SVG College Sports Summit Q&A: ACC’s Scott McBurney
The SVG College Sports Summit is less than a week away, and SVG has assembled a distinguished group of college sports-video experts and television executives as speakers to share their expertise with the industry. Leading up to the two-day event, SVG is checking in with key members of the program to discuss their involvement and what they hope the Summit will accomplish, as well as to impart some initial pieces of advice.
Scott McBurney is entering his 18th year with the Atlantic Coast Conference, overseeing video production and distribution in the league office. He and the Advanced Media department are responsible for disseminating daily content received from the league institutions through its Aspera faspex platform, known as the ACC Video Clip Service. Additionally, McBurney has been heavily involved in the league’s live-streaming efforts over the past eight years, producing many of the conference’s championship events not covered by the its television partners.
At the SVG College Sports Summit, he will be joined by several college-sports-video leaders on a panel titled Preproduction: Preparing for Success as part of the Video Operations: Enhancing the Fan Experience track on Day 2.
What do you view as the ACC Advanced Media department’s greatest accomplishment over the past two or three years?
For about 15 years, the ACC Advanced Media department provided conference-game highlights and press-conference content to the media via satellite feeds. It wasn’t the most efficient way to get the content to the users, and it was expensive. It was, however, the best way at the time to make ACC footage available.
About 2½ years ago, I started exploring moving ACC video content to media outlets via FTP. We spent a year with a great company, and we learned a lot about what file-based transfers were all about and realized, in simple terms, it all came down to file size and transfer speed. Another important part of the learning curve was understanding what the media wanted for their platform to access the content. The feedback I received was, the platform had to be very straightforward, bells and whistles were not necessary. One-click downloads gave my office the best chance that ACC content would get downloaded.
Armed with this knowledge, I looked for a company that could handle large files, both incoming and outgoing, and move them quickly. Aspera became the obvious choice for our workflow, and their faspex product was the best fit for both moving content and making the end-user experience very positive. Very simply put, when content is loaded up to our site, the ACC Video Clip Service (AVCS), an e-mail is generated to alert members of the “media” dropbox that new content is available (with a description of the content). We now have close to 300 members/users on the AVCS from all over the ACC footprint.
The other, very positive byproduct with our service is that the 15 ACC member institutions can all take advantage of the platform to push content to each other and the conference office, as well as receive content from both. There is no cost to the schools or the media members to be on this platform. We are now able to put content on the site in a very timely fashion and have started to compress the turnaround time for making the footage available to our users from days to hours.
In what ways have you seen college-sports-video production evolve in recent years, and what technologies are driving this evolution?
In the ACC, the most dramatic changes that I have seen have revolved around the increased commitment that all of our member schools have made to creating school-based production units for multicamera live-streaming productions (not to mention many board productions). The ACC’s relationship with ESPN and ESPN3 has really helped raise the bar on the quality and quantity of the school-based productions on their platforms. Additionally, upgrades in equipment and some increases in staffing have made ACC schools more self-sufficient. There is still room to grow on the staffing side, but producing live events at an ESPN level has driven the awareness of all that is accomplished by the athletic video departments in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Summit?
I see the Summit as a great opportunity to discuss where the latest trends are heading and talking with peers that are doing great work in sports-video production (live and post). There are outstanding panels that offer insight to so many different facets of sports production. It truly offers something for everyone.
You are speaking on the workshop panel titled Postgame: Highlights and Asset Management. What’s one piece of advice you have for an athletic department looking to boost its highlights and asset-management workflow?
There isn’t one workflow that fits all, so it is very important to really look at all the options that are available. The SVG College Sports Summit is a great opportunity to talk with other peers or vendors about how they have solved these types of workflow challenges. From my experience, at the ACC, it was important to create a workflow that allowed the most flexibility but also was very straightforward in nature. I have a small staff and no IT or engineering dedicated to our production unit. As a result, the workflow needed to be easy to manage and maintain. I didn’t want to create a workflow that ultimately took on a life of its own. The workflow should complement the work, not complicate it. Our workflow in the conference office includes Avid Interplay for asset management and Front Porch and Spectra Logic for archive management. They play nice together and are relatively easy to manage. Keeping your expectations realistic and using peers in the industry as resources will only ensure that the workflow you develop will suit you for many years to come.