Neil Zimmerman, GatorVision ZePlay operator and University of Florida telecommunication student, operates the Tightrope ZePlay slo-mo instant replay system from the GatorVision control room on campus.
GatorVision is the University of Florida athletic department’s broadcast and production initiative, handling live and on-demand event streaming and in-venue, game day coverage as part of its operation. The recently-built control room, located in the College of Journalism and Communications building on campus, houses a full complement of cutting-edge production gear suited to both outside broadcasts and in-venue content.
For in-venue productions, Tightrope Media Systems is helping the GatorVision production team score points with fans at football, basketball, volleyball and gymnastic events. The control room includes two of its ZePlay slo-mo instant replay systems to inject added excitement into game day action via multi-angle replays, on-the-fly highlight packages and more.
Brad Noblitt, director of engineering for University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, stated that ease of use and flexibility were two reasons for choosing ZePlay over competitive solutions. Noblitt has assigned a seasoned operator of a well-known instant replay brand to operate the primary system. That operator simultaneously trains students to run the second ZePlay.
“The learning curve on ZePlay is not nearly as steep as competing products,” said Noblitt. “We have a lot of student involvement at GatorVision, being part of the College of Journalism and Communications. Our primary operator teaches students how to use ZePlay keystroke by keystroke. Within an hour, the student can really understand the concept of the workflow.”
Noblitt also feels that ZePlay offers the best price to feature set ratio of slo-mo instant replay systems available.
“This gives us a true four-by-four system,” said Noblitt, referring to its four-input and four-output configuration. “ZePlay offers a lot of flexibility based on the project size and budget. We rely heavily on the system for the fan experience, and I am astounded by how quickly we can produce multiple replays. We can fire off a replay even as our opponent heads back down the basketball court. It is the meat and potatoes of our system.”
The GatorVision team further benefits from a built-in multiviewer that provides operators with a clear visual tool to monitor the various camera angles. According to Noblitt, the ZePlays never stop recording, which compel camera operators to keep shooting. This ultimately creates exceptional value in terms of replay content.
Noblitt adds that the latest software release has simplified how his team can edit, trim and build packages for game highlights. Additionally, the GatorVision team creates “melts” after every game for later use, with direct playout to our XDCam disc or as an exported .mov file(s). This highlights the open, non-proprietary nature of ZePlay.
These features combined add even more to the educational experience for College of Journalism and Communications students interested in learning the system.
“We can easily set up a simulated game by taking our four camera feeds from the previous game, and using one of our ZePlay units to playback the game through our switcher,” he said. “This helps us teach our students how to direct, how to TD and how to do replays offline. If there is a problem we can hit stop, discuss what went wrong, back up a few plays and try it a different way. We built that functionality into GatorVision because it is a teaching facility. ZePlay offers a teaching tool to get students up to speed with true hands-on experience.”