SVG-U Q&A: Jerry Wetzel, Director of Electronic Media, University of Florida
For more than 10 years, Jerry Wetzel has been seeing in GatorVision. The University of Florida’s GatorVision department implements the athletic department’s streaming initiatives and serves as the link between the school and its local-TV rightsholders. His position as director of electronic media for the University of Florida Athletic Association requires certain fluency in both TV and Web speak, as well as a credible ability to get people to work together. Wetzel took a few minutes to chat with SVG-U about pulling double duty as a media director and a relationship manager.
What is GatorVision?
GatorVision serves as the liaison with our rightsholders, Sun Sports and FSN Florida. We’re the contact if our rightsholders need video or news stations need video; we handle those video requests. Also, when local or national broadcasters come on campus to televise an event, they work directly with my office on different logistics.
For over-the-air content, we do a half-hour show called GatorZone. That has close to 40 new shows each year, and then we do “Best Ofs” for the rest of the 52-week time frame. The show airs a minimum of twice a week on Sun Sports and FSN Florida. That show recaps the past week’s events, looks ahead to the next week, and is mainly for our Olympic sports.
We also have a football coach’s show, a men’s-basketball coach’s show, and a women’s-basketball coach’s show.
We also are very fortunate to have FSN Florida and Sun Sports doing a lot of live events. They televise all of our football games, and we have a timeslot on Sunday morning called
Breakfast With the Gators, which has been a terrific niche for us in programming. They replay our football games during that timeslot, and then, on weeks off, they’ll replay another type of event, such as a women’s-volleyball game.
They also produce a minimum of 10 baseball games for us. All in all, they provide us with about 50-some-odd events, doing production and giving airtime for baseball, softball, women’s basketball, volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, swimming.
What sports content do you currently stream on your Website?
We have GatorVision Online, through which we provide live streaming events for especially our home matches and on certain away matches. JumpTV, our streaming partner, has certain partners where we can stream the events back to our subscribers.
For home games, we do volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, baseball, softball, and women’s basketball. If our men’s-basketball exhibition games are not televised, we’ll do them as well. Everything is consistent with the SEC conference television contracts. If it’s on TV, we can’t stream it.
We also do our coaches’ press conferences. We do compilations where we’ll go out and interview different athletic teams and players and put them up in little snippets like news reports on the Website.
Who staffs your productions?
Assistant director of electronic media John Rubin heads up our whole Web area and GatorVision online, as well as oversees our men’s-basketball coach’s show. He also produces a segment on the
GatorZone television show. My senior producer is Dennis Black; he oversees the weekly
GatorZone show as well as produces the football coach’s show and women’s-basketball coach’s show. In his spare time, he teaches a class on campus in sports production.
I have two full-time interns who help assist and produce different segments on the different shows and handle online stuff, also.
You can have the greatest equipment in the world, but if you don’t have good people, you can’t make it work, and I am very fortunate to have a terrific staff. We have terrific television partners in the Sun Sports and FSN Florida networks and in our production houses. Paladin Productions does the
GatorZone show, and Studio 601 does the coaches’ shows.
For over-the-air events, our partner networks bring in the trucks and crew. I’ll produce or direct a number of different events for them, and John and Dennis have produced some events for them, such as some baseball games and basketball events. The logistics are mainly set up on their end, but because we’re partners, we’re knee-deep involved in the logistics and making sure everything comes off without a hitch.
What equipment do you have access to, and who pays for it?
We went DVCPRO back in 1998. Currently, we have three professional cameras on the DVCPRO side, a 410, a 700, and either an 810 or 900. We also have five linear laptop editors and two full Beta editing stations, which have DVCPRO equipment hooked up to them, so we can either dub to or dub from DVCPRO.
We also have a Final Cut Pro and two Sony DAIO notebooks. We have a switcher in a case for our baseball events so we can do a multi-camera shoot. Currently, we have no real graphics equipment.
Where do you stand in the transition to HD?
We currently do not do any of the productions in HD. We’re looking into that in conjunction with Sun Sports on when that transition is going to take place.
Once we decide when the transition to high-definition is going to take place, then it’s setting up everything in order, little by little. In this day and age, few folks can do it all in one wave, so it will be a gradual process, but that’s why we have some great partners in helping us take a look at what the transition will mean.
Our next big focus is going to be digitizing. We also oversee our contract with Keyframe, which is a division of Daktronics, which delivers our video boards. We have video boards in the football stadium and the O’Connell Center for volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, and gymnastics. We have a lot on our plate, but the administration allows us to have the resources to help promote the sports properly.