One hundred and thirty-two years ago, Thomas Edison had designs for a camera that would capture moving pictures on a film like substance, which could be replayed in a small viewer. But a French artist, Louis Le Prince, went one-step ahead of Edison and created a single-lens camera that could capture an entire sequence of action.
Two years later in 1890, Le Prince produced the first silent movie, “Walking in the Garden,” which was just that: people walking in a garden. The evolution of the movie camera continued, and in 1904, slow motion was invented.
Taking a line from the great late sports announcer, Keith Jackson, “And the rest is history.”
Movie cameras, like most early inventions, were large and cumbersome. And the wait time on developing the film was incredibly long. But over time, the success is immeasurable.
Wow, has this piece of equipment evolved to a point where today’s technology will allow anyone to capture moving moments at an instance.
The concept charted back then by Edison and developed by Le Prince is still used in a fined and enhanced format in the movie business and in sports. We have years and years of archived footage at our disposal.
NFL Films was first to bring the dramatic and emotional moments of games up close, all shot on 16mm film. They stopped using film only six years ago, moving to all digital cameras.
And here is where we come to the “game film” and its evolution over the years in an effort to scout, prepare and evaluate. Up until the digital age, obtaining and displaying film in some form was long and arduous. Coaches would sleep in their cars to wait for a game film that was delivered at a halfway point. Images that were hard to pick out and the monotonous clicking of the projector would put everyone to sleep in an already dark and quiet room.
Digital has changed all that. Now, every angle (and in the NFL, all 22 positions) of every play can be reproduced on an iPad, a handheld device or a dedicated online site. The footage is edited in multiple sequences and yes, some in slow motion, frame by frame. The players are educated to a point where they know every second of every game.
And the Bandits are no different in immersing themselves in this technology. In fact, in every sport, every team imaginable takes advantage of game film – ah, correction – game tape – ah, correction – reviewing the game. To this day though, it’s amazing that coaches still reply, “I have to look at the game film.”
Eric Vinc (goaltender Matt Vinc’s older brother) is the Bandits video coach and team scout. Now into his second season, Vinc immersed himself into the game at age 14, later coaching youngsters that included Corey Small, Steve Priolo and Doug Buchan.
Growing through the junior ranks, Vinc coached 11 seasons with the St. Catherine’s Athletics, leading teams with winning records and moving up the ranks to become the general manager. Armed with his success and knowledge of the game, Bandits management thought Vinc would be a perfect fit to join the staff.
Too, Vinc has played an important role in the success of his brother, Matt, who is a seven-time Goaltender of the Year. You could say Eric is Matt’s personal coach, too.
“I have gone to all Matt’s games over the years and that includes Buffalo, Toronto, and Rochester. We always talk before every game about opponents, and then we talk after the game,” Vinc said. “We started preparing for teams together and I would make notes and send it to him on the road. I am also lucky my wife realized how important this was to me allowing dedicated time and spend weekends watching games.”
On a sidebar note, I wondered who took the most shots growing up, literally and figuratively. Being the youngest, it was Matt.
“He just wanted to be around us, he went where we went and found himself in street hockey games with kids five to eight years older than him and he held his own,” Vinc said. “Our older brother Jay called it ‘the program’ always being roughed up and eventually, Matt became the biggest and strongest and that’s why he is where he is today.
“Just having lacrosse talk with Matt, discussing what he sees compares to what I see and bouncing ideas off of each other is great. I am really fortunate to have lacrosse in my life and that Matt has always allowed me to be part of his lacrosse journey.”
(I am purposely making this blog longer because what else is there to do except continue to read – as much as you can.)
Let’s go 1-on-1 with Eric, diving into the breakdown of video and what he sees with this Bandits team.
Some of the responses have been edited for space and clarity.
John Gurtler: How did you develop such a knack of video breakdown?
Eric Vinc: I learned from some good lacrosse minds, being involved in St. Catharine’s Minor Lacrosse. I had the chance to learn from Les Bartley, Bob Luey, Don Smith, Morris Conn and Steve Fannell.
I think that the biggest thing I learned is to listen to your players and coaches.
When I had the chance to be head coach, I was fortunate to have people on my staff like Mike Accursi, Ian Rubel and Roger Chrysler (all coaching in the NLL). I really tried to become a student of the game. I try and take something away or learn something from each lacrosse conversation, practice, shoot around or game.
JG: What are you looking for with the Bandits and, with the opponent?
EV: With the Bandits, I look for tendencies – what makes us successful offensively and defensively. What does our offense do well when we score, and not so well when we don’t. Same with the defense. We look at the analytics and go from there.
Once all the video is finalized by the coaches, I share it with the team before practice, so they have a chance to watch and discuss during the video session.
With the opponent, I try to get information/video to them early in the week. (The Bandits use an online video platform called Krossover where the players can go up on the Bandits team site and watch the video cuts.)
I look for tendencies there as well and make reels (again, old fashioned statement still used today, as film used to be on reels) on their offense, defense, power play, man down and goalies. I also gather information from a variety of our games and share with them and the staff.
Once all the video is finalized by the coaches, I share it with the team before our pregame video session so they have a chance to watch and discuss among each other.
JG: What are the offensive trends today in the box game?
EV: It seems like the first 10 seconds of a shot clock is dedicated towards transition and creating odd-man opportunities. If that opportunity is not there, they focus on setting up a balanced attack for the remaining 20 seconds, where both the right side and left side is dangerous and can score. A par part of the team’s success depends heavily on how efficiently a team can transition the ball to the offensive and how efficiently a team can stop the opposing team’s transition.
JG: What are the Bandits really good at offensively?
EV: I think we are really good at playing as a team and being unselfish. We move the ball well and are willing to do what it takes to get someone open to score a goal. Our offense is at their best when they are having fun out there. We have multiple guys who can score, and our players are smart and see the floor well. You never know who will be the guy each game. We are well coached, with JT and Krugs [head coach John Tavares and assistant coach Rusty Kruger].
JG: What are the Bandits offensive trends? Does the Ball start with 92?
EV: I think the biggest trend I have noticed this year is that if we are healthy, our offense is at our best. With everyone in the lineup we average two more goals per game. Dhane Smith is a great player and yes, he makes our offense better, but so does every other guy, which includes Byrne, Fraser, Smallsy, Cloutier, Lintner, etcetera. All these guys are pieces of the puzzle that we need and we use transition/D guys to complete it. We score when we move the ball and make the opponents D work.
JG: What about the Bandits defense?
EV: Before the break, our defense was really coming together and into its own. We are at our best when we are communicating and doing our jobs (keeping it simple). Chugs [general manager Steve Dietrich] and JT have done a good job back there. Chugs listens to the defense and Matt, allowing them a voice.
Our guys are smart and the amount of talk on the floor and on the bench in between shifts is impressive. We have strong leaders back there and they all take great pride in what they do. Matt is very vocal, on the floor during practices and games and during our video session. But like Matt always says, “Any success starts with guys in front of him.”
The key to a good defense is the offense getting off the floor, eliminating transition, and allowing them to play in five on five sets and do their job.
JG: What about the defenses today in the box game, does everybody pretty much play the same systems?
EV: For the most part yes, from packing it in, to pressuring the ball. Most team defenses are set up to allow the shots that they want to give up or the shots that allow their goalie the best chance to make the save. It is a given that opposing teams are going to get their shots, the defense tries to dictate where those shots come from.
JG: Is the box game getting too systematic?
EV: I do not think so. Sure, just like every other sport, there are systems and you can prepare for your opponent and create a game plan. But at the end of the day, it comes down to execution and having the players that can read, react, create, and make the necessary plays or stops.
JG: Is the game too predictable?
EV: I do not think so. On any weekend, any team can win which makes it the best game.
OK, enough reading. Back to more game film – ah, video. You can watch past NLL games anytime on YouTube.