State native Brett Kelley, who previously held video jobs with the Arena League's Nashville Kats and the NFL's Tennessee Titans, has had the advantage of working with two of the most popular video editing systems in use today.
"I've had the best of both worlds," Kelley said as he prepared for the opening of fall football practice on August 2. "At Nashville, we used the DVSport system, which we use here at West Virginia, so I was very familiar with that. With the Titans, we used the "XOs" system, which a lot of other teams used. When I was at Nashville, and we were looking at systems, I saw that both West Virginia and the Pittsburgh Steelers used the DVSport system, so that got my attention. Then when I took the job here, that made for a good transition."
The biggest adjustment for Kelley and his staff to date is one similar to that faced by the players – a change in terminology. Each play, whether in practice or in games, is edited and coded with keywords from the offense and defense to make them easily grouped, searched and recalled by the coaches. Therefore Kelly, like the players, has to know the terminology used by the coordinators.
"Since Jeff Mullen and are both new here, we kind of have a clean slate," Kelley explained. "Starting from spring practice, we have done everything with the new system. We still have all the video from the previous staff, but we probably won't have go back and recode that."
There will likely be a few changes in defensive terminology as well, but much will remain the same under stalwart coordinator Jeff Casteel, making the transition on that side of the ball a little easier. Also helping in the transition is the support provided by DVSport.
"They update their software about once every two weeks," said Kelley. "That's one of the best things about them and their system. They are always looking to add things and make their system better."
That pace, which is unheard of in most technology fields, keeps DVSport at the top of its field, and also makes for major improvements for Kelley and his staff. For example, one recent improvement allows data from the system to be inserted automatically into spreadsheets, which allows for easier search, retrieval and data analysis for the coaches. Of course, learning all those advances puts a demand on the time of Kelley and his staff of graduate assistants, but they have managed to keep pace and roll out the latest updates to the Mountaineer coaching staff.
Kelley and his group will be working around renovations as camp begins, adding yet another challenge to his first year at WVU. The video room, long in need of an overhaul, is getting new carpet, new paint and some renovations that will make life in the crowded space a bit easier.
"I am really excited about those," Kelley said. "Of course, the locker rooms and things for the players are the first priority, but if we have to work through it while practice is under way, that's ok. Once those are done, we will get it set back up and reorganized, and be ready to go for the season."
Kelley and his crew shoot practices just as they do the games, and that video is probably just as important as game film to the coaches. Shooting from high above the field, both from the end zone and from the press box, the crew gets two shots of every play, then splices them together so that the coaching staff gets two looks, from two different angles, at the action. While the same positions are used during the game, the hectic nature of game day means that everything can't always be rehearsed beforehand.
"The word I use is ‘workflow'," Kelley noted in describing all the duties his team performs on competition days. "We will go into the Villanova game saying that we're going to do A, B, and C. Then we'll see how everything works, and we might change it up for the next home game if we think something else will work better, or if we learned something that points to a better procedure. It will probably take us a couple of games to hit our stride, but that's part of the process."
Road games, which require moving equipment, can be a bit more challenging, but Kelley notes that the new system has cut down on the amount of hardware he has to carry along.
"Of course, you want to take as many spare parts as you can, because you never know what you might need," he said. "But where we might have used to take many cases, we can probably get by with a couple of small trunks now. We take three cameras, laptops for all of the coaches, and projectors."
Despite all the preparation, checklists and double-checking, problems can still occur. Kelley can recount instances in his previous jobs that left him on the hot seat.
"At Tennessee we were having a heat wave, and my camera shut down," he recounted. "I lost about five or six plays, and it was really nerve wracking. I'm going through all the steps to get the camera restarted, but while I'm resetting plays are still going on. Then afterwards, you have to face the questions of why you are missing some of the action. We know things can happen with tapes, or the cameras and we do everything we can to try to prevent it, but sometimes it can't be helped."
Kelly also noted that opposing video crews will help where they can.
"We had a preseason game where we lost about a quarter's worth of video from our end zone camera, and the staff from the other team gave us a copy of theirs to cover us. There is a lot of that, because everyone works together and they know that problems can occur.
"I pretty much had a trial by fire with the Titans," he said with a laugh. "I think I've been through just about all the problems and situations that you could encounter, so I feel well-prepared for anything that might happen here."