Tightrope Media Systems’ ZEPLAY Enhances Production at University of North Texas

Since migrating to the ZEPLAY instant replay server from Tightrope Media Systems, the North Texas Athletics video department team has bolstered the reliability, quality and workflow efficiency of all instant replay and highlight “melt” productions.

Student_Sammi Whitwell_1Forced to replace their previous instant replay system mid-season, Jaime Livas, director of digital media for North Texas Athletics, discovered ZEPLAY while researching new alternatives. Originally drawn to ZEPLAY’s multi-channel capacity and exceptional value – offering eight channels (four in, four out) at a budget-friendly price point – Livas was quickly won over by its operational benefits when he conducted a hands-on trial. The advantages of ZEPLAY over the previous system have been tangible and significant.

“Most importantly, ZEPLAY has proven solid and reliable,” says Livas. “Our previous system would frequently crash part-way through games, which is unacceptable in a live environment. And, there is no comparison when it comes to video output quality. Our previous system had interlacing issues and other quality problems. ZEPLAY’s quality is fantastic.”

ZEPLAY’s array of input/output channels and operator-friendly controls empower Livas’ crew with a new level of production flexibility. “ZEPLAY lets our operator switch camera angles on the fly during replay playback, giving fans the best view of the action at every stage of each play,” he explains. The system continues to record during playback, ensuring key plays are never missed.

Alongside all of these instant replay advantages, Livas also points to ZEPLAY’s integrated sequence editing and export capabilities as having “really changed the way we work for the better” by letting operators quickly create and output highlight melts directly within the system. In addition to in-venue playout to enhance the Mean Green fan experience, these highlight packages are exported for a variety of distribution targets including the Mean Green Sports website, social media channels, athletic conference officials, opposing teamsand media outlets.

“One of the features I love most is that you can export sequences while still recording,” he continues. “If a local TV station needs a highlight package but the game isn’t over yet, we can create it for them while still recording, so we don’t miss even a moment of action.”

The speed and production efficiency of ZEPLAY have also bolstered UNT coverage on local media. “ZEPLAY helps us stay visible in a hotly competitive sports media market,” Livas explains. “With so many key college sports events happening simultaneously, some media outlets can’t get out to every game themselves. We provide them with highlight melts delivered over FTP, so we still get the media coverage.”

Livas’ production crew is comprised of University of North Texas Media Arts and Journalism students, which was a key consideration when selecting ZEPLAY. “It was critical that the system be easy to learn, as we often rotate students between roles and systems. And,educationally, we want to create an environment that students are eager to work and learn in,” he says. “ZEPLAY has proven ideal inmeeting both objectives. Students pick it up quickly with very little training, and their ZEPLAY experience prepares them well for goingout into the workforce.”

Livas gives full marks to the Tightrope team. “Their support has been excellent. They’ve always been right there with me, and went above and beyond to make sure our deployment went smoothly.” Ultimately, though, it all comes back to the system itself. “With ZEPLAY we know we’ll never miss anything – if our cameras see it, we know we have it.”

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