The founder of Nutmeg Sports Media, Mark Torres breaks down performance, func­tion­al­i­ty and more in this Q&A covering Hudl’s portable smart camera solution.

Recently, we had the opportunity to use Focus Flex to capture one of the biggest club soccer events in the country. Because of the high volume of games, we partnered with Nutmeg Sports Media to oversee the automated capture of the nearly 1,200 matches over four days on opposite coasts. Every single match was recorded with a fraction of the manual operators typically used. We discussed the ease of use of Focus Flex as well as the camera’s overall performance with Mark Torres, the founder of Nutmeg Sports Media.

Tell us a little bit about your background in sports videography. How did you come to found Nutmeg Sports Media? And how have you built your company over the years?

In 2006 my daughter was born and about four years later she started playing soccer. I wanted to record every second she's on the field, you know, in case I got a future Mia Hamm on my hands. 

Fast forward a few years and people started approaching me. “Hey, would you come record our kids' game?” Well, one thing leads to another, and I ended up with a high pod system and a 25-foot tower, dragging it around North Texas. We launched Nutmeg Sports Media in 2015. Next thing you know, it went from me by myself to, I think at one point within the first two years, we had 12-15 people running around North Texas. Then we started handling events across Texas. It’s just continued to grow.

What was your first exposure to Hudl? 

I had been a user of Hudl for my daughter and was always a fan of the platform. But of course, I run a sports media company, we have the capabilities of making highlight videos. But, I make all my kids’ highlight videos in Hudl. I don't even use the products that we pay for monthly since I just do it in Hudl. It's faster.

Tell me about your first experience with the Hudl Focus Flex cameras. What was that like when you got your hands on a camera? 

The first Flex camera I got happened to be the day I had a match already scheduled for a client doing manual capture. I took the Flex camera with me and just said, “You know what? I'm going to test to see what it does.” I started the recording, and to my surprise, it captured [the] games well. So, from the get-go, it was right out of the box, doing exactly what it was supposed to do.  We had been big users of one of your competitors but we sold all of those units and just went all in on Flex. 

Recently [at the ECNL Playoffs] I think we did 1,130 matches between Greensboro and San Diego using Flex. I don't think anybody's ever been able to accomplish capturing nearly 1,200 matches on either coast at the same time. To pull off those kinds of numbers, there's no way we could have done that with a manual capture camera. It wouldn't have been possible.

How does that impact what you think your business is capable of? 

Quite honestly, it changes everything. It allows for a lot more content capture than ever before, and with less manpower.

How does Flex play a role in capturing important events while providing reliable film that people can actually use? 

The Flex camera makes capturing and sharing content creation—for even your average mom and dad or player looking to maybe build their brand—simple. 

On the social media side of things, it's a big, big driver right now with college coaches. For those players to be able to play a match, go home, shower, eat, you know, they're sitting in their hotel room, recovering and actually creating highlights and posting it up on the same day is huge. You know that's something that you almost can't put a price on. 

Talk about your routine of setting up and tearing down equipment or the amount of time it takes when you’re on-site. How do these things change when you're using Flex versus when you're using a manual capture solution? 

As far as logistics go, they're almost the same. But setup time is drastically different though. 

With manual capture, you've got cabling. You've got your control unit. You've got monitors. You've got batteries. You've got 50 moving parts that if you forgot one thing at home, you're dead in the water. What if it rains? You're not leaving $3,000 worth of equipment in the air to get struck by lightning.

With the Flex camera, you pull the camera out of the backpack, stick it on top of the tower, open the app, and sit on your chair. If it's raining, just put the umbrella up and you let it do its job. 

I can get a Flex camera up in the air and going in less than five minutes. Manual capture camera, it's going to take me the better part about 20 to 25 [minutes] just to get it up and situated and ready to go. That doesn't include livestreaming from a manual capture camera where you need a laptop capture card, a hotspot, and so on. For Focus Flex, I got into the app, I hit “livestream” and it's going to the platform that I wanted to. If it's Hudl TV or Team1Sports, it's just a push of a button. 

What advice would you give to coaches or filmers who are just getting started with the flex camera or who are thinking about a Focus Flex camera? 

The first advice I'd give is, “What are you waiting for?”

That's about it. I know there are other competitors out there. I've used them all, and quite honestly, there's a reason why we are strong believers in Hudl. 

Then as far as advice, there's not a whole lot to give because an eight-year-old could use the app. I have an eight-year-old son and I've shown him how to use a Flex camera. It's not that hard. 

So tell us about livestreaming with Focus Flex. What has your experience been like? How have you been using the livestreaming feature so far? 

The livestreaming has probably been my favorite part of Flex. In order to livestream a match, unless you're going to stand with a cellphone in your hand at ground level or even an iPad on a tripod, which again is ground level, it takes a lot to actually live stream a match properly so that viewers on the web can watch. 

You know, anybody can throw up something on Facebook Live. My mother tries all the time when she attends one of my son's events. So for [Flex] to deliver a quality broadcast that fast and of that quality, that's no easy feat.

For anyone who's not tech-savvy, is there anything that you would encourage them to try or to learn? 

Honestly, I think even the least tech-savvy of individuals would be successful. With the Flex app, it has its own intuitive pop-ups to prompt you on your first go-around through things. You can shut those off as you become more familiar with them but it's so intuitive…I don't see anybody really having a struggle with the way the Flex app has been designed.

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