Tightrope ZEPLAY Ignites Fan Experience at University of Minnesota
TCF Bank Stadium, home to University of Minnesota Gophers football, influenced HD upgrades to a control room shared with three arenas on campus. The upgrades include two Tightrope Media Systems ZEPLAY solutions to drive slo-mo instant replay and sports video to more than 1200 screens.
The production team, headed by Tadd Wilson, scoreboard and video operations manager for University of Minnesota Athletics, cited reliability, an extensive feature set and a competitive price point as key benefits. The two ZEPLAY systems provide 16 channels of live replay (eight in, eight out) for the nearly 100 annual sporting events covered from this control room.
Wilson notes that this high-channel capacity was a big reason for choosing ZEPLAY over competitive systems, adding that it enhances his ability to create sequences, load and export clips. These operational benefits especially stood out during the evaluation process.
“I was most impressed with the number of channels that ZEPLAY gives us without having to pay an exorbitant price,” he says. “We have anywhere from five to eight cameras that we want to record on any given game day. We also interface with the TV trucks on-location, adding another four to seven cameras. The ability to record as many channels as possible was a top priority.”
Wilson and his team use ZEPLAY predominantly for in-house play to engage home and visiting team fans on game-changing events, from touchdowns in TCF Bank Stadium to hockey goals in Mariucci Arena. ZEPLAY instantly triggers high-quality replays on-demand across large LED score boards, displays and monitors. Each venue includes more than 300 TVs and displays located in concourses, suites, premium areas, concession stands and other locations.
“Replays are one of the main reasons people look at our displays,” says Wilson. “Fans immediately turn their attention to the displays to see the replay when a touchdown happens or a goal is scored. Or, they can see why everyone’s cheering if they were at the concession stands getting a hot dog.”
In addition to high-channel capacity and high-quality video, ZEPLAY provides Wilson and his team with a built-in multiviewer that allows operators to follow action and monitor many angles on one display. Also, since the control room is manned during games by a combination of full-time staff, freelancers, and students (part-time employees from various majors), the simple learning curve and ongoing overall ease of use was significant.
“We looked at other replay systems, but the price points versus the feature sets just didn’t make sense,” said Wilson. “ZEPLAY gives us all the features and capabilities we need and is a fairly straightforward, easy device to for our operators to learn.”
ZEPLAY’s extensive tagging and key play marking options were also essential for Wilson. These features provide quick filtering and file recall from built-in storage to assist with speedy highlight package creation. Operators archive game-day footage for highlights, player-of-the-game features and posting videos online. Files are digitally exported to long-time archives without complex recording processes, and can be recalled and played out as high-quality 4:2:2 HD files.
Wilson adds that ZEPLAY’s reliability can’t be underestimated. “I was worried about replay systems in general crashing or locking up during games, especially the disk-based systems,” he said. “To this day, we haven’t had any issues with ZEPLAY. It’s never locked up or crashed. That has really impressed me.”