In Focus: Video & Television Production
This story commissioned by Capital One Bank:
The advancement and development of the Internet along with the evolution of technology has allowed the fan watching experience to improve, coaches practices to evolve and officiating crews to get better.
Aucoin's staff handles the internal and external videos that coaches, players and the Southeastern Conference use during its weekly preparations.
"The lion share of what we are responsible for is the analysis video for the coaches," Aucoin said. "Everything for the coaches is on a computer. We have an 80 terabyte server that we upload all of our practice and game video on. All that the coaches look at is on the server. Each team gives us their game films. We categorize it and have a database of all the pertinent information for each play. We build statistical reports, which give you tendencies for situations."
The SEC operates on Dragonfly Athletics' peer-to-peer Internet exchange, which is a conference wide interchange with each team able to extract relevant information onto their independent XOS networks for internal use for their coaches.
"The technology has made us more efficient," Aucoin said. "Before the Internet, we were on tapes. We would have to run a copy off on tape, we would call a courier, the courier would come pick up the box of tapes, bring it to the airport, put it on the flight to the next opponent's city and a courier would pick it up. You were at the mercy of the airline's schedule."
Wagner's staff is responsible for the in-stadium video boards and the broadcast television functions, which includes acting as the liaison between the major television networks that come to town for game days. Part of this job is coordinating with the network's operations manager the arrivals of their production trucks, uplink trucks and the positioning of their cameras.
"For instance, the Alabama game was a CBS primetime game, where they go all out," Wagner said. "They had 26 cameras in our stadium for that game. A regular 2:30 time slot game is a scaled down version of that primetime game, and I think that they have 18 cameras. There is a lot of coordination back and forth between us, the networks and the league before they arrive."
Both Wagner and Aucoin are responsible for making sure cameras are placed in the right position. For Wagner, his job is to make sure that the sideline cart camera is in place, the jib camera (the long armed camera) is in the right end zone and that reserved seating visibility is not compromised.
"There is no real conference policy except that we are expected to accommodate within the confines of our stadium what the networks ask for," Wagner said. "We are the ones operating the cameras that get people onto the video boards during the game. We have four cameras in each venue and an engineer at each game because our control room, which a lot of people don't know, is on the fifth floor of the Athletic Administration Building."
Aucoin positions a camera in each end zone and a camera in the press box along the sideline. The sideline camera captures all 22 players on the field, uses a wide angle shot and includes defensive backs and passing schemes. The end zone cameras focus in on the line of scrimmage, which shows blocking schemes and gap responsibilities.
Both crews use technology to allow them to get their jobs done from remote locations and with speed.
"The guts to our operation is our control room," Wagner said. "We have communication back and forth. In addition to the people in the venue and the people in our control room, we have a replay operator, two different graphics people, someone that makes sure videos are run in conjunction with the audio, someone editing down the game as the game goes on for Coach's Show purposes and another engineer. The replays on the video boards are actually done from outside the stadium."
Aucoin's team often will have the game film broken down and available for coaches at the conclusion of the game. Coaches typically need this film for Sunday morning evaluations.
"We actually shoot on an SD card. We pop our cards out, bring it to a laptop on the sideline and start editing the game during the actual game," Aucoin said. "At the end of the game, we run reports and marry those reports to the video. It is a record of every play. It gives you down, distance, field position, personnel, formation and the play that was run. The coaches will come in Sunday morning, grade their players and themselves, meet with Coach Miles and put that game to bed before they turn their attention to the next opponent."
Similarly, Aucoin's staff has the footage of the game uploaded to the conference's server within an hour or two after each game.
"On Saturday night, after the game is finished, we immediately come back and separate the game into three different cut ups - offense, defense and special teams," Aucoin said. "By the time our game is over, our opponent already has our tape and we have theirs. The graduate assistants can start breaking that down and analyzing it for the coaches."
The SEC office also has access to the server and uses the game film to rank their officials.
"The head off officials at the SEC office will download every game and grade their officials on their own," Aucoin said. "Also on Sunday, we will send in a list of whether there was a missed call, a questionable call or something that we might have not agreed with. Sometimes we will see a penalty on us that they didn't catch. We are trying to help them get better. They will give a response back based on their interpretations. At the very least it gets Coach Miles on the same page, but it also makes the officials better."
Although the technological advances has improved the way Wagner and Aucoin execute their professions, the increased demand for instantaneous content has forced proactive planning.
"We stay two weeks ahead because by Sunday morning you have to have that next opponent finished," Aucoin said. "It is an intense process to get it finished up. By Monday, we are working on the next opponent. During the week, we are continually working on the next opponent, but we have access to download every opponent every week. With the Internet exchange, we have access to pull tape from Georgia-Florida for example. We can start uploading games every week to get ready for future opponents."