Tightrope Media Systems’ ZEPLAY Powers Replay for Toledo Mud Hens
The baseball season kicks off for the Toledo Mud Hens Triple-A (AAA) minor league baseball team this month with livelier stadium video entertainment, thanks in part to the team’s new ZEPLAY multi-channel instant replay solution from Tightrope Media Systems.
ZEPLAY brings multi-channel instant replay to home Mud Hens games for the first time, giving operators several camera angles to choose from for in-house projections. The system’s four-in, four-out design marks a major improvement over single-camera instant replay systems used in previous seasons — giving the production team the freedom to quickly trigger clips that best represent the action on the field.
Nick Vitou, director and instant replay operator for Buckeye CableSystem Network (BCSN), notes that the affordability, flexibility, and ease of use summarize ZEPLAY’s many user benefits. The Toledo Mud Hens own and share the system with the Toledo Walleye hockey club, which first used ZEPLAY this winter. The system has been relocated to Fifth Third Field for the Mud Hens season and other stadium events this summer.
“ZEPLAY gives me speed, organization, and the ability to change what I am doing on the fly,” said Vitou. “It’s a very open system with a natural and intuitive feel. The speed at which we can do cool and creative things is very relevant to live sports. What really sets it apart is the learning curve and the way that various operators can work differently on the system.”
The BCSN regional sports network broadcasts Mud Hens and Walleye games, as well as college and high school sports from northeast Ohio and southwest Michigan. BCSN owns two separate in-house ZEPLAY systems that Vitou uses for regional sports and special projects, including a recent highlights show for the 2011 PGA Senior Open held in Toledo.
He specifically points to versatile tagging options, flexible sequencing, simultaneous record and playout, and the built-in multiviewer for monitoring game action as standout features. He calls the tagging feature “vital,” eliminating the mess of post-it notes with timecodes, cues and other production details.
“Having to write everything down on paper really takes you out of the game,” said Vitou. “I can tag things while the live video is playing and quickly retrieve tagged content. There is a lot of flexibility too. We can isolate certain groups of replays with the tags, and pull up detailed information on short notice for sponsored replays and other needs.”
Vitou adds that the multiviewer provides a new level of operational efficiency for instant replay that didn’t exist for him prior, allowing him to closely monitor all of his camera feeds.
“We don’t miss anything anymore,” he said. “Everything we had before was incredibly limiting. It’s much easier to pull everything together with ZEPLAY.”