If you're a fan of college football, you've more than likely watched or at least heard of Auburn University. Think Cam Newton. Imagine what it's like to capture video of all of the crazy game plays and touchdown passes. And how exactly does all of the amazing footage end up on your TV screen? Weston Carter, Director of Video Services, Auburn Athletics Department, answered a few questions about the whole process.
PH: What is your specific role within the organization and does your job change from practice to game day responsibilities?
Weston Carter: I oversee all of our media systems and workflow operations on a daily basis. I also produce and edit features, as well as teach two accredited courses within the School of Journalism. I am an Avid Certified Instructor and include the Avid Media Composer curriculum (Avid MC101 and MC110) in the classes I teach.
PH: Overall what is the main mission for the video teams? Is it to get practice, get competitions or game tapes?
Weston Carter: Our video department (War Eagle Productions) has a wide range of responsibilities. We produce live events for the SEC Network, as well as all of the video boards we have on campus. Our team also produces two football television shows, one basketball television show, and various features for SEC Network broadcasts and web content.
PH: How big is the video department and is it a separate entity or do some of the department members work for specific teams only?
Weston Carter: War Eagle Productions is the video department for Auburn Athletics. Our department has grown to 14 full-time staff members and over 80 students. Within our department, we have sport video contacts that work directly with their sports. We also have editors that create content for video board operations and staffers that produce our 300+ live shows each year.
PH: Do you integrate student interns into the production workflow? What do you have them work on?
Weston Carter: We integrate our students into our production workflow for all projects. We train them on using Avid Media Composer, Avid Interplay, Avid Interplay Access, and Avid Media Central. Students gain access to footage from live events, as well as special shoots. They also assist with editing features, highlights, vignettes, and hype videos. It is amazing to see the growth of our students and the videos they are producing.
PH: Learning Avid can be pretty intense. How long have you been on Avid? Do you use any other editing platforms such as Premiere or FCP?
Weston Carter: I have personally been using Avid for 11 years. I used it at my previous workplace and was very impressed with the workflow and asset management solutions. When I came to Auburn in 2014, we made the decision to use Avid. It is the heartbeat of our facility. Without it, our workflow would come to a halt. Avid Interplay has made archiving and searching for footage a very fast process.
PH: Why would you invest in more drives instead of chucking everything up on the cloud?
Weston Carter: With the current landscape of shared and cloud storage, I prefer to continue to invest in more shared storage and LTO drives. For disaster recovery, storing footage in the cloud is a great option. From an archival perspective, it is still too costly to regularly upload/download hundreds of terabytes of footage on a reoccurring basis.
PH: Let's talk game day workflow. Are you cutting the whole game live? In post? Obviously, there are a lot of time constraints. How do you deal with that?
Weston Carter: We have two control rooms that we use to cut our video board and SEC Network shows. During our football shows, we run four Dreamcatcher instant replay servers that we also use for exporting/archiving our game melts and program copies, which results in 4 terabytes of footage for each football game throughout the season. We ingest the footage from the Dreamcatchers to Avid ISIS storage using our MOG mxfSpeedrail. The footage gets checked into Avid Interplay, where editors are able to begin editing with it immediately. It’s a very quick process and allows automatic ingest, which allows our editors to remain focused on the editing process.
PH: What do you use for scheduling software?
Weston Carter: For our scheduling needs, we use a website called Shiftplanning. We have a very large student staff and students always have ever-changing schedules. Shiftplanning allows them to easily request and find subs for their assigned shifts without the need for full-time staff to intervene.
PH: What kind of cameras are you shooting on?
Weston Carter: We use Sony F55 (3), Sony FS5 (1), Sony FS700 (1), Sony A7S (1), Canon 5D MKIII (1) and Sony PMW-320 (6) for all of our main non-live shooting needs.
PH: Are you cutting highlight or recruiting reels? How about Alumni (sponsorship)reels?
Weston Carter: Our team creates sponsorship graphics elements for use in our video board shows at our various venues.
PH: Do you do a daily or weekly coaches show? Live or post?
Weston Carter: We produce two football shows each week throughout the season. The Auburn Football Review show is cut directly after the conclusion of the game and is sent to affiliates for Sunday morning viewing. The Auburn Football Everyday Show is a post-heavy show that gives fans a behind-the- scenes look at the football program. Both shows are produced and cut in post.
PH: How would you describe your budget?
Weston Carter: Our budget falls under the Athletics budget.
PH: How much of your material is live streamed?
Weston Carter: All of the events we produce for the SEC Network and ESPN are streamed on the WatchESPN app, which equates to approximately 180+ live streamed events.
PH: Do you do use HUDL? If so is it in
Weston Carter: HUDL is not a huge part of our workflow. We only use it when we produce our 6-hour studio show for National Signing Day in February each year.
PH: What do you want people to know about your program that they may not know?
Weston Carter: We try to involve students in our program in a variety of areas. Our staff covers live events, post-production, motion graphics, workflow, engineering, audio, and numerous other areas. Our goal for every student is to develop them with the skills necessary to get a job when they graduate from Auburn University.
PH: What is your main recording format? 2K, 4K, with or without HDR?
Weston Carter: Due to the high number of broadcasts we produce for the SEC Network and ESPN, our main recording format is 720/60p. We have started to migrate our post-production to 1080/60p and have started to work more with UHD content as well.
PH: Have you done any VR work yet? Is there a call for it?
Weston Carter: We have not done any VR work in our department. The market is still developing and the workflow is very time-consuming. It is an area that we have continued to monitor and are looking for an effective way to utilize it.