SVG-U Q&A: Doug Erickson, Director of Basketball Administration, UCLA

Most of a video director’s job often takes place behind the scenes, but UCLA Director of Basketball Administration Doug Erickson takes that to a whole new level. Responsible for all internal operations of the basketball program, Erickson took it upon himself to create an archive of every college basketball game — both men’s and women’s — televised throughout the course of the season. Although he estimates that most of the games he records are never watched, those that are prove invaluable for the Bruins’ coaching staff, especially when March Madness rolls around. Erickson put down his remote for a few moments this week to chat with SVG-U about the system he has built.

How did you get the idea to do this?

I’ve been here for 17 years, and, my first year, we could only find games on ESPN and a couple of local channels, so I recorded those on VHS. When DirecTV came along, I spoke to [Director of Video Operations] Ken Norris and said, let’s get a couple of recording stations. He said sure, so I said give me eight of them. From there, the technology just builds, from VHS to DVR to TiVo with computers. This new system here takes a ton of time; tape was actually a little quicker but not nearly as efficient. It’s probably easier to set the games with tape, but copying and cutting them now is simple and takes four minutes, not two hours.

What equipment are you using?

It was kind of difficult to put a DVD in and just press record, because TV networks switch between games so much. I wanted a DVD player that would record to a hard drive and let you cut out whatever you want and burn the remainder.

I explained to our video staffer what I wanted and that a normal DVD machine would not cut it with the amount of work we do. He found out about Panasonic DVRs that give us the ability to record, edit, and then burn to a DVD in less than four minutes, so we bought 10 of them. We also have two DirecTV receivers and two TiVos that can each record two things at a time.

How does the system work?

The first thing I’ll do when I come in in the morning is sit down with the DirecTV receivers and the TiVos, go to the guide, and find each game. I set all the game times and channels, set a time to record, and make a note of what is recording and when. I do this for the women’s games as well, so the recorders are often going until about 2 a.m. The next morning, I’ll come in and make sure all the games are recorded, burn each one separately to a DVD, and set the schedule for the next day.

Because I burn the games to DVDs at the highest quality, only about two hours and five minutes fits on the disc, so, if the game runs long, I can go back and edit out halftime, which usually saves 15 minutes.

I record pretty much every game I can possibly get on TV onto a DVD, file them in a cabinet, and then put their locations in a spreadsheet database so that we know where every single game is and who played in it. This is very helpful for our Pac-10 opponents, and then also, when we find out who we play for the NCAA tournament in March, instead of having video requests FedExed all over, which takes at least a day or so, we have film in four minutes.

How do you store all of that content?

The DVDs are filed in a four-drawer cabinet during the season, so they’re all there if we need them. We also have a digital database that has a ton of storage, so, once we know what DVDs we want to keep, we’ll put them onto the server so that our video coordinator can cut them and edit them. We can also do that directly from the TV we record from, using a capturing station to record not only onto a DVD but also right onto the computer server. We have four capturing stations integrated into the DirecTV system. If we know we’re playing a team later in the year, I try to ingest right away.

Our server has 1,800 hours’ worth of storage. We split that with women’s basketball, but we usually use the majority.

Does anyone else know about this?

The Los Angeles Clippers called me last week and said they heard I had a machine that you can edit on and burn a DVD in four minutes, so I’ll be discussing the system with them. We also get calls from other schools looking for specific games, and I’ll help them out as best I can, building up favors for when I need something down the road.

We also do this for football, women’s volleyball, and softball, recording as many games as we can to help out all the programs. I’ve trained an administrative assistant and two managers to use the system as well, so, if I’m out of town or on the road, we have some backup who can come in to make sure that the system still functions.

Of the hundreds of hours of footage you log each week, about how much do you say gets watched?

Probably only 10%. Probably 90% never gets watched, but that 10% is critical for helping our coaches get an advantage in preparation.