The Role of Video in FIRST

Hello out there, all you robo-nerds! Hope your competition season is going swimmingly. It’s probably a little premature to be posting something not so much competition-related and expecting a significant response, but whatever.

As many of you know, the skill I’ve used the most since I’ve gotten out of high school robotics is my video knowledge. The ability to take such a powerful medium and convey an experience so effectively has always been why I’m attracted to video. At first it was fun to just make the montages of our robot doing well over the course of the year (2002), set it to some music, and burn it to tape, but as I continued along my path of video creativity I began to get bored. So I found some interesting music, started shooting footage of people instead of just the robot, and was able to produce a decently amusing and informative wrap up video for 2003. It’s a good thing too, because our robot wasn’t destined to give us that many good shots anyway… :rolleyes:

When 2004 rolled around, I finally had a role in designing part of our robot (the basket maker!), so my time was required in the pit more so than in the stands. Fortunately, there were people available to shoot the footage we would ultimately need to produce another dazzling compilation. That year, however, posed the threat of us losing our main sponsor. Thus, the video team was called upon to make a piece that would be appealing to students, mentors, and companies who were borderline about joining the team. I considered this my biggest challenge yet, as it may very well have impacted the future of the team’s existence. Fortunately, the video was not needed that year, as our main sponsor continued its commitment (because I personally felt that I could have done a better job). However, I took away from that experience that video isn’t about throwing together your best shots so everyone who was part of the team could reminisce of a job well done, but it was about reliving the entire experience and remembering what a great part of life FIRST can be.

Since graduating from high school in 2004, I’ve fortunately had occasion to assist those high school students interested in video production, as well as accompany my team to both the UTC New England and Philadelphia regionals, which I plan on continuing as long as I can. I’ve also been involved in the video production at year’s end, partially because nobody else volunteered, and also because it was something that I enjoyed putting effort into. This year in particular I plan on putting together a year-long video that is not only factually correct in retelling our robot’s performance, but also has those aspects of humor and drama that keep the audience engrossed in the story. Hopefully when it’s finished it’ll be on the team website ( sometime around June. :smiley:

The only disappointing thing to me about FIRST, and I’ve mentioned this before, is that video has not become an integral part of the experience yet, as have manufacturing, animation, team spirit, etc. It’s such an exciting opportunity for students to be able to participate in their teams, but for those teams that have students sitting around, contributing little, it seems that a video competition would promote interaction between team members and mentors. I personally feel that video would be even better than the animation competition (not to personally insult Autodesk, a fine FIRST sponsor), because it’s easier to learn, and most likely more applicable to what students will need for real life skills. Perhaps I’m saying this only because I was a horrible animator and had much more success as a videographer, but nonetheless I would love to see a video competition, where teams would submit a work that had a certain time constraint, but was judged in the same categories as the animation: creativity, technical execution, theme, etc. (I’d also be willing to judge them!)

I suppose the point of this thread was to toss that out there, and also to give a place for teams to show off their video creations to inspire others to create the same. Let me know what you think.

Happy robotting!

I think a lot of teams would agree that it is long past time for FIRST to include a video award into its’ recognitions. The need would be to have a major sponsor (Adobe, Avid, etc.) step forward and provide the software for teams to use. Autodesk/Discreet has provided this annually for the Inventor and Visualization awards. While some teams already have such software, and even some schools have full production studios for teams to use, this is not the norm. We need a sponsor to provide software to help teams that do not have such abundant resources.

Make sure you add this suggestion to the FIRST feedback comments once this competition year has concluded.

Our team absolutely loves the video work and would support such an award in any way possible.

One of the big side benefits of our “Team in a Box” DVD project is that so many kids on our team love to communicate through videos.

Sounds like a great idea to us.

I spent the entire build season on video and we included it in our Chairman’s submission. Me and a good friend of mine put a lot of time into it and there is still a lot of work to be done and I know for her she feels like she doesnt get enough recognition for her work on the video and a video contest would be a great addition to the FIRST awards.

I think that is a great idea. Me and some others on my team have developed great skills in video editing, but haven’t had the chance to really use those skills in FIRST.
I am not sure that there has to be a sponsor that will donate software (Adobe, Avid). Yes, this may be an insult to all those advanced editors, but movie maker isn’t such a bad program, it’s free and needs no skills or learning to use (I had to use it a few times when Premiere was not available, and you can get some pretty cool stuff out of it). I guess there would be a problem for any Mac/Linux schools (do those even exist?!) but it might be possible.

<Ahem> iMovie. included free with every new Macintosh for the past several years.

I love the idea of making video a more prominent feture of FIRST. Be sure and bring this up at the team forums over the summer, and let’s see if FIRST bites on the idea.


I guess it would make it somewhat unfair…it’s obvious that iMovie is a more advanced program then Movie maker, therefore giving an advantage to schools with Macs.

There exists a fair number of open source and free (as in $) video editing programs for Linux such as Cinelerra, kdenlive and LiVES. Admittedly I haven’t used any of them (or even iMovie or Windows Movie Maker for that matter) to any great extent. Their existence could level the playing field, though (if someone wanted to provide/find a bootable Linux CD with them installed, for example).

Like you said, video allows you to take an experience and enrich it, providing a decent re-iteration of the fine points of an event. FIRST is certainly no exception, and I personally find the challenge that video recorders face very unique. To attempt to capture the excitement of a FIRST competition on video by shot arrangement, music selection, etc., is quite difficult, and those who do it well deserve tons of recognition for their awesome work. I hope to see some great videos posted here, as I’m too busy working on the Chairman’s award stuff to take any myself! :rolleyes:

Finally! After all these years of having to use a Windows platform to program the robot. Not to mention the Autodesk software that we can’t use…

-Mr. Van
Coach, 599

HERE is a sneak preview of our video. As soon as we convert from dv to avi or something else youtube accepts, our entire video will be on the web.

Our “highlight reel” can be found here. Let us know what you think.

Looks interesting and creative, but did you have to use Ceasars for it? Why not something new and origional? Also, it’s iPod and iTunes. Sorry, as a Campus Rep for Apple, I have to do correct that :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

Good job guys

You are not limited by your resources, but by your imagination.

I LOVE FIRST VIDEO! If there is anyone up in the New England area - I’ll be attending at least one of the regionals up there this season. I had a hand in doing the 2005 Closing Video for the Philadelphia Regional and had a blast doing it. Maybe if we can get enough interest, we could beta test doing videos for the awards given at the event each day!

Interested? Let me know and we’ll get together!

~Shameless Plug…~
Check out my videos on - search for “Jake Warren”!

Wasn’t the chairman’s award, in years past, a 10 minute video? Why did FIRST go away from that?

  • Make it easier for more teams to submit?
  • Make it easier to judge?
  • See if there is at least one literate person per team?
  • Something else?

I have a feeling it would be because a presentation given like the chairman’s award is done now can be used to recruit local businesses. During a business presentation, it is more professional and easier to retain audience interest with someone up giving a talk than to put them in a dark room with a video playing.

I really like that the National Chairman’s Award team gets to make a video documenting their team and such - I think that is a GREAT idea. That adds to the FIRST Hall of Fame.