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AJA Ki Pro Ultra Plus Gives Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union a Leg Up on Performance Analysis

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AJA Ki Pro Ultra Plus Gives Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union a Leg Up on Performance Analysis
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AJA Ki Pro Ultra Plus Gives Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union a Leg Up on Performance Analysis
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Head Performance Analyst Eoin Toolan lives by a mantra of “Educate Through Video” as he works with coaches and staff at Super Rugby’s Melbourne Rebels to execute performance gains for the club. Drawing on former experience as a rugby player and developing video workflows for Irish Rugby’s analysis group, Toolan understands the benefits of high quality video in performance analysis and has transformed the Rebels’ video analysis workflow since his arrival at AAMI Park in Australia. Recently, he introduced the AJA Ki Pro Ultra Plus (KPUP) multi-channel HD recorder into the team’s video workflow to take the quality of the team’s post-game analysis to the next level. 

Toolan’s workflow comprises a portable myplayXplay™ system that is located in either the coach box or a broadcast truck, depending on the match. The system, which facilitates live video replay to iPad Pros, resides in a custom built flight pack with four SDI connections that take feeds from the Ki Pro Ultra Plus. Four cameras capture different match angles/views – including TV, Side Wide, Tight and End-On views– recording with KPUP in ProRes 444 to AJA Pak 1000 1TB SSD media drives; the KPUP feeds are simultaneously looped out and into the myplayXplay, and the system streams all content to 12” iPad Pros. Up to five coaching staff members, including medical officers, can view 1080p content on the iPads during matches, and select various angles.

In addition to supporting live review of H.264 footage on iPad Pros, the setup ensures ProRes recordings for deeper, post game analysis. “By combining myplayXplay for live in-game performance review with Ki Pro Ultra Plus for high resolution post-match review, I’ve engineered the best of both tools into a single solution,” Toolan explained. 

During each match, line coaches select relevant views, tag footage and provide commentary at half time or during breaks in play via the iPads. By the end of each game, more than 550GB of ProRes footage is recorded to each Pak drive. Footage is then uploaded to a suite of MacBook Pros at the team’s home base and run through Sportscode software, which compresses the ProRes files back to additional H.264 content for simultaneous editing and analysis. Final recordings are then uploaded to the team’s collaborative hub, Hudl, for remote viewing. 

Coaches review the recordings to examine the team’s attacking and defense structures, critique player positions on the pitch, see how the team can better exploit opportunities presented by the opposition, and review alignment and spacing in defense formations. Individual players use the footage to analyze their performance as well. “Our workflow is extremely powerful,” Toolan said. “Rather than relying on memory, coaches and players have visual evidence to reference and can make more informed adjustments. I’ve been really happy with the quality and fidelity of the video Ki Pro Ultra Plus has brought to the table; it makes it far easier to identify players, touches and ball movement on the field. The difference from our previous solution is as dramatic as when I first went from SD to HD frame content sizes.” 

KPUP’s KiProtect data integrity feature has also played a key role in the Rebels’ workflow. Before KPUP, the team had no way to recover footage in the event of video failure from an OB truck, but now, Toolan no longer worries about compromised recordings. “The integrity of Ki Pro Ultra Plus’ recorded content is remarkable. I’ve pulled out SDI cables during recording and plugged them back in, and the continuity of the files remains unaffected,” he added. “From an analyst perspective, that peace of mind alleviates a lot of pain and headache when trying to sync and keep continuity between all the angles captured for post game review. It’s saved our analysts and myself a lot of time, and is a massive step forward for our live production needs.”

A similar setup is used for training analysis at the team’s home training ground, except the sources include an AXIS PTZ HD IP camera mounted to an 8 meter pole and a GoPro attached to a Phantom 4 drone. In this case, footage is looped out of a controller and fed into the KPUP and myplayXplay for a live stream and post-training recording. 

About Ki Pro Ultra Plus 
Ki Pro Ultra Plus is a multi-channel recorder offering 2, 3 or 4-channel simultaneous HD recording up to 1080 50/60p, or in single-channel mode, 4K/UltraHD/2K/HD recording and playback, with full HDMI 2.0 input and output (up to 12-bit capture and output). Housed in a 2RU half-rack, it offers extensive I/O flexibility and a range of connectivity options from 3G-SDI to HDMI 2.0 and fiber. Ki Pro Ultra Plus captures pristine 4K/UltraHD and HD video to standard production codecs including Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD MXF. Channels can be displayed on Ki Pro Ultra Plus’ LCD screen as a quad-split during capture for confidence monitoring, which can also be output over HDMI, SDI, fiber, and the device’s web-based UI.