December 9, 2014
The University of Kentucky has installed an eight-channel Mira Instant Replay server with two Mira Control Surface panels. The system is located in the broadcast operations center at Commonwealth Stadium, home of the Wildcats football team. This broadcast facility was designed to provide content to the SEC Network. Fiber links connect all the sporting venues across campus to the broadcast operations center, so the Mira can serve digital score board content to most Wildcat games including: football, basketball, softball, volleyball, soccer with support for gymnastics and tennis in the future.
The Mira server is operated in a 5-in, 3-out, dual user configuration. One operator delivers instant replays to the director while a second operator is creating clips and making highlight packages for breaks in the game, and to “bookend” commercial breaks. In additional to running drives or slam dunk combinations, operators build highlights for specific athletes who are having a great game. Promo graphics and interstitial content is provided by the SEC Network so the broadcasts have a professional quality.
At the end of each game, the highlight reel is melted to the SEC network for the post-game shows. With three different camera angles provided for each major play, the melt reel can sometimes exceed ten minutes. Another customer for the post-game melt reel is the university’s web team—who immediately cut and encode their own highlights for delivery via the university’s webpages.
“One of the first things I needed to do when joining the UK athletics broadcast team was to decide on which replay system we would install,” says Tim Mays, Producer/Director SEC Programming, University of Kentucky Athletics Department. “I had seen the Mira at NAB and talked to some other users at colleges across the country. It was clear that from a price/performance perspective, Mira was hard to beat.”
Mays had considered other, less expensive replay systems, but feedback was not positive on reliability. “I had heard a lot of negative comments that these other systems would either freeze or crash, then take minutes to recover. This is not a good thing in a live game with thousands of fans in the stadium and millions more at home on the SEC network.”
One thing that surprised Mays was how easy the Mira was to learn. For a recent volleyball game, the hired freelancer called in sick on game day. Mays was able to get a second student operator to cover the game. With just 30 minutes of instruction on the Mira operation from a fellow student, the new operator comfortably covered all the basics, and the game was televised without any issues.
“The Mira server has had a fantastic year, with more and more colleges relying on the product to engage fans at the venue and in their homes,” says Junaid Sheikh, CEO, Abekas. “The fact that student operators can cover a live sporting event after just a few minutes of instruction is a true testament to Mira’s ease-of-use.”
Mays is incredibly complimentary of Abekas’ technical support. “Their support is out-of-this-world—even for simple operational questions. I’ll call Abekas and someone will walk me through my questions with clear direction and lots of patience. Every company’s support and service should be this good!”