SVG-U Q&A: Brian Voltolini, Director of Football Video/Software Operations, University of Florida

When it comes to college football, too much video is never enough, so for the
University
of
Florida
’s director of football video and software operations, the work is never done. Brian Voltolini has worked in football video since 2001 and is now in his third year with the Gators. Charged with meeting coaches’ ever increasing demands for team, scouting, and recruiting video, Voltolini also oversees Coach Urban Meyer’s Website and works through the slow migration to HD in the football office. Voltolini stopped to chat with SVG-U about a day in the life of a football video coordinator at one of the nation’s most competitive programs.
What are your day-to-day operations like?
Our week starts on Sunday. That’s when we start doing cutouts for the coaches and DVDs for the players of the next opponent. We also start working on our highlight video that we show every week to the team, using Final Cut Pro. During the week, we take care of odds and ends, do cutups and records during practice, work on the highlight video.
Thursday, we get ready for the hotel. We download all the laptops and then, in the hotel, set up a movie room with a mixer so that the players have a movie to watch plus a football game at night. Saturday, we show the highlight video before we get on the bus, tear down quickly, and then jump on a bus and go to the game.
We also record the games for internal use. The GatorVision department handles the TV production of it and the coach’s show, but we record the games for our internal use to give to coaches. We help out GatorVision quite a bit: we’ll give them shots that they can use for the coach’s show, highlight videos for the end of the year, and vice versa; they’ll help us out if we miss a shot for postproduction. Our collaboration is really just for postproduction; anything that we use to help prepare the coaches for their next opponent is just for our office internally.
We’re always working on recruiting. We put video into the system for the coaches to watch every Sunday and Monday, and every Thursday morning, they’ll sit in there for about an hour. We use RSN (Recruiting and Scouting Network) from XOS for our recruiting software, and we use Recruiting Radar as our database. We add thumbnails so the coaches can look at the player’s face and then watch the video.
What Web operations do you handle, separate from GatorVision Online?
We are in charge of CoachUrbanMeyer.com, which we created and are the Web managers of. We post all the news, videos, update all the rosters and pictures. We use Flash to upload the videos, and we also do a blog every day. Our practices are closed, so we try to give people at least an insight of
Florida
football every day. Recruiting Radar hosts the site, and we work with them to do everything with it. We do put video on the Website to stream, but we don’t have any hardship doing any streaming because Recruiting Radar handles that for us.
What equipment do you have access to?
For practices, we use Ikegami DNR S20 cameras. They have SAT drives in them, so when we get done with a drill, halfway through the practice, we’ll have all the camera guys [unload the content]. We just put it in the SAT drives, and it’s already marked, so coaches can watch video right after practice. We shoot three cameras for games, two end zones and a wide, and then I have two guys on the ground for highlight videos.
For our postproduction, we have the JVC HD 110 and then a 200. Those are the only HD equipment that we have in the video room right now.
We just bought an 8-GB Xserve for our HD postproduction. Eventually, we will be putting practices and DVD cutups that we do every week on an iPod for the players. We have a closed network here. XOS is separate network for only the coaches. We don’t have that on the IT open network yet because our IT people are scared of letting anything into it and corrupting our database.
We have two AJA [converters] in postproduction that we just got with our new building, and those are nice. They are pretty good for converting everything up to the highest resolution and then to the [appropriate] format.
What do you currently produce in HD?
Our postproduction is about half HD right now, and it will probably be full HD as soon as we can record out to Blu-ray. For our coaches, we have so much storage; we have everything on opponents from the 2002 season until now. To be able to convert all that DV video into HD video would require quite a bit more storage, and it would be really tough. We probably have about 35 TB of storage, which is quite a bit. The staff never wants anything thrown away.
With the HD cameras that we use for postproduction, we have an external drive, Pro HD 110. The cameras are 720p, and they allow us also clip-by-clip Quick Time movie array. It’s already broken up so you can select the play that you want. When we get DVCPRO or any Beta, we use the AJA to convert it up to the highest resolution, so the system is as close to HD as you can get. When we put it out, it’s regular DV, but it’s a lot better quality.
Do you have plans to fully move your operations to HD?
I guess in the near future. We just got a new video office, and we were thinking about going HD, but HD is so expensive. That 8-GB Xserve that we have for postproduction, one game itself takes up 20 GB with HD, so, for the coaches to do HD, that would be really tough. You have to have your whole server in HD, projectors, your whole infrastructure. For us, that’s probably a little ways down the road, but we’re going to try to get some Blu-ray recorders and duplicators and slowly work into it. Cameras would be the next things we get, then projectors, and slowly do it that way, but to change the whole football office to HD at once would be quite expensive and time-consuming.