SVG-U Q&A: Rick Bagby, Director of Video Services, Clemson University
At Clemson University, the Video Services department is located not in the football or basketball office but at the center of the athletics administration building, literally in the middle of the athletics world. Fittingly, Clemson’s video office, led by director Rick Bagby, services a variety of outlets, from coaches’ video and Web streams to network highlight packages and team banquets. With a full-time staff of just five and a dedication to capture in high-definition — despite an inability to stream HD or display it on stadium video boards — Bagby’s work at Clemson is never done. The busy director of video services took a few minutes to chat with SVG-U about his video-production challenges.
What video services do you provide?
We do everything: football coaches’ video, basketball coaches’ video, 12 different highlight tapes for Olympic sports, banquets, Web streaming, footage for Websites. We do a little bit of everything.
We are the video source for Clemson athletics. No matter what entity needs video, we are the starting point for that. I view us as customer service, with the coaches and universities as our customers. No matter who’s walking in the door, we’re trying to service that customer.
What content do you currently stream on your Website?
The only place we actually stream live events is Olympic sports on our site, through ACC Select. The ACC has a contract with CBS College Sports to do live Webcasting of Olympic sports, so Clemson does at least one event of every Olympic sport that we have.
For the Website, we stream pretty much anything that Clemson owns — press conferences of our head football coach, press conferences of our head basketball coach. We will put up a limited amount of highlights of our Olympic sports onto our Website also. All of that content is shot in hi-def, but our Website is a CBS College Sports-hosted Website, so the video player is still 4:3.
What equipment do you have access to?
The old Web-streaming contract was with Turner Sports, and they provided us with equipment two years ago. We’re now into our third season. When they cancelled their agreement after the second season, that equipment stayed in place with us. We do use some of that equipment, but Clemson has supplemented some of that as well, and we shoot everything in hi-def.
All of our cameras shoot in hi-def so that we can have hi-def footage for archival purposes and hi-def highlights of our Olympic sports. We’re using Panasonic HPX500 cameras.
The Web stream that goes out is a standard-def, 16:9 stream, although the window for CBS right now is still a 4:3 screen that we’re looking to get moved over. Turner was a 16:9 screen, so currently, we are taking the 16:9 feed and squeezing into a 4:3 window. We hope that will be changed very soon.
Our video boards are SD also, but they are 16:9.
Why capture content in HD if you have to stream it in SD?
We keep it hi-def for archives and more so just to get us in the mode. Sometimes, it causes more problems than it’s worth, but it’s the thought process: this is what we need to be doing, so let’s continually do it in hi-def so that we can see the problems that we’re facing. Hopefully, we can discuss it with other schools to see how they might be handling the same problem or make them aware of issues that they will face in six months or a year.
I would hope that I’ve brought in HD smartly. We’ve never received a single extra dollar to make the move to high-definition, so everything I’ve done, I have done through the normal budget process over the last three years. I think that we’ve done it smartly, cost-effectively, and we’re making the move.
What is your control room setup?
Our control room is actually a floating control room. We don’t have one headend for our venues. We’re not fibered between all the different venues, so we’ll pick up and go venue to venue. It depends what venue we’re at as to what the control room looks like.
Our football setup, for example, is done out of a truck. That’s a basic three-camera shoot, and then we will utilize at least two cameras from network television. Graphics, replays, and all of that is done out of the truck, which is a converted mobile home provided by Scher Shot Productions.
Who staffs your productions?
I am in charge of our operations, and we have four full-time assistants, so it’s now five people in the department. We bring in some students also, and, for football, we hire an outside crew. Clemson is a small school, and our department’s a small department.
What is the biggest challenge you face to extending your streaming offerings?
We’re always looking to do more, but I always work no backwards; I don’t work yes forwards. We cautiously look to continue to increase our offerings, but we service coaches, production, Websites, and network television all out of this one office. We’re a very small department.
Do you send your content elsewhere to tap into outside revenue streams?
Clemson needs to control its content, as do all universities, and I’m very sensitive to our content leaving here without the proper licensing. We work closely with Collegiate Images to license our products, and we get a lot of calls. We had a first-round NFL Draft choice two years ago and the first player taken in the second round from this past NFL Draft. So, around NFL Draft time, we get a lot of requests for footage. A lot of these networks love it in hi-def, so there are a lot of places that we can use this footage, but we work very closely to make sure it’s done properly.