COVID-19 concerns suspended U.S. sports leagues in March. The NWSL launched the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup on June 27, making it the first professional team sports league to return to action in the United States. All 23 matches, which aired on a variety of CBS platforms as well as Twitch, were played in Utah. The tournament concluded on July 26 with the Houston Dash winning its first trophy in franchise history.
VISTA has been producing coverage of the NWSL for four seasons, and the Challenge Cup was its second season with Envivo Replay.
“We’ve used it on many, many events over the past two years,” said Josh Liemer, president of VISTA Worldlink. “It’s been very successful.”
Ease of use and reliability were the two major factors why VISTA chose Envivo Replay for its South Florida production facility, which regularly manages multiple productions daily. “The reliability was obviously monumental to the selection process,” Liemer explained. “Our facility is like an assembly line for production. Envivo Replay is more flexible and has an easier learning curve than other systems – and also a very attractive price point. It has given us the opportunity to be scalable and flexible at price points and production tiers where expectations span the spectrum.”
For the Challenge Cup, VISTA had 12 cameras (including manned and unmanned units), audio equipment, and a sideline reporter in Utah. The other production team members – including the director, replay operator, and commentators – performed their duties from VISTA’s South Florida facility. Of the eight Envivo Replay systems deployed at VISTA, two were tasked to provide the live productions with access to all 12 camera feeds and four outputs simultaneously, while audio was mapped through Dante Audio and integrated with the replay systems as well.
According to Liemer, the REMI (remote integration model) production workflow used for the Challenge Cup was more cost effective than renting or driving mobile production units across the country. Plus, the smaller on-site production crew allowed the production to be “very mindful of [COVID] medical protocols.”
With a drag-and-drop touch screen interface, Envivo Replay offers access to multiple clip bins and playlists. It provides up to six SDI inputs and two SDI outputs with multi-format HD support, plus Dante Audio networking and NDI support. Other features include real-time processing, adjustable slow-motion speeds, and direct delivery of content to social media outlets. The optional “Wedge” hardware slow-motion controller with integrated T-bar, which is compact for tight production spaces, is also available.