series, Kentucky Derby, Tony Awards, or a political convention, corporate conference, fashion show, parade or marathon. CP Communications offers six HDRF Mobile Production trucks, two ENG Vans, five motorcycles, and a full-service machine shop, and offers a custom design for each event from box rentals through to turnkey production solutions.
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First & Ten®, Racef/x® and K-Zone® are all registered trademarks of SMT, Inc.
Specialized smart cars with content acquisition and streaming technologies play key role in achieving 100 percent video and audio coverage through the five boroughs
New York, NY, November 28, 2018 — CP Communications, a leader in innovative solutions and services for complex live event productions, and its just-launched Red House Streaming business unit took to the streets of New York City on November 4 to manage end-to-end content acquisition for the TCS New York City Marathon. The crew achieved 100 percent video and audio coverage of the men’s and women’s races across all five boroughs, unleashing a comprehensive IP and bonded cellular network across the 26.2-mile race course for the first time.
The IP content acquisition strategy utilized four Smart® cars, four motorcycles, and other special motorized systems (including two POV wheelchairs) outfitted with cameras and Mobile Viewpoint bonded cellular solutions. These were all networked for transport to CP Communications’ flagship HD-21 RF truck. All signals were received and processed on HD-21 before being passed to the NEP ESU broadcast trucks at the finish line, which produced world feed uplinks as well as local and national television feeds.
Now in its 48thyear, the TCS New York City Marathonis considered the largest marathon in the world, with more than 50,000 participants in this year’s race. Starting in Staten Island, the racers wound their way through Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx before finishing in Manhattan at the southern edge of Central Park.
According to CP Communications CEO Kurt Heitmann, his team took into consideration areas with cellular coverage challenges along the course, particularly where large spectator crowds could potentially overtax cellular networks. In addition to areas near the crowded starting line, cellular coverage was expected to be challenging along the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge heading into Brooklyn. These required careful attention to ensure no video and audio signals were lost.
“The core of our operation comprised three main sites; at the starting line in Bay Ridge, near the Millennium Hotel in Manhattan and at the finish line. In addition we had three highly robust unilateral IP streaming sites in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan. We utilized nearly 600 unique IP addresses from Brooklyn through the Bronx coupled with a MIMO mesh network across the Verrazano Bridge to backfeed internet to our Smart® cars and deliver intercom as well as other services,” said Heitmann. “We added COFDM traditional microwave receivers to get the coverage we needed off of the bridge, due to the limited cellular coverage, and deployed COFDM near the finish line for the same reason. That safeguarded our operation for the first and last mile of the race, in the event that limited cellular coverage caused the signals to drop.
“We were extremely pleased that the strength of the network architecture allowed us to stay purely in IP through to the finish line after crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge,” he continued. “In the end, we carried bi-directional video and bi-directional audio from 11 cameras and 240 intercom ports over IP and bonded cellular, with Mobile Viewpoint solutions providing the robust compression we needed to optimize bandwidth and deliver exceptional video quality. This was a first for the New York City Marathon, and a big step up from our past coverage strategies.”
Live event production expert brings RF, IP and Wi-Fi technologies together to cover competitive tournament finals at PAX West 2018 gaming convention
New York, NY, October 24, 2018 — CP Communications, a leader in innovative solutions and services for complex live event productions, leveraged the power of RF and IP convergence to bring the final events of Epic Games’ Fortnite Summer Skirmish competitive series to gaming fans worldwide. The four-day series, broadcast live from the PAX West 2018 gaming convention at Washington State Convention Center, was live-streamed to the official Fortnite Twitch.tv channel and social media platforms worldwide.
CP Communications brought its flagship HD-21 RF truck to Seattle as a central point to manage signal acquisition, distribution and transmission between a gaming competition room, an outside production set with live announcers and a large projection screen, and an NEP outside broadcast truck. Upon evaluating options, the CP team brought the best of its technical capabilities to architect a highly-efficient networked architecture of convergent RF, IP and Wi-Fi systems.
“Our first step was to use all available UHF spectrum in the 600 band to develop a single-frequency network, mainly for the purpose of low-latency return video,” said Kurt Heitmann, CEO, CP Communications. “The single-frequency network architecture makes it possible to achieve return video for wide-area networks that can’t be covered with one transmitter. Similar to what is taking shape in over-the-air TV and radio networks, the transmitters automatically set their power output levels based on their GPS locations. This enables signal overlap across more than one transmitter without interference, and optimizes coverage. All return video was delivered to video monitors on the set and the RF cameras in real-time — a critical need in live broadcasting.”
CP’s RF infrastructure included Eurotek transmitters, with one inside and one outside to support return video paths for camera feeds. A total of seven RF cameras operated in the 3GHz bandwidth range, with three fixed cameras and one jib camera used for signal acquisition on the outside production set. The remaining three cameras, two handhelds and a Steadi-cam, captured the action on the gaming set inside the convention center.
To extend networking capabilities, the CP team deployed a variety of IP and wireless mesh network technologies to carry paint control for camera color correction, broadcast-quality graphics, and bi-directional intercom and video sources. A total of 16 audio channels were embedded within four video streams.
Heitmann notes that this project represented the value that CP Communications team brings in “connecting the engineering dots,” and making use of all available tools, technologies and topologies available today for mission-critical live production and transmission.
“We started with a more traditional microwave setup for video, and then merged that with an IP and mesh network from the rooftop down,” said Heitmann. “We used an RTS RVON Voice over IP system for intercom at 5.8GHz, and passed high-quality video graphics over two Pico 38GHz IP links. And we integrated all of these systems into a singular architecture that took advantage of all available frequencies and applicable networking platforms, allowing us to capture the entire tournament and all associated commentary through to the last man standing.”
NEW YORK–Live events production company CP Communications has hired Ken Dillard, a 30-year broadcast veteran as its new vice president of North American sales. Dillard comes to CP from IP-based live video solutions provider TVU Networks, where he served nearly three years as vice president of sales, North America. Before that, he held senior sales management roles at Dejero, Statmon Technologies Group and Harris Corporation, as well as Avid, where he gained insights into the unique needs of news production operations.
Dillard’s first duty is to help its industry partner Mobile Viewpoint, a Netherlands’ based provider of IP transport solutions strengthen its presence in the North American market. Along with providing Mobile Viewpoint products on a standalone basis, CP Communications’ Red House Streaming division will also develop solutions and services powered by Mobile Viewpoint’s products.
“CP Communications has thrived for more than 30 years primarily based on word-of-mouth, growing our business through referrals based on the confidence our customers have in us,” said Kurt Heitmann, CEO of CP Communications. “It’s exciting to think how much further we can take our company with the addition of a sales leader of Ken’s caliber, proactively bringing new problem-solving offerings to our customers while delivering the same level of service they expect from CP Communications. Ken’s established industry relationships and background in bonded cellular, streaming and newsgathering make him the ideal person to build our Mobile Viewpoint business and help our customers bring IP-based media transport into their operations.”
CP Communications, a leader in innovative solutions and services for complex live event productions, returned to the annual All-Star Game this month for the 18th consecutive year, with an expanded RF transmission presence that stretched far beyond the core nine innings.
CP Communications this year brought a crew of 27 — its largest yet to support the All-Star Game, which brings together baseball’s greatest players from the National and American Leagues — and its RFHD7 53’ production truck to Nationals Park in Washington DC. The truck served as the central communications and distribution point for each client and system involved in the broadcasts and events.
As in past years, the CP Communications team once again expertly managed and coordinated all RF activities for the global All-Star Game, network studio shows, the Home Run Derby, and a Red Carpet Show. Additionally, and for the first time, CP Communications provided RF support for various digital and streaming productions. The company also provided a production kit for PLAY Ball Park, an adjacent venue that served a free interactive center during All-Star Week with baseball celebrity appearances, adult baseball and softball games, youth tournaments, batting cages
Live event production expert’s expanded presence across various broadcasts and events included its largest All-Star Game crew to date, and a broader technical architecture that added new technologies – Four of the nine parabolic dishes and more.
“The events surrounding the All-Star Game are different each year depending on each client’s needs, which results in strategic adjustments in crew and technology,” Michael Mason, president of CP Communications. “With RFHD7 as our resource distribution center, our 27-member crew worked hard to meet intensive scheduling deadlines across multiple venues, and eliminate disruptions in the RF spectrum that would adversely affect signal quality. The latter included clearance of 420 RF frequencies for wireless communications alone.”
The complete RF infrastructure across all events and venues included 50,000 feet of fiber-optic cable to support multiple camera feeds (including 14 RF camera feeds), video monitors, data communications, transmission links and an extensive Dante networking solution from Audinate among other systems. Dante networks were used across several events to carry digital intercom, IFB, and microphone feeds, with a separate headend to support analog audio needs.
The technical infrastructure employed much of the same equipment as in previous years on a larger scale. However, CP Communications this year added a Pliant CrewCom intercom system for productions associated with the Home Run Derby, as well as All-Star Game ceremonies included the National Anthem, God Bless America and the 7th Inning Stretch.
“The Pliant system enabled us to provide a much wider area of coverage,” said Mason. “The antennas in this system run data streams over Cat5, which gives it a lighter architecture that is very easy to deploy overall. We deployed antennas across several positions to maximize coverage, and even integrated all communications carried over Pliant with scoreboard control operations.”
Other specific highlights of the RF transmission infrastructure include:
Two RF cameras, 39 RF microphones and an EFX audio-submix package for Fox Sports’ All-Star Game and Media Day video/audio needs
Nine parabolic dishes and 80 RF radios for Fox Sports’ All-Star Game and Media Day communications requirements
Four RF cameras, six Sennheiser head-worn microphones and six stereo RF IFBs for the ESPN Home Run Derby production and Baseball Tonight onsite studio show
Twenty RF microphones (eight player, eight EFX, four handheld with talkback, and four in-ground) and four RF IFBs for the Home Run Derby production
RF Steadicam, handheld and batting cage POV cameras for network pre- and post-show productions
Dante Audio over IP networks for the All-Star Game, Media Day, Red Carpet Show and network pre- and post-show productions, carrying Shure Axient Digital and other 1.4 GHz microphone feeds
A Sony 4300 RF handheld camera for live streamed productions, with a WaveCentral integrated transmitter and paint receiver
Beyond Dante, Mason and his team also employed MADI and analog audio networks depending on each client’s infrastructure. “By keeping everything in the digital realm as often as possible, we eliminate the problems that haunt analog audio such as cable management, power distribution, and hum and buzz. However, we’re always fully prepared to work with any client’s infrastructure across analog and digital.”
About CP Communications
For more three decades, CP Communications has provided high-quality, cost- effective live event production solutions to major broadcasters, sports leagues and teams, and event and production companies. Our solutions include access to experienced professionals, state of the art equipment, and innovative technologies and techniques for wireless audio & video content acquisition, transport and delivery. Our culture of innovation, coupled with the highest quality assurance standards and passion for customer service, promote collaboration with our clients to determine the best custom solution for each live event, whether it’s the U.S. Open, Super Bowl, World Series, Kentucky Derby, Tony Awards, or a political convention, corporate conference, fashion show, parade or marathon. CP Communications offers six HDRF Mobile Production trucks, two ENG Vans, five motorcycles, and a full-service machine shop, and offers a custom design for each event from box rentals through to turnkey production solutions.
27-person crew handled 14 RF cameras, 50,000 ft. of fiber, comms connectivity
By Jason Dachman, Chief Editor SVG
CP Communications has been a staple at MLB All-Star Games for many years, but the company set a new bar with its largest presence ever at the event in Washington this week. Running out of CP’s RF7 mobile unit, the 27-person crew rolled out 14 total RF cameras for MLB, Fox Sports, and ESPN; laid down a whopping 50,000 ft. of fiber; and provided full communications connectivity to all clients via Omneo, Dante, and/or analog headend.
“This is by far our biggest All-Star [presence] ever,” says CP Communications President Michael Mason. “With the addition of all the new things MLB Network has taken on this year, it has been a big increase. And we also have so many clients on top of that. Between all the different shows — the game, Home Run Derby, red carpet, [MLB] digital shows, the communications for the league itself — we’re really all over the place here. Trying to wrangle all [the clients] together, get all their needs lined up, and then deliver it all on time is no small task, but we’re up to it.”
In addition to providing a full arsenal of equipment at All-Star, CP Communications handled RF coordination for all events at Nationals Park.
“RF in this town is no picnic,” adds Mason. “The RF Coord team cleared more than 420 frequencies for wireless mics, IFB, and PLs. And that number does not include any of the high-power comms or RF-camera frequencies.”
MLB Network Growth Gives Boost to CP Communications’ Ops
MLB Network’s expanded role at All-Star this year meant a major expansion for CP Communications as well. The company not only supplied equipment for the network’s studio shows, Red Carpet Show, and world-feed production as it has in the past but also provided equipment for Play Ball Park (across the street from Nationals Park), MLB’s digital productions, and MLB Properties.
MLB Network’s onsite pre/postshow productions at All-Star featured an RF Steadicam (shared with Red Carpet Show), an RF handheld (shared with the world feed), and RF batting-cage POVs (two Flare cams). CP also managed the Dante audio network for control of the main set on field and a secondary set on the concourse, four high-power PL (HPPL) two-way intercoms, 12 channels of digital repeater, and approximately 100 radios. CP also provided Shure Axient digital mics for MLBN’s Red Carpet Show (along with the Dante audio network and 1.4-GHz mics) and Play Ball Park.
In addition, CP served the MLB Digital shows with an RF handheld (with Wave Central integrated transmitter and paint receiver on a Sony HDC-4300 camera head) and MLB Properties with a Pliant CrewCom system for coverage of the Home Run Derby. The wide-area coverage was integrated with ESPN and the Nationals scoreboard control and further integrated with Fox for the All Star Game.
Plenty of Gear on Hand for Fox Sports, ESPN
For Fox Sports’ All-Star Game and Media Day efforts, CP provided a pair of RF cams (a MōVI with a Sony P1r and a Sony HDC-2500 handheld), the field EFX audio-submix package, 39 RF mics (four talent, six player, two ump, eight FX, three bases, and 16 in-ground), nine parabolic dishes, three HPPLs, and 80 radios for comms.
ESPN was once again a major client for CP at All-Star, its Home Run Derby production using four RF cameras (shared with the Baseball Tonight onsite studio show), eight RF player mics, eight RF EFX mics, four RF handheld mics with talkback, four RF IFBs, and four in-ground microphones. In addition, both the Home Run Derby set and the Baseball Tonight set required six Sennheiser head-worn microphones and six stereo RF IFBs (Baseball Tonight also used a Clear-Com Freespeak comms system with four beltpacks). Pardon the Interruption was onsite for live shows on the field, using four Sennheiser head-worn microphones and four wired IFB listen boxes.
For ESPN Deportes, CP Communications provided an RF handheld mic with talkback, an RF IFB, four Sennheiser head-worn microphones, four Studio Technologies announce consoles, and a wireless PL.
A significant contributor to the production team the past three years, this year marked the first time that CP Communications was entrusted with all RF transmission responsibilities. This included the management of 34 RF cameras, including five RF 4K HDR transmitters for live broadcasts by Fox Sports. CP Communications also managed three RF X-Mo cameras for slow-motion and on-air playback, one RF Stedi-cam, and four (of 21 total) HD cameras reserved for Sky, TV Asahi, and other international broadcasters.
“The sheer scale and enormity of the U.S. Open inspired Fox Sports, the domestic rights holder and primary broadcaster for the event, to split RF responsibilities among two vendors in previous years,” says Kurt Heitmann, CEO, CP Communications. “This year, all acquisition responsibilities previously assigned to another vendor were transitioned to CP Communications, based on our proven track record and recent enhancements of our 4K production capabilities.”
As the sole RF vendor, CP Communications also managed 38 miles of fiber, a MIMO mesh control system for entire course coverage — the largest-ever mesh deployment for golf — and an extensive Dante audio network from Audinate with 56 RF intercom channels (using an RTS ADAM system) and 40 RF microphones across 18 holes. Additionally, the team handled all signal distribution, routing, and troubleshooting between three CP Communications mobile trucks, two broadcast compounds, and a remote RF Communications Center.
CP Communications brought its flagship HD-11 and HD-21 RF production trucks and its RF8 Fiber B-Unit truck, which accommodated Fox’s fiber-optic and communications systems, to this year’s event. The two RF production trucks were positioned adjacent to each other in the main broadcast center, where Fox Sports produced more than 40 hours of live, unique content across four channels each day to broadcasters in more than 140 countries. A split compound strategy was utilized this year, divided by a distance of over 3000 feet, to provide more space for Fox Sports oncourse technologies and staff. The remote RF Communications Center was set up near Hole 13 for managing and routing intercom channels and other audio — including 600 portable radios across more than 40 channels all tied back to the two broadcast compounds.
Brad Cheney, VP of Field Operations and Engineering for Fox Sports, notes that CP Communications’ continued investment in technology and personnel were paramount to the success of a live sports production of this scale.
“CP Communications has worked with us since the start of the USGA on FOX to advance the way we see, hear and interconnect systems to provide the most compelling multiplatform content for our viewers. CP’s continued investment in 1080p HDR and now 4K HDR transmission systems enabled another large step forward in image quality for viewers,” says Cheney. “We were able to receive multiple 3Gb/s signals across a single fiber. This allowed us to push 4K/HDR forward without incurring additional costs or time, while having the same full camera control via their IP mimo-mesh control network. This was the first show that I’m aware of that used five 4K/HDR RF cameras simultaneously for live production. We knew we were pushing the limits, and if you’re going to do that you need to have the right people to help you adapt these new technologies in real time.”
Both HD-11 and HD-21 featured RF routers with a fiber interface to allow the trucks to work in conjunction with each other. Each truck also applied MultiDyne VF-9000 fiber transmission platforms to natively accept 3Gb/s (4K) and HD camera feeds over RF from Sony cameras in the field. The signals remained in pure RF across the entire architecture before being handed to the Fox Sports team in raw form.
Heitmann ensured that he had a specific crew on top of monitoring and troubleshooting given the advanced technologies and large-scale infrastructure in place. “With the 4K cameras operating in 64QAM and running 32MB/s, we were managing a very large data payload to enable the best possible 4K and HDR pictures,” he says. “If we noticed a trailing effect in the motion of a golf swing, for example, we adjusted the data rate down to 28MB/s so that the Wave Central RF encoders and decoders could keep up with the movements, and better manage the payload.”
He continues, “There will always be glitches in live production, but we achieved complete coverage with very minimal flaws. This was a mission-critical, high-pressure event that dwarfed the Super Bowl in RF infrastructure, and we are proud to have played such a significant role.”
By SVG Staff
In an effort to reduce configuration headaches and strengthen connections for fiber-optic transport in live event production, CP Communications has purchased and installed multiple VF-9000 bulk fiber transport systems from MultiDyne Fiber Optic Solutions. Installed in their flagship HD-11 and HD-21 RF production trucks, the VF-9000s solve the per-show scalability, performance and technical limitations of their previous fiber solutions.
The VF-9000 enables a host of new technical services for CP Communications, including support for native 3Gb/s signal transport on HD-11 and HD-21. 3Gb/s transport is a requirement for the high-profile sports productions that CP Communications routinely handles for FOX, NBC and The Golf Channel. The VF-9000 allows CP Communications to natively accept 3Gb/s camera feeds over RF into its fiber transmission infrastructure, and is downward compatible for standard HD feeds.
Operationally, the VF-9000 outperforms their previous fiber transmission platforms in several important ways. This includes the flexibility to hot-swap, add or reduce SFPs to meet specific production requirements – a limitation of the previous system, which required connecting drop-down units, including external multiplexers, to the main frame.
The VF-9000’s value proposition is extended through automatic recognition of SFP module connections as inputs or outputs, as well as by format and application. The flexible architecture allows CP Communications to have an imbalance of input and outputs based on the needs of each production, instead of being limited to a certain number of each. In addition to video and Ethernet SFPs, the VF-9000 allows their production teams to transport MADI audio as part of the video feeds. Following automatic recognition, the VF-9000 then transitions to the proper setup upon coming online, eliminating additional configuration steps.
“There is enormous value in not having to manually communicate what is an input versus an output during configuration,” says Kurt Heitmann, CEO, CP Communications. “Live production moves very fast, and the VF-9000s automatic recognition features remove what was often a very time-consuming process. Before, the process required adding an SFP and assigning it to the corresponding BNC, and then programming the connection as an input or an output. In addition, my cable lengths are now shorter, and there is no need to re-patch the entire system from show to show.”
The VF-9000’s scalable flexibility complements its unmatched signal density. The compact units deliver robust multiplexer features, effortlessly combining up to 18 signals over one single-mode fiber for efficient, high-density signal transport. At just 1RU, the VF-9000 returns valuable two rack unit spaces that the previous systems absorbed in each truck, freeing more space for additional RF gear.
In both trucks, the VF-9000 seamlessly integrates within the complete RF infrastructure, which includes a high-density routing system, mesh technology, and wireless cameras and microphones. The VF-9000 also seamlessly connects to signal monitoring systems on both trucks, allowing operators to keep an eye on the health and performance of each feed and connection.
“MultiDyne has simplified our entire fiber operation, and has done so at a very attractive price point,” says Heitmann. “They are clearly a very service-oriented company, with the robust performance and high product quality to match.”