KC Royals boost in-game engagement with EVS server deployment
The two-time World Series-winning Kansas City Royals baseball team has been a part of Major League Baseball since it was added as an expansion team in 1969. The team played just four seasons on its first homefield before moving to Royals Stadium, which was renamed in 1993 after the team’s first owner. Ever since, the Royals have played at Kauffman Stadium – a 37,903-seater ball park in Kansas City, Missouri.
On the field, directly opposite home plate is a 100 by 85-foot Daktronics display, which acts as the stadium’s scoreboard, provides information to fans and shows replays of the on-field action.
Before the first pitch of its 50th year as part of the MLB, the Royals wanted to find a way to better connect with their in-stadium fans through the highest-quality live video content. To do this, it wanted to upgrade the technical facilities inside the Kauffman Stadium control room, which included its existing EVS replay system. The production team wanted a more up to date solution that would let them output the most engaging replays possible.
It was key that alongside quality, the production team found a solution that would provide a reliable, rock-solid workflow. “Baseball plays the long game,” said Steven Funke – the director of event presentation and production for the Royals. “We have 81 ball games on our home field over the course of just seven months. That means the production infrastructure we have inside our control room needs to be robust and hard-working, delivering a consistent result pitch after pitch.”
To create the best replay workflow, the Royals put in place several new solutions from EVS including an XT4K and XS4K server, and an IPDirector content management suite. Installed inside the production control room, the XT4K server ingests live feeds from cameras inside the stadium. An EVS operator creates live replays using an LSM remote control, which are then played back out by the server to the giant in-stadium display.
The XS4K, installed alongside its XT counter-part, is operated as a playback machine. It feeds prepared content including live video, promos, graphics and ads to the in-stadium display. Talking about the installation, Steven said: “We wanted to carry on using EVS servers because we never had an issue with our previous units. They were bulletproof.”
Two EVS IPDirector stations are also in place inside Kauffman Stadium, being used to better manage the venue’s live media content. One acts as the primary live asset management system and is used by a dedicated operator throughout live games. The second – put in place ahead of the 2018 season – is made available to the rest of the team, letting them search for stored content without needing to interrupt the primary operator. After each game, the production team uses IPDirector to offload all that day’s footage from the EVS servers to nearline storage, so the live content can be used in highlights and packages by the team.
- Industry-standard replays
EVS technology is the standard for live video, delivering the highest-quality output for sports teams like the KC Royals
- Reliable workflow
EVS servers provide failure-free operation for years, even when used in seasons that feature the most home games in US sports
- Protected investments
Its long shelf-life means EVS technology will provide the Royals with the ability to continually get the most out of their investment
- Easy UHD adoption, when needed
Putting in place higher resolution-capable servers, the KC Royals’ production team can begin outputting UHD-4K whenever they need to with no additional technology
The new equipment from EVS has been operational since the beginning of the 2018 MLB season and has quickly proven that it provides the team with the best replay workflow available.
As well as a system with proven reliability, the EVS servers will continue to last the stadium’s production team even as they begin to plan the live production workflow of the future. “In the next few years, it’s likely that we’ll undergo a complete production control room upgrade. We put these servers in place, so we could begin outputting 4K if needed, without having to put in place any more equipment,” added Steven.
Talking about the team’s deployment of a second IPDirector station, Funke noted that he feels the system is the best replay workflow user interface available for fast content management. “IPDirector’s layout makes it very easy to use. I’ve previously worked with several other interfaces, but IPDirector’s ability to find and organize clips makes it the best - bar none.”
The easy to operate nature of EVS technology also extends to the Royals’ new servers. “I’ve had several new operators start this year with no prior replay experience,” commented Steven. “But it’s easy to teach them how to use EVS. And the fact that the equipment is industry-standard means it’s a skill they can take to other jobs.”
Above all, the EVS technology in place at Kauffman Stadium provides the production team with a robust and reliable workflow. “Baseball is for the tough guys,” concluded Steven Funke. Our video equipment takes a beating over the course of the long-haul MLB season and I know having EVS in place means we’ll always be recording, delivering high-quality instant replays no matter what.”