Video Review Needs to Happen Now

John, I’m assuming that you’re volunteering as the video referee for any and all events you’re attending. If you’re not attending one event per week, you’re not attending enough events. You just added one volunteer–in an extraordinarily tough position–that will need training. I don’t see anybody volunteering for that one. We’ve got enough problems finding referees as it is.

Unless you’re volunteering to head out to some of the areas that can’t find refs and give them a hand, of course.

Why does it need to be a ref? All it needs to be is someone who knows the game. They wont be looking for anything unless a team came forward with a specific request. And even then the team could point out the exact moment they believed something happened. The person doesnt need to be a true referee.

Sure. If that’s what it takes I’d volunteer. I’ll make the whole system if I have to.

A few things:

True overhead camera views (like the one RoboShow set up at the Orlando Regional this year) are only simple if a number of venue conditions are met. It needs to have a convenient catwalk or overhead trusses that you can mount the camera on (usually a decent expectation at a regional, but not in a district event held in a local high school gym, or in a number of other venues that regionals use.) And you need a decent cable to connect it to your switcher that’s usually a couple hundred feet long at least. And, of course, it needs to be a fairly high quality camera with either a wide field of view or a decent zoom depending on how close to the field your mount point is.

Even if all of these conditions are met, I wouldn’t call the set up “simple”.

Also, it’s often not the regional that’s running the cameras. Usually the video put onto the screen at the event is run by a contractor.

I would love to see every FIRST event with a broadcast that could support such a replay system, but I don’t see that happening, especially with the push to go towards lower cost district events in smaller venues.

Because the vast majority of the calls that would be made are judgement calls. FIRST seems to have made the determination that only referees can provide that judgement in some years (2014 and 2016 come to mind). I can’t say I’d trust someone who just “knows the game” with determining whether team X crossed a defense–there is a very specific definition of Crossing, and that very specific definition has led to numerous teams not quite meeting it and then complaining about it not being called. Just trust me on that.

If you don’t have the training of a referee, why would you try to make a referee’s call?

So here’s a situation that occurred last year:

2015 Tech Valley Regional, 20-5254-3624 had an incredible match in a make-it-or-break-it 2nd quarterfinal match, placing 4 stacks total for the first time. When the scores came up, it had our alliance with something like 119 points, and as we analyzed the score, we realized they had only credited us for 3 stacks!

We sent some students to the question box, and the referees came together and discussed that they did remember us having 4 stacks up.

From my understanding of the situation (I was not in the question box nor in the referee’s discussion), they then looked at video provided by two different teams that showed 4 stacks built 5-6 high and ended up reversing the call of that match, which ended up allowing us to move on to the semifinals.

Tech Valley is a generally relaxed event, with some great referees and teams who are always gracious, and I don’t think anyone involved thought what the referees did was unfair. Am I wrong?

I don’t think video replay is ever going to work out in FRC, but one aspect I think needs to change is that when teams go to the question box, their concerns should actually be heard. This week I’ve seen some blatantly wrong calls and also some final scores that were incorrect and teams going to the question box usually got about a one sentence explanation before being waived off.

No comment on anything else, but I will say that the game manual (both last year and this year) contained the following statement:

No event personnel, including the Head REFEREE, will review video, photos, artistic renderings, etc. of any MATCH, from any source, under any circumstances.

You’re right, but we’re also dealing with high school students who put their heart and soul into a robot and into every match, and kids seeing their seasons end because of something not being counted inspires nobody.

(also in this specific case its very easy to tell regardless of what video it was that the stack was up- that’s not really arguable)

With the addition of a fish-eye view camera, two seperate cameras on each side of the field could also be used. This doesn’t seem like a very hard concept. The Orlando regional archives all video footage on YouTube literally minutes after the match is played. This requires a good internet connection at the venue and a lot of other factors.

Simply setting up three cameras and taking video of each match is not a hard thing to do. Currently there are three cameras set up at CVR that give a pretty good view of most of the field. For instance, a student can go to the question box and tell the refs that there was a mistake on their part in the last match at 1:39. The refs can then go on a computer on the FMS table and watch that specific portion of the match and make a ruling.

If there is no indisputable evidence of the question by the student, then it can be said that, just like in the NFL, there is no hard evidence for the call to be overturned.

I have been affected by wrong calls several times in my 3 years as driver of 364. (especially at worlds, where our ranking was affected). Sure, it’s an iffy issue, but I’d like to see what FIRST has to say about something like this.

Also, you’d think that with all of the money that comes in for a regional, something like this wouldn’t be much of an issue.

You’re 100% correct, and I’m glad that the situation was resolved to the satisfaction of those involved. I just wanted to point out that this verbiage was present in the manual last year as well. I wasn’t implying that the revision shouldn’t have counted.

I still want to know how so many crossings are being missed. I saw 5 today alone while watching streams on and off of wpi and the Blacksburg event. Let alone the ones I saw from the Waterbury event last weekend.
I asked my drivers about and they told me that during the drivers meeting the refs said if they didn’t see it then it didn’t happen, and not to come to the question box about it.

This discussion is good to have but I don’t like bashing the referees or the disregard for the rules the you agreed to play under.

Please remember that 99% of the volunteers working any event are doing this for the love of the game. The game is played as fairly and evenhanded as possible. To suggest otherwise is a discredit to all those who give their time and energy to this.

We have all had thing go against us. GP allows us to move beyond it and appreciate what we have accomplished.

This always gets me. Cant not agree to them when its the only game in town.

Something to think about:

If a referee isn’t sure that a crossing happened, they will not count it. There’s a blue box to that effect. What that means in some cases is that a team doesn’t quite clear the ramps (thereby remaining in the defenses) and reverses back over. That’s not a crossing. Might not be terribly obvious on the webcast that their bumper (or other appendage) is hanging over, but there’s that possibility.

The person running it simply has to go to the spot where the student says something was missed or penalty was called wrong and bring a ref over to look at it real quick. Could honestly be in between matches too and only if a student has a valid complaint and a general time in the match in which it happened. And hey if the videos are all saved too then now we have videos of every match at every regional and we solved that problem too! :] Idk maybe that’s the real reason I would like to see this happen.

It’s not the only game in town. I am the biggest advocate that the team is the customer but if you have done this for more one season, you should understand how this works.

I have, 10 years in fact, and over those 10 years the rules have most definitely changed quite a bit.

Well when a team goes over one of the defenses and is 4’ away from the driver station wall and doesn’t get credit for crossing in auto that is a problem. Even if you didn’t see them cross but as you look about the field and see 2 bots well past the outer works and don’t push a button on the scoring screens that is an issue. I mean how did they end up there if they didn’t cross??

Then that is something to bring up to the head referee. Just tell him that you were clearly past the outer works in auto and got no credit. If the Head Referee isn’t listening, the next person to talk to would be the Volunteer Coordinator or Regional Director–they’ll back up the head referee in on-field calls, but if enough teams are saying something they’ll probably have a chat. And it it’s just that one ref isn’t pressing their buttons, then the head ref can take measures…