Advanced Television

Innovation within Sky

May 3, 2017

Sky News is at the forefront of technological innovation. SNG vehicles, fly-away kits and portable production have always been based around in-house ideas.  Following a corporate decision to take the entire uplink and production operation in house, a small team were formed to bring innovative, cutting edge technology, and ideas, to produce lightweight but effective OB vehicles.

Sky Vehicle Technology started by successfully designing, building and project managing 15 single operator SNG vehicles incorporating dual path uplinks, location editing and creative storage solutions for use throughout the UK by both Sky News and Sky Sports News camera teams.  In addition 5 4WD Landrovers with IP over satellite, and two multi-camera production tenders were designed and built, these added a greatly increased production level of facilities to the UK operation.

Having proved both concept and design, the resulting synergies saved Sky UK over £4 million annually on operational budgets.

The success of this project produced immediate interest from the newly integrated Sky Deutsche operation, now part of a three company merger consisting of Sky UK, Sky Germany and Sky Italia.

The brief for Germany added further challenges including the need to produce a more comprehensively equipped vehicle, but staying under the notoriously difficult to achieve 3.5 Tonne weight limit.   The resulting 7 SNG’s, 2 Tenders and 4 IP Vehicles primarily equipped for sports production came as a result of close collaboration with Sky Germany, Riedel, Bluebell and Space Path to design and build vehicles to an exacting brief.

Sky Germany’s new vehicles were delivered on time and on budget in just 24 weeks and can be up scaled to almost any number of inputs.  The resultant lightweight flexible trucks weigh under 3.2 Tonnes including all necessary field equipment and fully fuelled.  The end result exceeded the client’s brief.

Key Features include:

  • Riedel MediorNet, RockNet, and Artist infrastructure, as well as two MediorNet Compact Stageboxes that extend available signal routing and communications interfaces. For larger productions, Sky Vehicle Technology specified OB tenders equipped with the Riedel system including SmartPanels, commentary units, and a MediorNet Compact frame.
  • Linking the SmartPanels directly into the Riedel MediorNet media network as a dedicated control panel, the MediorNet Control App enables Sky Germany users to route and control signals and maintain simultaneous communication across the fleet using a single 1-RU unit with a resultant space and cost saving.
  • Comprehensive vison and audio mixing facilities,
  • Multi-viewer monitoring, unique “power over fibre” system developed specifically for this project in partnership with Bluebell Systems negating the risk to production by local power failures.
  • Self-seeking Antenna.
  • Spacepath created a new lightweight Linearised HPA
  • On-board generator.

A key innovation for the entire UK and Germany project was the integration of technology allowing vehicles built for both Sky UK and Sky Germany to be remotely accessed for full Monitoring and Control. This feature allows MCR to take complete control of an SNG vehicle while the operator on location is away from the truck via  3/4G bonded communications, and is a “first” for Sky operations.


Chris Pratt (UK Ranger operator)  “Just to say that I’ve just finished 6 days on Ranger 15 and it’s been an absolute pleasure!!! Brilliant in every way – so quick, simple, reliable and a great spec vehicle to work out of too. It’s changed my perspective of being a ‘truck operator’ for the better. Much kudos to you and the team….’

Victoria Rudling (SSN Production Manager) “The Rangers have performed well simple to use, versatile, delivering all scenarios in rolling sports news. “

Alessandro Reitano (SKY Germany) said “The fleet is working very well and the performance leaves the critics silent.”

Jeremy Darroch (Chief Executive – Sky) said “The close collaboration between Sky UK’s Vehicle Technology department and Sky DE really shows through in these trucks, epitomising the philosophy of Innovation at Sky”


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