We title every dog entered in every conformation class that we film by on-screen complete catalog entry information, including AKC registered name & number, Sire, Dam, Date of Birth, Owner, Breeder, Handler and armband number. On the actual video we use a sub-screen template so that the titling does not overlap the exhibition of the dog, which thereby permits an unobstructed view of the dog.
In order to label each dog, we rely on identification by the armband number. Accordingly, we must get an unobstructed clear view of the armband number. This can sometimes be quite difficult, even with the permanent video recording. If we cannot clearly see the armband number, we cannot accurately identify the dog! In that case, we must list the name, sire and dam as “N/A” – Not Available – on screen. Here are the kinds of problems that we typically encounter:
Brushes, Combs, Toys and Bait
It is quite common for handlers to use their armband and rubber band to hold various utensils that they need in the ring to exhibit the dog. If one of these things blocks the number, we just cannot correctly identify the dog.
The armband should be placed above the elbow on the upper arm with the number facing outward. This permits easy viewing by the Judge, and correct identification on the video. We experience numerous variations on this. For example, some will place the armband on their bare arm and allow a sleeve of their top to drape over the number. Some girls are so skinny that the armband literally goes twice around their arm. Some gentlemen will wear their armband over their suit coat and in the crotch of their elbow. We encounter armbands where the number is pointed backward, and even upside down! We could make a full length movie of the variations, but the bottom line is that if we cannot catch even a single frame of unobstructed view of the number, we cannot securely identify the dog and title it on-screen.
Armband Contrast and Color
Some shows opt for ‘decorative’ armbands, with multi-colors, superintendent or show logos, and fancy fonts. Anything other than a large clear black number on a white background paper increases the difficulty to read the number significantly. We try very, very hard, but if the number blends into the background or the show logo, we cannot clearly identify the dog and title it on the video.
We all know the situation. Someone throws away their armband and then realizes that they need to go back in the ring for reserves, or whatever. Or, for some reason, the armbands are not available and the stewards start handwriting numbers. Those handwritten numbers are almost impossible to read! Again, if we cannot see it, then we cannot identify the dog and title it on the video.
Judging protocols are at the discretion of the judge, but also influenced by how the ring is setup in terms of entry and exit points, matting, carpeting, etc. If the placements and awards are given with the left arm pointing outside the ring, it becomes quite difficult to identify the dogs. Another difficulty relates to multi-entry classes (Stud Dog, Brood Bitch, Brace, Team, Extended Generations, Breeder Classes, etc.). The shear size of these classes can leave the dogs and handlers standing right up against the camera, and their armbands impossible to see. We do the best we can.
Although the AKC policy is that every dog in every class being exhibited must be identified by armband number, we still see entries without an armband! It most commonly occurs with Stud Dog and Brood Bitch types of classes, where the get come in the ring without an armband. There is nothing we can do about that. Again, no armband number, no title on the video.
Once we have identified the dog by armband number, we then go to the source reference for the dog’s AKC registered name, Sire and Dam, which is the published catalog for each show. We literally “copy and paste” from the catalog into the video editing software. What this means is that if the information is incorrect in the catalog, it will also be incorrect on-screen in the video!
Most show superintendents and show secretaries post an on-line version of the catalog, either as a website or as a pdf type of document. Many, but not all, will process corrections if identified, and post the corrected version after the show. Since we are accessing the on-line catalog to do our titling after the show, it is this corrected version that we will be using.
For some shows there is no on-line version of the catalog. In that case we scan the actual catalog that is published at the show, and then perform OCR – Optical Character Recognition – on the text. OCR is really quite good from a high quality scan. We then use that text document to “copy and paste” into the video editing software. Error rates are higher, however, using this method.
We do use the entire name and titles for every dog. If either the AKC registered name or earned titles is incorrect in the catalog, unfortunately it will be incorrect on the video. We make well over 250,000 titling entries on our videos each year. It is simply not feasible to research and correct every single one.
We also label the class placements, winners, reserve winners, major awards (Breed, Opposite, Best of Winners), Selects, ‘Best of’s’ and Judges Awards of Merit on our videos. We do rely on clear identification of the dogs receiving these awards by armband number. Sometimes we have to work assiduously to identify the actual dog by some physical characteristics, or we key to the handler.
While we do compare our visual record of the placements and awards to the marked catalog (either on-line or at the show), the bottom line is that the video is considered the gold-standard record for the results of the show. None of the superintendents, secretaries or judge’s book is infallible. We find that although error rates are low, they do occur. If there is a discrepancy between the written record and the video, as long as we can clearly see the armband number and ribbon award being handed to the exhibitor, we will use that information to label placements and awards on the video.