2010-11 VCC started with an initial concept: to find a way to let anyone, anywhere in the world participate via video in a program run directly by a host. The goal was to use an efficient “talk radio” model—no acquisition or control room costs, the host runs their own board aided by automation. We believed this would make great strip content model to help linear video networks overcome pressure from web facing audience and advertising dispersion. That was the idea.
2012-16 The software was written, a prototype built, patents were applied for and won in multiple countries, and hundreds of “workshop” shows were produced with thousands of “callers” from all over the world testing topics and perfecting the technology. The HAT® (Host Automation Technology) system permitted location-agnostic production for producers and contributors alike. Although VCC had several initial commercial audience participation shows, a “cold light of day” analysis said, unlike Talk Radio, there was insufficient volume to create a business; most TV producers were not yet ready to build shows where they let just anybody on the air, even if participants were cleared and curated by Call Producers.
But the same study showed that the advances VCC had made in managing and putting reliable, efficient smartphone video remotes on TV and high-end web shows was something the market both wanted and needed. Producers wanted to connect with program participants anywhere in the world, anybody in their contact lists, and take them to air with no incremental crew, travel, or transmission costs.
2017 So VCC pivoted, and began to provide video caller management and acquisition of reliable smartphone video remotes for global web broadcasts, national entertainment networks, national news networks, regional networks, stations, and professional sports organizations. Occasional service became weekly and then daily. Experiments validating the service were followed by multi-year contracts. Companies tried and discarded do-it-yourself approaches as they came to recognize the complexity of getting untrained show participants to find the best signal, video app, lighting, background and framing all from hundreds or thousands of miles away. Smart producers and financial managers realized that high volumes of remotes on VCC’s flat-rate service drove down the price per remote.
Producers found that the super-tight, in-sync conversations allowed by VCC were way better than the “yada-yada” head shanking necessitated by bonded cellular and satellite delay. Talent loved the tight, high-speed exchanges and return video. And one day everybody realized this approach was GREEN, too, able to save thousands of tons of greenhouse gas emissions as it saved crew and participant travel by car, truck, and plane.
2018 To get those super-tight conversations with each participant, VCC began put its call-completion hardware (Endpoints) close to its clients’ switchers, and controlled them remotely from its US 9W Palisades, NY, HQ through the cloud (Caller Cloud® using VCC’s Call Manager Pro software). Nobody knew then how important this would be…or what was to come… in 2020.
2019 More producers began to experiment with video call-in shows, but needed way to screen and curate hundreds of people who wanted to be on the shows. Discovery’s Food Network saw Thanksgiving Kitchen Live as a place to experiment. And almost 800 people went on line through VCC’s Caller Cloud® AWS-based software to say they wanted to join the show, and were managed by the VCC Call Producers working with the show staff.
2020 In late 2019 the VCC team asked, “if we can run remotes remotely from the Palisades, NY Headquarters, why can’t we run the remotes from our Call Producers’ homes?” The “of course we can” answer turned out to be an incredibly important. The first home prototype was built in January 2020, and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit in force. Shows were shut down overnight as studios and control rooms were locked across the country. VCC continued to build out Call Producer stations at everyone’s homes, and the phones started to ring off the hook. Could VCC’s remote and automated production allow dispersed production for entire studio shows—with everyone in a different place? VCC was ready. Shows were brought back, new shows were launched, and then the NFL called. Could VCC handle 60 live interviews for the pro-football draft…in two weeks? Yes. Could VCC help keep 90 Day Fiance’ in production for TLC using HAT while adding a live summer replacement Find Love Live with over 800 potential callers on Monday nights? Yes. Could VCC help keep established nets and shows going and add new shows at WWE, HGTV, Food Network, A&E, Vice, CBS All Access, two major news organizations, Kelley Clarkson, Maury Povich, Steve Wilkos, Collin Cowherd on Fox Sports 1, MSG Network, Fox Sports Southwest…and many others? Yes, Yes and Yes!
And while that was happening during the pandemic, VCC’s versatile tech and operational foundation evolved to provide new technologies like large scale virtual 2-way live-human audiences (CrowdView™), independent high quality remotes recorded and delivered via the cloud into Avid edit rooms (VCC Solo, Duo, and EavesDrop™), and all of that could be integrated with low quality video conferencing systems like Zoom for production coordination with show staff spread around across the county, even while getting high quality VCC remotes.
By mid-summer VCC was handling hundreds of remotes and dozens of shows a month while keeping its team, and helping keep its clients’ teams, dispersed and safe.
So there’s the VCC story to date. Doing what others don’t do, remotely managing shows and getting smartphone remotes from anybody, anywhere with quality, reliability, optionality, sustainability and efficiency in volume.
On the air at the biggest media companies, every day.