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The New England Patriots Trust 8K Solutions’ mastRcam to Safely Film Practices

The mastRcam allows head coach Bill Belichick and his team of champions to film outdoor practices from high angles with ease.

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Photo via mastRcam

(8K Solutions is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

For football coaches and administrators, filming practice is a necessity in order to help their team improve. For many years, however, this was not the easiest or safest process.

In those days, a video coordinator or student intern would be positioned at the top of a scissor lift, or some other high structure, with a camera. This put the camera operator at risk of serious injury or death should they fall off or have an encounter with the elements, such as high wind, extreme heat or cold, or lightning.

Thankfully, 8K Solutions presented an answer to this problem with the introduction of the mastRcam four years ago. The mastRcam is 8K Solutions’ line of cameras that are able to film from tall heights while being operated by a person safely on the ground. Twenty-six of the NFL’s 32 teams (as well as 27 NCAA programs) utilize some version of the mastRcam, including both teams playing in this Sunday’s Super Bowl: the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots.

READ MORE: Microsoft’s NFL Campaigns Culminate in Super Bowl Week Activation

Now in their fourth year of regularly using the mastRcam, the Patriots have seen firsthand the benefits that this technology provides. The New England region regularly gets hit with microbursts, which are small, but very strong windstorms. Since head coach Bill Belichick prefers to practice outside whenever possible, the Patriots’ video team would film from the top of a scissor lift. After a particularly strong microburst, that resulted in the loss of a camera, however, the team needed a better, safer option to film practices from high angles.

As Patriots’ video director Jimmy Dee explains, this is when the team made the switch to the mastRcam.

“You can’t be up on a lift with more than 20-mph winds,” Dee says. “But with the mastRcam, you’re not going to miss a practice. When the weather was bad, we still would try to find another way to film by going up in a nearby building or something like that, but it wasn’t the same as being in our designated location for shooting practice. With the mastRcam, we can shoot in high winds and it’s safe.”

Multiple versions of the mastRcam exist, including the mastRcam mobile, mastRcam SC, and mastRcam Tower. All of these enable the user to safely position a camera high above a practice field. On top of providing teams like the Patriots with a safer way to film, the mastRcam is also more maneuverable than a traditional lift or a stationary structure.

READ MORE: Nike Turns App Into Store With First SNKRS Pop-Up in Atlanta

“Sometimes you would have trouble getting multiple good camera angles with a lift compared to what you can get with a mastRcam,” Dee adds. “It has tremendous range and great flexibility. You can move it really quickly if you have to instead of bringing a lift down, starting it up, and driving it to a new location while practice is going on. If you have to bring the mastRcam down, you can just push it. It’s a great product for us.”

8K Solutions was contracted by the NFL to supply mastRcams for the practices leading up to the game in Atlanta this week. With the mobility of the company’s cameras and the ease of operation, preparing for the biggest game of the season became a bit simpler. This is the kind of service that championship video professionals like Dee have come to expect from the Florida-based company.

“8K Solutions are great. They’re always willing to give us as much help as we need. They’re the best.”

For more information on the mastRcam and the 8K Solutions’ family of products, visit 8KSolutions.com.

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Viz Arena’s Down & Distance Gives Ravens Fans More to Cheer About

Vizrt’s game-changing technology is a vital storytelling tool for the Baltimore Ravens and soon could be throughout professional football.

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Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

(*VIZRT is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens know a lot about meeting goals on and off the field. Since 2000, the team has won two Super Bowl, two AFC Championships and five AFC North division titles. Now, as a three-year, $120 million renovation nears completion, the Ravens want to make M&T Stadium the very best place in the U.S. to experience football.

Vizrt’s Viz Arena live sports enhancement solution is a vital part of the upgrade. Both a fan enhancement tool and a monetization solution, Viz Arena enables the addition of augmented reality graphics, including virtual ads, through image-based tracking.

The sweeping renovation also includes a high-density WiFi network, larger and higher-resolution in-stadium video screens and a completely overhauled control room with the most advanced video production solutions available today.

With Viz Arena and their new broadcast equipment, the Ravens can now give fans an even more immersive in-stadium experience through cleaner, more professional in-stadium programming. The team also tacked on a package called Down & Distance, a software application of Viz Arena that inserts a yellow first-down marker, making the line appear painted on the field rather than digitally imposed. This is the first application of its kind available in 1080p or 4K without any upscaling or complex image processing.

For Vice President of Broadcasting and Gameday Productions Jay O’Brien and his production staff, this means enhancing replays and in-stadium entertainment to include first-down line capabilities for the first time.

It’s become the standard for watching football and has completely changed the viewing experience,” explains O’Brien. “Fans aren’t looking at sticks and the chain any more. They look to the video boards. The yellow line has changed fans’ viewing patterns, so it has to be accurate and reliable. We can’t afford any mistakes.”  

The Viz Arena Down & Distance tool can also seamlessly and unobtrusively integrate locked-in virtual graphics or ads on or around the field of play. They can be fully integrated into a production at a specific location or tied to the lines as they move.This versatility allows multiple sponsors and graphics to change throughout the game. It adds an extra incentive for sponsors and another revenue stream for the organization.

“What’s surprising is how much Down & Distance has changed the way we produce our content,” O’Brien continues, “It gives us in the control room information in real time that’s vital to enhance the in-stadium fan experience and get more value from our programming.”

In the past, O’Brien worked with other similar video solutions that didn’t live up to his team’s needs or expectations. After using Viz Arena’s Down and Distance for a short time, however, he could see that the end product was of a higher quality altogether. Not only that, it’s cost-effective: Down and Distance depends on live or archived footage instead of cameras and doesn’t require expensive, labor-intensive deployment.

As an added bonus, the solution only took O’Brien and his team roughly 25 minutes to set up and about the same time to learn how to use. All told, O’Brien expects the solution to be a much bigger part of the fan experience landscape in the near future.

“Vizrt wants to innovate with us. They want a larger footprint in the NFL space, and that’s sure to happen as more teams become aware of what Viz Arena and its applications can do,” he says. “I’ve been a cheerleader for this product, and we want to stretch our use of the solution even further next year.”

For more information Vizrt’s Viz Arena and Down & Distance application, please visit www.vizrt.com or email sports@vizrt.com.

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Connect&GO’s RFID Solutions Improve Live Events For Fans And Venues

The founders of Connect&GO brought several uses for radio-frequency identification technology to the world of live sports and entertainment.

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Photo Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

(*Connect&GO is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology can have many practical uses. In the past, Anthony Palermo has developed RFID solutions within the realms of healthcare, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and military operations. In 2012, Palermo and Dominic Gagnon joined forces to found Connect&GO in Montréal, Québec. Connect&GO provides RFID solutions for sports and entertainment events and venues all over the world.

Seven years ago, Palermo and Gagnon had their first major success within the sports industry with Montréal’s Saputo Stadium, home of Major League Soccer’s Montréal Impact.

At the time, Saputo Stadium comfortably sat about 16,000 fans, but a plan was in process to add 5,000 more seats. The venue enlisted Palermo and Gagnon to find a way to attract more fans while simultaneously making game entry  as easy as possible. Their solution was a plastic key that fans could scan in an express lane to enter the stadium on game days.

“The concept was fans could have their own key to the stadium,” Palermo says. “We wanted to make fans feel like the stadium belonged to them.”

Every seventh fan that scanned their key would even see their name and photo appear on a monitor welcoming them to the stadium. Fans could also scan the keys at several points around the stadium to enter contests, utilize photo kiosks and collect points that were redeemable at the fan shop and other areas tied into the stadium. It was from this success that Palermo and Gagnon realized they had a valuable tool for access control as well as cashless payments and experiential activations. From there, Connect&GO was born.

“We personally believe, as a company and as founders of the company, that technology should only be there to make an experience better, not to impose on an experience,” Palermo says. “What we’re trying to do is look at guest experiences and ask how do we make it a better? How do we make people see the value in being a VIP or a season ticket holder?

“What we don’t want to do is have people use technology for technology’s sake. We don’t want to drive people to an app. We want to maximize the amount of time that people are using to actually take in the game or show. That’s a personal mission that we have.”

This focus on the guest experience is what Palermo believes sets Connect&GO apart from other RFID solutions providers in the space.

“RFID just happened to be the technology that as a team we mastered over the years, but it really wasn’t about that.” he says. We ask questions such as, ‘How do people enter? Is the parking frustrating? Is getting through security frustrating?’ What we’re trying to do is make everything that much easier, and it gets people to just enjoy their experience as well.”

After the Saputo Stadium project, Connect&GO partnered with the Osheaga Festival, Canada’s largest music festival. From there, the company has performed activations with brands including Pepsi and HBO at events like the Super Bowl, the Olympics, Comicon and SXSW. In 2017, Sports Illustrated named Connect&GO a company that will “change the way you watch sports.” Moving forward, Connect&GO has activations lined up with the Rogers Cup and the AFL.

As Connect&GO continues to focus on ways to improve the guest experience through access, payments and experiential solutions, look for their footprint within the sports industry to continue to grow exponentially in the near future.

Learn more about Connect&GO and how they connect the fan experience at live games in their latest whitepaper here.

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Walking Through The AAF’s Bankruptcy Declaration

With the Alliance of American Football filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, stakeholders in the short-lived league could be waiting a while to get paid.

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Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

(*Citrin Cooperman is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

The collapse of the Alliance of American Football (“AAF”) has led to the filing of multiple lawsuits against the AAF as well as the AAF filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Texas. There were early signs that the AAF was having financial difficulties when it needed cash in the middle of the season to meet its operational demands such as payroll.  

“When the AAF suspended its operations in early April, it left many, including players and vendors, wondering if and when they would get paid,” says Maryann Veytsman a director in the Valuation and Forensic Services practice at assurance, tax, and advisory firm Citrin Cooperman. “Collecting unpaid salary and/or payments will depend on how many assets the AAF has and what type of creditor each person or company is deemed to be per the Bankruptcy Code.”

There are two basic types of business bankruptcies:  Chapter 7 (liquidation) or Chapter 11 (reorganization).  

“Businesses such as the AAF typically file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or liquidation if the business has no viable future,” Veytsman continues. “If restructuring is not an option, likely because the business’ debts are so large and the business does not have substantial assets, then liquidation is necessary. This typically leads to the business being dissolved.”

READ MORE: AAF Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy 

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which can take many months or even years to complete, a trustee is appointed by the bankruptcy court. The trustee takes possession of the business’ assets and distributes them among the creditors. After the assets are distributed, the trustee and employees are paid.  

“If the AAF had a realistic chance to succeed, then it could have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy,” Veytsman believes. “In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a company formulates a plan of reorganization, which outlines how it will pay its creditors. The payments to creditors are typically made over a period of time and may even exceed ten-to-twenty years. The creditors have to vote on the plan, and the court will approve the plan if it is found to be fair and equitable.”

Per the Bankruptcy Code, a business’ assets are distributed in the following order:

  1. Secured creditors are paid first because their money is guaranteed or “secured” by collateral or contract.  
  2. Unsecured creditors are paid second. Unsecured claims can be priority or non-priority claims. 
    • Priority unsecured claims are administrative expenses related to the bankruptcy such as trustee fees, wages and salaries, contributions to an employment plan and taxes owed to the government.
    • Non-priority unsecured claims are all other unsecured claims that are not listed as a priority in the Bankruptcy Code and typically include bank lenders, suppliers and investors with unsecured claims.
  3. General creditors are paid last. General creditors are typically made up of stockholders and shareholders and are paid if there is any money left after paying the previous two groups of creditors.

“Secured creditors get cash first and are typically paid in full while the unsecured claims receive a pro rata share of their debt,” explains Veytsman. “However, some unsecured creditors get priority over other unsecured creditors per the Bankruptcy Code. The priority claims related to AAF would likely be any administrative expenses related to the bankruptcy such as trustee fees, wages and salaries, contributions to an employee benefit plan and taxes.

However, wages and salaries (including commissions and vacation) are only a priority claim up to a maximum of $13,650 as of April 2019 per employee for any money earned within 180 days before the date of the filing of the bankruptcy petition or the date of the cessation of the debtor’s business.”

READ MORE: Mike Trout Will Pay Nearly $57 Million in State Taxes Per His New Contract

As result of what Veytsman outlines, the league’s former employees are not guaranteed all of the money that they earned or was promised to them. Employees may, however, be due additional monies if the AAF failed to follow The Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. The WARN Act mandates that employers with 100 or more employees give employees 60-days advance notice of layoffs or closure. If they don’t, employees will be entitled to an additional claim for back pay and benefits for the number of days for which notice was not given.

Any expenses the players incurred during travel for the AAF, such as hotel rooms, will likely be unsecured claims. As a result, they will likely receive little to no reimbursement. The hotels themselves are also unlikely to recoup the money owed to them. However, if AAF employees paid for any expenses using a corporate card, then it is unlikely that the credit card issuers would look for payment from the employees specifically if the employees filed expense reports with the AAF and followed company procedures.

The bottom line? As the proceedings unfold, it could be a while before all parties receive their due payments.

Citrin Cooperman guides the sports world’s best companies and individuals when it comes to traditional accounting and tax support, guidance on developing business and financial plans, and much more. Visit their website to learn more.

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