Adding Instant Replay Doubles Viewership of Live Sports

By Heather Halsey

As the esteemed training ground for Air Force officer cadets, the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. maintains a rigorous program built upon four pillars of excellence: military training, academics, athletics and character development.

Athletics are a core curriculum component and the academy has an expansive intercollegiate program with 27 men’s and women’s sports, including basketball, ice hockey, baseball, soccer, volleyball, polo, lacrosse, and gymnastics. Most teams compete in Division I of the NCAA as members of the Mountain West Conference.

To support its athletics program, the academy created FalconVision, which produces video content for the official website of Air Force Academy Athletics, GoAirForceFalcons.com, as well as highlights for TV news networks.

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Cory Morlock, a freelancer for FalconVision, operates the 3Play.

But up until a few years ago, FalconVision lacked the ability to effectively add instant replays — a key component of live event broadcasts. Director of FalconVision, Brian Jerman says their replay capabilities were either nonexistent or limited to one camera that drastically slowed down processor speed when it was used.

“We needed more inputs to be able to capture more angles of play,” Jerman said. “We were unable to run slow motion instant replays, which make a live broadcast well worth watching.”

Jerman and his team set out to add instant replay capabilities to its workflow so FalconVision could better highlight the academy’s cadet-athletes who have all made a commitment to serve their country following their athletic careers.

“Our cadet-athletes, as well as our coaches, are some of the finest people you will ever meet,” Jerman said. “We like to try and let people know that each and every time we turn on the cameras.”

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Implementing a Worthy Solution

FalconVision now relies on NewTek TriCaster 8000 multi-camera production and 3Play 4800 instant replay systems to produce live events for streaming on its website.

3Play allows them to record up to eight live camera angles and replay them instantly at any speed they deem necessary. It also allows them to zoom in on key parts of plays by feeding 3Play through the TriCaster.

“3Play has been the single most important part of all of our broadcasts, as slow motion instant replay adds to a live event by allowing viewers to see key plays more than once, and from many angles,” Jerman said.

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FalconVision will produce 132 live broadcasts during the 2016-17 school year with one to six events per week. Each live broadcast is sent out through Livestream (as required by the Mountain West Conference) and commercial breaks are added through Livestream Studio HD550.

It is also used to produce event graphics for many games, though FalconVision uses the LiveText graphics system for its basketball and hockey games.

Engaging a Larger Audience

Since adding instant replay capabilities to live broadcasts with the 3Play, Jerman says viewership of the Falcons’ games has doubled over the last two years.

Additionally, Jerman says the 3Play is easy to work with and the user interface is easy to teach.

“It is very nice to be able to choose an angle quickly, send it out and manipulate the speed as it rolls,” he said.

FalconVision uses the 3Play’s export tools to send highlights from events to a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) site for use on local and national news stations. The team also sends highlights directly to its Twitter account.

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FalconVision began using TriCaster and 3Play units as part of its videoboard productions for hockey, basketball, football, gymnastics and swimming. An outside agency now handles the videoboard productions so the FalconVision team can focus on Internet streaming.

The Mountain West Conference urges its member schools to make more events available live online, which has helped FalconVision grow its capabilities tremendously. It has grown from one-camera shoots with public address announcer audio to full eight-camera productions with dedicated play-by-play and color analyst announcers with replays and pre-produced graphics and opens.

“Since we really only started streaming our video five to six years ago, it has grown by leaps and bounds,” Jerman says.

In his 20 years at the academy, Jerman says one thing has remained the same — the brave commitment made by the academy’s young men and women who have made a choice to serve their country.

“They’ve made a choice to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” he said. “To me, there is no better reason to cheer on the Falcons than that fact alone.”

At a Glance

  • The United States Air Force Academy is a military academy for officer cadets of the Air Force located in Colorado Springs, Colo., established in 1955
  • All graduates agree to accept an appointment and serve as a commissioned officer in the Air Force for eight years after graduation, five of which must be active duty
  • The Air Force Falcons have 27 Division I sports teams, most of which compete in the Mountain West Conference
  • FalconVision produces live broadcasts of home sporting events, including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, baseball, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s water polo, men’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s gymnastics

Gear

  • TriCaster 8000s
  • 3Play 4800s
  • LiveText graphics system for basketball and hockey
  • Livestream Studio HD550 for other sports
  • Panasonic P2 cameras, ranging from AJ-PX270 and 370s to AG-HPX610s
  • JVC GY-HM620s
  • Marshall Electronics CV592-Ms
  • Vizio, LG, ViewSonics and JVC monitors
  • Sennheiser headphones
  • Sennheiser wireless microphones
  • Sony ECM-88 condenser microphones
  • Shure SM58 microphones

Workflow

  • For most sports, a TriCaster 8000 switcher and 3Play 4800 instant replay system is used to produce a live broadcast of events that is available for streaming online.
  • The broadcast is then sent out through Livestream and commercial breaks are added through Livestream Studio HD550.
  • The 3Play records eight live camera angles and replays them instantly at any speed selected.
  • Key parts of plays are zoomed in on by feeding the 3Play through the TriCaster.
  • Video is exported to an FTP site for use on local and national news stations.

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