Matt, I’m sorry I cursed at you,

but we made it on John Oliver

4:04pm on a Thursday, my cell phone rings. “Jackie, it’s Sharon. We want to do a VCC remote at 5pm EST. Are you guys available?” A standard question. We were available and honestly I was a little underwhelmed, so I welcome the last minute remote.

Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills Esq. A name I could never forget. A colleague of mine brought in his remote a few weeks ago for the royal wedding and I remember being genuinely delighted at the uniqueness of his name. While discussing the remote with Daily Blast Live, I was warned that an article just broke alleging that about our hopeful guest was a fraud and to treat the acquisition delicately. He might back out.

After ten minutes of no responses from the guest, I pull out my log, grab his Skype name from a few weeks prior and Skype him directly. He answers.

“Thomas! This is Jackie from Daily Blast Live, so good to talk to you!” He had answered the Skype call from his London flat. A wall of windows is visible behind him, the sky is dark. Definitely England, I think to myself. I frame his shot and disconnect, under the premise that we will connect again in twenty minutes.

18 minutes go by. The anticipation of bringing in the remote was increasing. You know what, let me just connect with him early. I see that Thomas Mace Archer Mills had entered the Caller Queue™ and was presumably ready to go. I Skype out to him through the queue, as planned. His setup is ready to go and then BOOM. His webcam breaks.

“Thomas?” I prompt. “Your picture is cutting out. Are you messing with your webcam?” Thomas explains to me that he was. Phew. He then tells me that he has stopped messing with his webcam and yet, I am still not seeing a picture.

Sometimes getting a good quality video-call can be a bit of a nightmare. This is one of those times.

It’s time for triage.

Immediately, I take a survey of all of the devices in the room. No iPhones. No alternate computers. All we had to work with was one broken PC and two android phones. Both phones have Skype downloaded on them. Piece of cake.

“Hey Thomas, do me a favor please and open up Skype on your phone.” Thomas complies and then informs me that Skype is signed out of his phone and he cannot remember his password. Plan B. “Hey, Thomas, can you ask your friend to open up Skype on his phone? I will contact you through his account.” His friend opens up Skype; they provide me the username, I call and… nothing. Skype will not ring on his friend’s phone. Oh, good lord.

As I am processing the friend’s phone, Thomas is able to recall his Skype password and sign into Skype on his phone. Brilliant! I call out to him, and get this, Skype will not ring on his phone either. In an absolute Hail Queen Elizabeth pass, I ask Thomas to Skype my personal account so I can make sure we have been calling the right username.

“Hey Jack, what’s this guy’s story?” My coworker Matt gleefully asks on his way to the water cooler.

“Don’t talk to me until I get this *expletive* call on the air!!”

As my coworker Matt physically jumped away from the wolf who had taken the place of his coworker, I am able to confirm the correct Skype username for the remote guest and finally get him on the broadcast computer.

“Thomas! I can see you again, the picture from your Android is great! Thanks so much for all of your trouble shooting!” I turn back into the cheerful lamb and Matt undoubtedly makes a mental note to sit farther away from me in company meetings.

The shot is ready, I route it through to DBL in Denver and Tori conducts a fire interview.

A few days later, I walk into work and all of my colleagues are looking really smug. “Want to see something cool?” Immediately I got suspicious. Our office plays a ton of pranks and I was sure this was one of them. Someone then pulls up a John Oliver video.

Posh British Expert Exposed.
John Oliver did a five minute segment on this man and featured the remote that my colleague produced two weeks prior, a sit down interview that DBL did with the gentleman in England and the post-break remote that I had just set up for DBL.

John Oliver used our work as part of his commentary.

We all have moments in our career when we realize that our efforts have taken us to new heights. For me and my millennial mind, there is no higher acclaim then John Oliver, the national hero, using something you contributed to as part of his gold, humor-ridden enlightenment.

To John and our Daily Blast Live friends: so glad I could help!

CEO Larry Thaler presents the dire need for programming innovation at NAB 2018

CEO Larry Thaler presents the trends in the media industry highlighting the need of content providers and distributors to adapt in order to survive.

The Kirk Gibson affair

VCC team performs smart-phone remote for Dodgers legend in a first with FSN

Kirk Gibson from his smartphone in LA interacts in real-time via VCC services with John Keating and Craig Monroe at the ballpark

View Fox Sports Detroit video (C) Fox Sports Nets 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but our team did something incredible last week, and as my grandfather used to say, my buttons are bursting.

On Friday, VCC did a live remote with former LA Dodger (and Detroit Tiger) sports legend, Kirk Gibson from his smartphone in LA to the truck at Commerica Park in Detroit. Kirk was in LA to throw out the first pitch for the Dodgers, but needed to participate in the pre-game show in Detroit with the Tigers.

Just a couple of weeks ago, executives from Fox Sports Networks did a “virtual tour” with our team and were looking for an opportunity to give us a try. I want to avoid characterizing FSN’s satisfaction, because that’s really up to them, but I believe it’s the first time they’ve experienced the power of this system – contribution from anyone, virtually anywhere. Good quality video/audio AND a real-time low-latency return video/audio feed from the truck. Kirk did a good natured banter with his peers at the ballpark, and because of the video return, was able to see what they were wearing, and even announced over some b-roll. It was flawless and we think that it may have been a first.

So this would be pretty cool, all by itself, but FSN had just made the request on Monday for a Wednesday rehearsal. Luckily, VCC’s tech team led by Will Milne and Alex Maisey had recently created and released our new Call Manager Pro product and put it into service for Major League Baseball. CMP permits us to route video calls through what we’re calling an end-point, effectively making VCC kind of a virtual video call switchboard.

Our tech, Matt Graf quickly got the parts needed together and assisted by the remaining engineers, prepared a field kit for VCC’s head of production, Tom Porpilglia to take to the ballpark. Tom volunteered to be our eyes and ears on-site and had the system, along with a back-up working just 30 minutes after arriving at the truck. The FSN team was incredibly helpful. Our own Jonni Galleti performed the Call Production function, quality controlling both the practice calls and the final air signal with Kirk.

It was a team effort, and I want to thank everyone who helped to execute it so quickly, but also extend thanks to Tom Delehanty who did the magical initial introductions that started it all and to Jackie Lennon, for her work on the virtual tour demo.

Tom Wolzien and I could not be prouder.