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CPL flies away with new PPU

Ian McMurray 25 July 2011
CPL flies away with new PPU

Central Presentations Ltd (CPL) has designed a new ‘expedient sized’ "fly away" portable video PPU unit to service its smaller shows and events, and for situations where space is at a premium and the larger full sized Grass Valley PPUs would be over-specified and too large.

The smaller PPU is based around a Panasonic AV-HS400 mixer which is integrated with two Marshall 24 inch monitors, a Ross HD/SD matrix switcher and an RTS talkback system. Offering six HD/SD and two DVI inputs and three SD/HD outputs, it is optimised for mixing 2 – 4 camera feeds, and features a compact footprint.

"We needed something smaller, highly portable and quick and easy to install and rig for small to medium corporate events and presentations in particular," said CPL’s Matthew Boyse, adding that following its initial success, this is just the first of several similar units that they will be building in the coming months.

CPL has collaborated closely with leading European flightcase manufacturer 5 Star Cases on a custom design to incorporate all the PPU element in one compact road trunk, which is waist high and said to be an easy lift.

The monitors are mounted on gas struts that lift up and glide into place, and with all the other components in the right mix-ready places for comfortable operation, all that is then needed is power.

It has already been used on several events, including the after-walk party for the 2011 MoonWalk London event in Hyde Park for breast cancer charity Walk The Walk. CPL provided a full video system including cameras and the new PPU to The Screen Business, who were working for overall technical production contractors, Hawthorn Theatrical.

Paul Goddard from The Screen Business initially thought that when the equipment arrived on site there were some bits missing due to the distinct miniaturisation of the PPU. "Once opened, there is a veritable fully loaded ‘Pandora’s Box’ of technology which is smartly packaged, neatly arranged and comfortable to use,” he said. “Everything is functional – there is no neck straining to look at monitors placed awkwardly high in the rack, and all of the main controls fall easily to hand.”

The whole package of cameras, PPU and record rack were assembled, calibrated, white balanced and tested with ease in less than a couple of hours on site. Goddard observes that the entire system footprint is tiny and ideal for snug spaces behind stages, or tightly packed rooms or portacabins, adding, that when it came to performance, the kit punches far above its weight. The pictures were stunning, the mixing was seamless,” he said, “with no sticky buttons and so on, and the recordings were crystal clear – fantastic!"

Goddard’s first experience of CPL’s “micro PPU” was so positive that he’s already commissioned it for a second outing. The smaller size increases portability and also saves on transport costs and truck space – and its simple configuration saves on time on site.

The PPU has also been out for CPL on a World Television event staged by a leading international bank at their HQ in Canary Wharf, London, and will be appearing at a myriad of different locations on other CPL work over the summer.
This is the latest in a series of ongoing equipment investment for the company, which has included new Sony HD digital cameras, Christie Spyder X20, and high definition Panasonic PT DZ110 HD projectors, plus doubling the warehouse space at the Kenilworth HQ with the implementation of a new building.

Pictured is Richard Fitzgerald, one of CPL’s warehouse technicians who helped build the PPU

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