For the diehard college football fan, there’s nothing more upsetting than disagreeing with an official’s call. Critical calls can impact the outcome of a game, and giving officials the right tools can make all the difference. Nobody knows this better than DVSport, a Pittsburgh-based software company that specializes in digital video acquisition, analysis, and playback software for the sports market.
The company’s Instant Replay playback software has been widely used by football organizations on both the professional and collegiate level for the past several years. The easy-to-use solution enables replay officials to immediately analyze any reviewable calls on the field. It’s designed to help them make decisions more easily and more quickly, which is important for networks as they try to get closer to a three-hour game.
With more and more college games being broadcast in high definition, DVSport introduced an HD version of its playback software called HD Instant Replay. “High definition playback is a growing business in all sports, especially on the collegiate level. With our DVSport HD Instant Replay software, we’re trying to help officials make the right calls with the best quality picture out there,” said Keith Lowe, COO of DVSport.
The company’s DVSport HD Instant Replay solution delivers simple touch-screen technology with frame-by-frame viewing. It allows the replay official to stop the game with a pager system when he sees a call in question and doesn’t have enough video evidence that the call is correct. The official can manipulate the HD video feed with jog/shuttle controls, fast-forward or rewind, or zoom to identify possession of the ball or inbound/out-of-bounds calls.
The HD version has already made serious inroads on the collegiate level, with the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, and Pac-12 conferences making the switch. According to Lowe, the software is being used in 54 college football stadiums and 9 basketball arenas across the country. But making the upgrade did not come without its challenges. “Many of the stadiums had old copper lines running through them, which wouldn’t work. We couldn’t achieve an HD signal through these lines. So the stadiums had to rip them up and replace them with a new fiber optic infrastructure. This was the only way we would be able to get the HD signal to travel the several hundred feet from the truck bay to the replay booth,” explained Lowe.
To transmit the HD signal over the fiber lines, DVSport installed the Fiberlink 3350 Series from Communications Specialties (CSI), a manufacturer of fiber optic transmission systems for the video and broadcast industry. The Fiberlink 3350 Series consists of the 3350 transmitter and the 3351 receiver, which are housed in the stadium’s truck bay and press box, respectively. The Fiberlink 3350 Series allows you to transmit 3G, HD or SD-SDI as per SMPTE 424M-2006, 292 and 259, with or without embedded audio and data, as well as DVB-ASI over one single mode or multimode fiber. The 3350 transmitter features a re-clocked and equalized SDI loop through and the 3351 receiver features two re-clocked and equalized SDI outputs. Dual fiber runs allow the system to have both a primary line and a backup line. DVSport also installed a converter box on both ends of the runs (one in the truck bay and one in the replay booth) to convert the signal from fiber back to HD-SDI. DVSport also replaced the screens and servers for the signal with primary and secondary servers, and installed panels with new touchscreens.
“We first came across CSI’s Fiberlink line at NAB. We tested it the following year at an Ohio State football game and were very impressed with its performance. It delivers an excellent HD signal, and we found its indicator light for powering and syncing HD and SDI signals a convenient feature that many of the competitors’ products did not have. The light indicates that all the video and audio components are working properly and that the signal is locked, which gives us piece of mind before a game is about to begin,” Lowe explained. “Plus, both the transmitter and receiver are compact and lightweight, making them very easy for us to install.”
“CSI is proud to supply a fiber optic system that will enable the broadcast of such important and globally watched events. As with all our products, we have designed the Fiberlink 3350 Series with consistency, reliability, and dependability in mind,” said John Lopinto, President of CSI.
With more and more collegiate football and basketball games being broadcast in HD, Lowe is encouraging organizations to consider DVSport HD Instant Replay. “With the ability to access replays in high definition, officials are given an advantage over those who don’t have HD capabilities at their stadiums. The technology is available to everyone, but we realize cost is always a factor,” he said.