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Volume 25 No. 196
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FreeD Bringing Improved Replay System To NBA For All-Star Weekend

FreeD technology returns to NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto with an improved system that reduces the time it takes to process the sophisticated reverse angle replays, according to officials tied to the technology. Produced by Dallas-based Replay Technologies, FreeD captures and freezes reverse angle replays that are then broadcast on television and in-venue video boards. The technology was first used by the NBA at the ’14 All-Star Game in New Orleans. Since that time, Replay Technologies, paired with Intel’s cutting-edge processors, has developed a faster process to improving the viewer’s and fan experience. In Toronto, the tech vendor, in conjunction with the NBA and Turner Sports, has installed 28 high-tech cameras for 360-degree coverage in the seating bowl at Air Canada Centre. Expanding the coverage takes double the power and hardware compared with New Orleans, but Replay Technologies has reduced the processing time to under four minutes, a 30% improvement over two years ago, said company VP/Operations & Technology Preston Phillips. Starting Friday night, Turner will exclusively use the technology for its broadcast of the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, followed by State Farm All-Star Saturday Night and Sunday’s 65th NBA All-Star Game. Fans attending those events can view FreeD on the center-hung board. The FreeD replays can also be seen through video on demand on NBA.com and the NBA’s mobile app.

BULLISH ON THE TECHNOLOGY: NBA Entertainment Exec VP/Operations & Technology Steve Hellmuth remains bullish on the technology that is already in place at American Airlines Center in Dallas and Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. “I like to call it virtual reality from the outside in,” Hellmuth said. “It provides absolutely spectacular replays for NBA fans. As the camera spins around, you get to see the passing lanes and the options for taking a shot, passing the ball or driving to the hoop. It’s a unique perspective that without this technology would be otherwise unachievable.” This weekend, fans can anticipate a quicker “speed-to-air” transition through Intel’s processing capabilities. “They’ve closed the gap,” Hellmuth said. “I think it’s going to be very dramatic inside the venue, especially with all of these new and bigger video boards. Ultimately, as the time to air [FreeD replays] gets closer to real time, we will use it as the [NBA’s official] replay center for getting the calls right.” Elsewhere in sports, FreeD is installed at AT&T Stadium, M&T Bank Stadium and Dodger Stadium. Additionally, the 49ers will use FreeD for the ‘16 season after the technology was used for Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium.