CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders Plays Offense with Tightrope’s ZEPLAY
Saskatchewan Roughriders fans enjoy more than a winning football team upon entering the 45,000-seat Mosaic Stadium in Regina each game day. In fact, home and visiting team fans alike are treated to professional in-venue, large-screen video productions that further enliven the atmosphere — with instant replays and highlight packages from Tightrope’s ZEPLAY slow-motion system playing a major role.
“We have the challenge of keeping our fans entertained and engaged, and our philosophy is that we’re not simply competing with the at-home TV experience — we want to improve on that experience within the stadium atmosphere,” said Bill Wright, director of partnerships and game day operations, Saskatchewan Roughriders. “So we show more replays than viewers get at home, along with more close-ups and stats. We create as much on that screen as we can, at the best possible quality. ZEPLAY makes that achievable.”
Mosaic Stadium added its first large video screen in 2005, and has gradually enhanced its technical infrastructure to include nine cameras, multiple graphics layers and two ZEPLAY systems inside the stadium control room. The in-house staff incorporates instant replays from a third ZEPLAY unit that resides in a mobile production truck just outside the venue. This allows operators to work more angles into the replays and video packages across two large screens.
Furthermore, Mosaic Stadium this year transitioned to an all-HD control room, vastly improving video quality and enhancing the way that content is distributed and shared across the workflow.
“We’ve progressed to the point where this has become a very full-sized production show, and we are directing everything that happens in the bowl to the fans,” said Wright. “By going HD, we ensure that all of the content from the cameras through to the ZEPLAYS is produced, distributed and archived in pristine quality. This includes exporting files, and later using that content, from the third ZEPLAY outside the stadium after the truck drives away.”
Wright notes that speed and ease of use are two trademark ZEPLAY qualities that make a positive impact for each production. This includes its built-in multiviewer for monitoring multiple camera angles, and tagging options for building and playing back short clip packages during games. He adds that the team saved approximately 30 percent cost-wise at the outset compared to other replay systems considered, and minimizes training costs for new operators due to ZEPLAY’s quick learning curve.
However, Wright is most impressed with how ZEPLAY’s quickness has become integral to the stadium experience.
“We don’t have to be neutral the way a network broadcaster needs to be, so when we make a big play we can quickly show five replays that highlight a touchdown or interception from multiple angles,” he said. “ZEPLAY gives us the capacity to be very quick and nimble. Instant access to all playout angles allows us to be better than the broadcaster, and give our fans more of what they want. Replays are at the top of that list.”