SVGU Q&A: Alan Wasielewski, Notre Dame director of digital media

Notre Dame has one of the nation’s most storied athletic programs with a dedicated network of alumni that spans the globe. The Fighting Irish is the only football team in the nation to have a network television broadcast partner (NBC Sports) for every game and the school is looking to expand is coverage for other sports through digital distribution. To tackle that expansion, Notre Dame created an office of Sports Properties and named Alan Wasielewski its director of digital media, charging him with the daunting task of streaming every home game for a dozen men’s and women’s varsity sports. SVG-U caught up with Wasielewski to find out how the sports-information-director-turned-videographer handles his overflowing plate of digital streaming responsibilities.

Q: What sports content do you currently stream on your website?

Wasielewski: When I first started this, the Athletic Director’s vision was two-fold: that every varsity athletic home event on campus that lends itself to being streamed live would be streamed live, and that by the time every athlete has four years here, we have at least one interview or feature done on them. We have the vision; now it’s just a matter of having the people to do it.

Q: How do you get the content?

A: We try to get both video and audio for every home game for every sport that allows it [football and basketball streaming rights are restricted by television broadcast contracts]. We do a three-camera shoot for all of those and they are available on our website, which is hosted by CBS College Sports.

For football weekends, we produce four key shows: the pep rally, the football luncheon on Friday afternoons with head coach Charlie Weis, a pre-game show with our in-house talent that is taped and a post-game show that is shot live outside the stadium. We stream all of those on our website.

Q: What equipment do you use?

A: CBS College Sports is our streaming partner, so 99 percent of our equipment comes from them. It’s not a case of us asking for things; [they give us equipment] and then we augment with additional gear once we figure out what we need.

Our full line of equipment includes four Canon GL2s, five Sony GX2100s, two Newtek TriCaster Pros, two Sony Betacam players (we used to be able to get highlights from the truck but we didn’t have a way to read them). We also have a mini DV deck that we use to load in our content and record live events on deck. In addition we have Sony DRD MC5 DVD burners that allow you to plug in the output and burn a DVD while you’re running it. We also have a Sennheiser microphone kit that has a wireless mic that we use all the time now and a 2TB server to store our content.

Q: Who staffs your productions?

A: Two of us, me and Gary Paczesny, the assistant director of digital media, do most of the productions ourselves. We do have a staff of three students that helps us out. They’re not technologically savvy enough to run it themselves, but we get everything up and running for them and let them run the TriCaster, do the switching and run the camera. There’s no broadcast journalism school here, so it’s difficult to find people who are artful with camera work. Most of our productions are just point-and-shoot kinds of things.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you face to extending your streaming offerings?

A: The biggest thing is getting the right people and the right trained
people. We’re becoming more and more the video wing of the whole
university, so it’s even more important to find motivated people that
are willing to learn the ropes and do it.

This year, with more personnel, we want to take both live events and things we produce and make them artistically better. Most of our stuff right now we’re doing just to get it done, but the TriCaster allows you do to do overlays, score boxes and things like that, so we’re trying to figure out a way to make our broadcasts more complex and artistic and not spend thousands of dollars.

Interviewed by Carolyn Braff

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