Date posted: April 1, 2015

ZEPLAY 3.1 also amplifies feature set for improved functionality, price-to-performance ratio

Tightrope Media Systems is announcing a significant price drop to its popular ZEPLAY slo-mo instant replay system in advance of the 2015 NAB Show, ensuring an affordable and professional solution for any broadcaster, venue operator, university or mobile production company. In addition to more customer-friendly pricing, an enhanced feature set that includes wider codec support further increases the value proposition for ZEPLAY in live sports production.

At $45K, the new ZEPLAY list price eliminates the burden for budget-conscious customers, yet assures a professional, reliable and feature-rich slo-mo instant replay server that is easy to use, with a quick learning curve. ZEPLAY’s built-in RAID protection and native codec playback ensures the best possible signal integrity during live production. By integrating Avid DNXHD and AVC-Intra codec support – along with improved countdown windows, improved sequence navigation, go to timecode, and more visible content tagging – Tightrope’s strategy ensures the best possible price-to-performance ratio for instant replay.

“ZEPLAY is providing instant replays in stadiums and arenas throughout the country for NBA, NHL and NCAA football and basketball events – not to mention its popularity in outside broadcast trucks,” said Steve Israelsky, vice president of broadcast solutions, Tightrope Media Systems. “By lowering the cost of ZEPLAY, our core customers in the cable TV market, not to mention smaller sports venues, receive the same reliability and features that broadcasters and professional sports leagues enjoy today.”

Tightrope’s ZEPLAY price-drop makes the versatile, feature-rich instant replay server affordable for most budgets in sports production

The ZEPLAY 3.1 release, to be demonstrated at NAB (April 13-16, Las Vegas Convention Center, Booth C2613), adds the import and export of Avid DNxHD files, as well as import of AVCIntra files, in addition to ZEPLAY’s already robust codec support (ProRes, DVCProHD, MPEG2 I-frame). The incorporation of AVCIntra is especially valuable for production teams shooting scenics in the field. With no transcoding requirements, production staff can quickly plug the camera into ZEPLAY and achieve immediate, native playback.

ZEPLAY 3.1 also simplifies operation through the following value-added features:

  • Tags are prominently displayed on ZEPLAY’s built-in multiviewer to instantly identify live content.
  • Visual countdowns to the end of on-air content, both plays and sequence items.
  • It is now possible to jump to any moment of the action using ZEPLAY’s new Go To Timecode feature.
  • The T-bar can now be enabled automatically when starting ZEPLAY.
  • More visually appealing user interface, with increased speed and functionality while managing the 4×4 (4 ins, 4 outs) replay architecture.

# # #

Date posted: December 16, 2014

NHL franchise finds operational value in ZEPLAY instant replay system’s speed, reliability, affordability and ergonomic design

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, December 16, 2014 — The Tampa Bay Lightning is giving its fans at Amalie Arena more to follow beyond the high-intensity NHL action on the ice.  As part of a recent $65 million renovation that includes a new production control room and the largest indoor video board in a North American arena, Tightrope Media Systems’ ZEPLAY slo-mo instant replay solution is delivering impactful, in-game highlights with the same lightning-fast speed as the front line.

The Tampa Bay Lightning chose ZEPLAY based on its speed, cost, reliability and streamlined operation, replacing an existing EVS replay system.  ZEPLAY’s multichannel capability (four in, four out) makes multiple streams available for playout just seven frames after camera feed selection.  The team’s production staff displays replays and highlights on a giant, four-sided Daktronics LED video display positioned high above the ice at Amalie Arena, the 20,000-seat facility—formerly known as Tampa Bay Times Forum—where home games are played.  The immense display measures 28 x 50 feet on its larger sides and 28 x 20 feet on the smaller sides facing the goals.

The ZEPLAY slo-mo instant replay server is helping the Tampa Bay Lightning video production staff accelerate instant replays for fans watching the games at Amalie Arena

“As the game unfolds, Lightning fans want to see a replay of that save or that goal, or any exciting play moments after it happens.  ZEPLAY keeps our fans happy by giving them all the replays they want without delay,” said Jorge Rosell, director of broadcast production systems for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“The issue of speed goes beyond how quickly the crowd gets to see a replay,” he continued. “Before it becomes part of our live show, our director has to see it first.  The faster we obtain his approval, the faster we can get it out to the video board.  ZEPLAY simplifies the whole process because the operator only has to look at one screen to see the video choices, and all of the key features and functions are easily accessible from the controller’s T-Bar.”

Speed also comes into play when ZEPLAY is used to furnish official replays to the referees.  This occurs often during video production for The Tampa Bay Storm, the Arena Football League (AFL) team that also calls Amalie Arena home.  Since there are usually no broadcast trucks or rights holders associated with AFL games, Rosell said they often provide official replays and live-stream their big board show, including ZEPLAY replays and highlight packages, via the team’s website.

During the recent renovation, the production control room—which has a floor to ceiling window overlooking center-ice—went 1080i HD with ZEPLAY, a new Ross Carbonite 24 2-M/E production switcher and a Chyron Lex 3 live graphics system.  After discovering that the existing EVS system was too cost-prohibitive to upgrade, Rosell began looking at more affordable options that wouldn’t compromise operational features or reliability.  He approached the Ottawa Senators NHL team in Canada to inquire how they liked their two ZEPLAY systems.

“The Senators were the first NHL team to choose ZEPLAY, and they were very happy with it, noting its ease of use in addition to its affordability,” Rosell said.  “We jumped at the opportunity to be the second NHL arena to get a ZEPLAY.”

Tampa Bay Lightning games are covered by up to 12 cameras, including studio/field, robotic, goal-cams and wireless units.  With four HD-SDI inputs/outputs, ZEPLAY accesses camera signals from a Pesa Cheetah house router.  Besides creating instant replays, the system also plays out B-Roll, including highlight packages, directly to the video boards during show opens and intermissions.  When lower-third supers, keys, mortices or other video effects are needed, ZEPLAY’s output goes through the Carbonite switcher/Chyron Lex production chain before display on the large board inside the bowl.

In the near future, ZEPLAY will also send replays to a custom app that lets fans view them on their smartphones and mobile devices inside the arena.

# # #

Date posted: December 8, 2014

Touchscreen-enabled kiosk at new Football Performance Center engages visitors with 130 years of historical data about the UMass Minutemen football program

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, December 8, 2014 – The University of Massachusetts in Amherst recently opened its Football Performance Center, a 55,000 square foot facility representing the UMass Minutemen football program.  Visitors are greeted by a hall of fame showcasing the university’s 130-year football program as they enter the facility, located at the north end of Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium.  As part of the experience, the university sought an interactive kiosk to compile and present detailed information about the football program.  A Carousel digital signage solution from Tightrope Media Systems was selected to address the challenge, featuring custom software-defined programming to bring decades of historical and current data together.

The Carousel interactive kiosk was programmed by Tightrope to deliver a searchable, sortable digital signage experience on campus to enthusiasts of the UMass Minutemen program

The interactive kiosk catalogues an impressive array of details and statistics related to the storied football program, showcasing players, teams, coaches, seasons and accomplishments.  The system reaches beyond the realm of football action, generating information about the bands, mascots and other entries supporting the teams over the years.  In casting a wide net, it’s assured that every visitor engaged with the kiosk will discover something of interest while controlling the touchscreen.

“We wanted a searchable system that delivered an interactive experience for current players, students, alumni, fans and visitors,” said John Sinnett, assistant athletic director, University of Massachusetts.  “We faced the significant challenge of finding a system that could centralize 130 years of information, make it interactive, and intelligently display a large amount of content in a sortable manner on demand.  This is a homegrown system and we’re not aware of another university that offers anything similar. There’s no question that this was a steep hill to climb.”

Sinnett and his team soon engaged with Tightrope to generate a custom program for pulling historical and recent content from various online sources.  Driven by intelligent, automated software-defined triggers and a central content management system, the Carousel solution manages a giant block of XML data, extensively programmed to ensure the right information correlates with the right targets.

An external view of the new Football Performance Center, a hall of fame honoring the UMass Minutemen program and featuring the Tightrope interactive kiosk

However, Carousel’s trademark ease of use also provides staff with an intuitive interface to manually upload content, ensuring that missing details from player numbers and headshots to game stats and team descriptions can be effortlessly edited or added on the fly.

Most importantly, the varied and dynamically updating information gives everyone something to enjoy, increasing dwell times and generating a deeper connection between the user and the football program.  Current Minutemen players and their families can follow seasonal statistics, while visiting alumni can look back at past achievements.  Sinnett also views the interactive kiosk as an intriguing recruitment tool, allowing prospective players to search which Minutemen have made NFL rosters, and which teams have made collegiate football history over the years.

“The touchscreen is emblematic of the overall mission of the Football Performance Center,” said Sinnett.  “This venue ties in a large part of the program’s history into a modern home that will be a future cornerstone of the program.  Carousel is efficiently driving and disseminating information about the historical past and success of the program, while keeping visitors up to the date on the latest activities.  Tightrope is helping us push that history forward, drawing in anyone with interest in our football program.”

The system is based on a scalable architecture powered by a single Carousel 330 server, capable of supporting 15 channels should the university choose to add more kiosks or displays in the future.

 

 # # #

Date posted: November 6, 2014

NBA franchise upgrades control room, adds giant LED displays during recent renovation of Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City

The Utah Jazz has a storied history as the National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise based in Salt Lake City. To further engage fans attending home games at Energy Solutions Arena, the team is now using Tightrope Media Systems’ ZEPLAY slo-mo instant replay solution to trigger multiple angles of exciting game action.

Installed during a recent major renovation of the 19,000-seat arena, ZEPLAY is used during every Utah Jazz home game as well as motocross, monster truck shows, rodeos and other sporting events taking place at the downtown venue.  All replays are displayed on giant YESCO LED display boards inside the arena bowl, which were also part of the renovation project.

A replay operator at Energy Solutions Arena examines multiple camera angles on ZEPLAY’s built-in multiviewer.

A replay operator at Energy Solutions Arena examines multiple video angles on ZEPLAY’s built-in multiviewer in a control room to the side of the arena bowl.

“Game day entertainment is very important to Jazz fans, and seeing instant replays of key game moments is one of their biggest demands,” said Shawn Brown, director of video productions for the Utah Jazz.  While ZEPLAY is recording eight angles of game action (four in, four out), the operator can select and output multiple angles of any replay in just seven frames to accelerate playback.  “Within a second or two following a key play, our ZEPLAY operator can cue and run a multi-angle replay,” explained Brown.  “That’s how fast and easy it is to do.”

Major advertisers sponsor the replays for a particular quarter during home games, making ZEPLAY’s playback reliability exceptionally important.  In the new control room production workflow, ZEPLAY interoperates with Ross switching, graphics and branding systems to display advertiser’s logo in the lower right corner of replays viewed on the LED screens.

“ZEPLAY helps enable this important revenue stream for our operation,” Brown said. “It also contributes to the overall efficiency of our arena show production.”

ZEPLAY includes a dedicated multiviewer to display four (1080i) HD-SDI signals coming from Ikegami cameras strategically positioned above and alongside the basketball court, as well as the four HD-SDI signals it outputs to arena screens.  ZEPLAY’s preview/program video signals also display on a large flat-screen monitor wall at the front of production control to benefit other operators, including the director and technical director.

During its mid-2013 facility renovation, the Utah Jazz placed a massive 4-sided YESCO LED video board above the basketball court and LED ribbon displays around the arena.  They also relocated their old production control room to a new suite with four times the space and upgraded equipment, adding a Ross switcher and graphics systems; and digital content production systems from Click Effects.  ZEPLAY replaced a legacy Leitch replay system that’s no longer supported, enhancing live production possibilities while increasing reliability.

“Our previous system would lock up or crash right in the middle of games, and there was no tech support available anymore,” Brown said.  “So our engineering team researched other replay systems that were on the market and found ZEPLAY to be the ideal fit.  Since installation, it’s been very stable and reliable, and the replays just look awesome on our video boards.”

# # #

Date posted: July 10, 2014

New master control center, production truck benefit from multichannel scheduling and playout, slo-mo instant sports replay

Many Community TV broadcasters across the United States rely on Tightrope Media Systems to simplify multichannel scheduling and playout, but one Minneapolis-area broadcaster is leveraging the full Tightrope portfolio to establish meaningful community connections beyond master control.

Suburban Community Channels has been the Community TV and media resource connection for the northeast Minneapolis/St. Paul suburbs for more than 30 years, delivering 17 physical channels from its facility.  As the local cable franchise authority for Comcast, the PEG broadcaster delivers eight channels of programming across 12 municipalities, including discrete government channels for each community.  Suburban Community Channels populates its remaining channels with a variety of imported and locally produced content, the latter of which includes live broadcasts of high school sports.

Tightrope Cablecast servers and automation systems support scheduling and playout of 17 physical channels and on-demand content from Suburban Community Channels’ master control facility

Suburban Community Channels relies on solutions across Tightrope’s portfolio to manage all content.  In master control, Tightrope Cablecast server and automation solutions cost-efficiently deliver high-quality programming to Comcast viewers, simultaneously serving on-demand content to online viewers.  Cablecast has played a significant role for the core master control operation, cost-efficiently transitioning Suburban Community Channels from analog to SDI digital while establishing an HD-ready future.  On July 16, “On Location TV19” will become the first channel in the cluster to transition to HD.

“It was clear we needed to rebuild master control from the day I was hired,” said Michael Simonds, technical lead for Suburban Community Channels.  “We had a 25-year old system based on old analog composite video equipment and relay machine control, along with a massively sized router and automation system.  Cablecast quickly and cleanly transitioned us to a digital environment while introducing a large number of operational efficiencies—not to mention returning real estate to our master control center.  Tightrope clearly has the community media market in mind for product development, and understands the challenges we face.”

The broadcaster’s Tightrope Carousel digital signage solution supports two applications: transitional “bulletin board” broadcasts on its cable channels, and in-lobby signage for hospitality and promotional purposes

Many of the new operational efficiencies are tied to centralized workflows.  Operators can connect to the central Cablecast server from any location with web access, and schedule programming weeks in advance; or make scheduling changes on the fly.  Cablecast also allows Suburban Community Channels to quickly add new channels and applications, the most recent of which was a video-on-demand service that offers city council meetings on the website of its member municipalities.

Additionally, Tightrope Carousel digital signage solutions support transitional broadcast feeds, including bulletin boards between programs.  The Carousel systems also deliver a bright and lively mix of rotating informational programming for visitors and employees inside its lobby areas, providing an additional public-facing benefit for establishing community connections.

On board its production truck, the broadcaster uses a Tightrope ZEPLAY solution for slo-mo instant replay of highlights from varsity football and other local high school sporting events. ZEPLAY allows production personnel to quickly trigger exciting replays and build highlight packages for viewers who follow local high school sports at home.  Adding ZEPLAY to the infrastructure allows the production staff to operate across the workflow with more freedom by eliminating the more labor-intensive replay processes of the past.

“Tightrope makes their equipment very accessible, with no special software or training required to learn their products.  The user experience is really much better than competitive products, and that is especially true of ZEPLAY,” said Simonds.  “For live sports production, having four inputs and four outputs means that our operators don’t need to do any more intensive switching.  We’re no longer doing the old school method of following the puck or the ball and switching angles in real-time.  The ZEPLAY records every angle, and we can assemble what we need to enhance our sports programming.  It has simplified our live productions dramatically—just as Cablecast has simplified our master control operations.”

Date posted: June 11, 2014

UNIV’s iVE platform enables Mexico’s largest broadcasters to power a thrilling interactive video experience on mobile devices

Miami, Florida – June 11, 2014 — Unified Video Technologies (UNIV), a provider of complete media ecosystems and software services for broadcasters, enterprises and the entertainment industry, is bringing fans in Mexico closer to the FIFA World Cup action with its interactive iVE second screen platform.  Grupo Televisa (NYSE; TV), the largest media conglomerate in Latin America, will use iVE to power live broadcasts of World Cup games and events using a 360-degree surround, interactive video experience to viewers at home or on the move.

Grupo Televisa will live-stream the games via iVE live from Brazil.  The interactive surround capability will enable audiences to experience the thrill of being there, following the action on the field through the iVE second screen app on iOS mobile devices.  By simply moving their devices through space using iVE, viewers will be able to navigate and enjoy an engrossing physical experience of being onsite.

The IVE interactive experience uses a special camera that stitches together a series of video clips to create a unique second screen, surround video experience on mobile devices

iOS and Web users can head to the App Store and search for “surround video” to download the app and enjoy the iVE experience.

“Fans of the Mexican National Soccer Team in Mexico will achieve an unprecedented live sports experience using this interactive, second screen service, leveraging cutting-edge live and on-demand OTT technology to customize their own point of view through a close and personal experience,” said Elias Rodriguez, General Director of Operations, Grupo Televisa.

iVE uses unique multi-lens cameras to capture live events, including sports and entertainment, from a variety of viewpoints.  The service then stitches the video and renders it to create a fully interactive, up-close and personal 360-degree first-person experience.  The innovative iVE app enables viewers to create a completely personalized experience in real-time by simply moving their mobile devices. Viewers may participate in the event as it happens or on demand.

The iVE experience is powered through a partnership between UNIV and yellowBird, a company that specializes in Surround Video production services for broadcast, advertising and entertainment industries.

“Whether at home, in the office, in the car, or otherwise on the go, iVE creates a unique 360-degree, over the top Dome effect delivered via real-time, OTT streaming,” said Pablo Goldstein, CEO, UNIV.  “We are thrilled at the opportunity to work with Grupo Televisa and deliver this groundbreaking mobile, interactive experience to Televisa viewers.”

Follow Televisa and the Mexican National Soccer team on the following dates to enjoy the IVE experience:

  • 13 JUN 2014 – 13:00 Local time – Mexico vs. Cameroon
  • 17 JUN 2014 – 16:00 Local time – Brazil vs. Mexico
  • 23 JUN 2014 – 17:00 Local time – Croatia vs. Mexico

Date posted: May 1, 2014

Bannister Lake introduces dedicated software application for GV Director, amplifying graphics workflow capabilities for live sports production

Bannister Lake announces the release of BL Score Bug for the GV Director Nonlinear Live Production System from Grass Valley, a Belden Brand.  This new version of Bannister Lake’s Score Bug software was custom written specifically for GV Director to enhance its sports graphics environment—accelerating time-to-air with visually engaging, data-rich score bugs that keep fans in the game. BL Score Bug is a real-time scoring and game status display system designed for live sports broadcasts.

GV Director emphasizes creativity and smart workflows, integrating video switching, multi-layer effects, animated graphics and more into a single, compact solution.  BL Score Bug for GV Director reliably pulls live game data from industry-leading scoreboard controllers like Daktronics, Whiteways, and OES combining the data with the output of a sport-specific graphical user interface (GUI), and using that data to drive GV Director’s professional, animated graphics.

BL Score Bug software can be purchased and downloaded from the Bannister Lake website.  Once installed on a Windows PC, a simple configuration screen provides connectivity to the supported scoreboard controllers and control over the graphic elements distributed with GV Director.

“We are excited to partner with Bannister Lake on this customized tool for GV Director.  This adds yet another feature to our already rich set of live production tools within GV Director. BL Score Bug provides operators with the ability to keep up with the fast pace on game day for sports events of any size or type. Ultimately, this broadens the breadth and depth of GV Director for our customers,” said Mike Cronk, senior vice president of strategic marketing, Grass Valley.

BL Score Bug will seamlessly integrate across the GV Director workflow to further simplify and empower live production operations.  The company has also developed special graphic templates to correlate with various score bug configurations—giving everyone in live production (teams, broadcasters, venues, mobile trucks) a cost-efficient, all-in-one score bug solution for any sport.

Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake, notes that GV Director operators are accustomed to flexible workflows—making Bannister Lake’s open, easy-to-use score bug software a perfect fit.

“BL Score Bug is a proven solution for sports broadcasters at every level from high school teams to professional teams,” said Hentsch.  “The integration with GV Director adds to the growing desire for data-rich score bug capability to an already feature-rich and powerful live production system.”

 

Date posted: April 1, 2014

Complete solution supports lightning-fast live graphics production on a laptop

Bannister Lake will demonstrate an out-of-the-box portable score bug solution at the 2014 NAB Show (Las Vegas Convention Center, April 7-10) that accelerates time to air for live sports graphics production.  Developed to work with AJA Video Systems’ edit products, the complete solution gives broadcasters and mobile production truck operators an affordable, portable turnkey system to produce visually engaging score bugs as part of a comprehensive sports graphics workflow.

At NAB 2014, Bannister Lake will demonstrate the complete workflow at the AJA booth (SL2505), featuring Bannister Lake’s BL Score Bug Go software and the AJA Io XT, a compact I/O device that accommodates graphics playout from a Thunderbolt™ enabled laptop.  The low-cost package offers an equally powerful alternative to traditional, expensive and non-portable score bug systems.

The Score Bug Go solution incorporates compact AJA I/O hardware to enhance portability for sports graphics production

BL Score Bug Go supports HD-SDI output of scoring and game status, interfacing with Whiteway, Daktronics and OES scoreboard controllers to automate game-related data in real time across the graphics workflow.  The AJA Io XT brings additional power through its high-speed, high-bandwidth Thunderbolt™ connection, providing output of high-quality graphics and score bugs for live broadcasts and in-venue productions.  The ultra-compact form factor of the AJA Io XT enhances overall portability, allowing users to quickly set up and operate the system from any location.

The combination of Bannister Lake’s software and AJA’s hardware also gives customers the freedom to use the internal downstream keyer or an external production switcher based upon workflow preferences.  Both linear keying options enhance the visual appeal of score bugs by enabling transparency along edges and other graphic design elements.  This gives customers complete control over the on-air look of score bug graphics, along with remarkable ease of use.

“The Bannister Lake and AJA Video Systems solution gives broadcasters and truck operators a no-compromise solution for portable sports graphics,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake.  “As with all our BL Score Bug products, this solution is designed for professional, collegiate and amateur sport leagues but provides the added benefit of an all-in-one package that gives operators the flexibility to achieve lightning-fast, broadcast-quality and data-rich sports graphics on the move.”

Date posted: March 25, 2014

New ZEPLAY offers lower entry costs for professional-grade sports replay, while Cablecast 5.3 enhances overall workflow for broadcasters

Tightrope Media Systems is coming to the 2014 NAB Show with exciting product launches and enhancements that bring more operational benefits to existing customers, while creating a foundation to expand into new business areas.

At NAB (Las Vegas Convention Center, April 7-10, Booth C6508), Tightrope will introduce a new 2×2 version of its tried-and-true ZEPLAY slo-mo instant replay solution for sports production.  The new version brings the same rock-solid stability, ease of use and expansive feature set of its 4×4 sibling at a much lower cost of entry – as in roughly half the price.

The new 2×2 ZEPLAY slo-mo instant replay system offers colleges and small-to-mid sized venues a lower cost of entry for multi-angle sports production

“We have found that many customers don’t require the four-in, four-out, eight-angle support that our original ZEPLAY solution offers,” said Steve Israelsky, broadcast solutions lead, Tightrope Media Systems.  “A large cross section of our customer base in the local cable market was being underserved in this sector.  The 2×2 ZEPLAY gives these and other customers, including small-to-mid sized venues and colleges, an affordable, feature-rich and reliable solution to enhance the sports fan experience.  It also gives our 4×4 customers another option if they want to add more angles at a lower price.”

Both ZEPLAY units will incorporate new features for NAB that are available in the ZEPLAY 3.0 release, scheduled for right after the show.  This includes a new export feature that allows production staff to export entire multi-angle sequences as opposed to individual clips, making it easier to share engaging content – and game-changing moments – immediately in an edited sequence as opposed to a series of individual clips.

ZEPLAY 3.0 also adds a number of operator-oriented refinements to the sequence editor.  Individual clip speeds across sequences have always been variable, allowing operators to show play highlights from one angle at full speed; and then show the culmination of the play in slow motion from a different angle.  ZEPLAY users can now specify a default rate for the entire sequence, and then modify that speed from the T-Bar as the sequence plays out.  ZEPLAY 3.0 also includes an enhanced audio capability to assist in editing the highlight sequences, as well as improvements in the storyboard and editing window layouts.

Cablecast Streaming

Speaking of local cable channels, Tightrope has enhanced its Cablecast server and automation platform with new streaming, processing and monitoring features that introduce new efficiencies and operational improvements.  These developments are particularly ideal for Tightrope’s large PEG channel and university customer base.

Foremost, the incorporation of H.264 streaming vastly improves compatibility for multiplatform delivery.  The main benefits are twofold:  consumers can easily watch PEG channel content on tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices; and station engineers can cleanly monitor playout on these same devices, as opposed to being tied to a desktop station.

“The evolution to H.264 streaming means that broadcasters, including PEG channels, can deliver more streams at higher quality to more viewers, thanks to exceptional bandwidth improvements and compatibility across more playout devices,” said Israelsky.  “The ability to deliver important local content to more viewers is a benefit both to the station and the community.  It is a feature that many PEG channels are ready to incorporate as they more aggressively work to expand audiences in the digital TV age.”

Additionally, Cablecast 5.3 adds AFD support to automatically and seamlessly present on-air content across 16:9 and 4:3 screens in the most attractive manner, without awkward cropping and reformatting.  This ensures that content looks great on screen without the need for expensive up, down, cross and aspect ratio conversion gear.

Tightrope has also enhanced its built-in RAID monitoring solution for Cablecast, reporting potential issues directly within the user interface – alerting customers well in advance of potentially devastating events.  The service also automatically backs up database content and information to the cloud for quick restoration in the event of a critical error.

Finally, the new Cablecast 5.3 release also expands compatibility with routing switchers, adding support for Snell/Pro-Bel and Aja routers.  This raises the number of routers supported within Cablecast to near 100, ensuring that customers can control routing traffic, stream playout and more for a tighter overall workflow.

Date posted: March 12, 2014

Versatile slo-mo instant replay system instrumental in diversifying content for broadcast and in-venue productions

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets athletic department comprises 17 sports teams competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), with a dedicated legion of fans inside and outside the student/alumni community.  The university rewarded its men’s and women’s basketball fans with upgraded game production capabilities prior to last season, delivering a vastly improved live sports experience for fans in the arena and watching the ESPN3 broadcasts.

The production upgrades, first centralized in the Hank McGamish Pavilion’s new control room, have since been extended to other venues on campus via fiber connectivity.  The result brings the benefits of a modern digital control room, including slo-mo instant replay courtesy of Tightrope Media Systems, to football and volleyball games – with baseball and other sports soon to follow.

New fiber connections to several venues on campus allow the Georgia Tech production staff to use its Tightrope ZEPLAY for instant replay across multiple sports

Tightrope’s ZEPLAY slo-mo instant replay system was installed alongside a complement of new cameras, switching and signal processing gear designed to simplify technical operations and improve the fan experience.  Georgia Tech Director of Video Operations Andy Blanton believes that they have achieved both with the new control room and remote fiber connections, noting ZEPLAY’s significance in both situations.

“The experience of sitting in the venue is very different from the experience of being at home,” said Blanton.  “We’re contracted to provide exclusive and balanced content for the ESPN3 broadcasts while using the same equipment and cast of characters for the in-venue productions.  We don’t want to show replays of a visiting team player lighting up the court with dunks and three-pointers to fans in the arena.  ZEPLAY gives us the flexibility to highlight exciting Yellow Jackets play for the home fans and cover up some of that action to broadcast audiences.”

From an operational perspective, ZEPLAY has delivered an easy and intuitive platform for control room operators to quickly execute replays, tag content and build tailored highlight packages based on targeted audiences.  The built-in multiviewer also helps the ZEPLAY operator understand which angles are best suited for the broadcast and the in-venue production.

Perhaps most important to Blanton is the ability to quickly – and natively – archive and export clips, as the team is tasked with sharing content with multiple sources almost immediately following games.  Similarly, much of that archived content is seamlessly imported back into the workflow to show recent highlights in subsequent games.

“We have a system in place to send footage straight from ZEPLAY to the conference office, which they distribute to the opponent we played that night,” said Blanton.  “We share that same content, including a melt of highlights, with a multitude of recipients including media, our partners and our coach’s show.  We simply hit the archive button and export those clips to the different recipients, with no transcoding required.  ZEPLAY natively delivers content to three different editing systems in our case:  Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro and Avid.  It’s an enormous time-saver for our staff.”

Blanton adds that he’s been able to train operators to use ZEPLAY “within minutes,” including tagging plays with the right information to further accelerate the post-game archive-and-export process.  That simple tagging capability also helps his operators keep track which players are hot, as well other developing trends of a game to create home and visitor highlight packages.

Further down the road, Blanton plans to integrate a Tightrope Carousel digital signage solution into the overall workflow to deliver content to display screens Hank McGamish Pavilion.  He cites the cost and flexibility of Tightrope solutions as an overall attraction.

“We expect to incorporate Carousel into future marketing efforts, but the price point and feature sets of both products made the purchases an easy decision,” said Blanton.  “We initially had another instant replay system in mind.  Our consultant, Anthony James Partners, suggested that with just a little more money we could get a far more robust system in ZEPLAY that performs just as well as the high-end, expensive instant replay solutions.  That recommendation, along with positive reviews, really swayed our decision to go with Tightrope.”

 

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