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Behind the Scenes with the Digital Media Team at the ACC Tournament

Fierce rivalries. Unbelievable buzzer-beaters. Unexpected champions. The 2017 New York Life ACC Tournament was packed with unforgettable moments, a...

Fierce rivalries. Unbelievable buzzer-beaters. Unexpected champions. The 2017 New York Life ACC Tournament was packed with unforgettable moments, and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) digital media team captured every single one of them.

Go behind the scenes of one of the biggest events in college sports in our new video!

The ACC, along with half of its member schools, uses PhotoShelter to power a lightning-fast in-game workflow and archive important moments in league history. Let’s take a step by step look at how the ACC digital team shoots, edits, organizes, shares and preserves photos.

While we dig into the details, keep in mind that this team is a lot like the teams they cover. In basketball, a rebound, four passes and a three point shot may happen in a matter of seconds, even though every player on the team had to catch the ball. With the ACC digital team, a photo gets passed from photographer to editor to designer to social media and beyond – all within a few minutes.

Step 1: Prep

Weeks before the first tip-off, the ACC digital media team sent their photographers guidelines for shooting the ACC Tournament.

The guidelines covered a range of topics, including:

  • Required camera settings, e.g. color space and file formats
  • IPTC metadata requirements, e.g. who is in the photo, what’s happening (using an action verb), when and where the photo was taken, and the photographer’s name
  • Instructions for uploading to the ACC’s PhotoShelter account via Photo Mechanic, the Desktop Uploader and FTP
  • Details on copyright and usage rights

The team also added media partners to a group of invited users in PhotoShelter so they would have immediate access to the photos as soon as they landed in the library.

Tip: When your team is preparing for a big event, do as much set-up in advance as you can. Make sure your photographers have all of the criteria they need, and make sure the people who need photos from your event have easy access as soon as they’re available.

Step 2: Capture

ACC Tournament photographer David Welker (whose day job is helping brands get set up with PhotoShelter) kept in close contact with the ACC digital team when he was on the court. Heather Hirschman, Website Coordinator for, sent him tips on what the team was looking for before and during the games.

“I have a list in my head of what I need before I go out onto the court,” says David.

He was on the lookout for peak moments – a dunk, a buzzer-beater, a full-court shot (it happened). He also scanned the crowd for high fives, moments of excitement and outbursts of frustration. He captured the action, as well as the spirit of the game.

After every great shot, he tagged the image on his camera so he could find it quickly in the edit (David can do this on all four of his cameras, a Canon 5D III, a Canon 6D, a Canon 7D II and a Nikon D3).

Tip: Have a clear vision of what you want to capture and mark great images on your camera during the game to streamline your workflow and make editing fast and easy.

Step 3: Edit

The ACC Tournament photographers made selects, edited and delivered their photos during halftime and right after every game.

“At halftime, I typically come in, drop my gear and put my cards into my card reader so I can ingest all of my images onto my computer,” says David. “Tagging images on my camera makes the searching of those images really easy in Photo Mechanic, so I just select the tagged images, crop them the way I need to, pull them into Photoshop, do minor tweaks and then push them directly back into Photo Mechanic, where I do all of my captioning and keywording with a pre-made script. From there, I just upload them directly into the PhotoShelter account.”

Tip: Build a pre-made keyword script before an event to speed up your captioning and keywording. That way, the photographer doesn’t have to spend too much time on tagging during the game, but the other people on your team can still run a quick search to find the images they need.

Step 4: Upload

David used the Photo Mechanic integration with PhotoShelter to send his photos from his computer straight to the ACC’s cloud-based visual media library. He uploaded 10-15 of his best shots at halftime and at the end of every game.

Within seconds, the photos would land in the “Incoming Shoots” collection of the ACC’s library, along with shoots from the other photographers.

Tip: The ACC suggested three different upload methods (Photo Mechanic, the Desktop Uploader and FTP) for their photographers, so if the internet was slow or a roadblock came up, they always had a backup solution. Always provide backup upload methods (PhotoShelter has several, including a mobile app).

Step 5: Access

Once the photos land in the “Incoming Shoots” collection, which is only accessible by a small group of ACC staff members, Heather moves the photos to a pre-made gallery for that specific game. She has already granted view and download permissions to the right ACC staff members, schools and media partners, so they can access the photos as soon as they’re available (meanwhile, the photos are kept private from the general public).

During the game and in the long term, granting permissions by gallery helps the ACC keep photos organized and protected.

“I think just having that ability to structure those different groups is really beneficial,” says Amy Yakola, Executive Associate Commissioner & Chief of External Affairs for the ACC. “It’s beneficial in organizing and it’s beneficial in how we determine what’s going to go in each of the buckets. It’s a great way to make sure people are getting what they need, instead of just one giant file where everything’s located.”

Tip: Organize your library’s collections and galleries based on who should have access to that content. Get tips from digital asset management expert Peter Krogh in our post, How to Build Your Brand’s Photo and Video Library.

Step 6: Share

Once all of the right stakeholders have access to the latest photos, they can use them to engage their audiences.

Heather uses the quick send feature to send her favorite photo from each half to the ACC’s graphic designer. Once it lands in her email inbox, she plugs the photo into a pre-made score update graphic in Photoshop. From there, it goes straight out to fans on the ACC’s social media channels.

Since the team can take all of these steps in minutes, they are able to engage ACC basketball fans with eye-catching, current photos.

“Speed is everything these days,” says Amy. “You don’t necessarily have to be first but you have to be the one in the space that’s going to do it well and do it right and I think PhotoShelter provides us the opportunity.”

She adds that this fast workflow not only helps the ACC tell its own story, but helps partners tell an engaging, on-brand story about the league, as well.

“Do we want to be first often and tell our story ourselves – absolutely. But when someone else is doing it, we also want to enhance theirs by making sure that we have something relevant and having all of that information in one space that we can use as content is really critical in this day and age, because it is a 24 hour cycle all the time, and you want to stay relevant, and you want to stay relevant with unique and important information,” she explains.

Tip: To speed up your design process, set your designers up with the PhotoShelter Adobe Creative Cloud Connector. That way, they can drag and drop assets from your team’s PhotoShelter library straight into projects in Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator, cutting out the step of downloading an asset to their computers.

Step 7: Track

Whenever you’re delivering content, you want to make sure people are actually using that content so you can get the highest possible return on investment. The ACC watches their download log in PhotoShelter to track how many people are downloading content. That way, they can see whether or not people are using the visual assets they provide, and make changes based on the results.

In the past 90 days, the ACC library has seen more than 21,000 downloads, a sign that the ACC is providing assets that are in high demand, and that people are taking advantage of the opportunity to use those assets.

Tip: Learn from your download log. If you find that people are downloading images of the crowd, but not images of game action, you can tailor your shot list to include more photos of the crowd and the environment.

Step 8: Archive

This in-game workflow sets the ACC digital team up for easy archiving in the future. The photos already have metadata, they’re organized into galleries by game, and those galleries are available to the staff members, media partners and member schools who will need those photos in the future. Anyone who needs a photo of the 2017 tournament a year from now, five years from now, etc. will be able to run a quick search or browse galleries of all the games.

The ACC also stores all of their logos in PhotoShelter, including conference logos, school logos, individual sports specific logos, Bowl partner logos and more.

“All of those different things can be housed in one place, so instead of going every time to a file folder on your computer and finding that and emailing it and sending it that way, it’s just a one-stop-shop,” explains Amy.

Tip: Centralize all of your visual assets in one place. It’s easier to convince your team members to find assets on their own (rather than sending you image requests) if they can find everything they need in one easily accessible location.

Step 9: Repeat

The ACC makes all of their stakeholders Invited Users. That means they all have their own log in information, so they can come into the library and find what they need on a regular basis (but they can only see and download assets the ACC has made available to them).

Amy explains that this easy access encourages people to return to the library any time they’re looking for a logo or fresh visual content.

“It’s just a great opportunity to keep things connected, and a great opportunity to store things in a central place, and a great opportunity to make it fully effective for people to use what we’re providing,” says Amy.

Tip: Rather than sending someone a one-off set of photos, give your stakeholders their own login for your library to make access to visual assets self-service. No more image requests!

The Return on Investment

Amy says her team has only scratched the surface, but they’re already seeing impressive results from moving their visual media library to PhotoShelter.

“I think when you’re looking for a system and a new technology, you’re looking for something that’s turnkey, something that you can invest in and have it be a quick return on your investment, both from a financial potential but also from a time potential,” she says, “and I think that’s where PhotoShelter’s been great, because they’ve been able to help make it a turnkey opportunity and something that all of us can do.”

She adds that the new workflow is saving time for team members across the conference, as well as the ACC’s stakeholders, because it’s simple and easy to use.

“It’s really something that anybody can do, and that’s a huge thing because everybody is sort of responsible for these things, and we need to make sure that we’re archiving them and getting them to our schools in a timely manner,” she explains.

The ACC library already houses thousands of photos, and the team is in the process of building out their full archive (the ACC was established in 1953 – just think of all the moments they’ve captured over the years!). Amy says working with PhotoShelter is setting the team up for success in the long run.

“PhotoShelter has the means and the mechanism to hopefully continue to help us to have a great return on our investment of time, dollars and anything else that we do on a daily basis,” says Amy.

All photos by David Welker, courtesy of the ACC.

Next Up: SIDEARM Sports + PhotoShelter Integration: The Fastest Workflow in College Sports

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