Zeplay LLC has announced that Lucas Oil Production Studios, which produces multi-camera coverage of motorsports programming for four major networks, has added two of Zeplay’s latest-generation instant replay systems to its primary production truck.
Based in Corona, Calif., Lucas Oil produces 1080p coverage of a variety of racing sports, from Lucas Oil Late Model Series, American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) and Automobile Racing Club of America Menards (ARCA) events to professional tractor pulls (PPL) and Motocross. The company installed earlier-generation Zeplay systems in all three of its production trucks in 2016 and added the latest Zeplay to its “Alpha” truck late last year. The latest Zeplay release includes the Zeplay R7 server, which reduces the footprint by 50 percent, returning valuable rack space onboard Alpha.
Lucas Oil did not have a replay system before investing in Zeplay. Race coverage was line edited, with the program finished in an edit suite. Zeplay has allowed Lucas Oil to produce its replay sequences live, which eliminates the need to construct them in post. The speed of the system continues to impress across its new and existing Zeplay systems, allowing Lucas Oil to turn around replays within seconds.
The latest Zeplay system also allows users to play up to four different replay sequences simultaneously in real time on each of its four outputs. “If you’re building a sequence, you may want to add in a second sequence on the fly,” explained Shawn Stafford, technical operations manager for Lucas Oil Production Studios. “Adding a second sequence to the output gives the director and the producer another place to go and adds to the viewer experience.”
Stafford also praised Zeplay’s customizable multiviewer, which displays all inputs, outputs, and information on one screen. “Our Zeplay operator is in the middle of the truck, and the producer is in the front of the truck,” he said. “The built-in multiviewer provides the producer the same look that the Zeplay operator has, which allows them to proof the replay before it hits the air.”
With multi-format support, Zeplay allows Lucas Oil to natively transfer files from ENG cameras in the field without transcoding, so footage can be used immediately. “If they have shot a quick interview out in the pits for the opening sequence,” Stafford said, “they use the FTP server and drop it right into Zeplay.”
Zeplay has even helped an officiating crew at a recent event in Dallas, where there was a near-disqualification at the end of a very close race. The officials visited the production truck to review the replay footage. “They watched the end of the race, and discovered that the driver didn’t create the infraction,” Stafford recalled. “Zeplay helped them confirm he was qualified to finish the race.”
Stafford said he learned how to use the system in about 45 minutes. “It’s really not a complicated system to operate, and we can train new operators to use the system on very short notice. The learning curve is unusually fast,” he noted. “I think the biggest thing that came with our Zeplay is the customer support. I have not found a better customer support company.”
Stafford adds that the R7 server brings a new set of benefits to Lucas Oil’s mobile production environments. Introduced last year, the more compact Zeplay R7 – 2RU compared to the previous 4RU version – delivers solid-state drives for faster processing and improved reliability in addition to its reduced footprint.
“When building our production trucks, we need to consider space and weight because of how heavy all the other equipment is,” Stafford said. “The new Zeplay R7 came in at half the size of the old system, so it’s a lot easier for us to fit it into our production trucks. If I’m saving two rack units, that means I can add another 2RU piece of equipment – or I can put in another Zeplay.”