Digital DNA - Chapter 6: The Huddle

(This is Chapter 6 of a seven-part short story by David Grant) 

As Rich waited for Bev in the lobby at the Surfers headquarters, he noticed last year’s trophy was still in the front display case. It had not yet been moved to Bev’s office, and the memories of last year’s championship game were still fresh in Rich’s mind. Oh, how he loved the game and wished he was going to be out there on Sunday. “Rich!” "Good to see you, how have you been?” “Great Bev, thanks.” “So, tell me what’s on your mind.” They walked to the main conference room, which was decorated with memorabilia. Rich then delivered some somber news to Bev. “Bev, I trust you and I can’t prove this, but I have a hunch, only a hunch, that something might be going on with the league’s games.” “What do you mean going on?” asked Bev. “I mean that something is not right either with the game feeds or the new data center. What I am trying to say is that I saw video that I edited, from what should have been live game feed, look like it was seconds older than it really was later in the same reel.”

“So I’m not sure I understand yet why that is a problem. Isn’t that what editing is? Using raw stock to tell a story, even if out of sequence?” asked Bev. “Yes, it does work that way sometimes, but this video should not have been out of sequence at all,” Rich stated. “OK then, what can I do?” asked Bev. “Could you check out how the new data center works and make sure that all the technology is working correctly?” “Sure Rich, sure, and I’ll get back to you on what I find out.” “Thanks, Bev.”

“You have reached the offices of Cida, Blankenship and Cooper; please leave a message, and we’ll get back to you.” BEEP. “Turner, this is Beverly, I . . . ” “Bev, how are you?” Turner asked, as he quickly picked up the call. “Screening your calls from bill collectors again, Turner?” “Well, you can’t be too careful these days, what’s up?” “Rich Hamilton came to visit me yesterday, and he said he had some concerns that some video that he edited did not actually come out in the same sequence the way he thought it should, does this make any sense?” “No, not really, but do you want me to check into it?” “Well, as much as I hate to say it, yes, you are the only one I know who is sneaky enough to dig out any scoop and not get caught or end up on the evening news.” “Gee, coming from you, Bev, that’s a great compliment. I’ll let you know what I find out.” “Thanks Turner, and be quick about it. If there is something here, I want to know about it before the championship game on Sunday.” “As demanding as ever, Bev, that’s what I love about you.” “Wish I could say the same, Turner. Goodbye.”

“Billy Stimes, you old rat, how are you?” came the voice on the end of the line. “Is this who I think it is?” spouted Bill. “Yes, it’s your old college roommate, Turner Cida.” “TC, long, long, time what are you doing?” “I’m a two-bit attorney in the Valley, and I need some help.” “Sure, what is it?” “Well, I had a phone conversation with Bev Lawson.” “I thought you two were an item,” Bill said. “Well, we were, and that is why I had to become a lawyer!” Both laughed. “She said that Rich Hamilton talked to her about some video editing problems, and she wants me to check into it. I thought with you being the old investigative reporter that you are, you might be able to help me.” “That’s a coincidence because Rich Hamilton at DTN and I talked about some odd video stuff just the other day at the commissioner’s State of the League address. We didn’t think much of it, then he mentioned something about time-code, flew to LA and now I am talking to you,” Bill finished.

“Time-code, huh?” Turner replied. “Yes, that’s right time-code. Do you know what that is?” “Yeah, sort of, it synchronizes video frames so you can edit it and match up the audio, among other things. I wonder why he mentioned that. Let’s all get together and hash this out. Can you meet tomorrow?” “Sure,” Bill replied. “OK, I’ll get Bev out there, can you get Rich?” “Yep, I can I think, he is over with the network guys, and they are here all week.” “Great. Bev and I will see you tomorrow.”

As Bev, Turner, Rich, Keith, Molly, Mindy and Bill gathered around a video monitor, Rich explained what he and Bill had seen the other day. “If you look closely at this video, these edits were taken from game footage, which, according to the league, is sent to the Hall’s new data center from the stadium and then accessed by us. But also according to them, we should be using and/or seeing the live feed. In this frame, this player has dirt on his pants. But a few seconds later, he has no dirt on his pants. That might not be odd, except for the fact that it should have been from the same game in real time, and if it is, then how is it out of sequence?"

"I think that is the real question here,” Rich explained. “Maybe the data center has multiple feeds, or somehow the video got mixed up,” Molly said. “Could be, but how do you explain that in the frame where there is dirt, there is a time-code running, yet in the frame without dirt, there is no time-code?” Rich asked. “OK, before we go any farther, can someone explain to me this time-code thing?” Bev asked. “Yes, I can,” said Keith.

“Time-code is used in editing to sequence, time-stamp and/or synchronize video for editing. Without it, you could edit video, but it’s harder. Time-code is like a fingerprint for each frame, or . . . ” “Digital DNA,” Turner interrupted. “Yeah, I guess that is a good way of looking at it,” Keith said. “So, you are telling me that each frame then has a time and date stamp and can be ‘tagged,’ so to speak?” Bev asked. “Yep, that is all we’re saying,” said Mindy. “Well, let’s look at the time-code on Rich’s edit,” said Turner. “If you look closely, the frame with time-code says, 12:33:33:01:14:09:2011!” Keith said in disbelief. “That’s last year!” Mindy shouted. “How did last year’s footage get into this year’s supposedly live game feed?” asked Rich. “That’s the million dollar question,” Bill stated. “Maybe, but the billion dollar question should be why,” Molly added.

David Grant is a former NCAA official and currently resides in southern California. He is the site's NFL Briefs writer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...