Quick, who are the hardest working, least heralded group of guys in Florida State's athletic department?
If you guessed the video staff, you may be right. While trainers, equipment managers and grad assistants all play a key role in the success of the Seminoles' athletic programs, FSU's video staff have taken hard work and innovation to a new level and are helping Florida State, particularly the football team, prepapre for games in ways that just a decade ago would have been impossible.
Lead by Craig Campanozzi, Florida State's video department is taking a new-age approach to how they film, cut and make available game tape for athletes at FSU.
It all starts with the coach's tape, and the name of the game is a quick turnaround.
"Immediately after the game, typically we like to be around 35-40 minutes, the game is inter-cut, scoreboard, sideline [and] endzone angle and broken down by phase, offense, defense and then your kicking phases," said Christian Fiero, who acts as the director of football for the video staff. "45 minutes after the game is over our coaches have that on a laptop or I like to give coach Fisher a hard-drive, he takes it home to his house and watches it on a laptop to grade it immediately.”
That means before Jimbo Fisher is done with his post-game interviews the tape is already being cut, edited and put together so that Fisher and his coaching staff can grab it on their way out the door, and review it that night or the next morning.
“In coaches video we’re really about speed and getting it out fast, so we’ll start during the game, we’ll send it down in phases so that we can do all that," said Fiero. "Once that’s done, we still have to make a copy for trade. Which we load on to an FTP site that sends to everyone in the conference, the conference office, there’s open exchange amongst the conference and then we will also download our opponent’s game through that site.
“Sunday morning, sometime Saturday night we put in our next opponent’s game, we also frequently use the sports information office for XML sheets that have all the play-by-play. We have a program that we can basically convert that into something that we can use so that I can import down, distance, ball-carrier and all that into the video that we already have. It’s nice to have that data immediately after the game also.”
The same is true for practices, it takes about 15 minutes after the completion of practice for the video staff to have broken down the tape, categorized it correctly and made it available to coaches, GA's and players.
"I go out and shoot and I make sure that our [student-assistants] are in the right lifts and they’re safe and all that," said Campanozzi. "Meanwhile Christian and another guy in our office, Kevin [Gadowry] are inside trimming and cutting so that 15 minutes after a practice our coaches walk in off the field and literally in 15 minutes they can watch everything from practice, two hours of practice, and it’s all intercut, it’s all matching, the GA’s can go in and type in data if they want from practice.”
Florida State films everything in high definition, their video department is set up to train student assistants while still maintaining a high quality of film. When a student first starts under Campanozzi, they begin by standing beside him and filming the same practice or event that he films. They also get experience cutting recruiting tapes in the film offices. When they're ready to move up and handle more responsibility, they're given that opportunity.
To The Cloud
Where Florida State is really making waves is in the ways they've embraced new technology to make their film more accessible to players though.
"We have a sports specific program, XOS Digital that provides all of our stuff in-house," said Fiero. "With that there is a parent company, a company they’ve joined in with, Huddle, that is more of a cloud-based software. We will take stuff directly off our server that we have here and I place it on to the cloud. All of our athletes have a username and a password, they have different permissions on what they see and what they don’t. And I’ll load it all from my office, right from our server, and they can watch it on their iPad, their iPhone, their computer.”
Now, using any mobile device at their disposal, players can watch film anywhere, anytime. Got a few minutes before class? A guy can whip out his smart phone and check out some opposing team film. Bored in the dining hall? Just open your laptop and break down some film.
This new approach also allows the video staff to specialize the film to different players and coaches needs.
"There are filters we’ve created that will- as soon as we get our opponent’s video or our video- that we can run through these filters and it will create, 'ok this is all the base formation first-down plays,' so that’s already up there for the coaches," said Campanozzi. "So now to put it on the cloud through Huddle is easy.”
Essentially players need only select parameters and they can study any type of play or situation they need. 3rd and short? There's a filter for that. Want to look at how a team lined up in obvious passing downs? In a matter of seconds those plays are all filtered and at players' and coaches' disposals.
FSU uses this system for all their sports, men's and women's. All Florida State teams have their tape uploaded to the cloud in HD so that players and coaches have easy access to it whenever they like. The approach has also helped Florida State's athletic program mitigate costs.
By having the film team cover all sports as opposed to specialization by sport, the school saves money on cameras and equipment and maintains greater continuity within their film offices. And by switching from DVD's for film study, to cloud technology, Florida State eliminates the cost of the discs as well as the considerable time it takes to burn them all (not to mention they avoid the space limitations inherent in the medium).
All things considered, Florida State is making their film study so accessible that proper film prep is no longer just something the coaches need to preach. Now players are expected to review the tape on their own time too. While some units, the offensive line for instance, still prefer to watch tape together so they can work together on adjusting calls and protections, the majority of Florida State's skill players can utilize the tape whenever they have a moment, not just when team meetings dictate. This puts more accountability on the players.
A Day In the Life
So what does the average weekend look like for the FSU Video staff?
“[For the Miami game] we drove down, two of us drove down the day before, so when the team gets off the bus the meeting rooms are set up and ready to go," said Campanozzi. "And then two of our students and two of our other guys fly with the team. Christian’s here up until the last minute to make sure the coaches have everything they need, when Christian walks in that hotel everything’s set up for a meeting. Now usually we won’t meet right away, but if coaches decided to, we’re ready. If something would have broken during transit, we have time to go get a new one or get it fixed before the team gets there.”
Then after a 33-20 win over Miami on the road that ended around midnight, the work continued. The coaches had their tape before they get off the plane in Tallahassee, the players wouldn't have to wait much longer.
"We got back to Tallahassee, we got back to the stadium at 4 AM," said Fiero. "I left at 5:30, 6 AM that morning after I posted the game and did all that kind of stuff.”
This while the rest of the Seminoles' athletic department finally got some rest. Like many video staffs, the group at FSU is integral to Florida State's success and absolutely hidden from the public eye.
That doesn't bother them though.
“It’s great," said Campanozzi. "You don't need the reward of Joe Blow on the street knowing what you’re doing when the guys your doing it for and the ladies you’re doing it for appreciate it and understand it.”