PAC-10’s DIGITAL VIDEO EXCHANGE FOR COACHES GAINS MOMENTUM

By
Carolyn Braff

Last year
at this time, UCLA Video Operations Director Ken Norris was embarking on a
foray into the unknown, changing the way college football programs share
coaching video. This year, Norris has become the nation’s video exchange guru
as coordinators from schools across the country turn to him to answer their
digital exchange questions. Happily, Norris’ team is still coming up with the
answers.

A year
ago, the Pac-10 implemented a digital method of sharing game film to replace
the antiquated courier service model that was costly in time, resources and
budget. Shipping edited game film routinely takes 24-36 hours to arrive at its
destination and costs a school anywhere from $150 to $500 per week.

Norris
found a better way, using the

Abilene
network to share game tape online. An Internet2 10-gigabit-per-second backbone
network,

Abilene
is open to universities and research labs nationwide, and provides the
necessary infrastructure for efficient file sharing. The program was tested at
select schools in 2005 and by last season, everyone in the Pac-10 was on board.

” Everything
went very well last season and things are progressing very well this season,”
Norris said. “There is no change really from what we did last year to this
year. We’ve had some minor software development improvements, but it’s just
going flawlessly.”

Those
software developments include the purchase of a 10 gigabit network card that
will provide 12 terrabytes of main production storage for game film. The UCLA
campus network upgrade has also jumpstarted connection speeds. A year ago,
Pac-10 schools could download a 20GB file in less than eight minutes; Norris
can now download a 15.5GB file in three.

“I’m
downloading in three minutes for a complete game,” Norris said. “That was the
fastest we’ve had, but I test a lot of different things.”

With the
success the Pac-10 has had, other conferences are trying to get in on the
action. Every conference has a slightly different process for exchange – the SEC
uses a third-party system called Dragonfly, while the Big Ten, under the
watchful eye of

Michigan
video coordinator Phil Bromley, uses an FTP model.

The Big
12 purchased FTP Exchange servers in June and July of 2005,

fully integrated them in August, and were the first conference to have

full week to week participation.

“It’s
worked out fantastic over the last couple of years,” Bromley said. “All 11
schools are involved and we’re all communicating with each other. We all go
through it each year and try to make it better. Everybody’s got their own way
and it all works, and as time goes by, the cream will come to the top on what
is the best way to do it.”

Bromley
has chosen a peer-to-peer model over FTP that exchanges two different sets of
files, MXF files and OMFI files. With numerous editing systems in use by the
different programs, Bromley hopes the MXF files well provide the single file
format needed to allow a universal option.

“It
allows all the different formats to be wrapped in one, and then they can import
and export out of different systems,” Bromley said. “Having to put the MXF in
there also has added some time to our work, but it doesn’t monopolize one
company, because you can use those files with just about any editing system.”

The
Pac-10 uses a central server that the conference might as well name Norris.

“The
thing that makes this system go is that I’m managing it,” Norris said of the
differences between his Pac-10 model and other conference models. “I don’t
think the method that we’re using is popular because someone in the conference
has to step up and use the resources on their campus to do what we do.

“There
are definitely conferences that want to learn but the biggest thing that we’re
faced with is that guys want to do it right now, but some of them aren’t taking
the time to really evaluate their networks on campus. They might have a nice
backbone connection, but how that connection gets to their department is
another story.”

Norris
said that it is imperative for schools to test their connections all the way
from the central server to the edge of campus, but it is just as important that
IT departments understand and support the video coordinators’ project. Much
headway has been made in the past 12 months, including receiving a letter of
support for the project from the CEO of Internet2, but resistance still hampers
the progress of some universities.


The biggest thing down the road is for everybody to come together with some
kind of an open exchange where it’s easier for us to work with the smaller
schools that we play,” Bromley said. Many of

Michigan’s non-conference opponents are
still exchanging video via FedEx, because they do not have the technology, the
training or the personnel to set up a digital exchange.

“Most of
the big conferences have a way to move files back and forth in an effective
way,” Bromley said. “We’re able to get around non-conference-wise on the big
level, but if you go to the smaller schools, they’re still struggling with not having
the technology.”

What’s
next? What else – HD

For now,
video exchange is working perfectly, but once hi definition enters the
question, it will be a whole new ballgame for these coordinators.

“The
problem that we’re going to face is when hi def comes in and the file sizes get
three times the size they are now,” Norris said. When working in HD, transfer
time, storage space and funding is all going to be stretched to the limit.
Luckily, that switchover should not happen any time soon.

“I think
the hi def is still a ways down the road,” Bromley said. “There is no doubt
that’s going to be a challenge for everybody. The financial part is just
astronomical.” In addition to purchasing monitors and computers, Bromley said
that the entire video system is going to have to be replaced and storage
availability will have to increase exponentially.

Panasonic
provided UCLA with a HD camera that the video coordinators will demo and test
this season, and some of that content will be sent to vendors like XOS
technologies, who will have to start developing software to use the HD video in
house.

“It’s up
to us to push them to that next level,” Norris said.

Rest
assured, with pioneers like Bromley and Norris at the helm, they will.

Click
below to take a look at the GUI of the traffic on the Pac-10 sports server.

http://cstnt2.ats.ucla.edu/128.97.230.129_171.html