The Rochester Red Wings baseball organization in Rochester, NY has entered the 2023 season with fresh technology updates for their Zeplay instant replay servers. The latest Zeplay hardware and software bring new technology improvements and operational efficiencies that optimize the in-venue and live-streaming experience for fans.
The Triple-A minor league baseball affiliate for the Washington Nationals has been a Zeplay customer for 10 seasons thanks to the vision of John Blotzer, who joined the team as director of video production in June 2011. Blotzer was first introduced to Zeplay in 2008 as a video production intern with the Toledo Mud Hens team. The ease of use, quick learning curve, and overall production value of Zeplay stuck with him as he transitioned into the Rochester Red Wings organization.
[Samsung, New York Mets Team Up Again for New Scoreboard on Opening Day 2023]
“In Toledo, we were on a local cable TV system and Zeplay provided a simple platform where I quickly learned how to fire instant replays and cut highlight packages for televised broadcasts,” recalled Blotzer. “When I came to Rochester, I was greeted with an outdated manual VHS-based system to cue replays on TV. I no longer had that speed to air Zeplay brought, and certainly missed the ease of use. I was determined to bring in Zeplay to accelerate our speed to air and improve the fan experience.”
Today, Blotzer and his team use Zeplay to deliver content for in-venue displays, streaming broadcasts on the MiLB.tv app, and local news organizations. “We have four cameras in the field positioned on home plate, first base, third base and center field,” explained Blotzer. “We can take in video from any angle at any point, and show it on the live app stream, two large video boards, and closed-circuit televisions around the venue. We also provide replays to monitors that our official scorers have access to if they want to review a play to confirm if an error or wild pitch happened. Zeplay has always allowed us to cue up these different angles; with the latest upgrade, we can do it quicker and smoother, and with better precision.”
Zeplay’s current software also streamlines the ability to export files to multiple locations. “We will send game highlight clip packages to different news stations,” said Blotzer. “Our replay operator will cut the highlights of all scoring plays and other special plays, and the new software makes it easier to distribute the compressed files in the right formats to the right targets. That also makes it easier for the news organizations that need to download the content. The new software also allows us to add presets for exporting all these video files for faster content sharing.”
As for the replay operators, many learn Zeplay on the job as Blotzer was 15 years ago as an intern. “We always have new interns and operators for each season,” he said. “By the third or fourth inning of their first game, they feel ready to take control of Zeplay."
[Big-League AV Comes to Single-A for Gameday at Chukchansi Park]
Blotzer added that the built-in multiviewer is helpful not only to review and select angles for live replays, but also to help with production processes like color correction. “We never really expected that, but since our camera control station is right beside Zeplay and its visual content presentation is so clear, it helps our directors and producers ensure consistency across the production workflow. Zeplay is capturing all those color angles, so it gives us an excellent quality assurance platform.”
But for Blotzer, even with new advanced features and improvements and consistent ease of use, it really comes down to the fan experience. “We are getting replays on screens faster than ever with the new software,” he said. “The fans really enjoy watching the replays and how quickly we turn them around, and we even now have advertisers who sponsor the replays. And as Zeplay continues to improve the product, it will be a staple of our production workflow for years to come.”