Smartphones Make Smart Television
Jaclyn of the VCC introduces the concept of Smartphones Make Smart Television at NAB 2019. From production efficiencies, to economic returns and common sense, the effects of using smartphones for ip-based remotes reach across many verticals of television and content production.
How do I utilize smartphones to make smart television? By allowing the billions of smartphones in the world to become sources for live video remotes into broadcast, you increase your reach, cut down on costs and expand your optionality as you bring contributors into your broadcast or digital feed.
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 trends in the media industry highlighting the need of content providers and distributors to adapt in order to survive.
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.
The Video Call Center Sets TV Production Record with 5000th Live Video Caller
Mark Set as Stick-to-Sports Host Robin Lundberg Makes Most of VCC’s Patented System to Broadcast High Quality, Reliable Apple FaceTime, Google WebRTC, and Microsoft Skype Video Calls
Palisades, NY. Thursday July 6, 2017. The Video Call Center achieved a live TV production milestone this week when it aired the 5,000th live video smartphone call via its patented caller acquisition and host driven production system. This new benchmark for the use of live broadcast remotes based on everyday smartphones and popular video calling apps such as Apple FaceTime, Google WebRTC, and Microsoft Skype apps, was reached during the July 5 episode of Stick-to-Sports, hosted by Robin Lundberg.
Tom Wolzien, founder of the VCC said, “This landmark achievement sends a message to every producer, content developer and engineer, from mainstream broadcast TV to Facebook Live, that it is now fully possible to bring video callers to air live, with the expectation of the highest quality and with rock-solid reliability. Producers can have their callers use nearly any video calling app, even multiple apps, to obtain the best results based on the individual circumstances of each caller. That flexibility, combined with the VCC’s talented call screeners and patented technology, rewrite expectations of what a video caller looks like, especially when compared with Microsoft’s proprietary, single application approach, which requires producers to use Skype regardless of quality.”
The VCC platform has been used to produce more than 450 live programs, including broadcast programs on the stations of TEGNA and Fox, as well as for numerous web distribution platforms. The platform delivers video calls with an overall on-air reliability exceeding 99%.
Stick-to-Sports Executive Producer Tom Porpiglia said, “Having a choice of video applications is crucial to both quality and reliability on a video-call based program. The VCC gives us the option of using three different popular video applications, so the odds of our call screeners getting a call on the air with high video quality are significantly increased. Call quality and reliability went up considerably once we had more apps than just Skype to work with. Now we can have a caller shift to a second or even a third video app to get the top quality we need for air.”
Stick to Sports was part of another VCC record last month when host Lundberg had conversations with 19 different video callers within his half hour TV show. Stick to Sports can be seen live on Wednesday nights, 8PM EDT, at talkcenteramerica.tv
About The Video Call Center, LLC:
The VCC is a technology and content development company devoted to handling large numbers of IP Video remotes-by-smartphone and putting them on the air through patented workflow and assistive automation (patents #8,767,031, #9,654,731 and other patents pending). The VCC is both a Facebook Live Media Solutions and Broadcast partner. The VCC licenses its software and provides caller acquisition and production services. VCC has produced hundreds of programs for the web through its Talk Center America platform, and dozens for the stations of co-owner TEGNA Media. The VCC is jointly owned by Wolzien LLC and TEGNA, which is a significant investor and customer. Examples of video caller television programs and complete information about the VCC are available at www.thevcc.tv
Host Robin Lundberg Single-Handedly Manages High Volume of Skype, FaceTime and other Live Video Callers in Growing Rapid Fire Sports Talk Show
PALISADES, NY—June 12, 2017—The Video Call Center (VCC) today announced that its weekly Stick to Sports show, which airs 8pm ET Wednesdays on Facebook Live and YouTube, set a record-breaking pace for the handling of live video callers on air in a half-hour show. On June 7 host Robin Lundberg—a face and voice familiar to millions from ESPN radio, SNY and Sports Illustrated—led a high energy, fast-paced show that included 19 separate video callers using Skype, FaceTime, and Gruveo (WebRTC) apps from their smartphones to appear live during the broadcast, expressing their opinions on the day’s burning sports topics from the NBA, MLB, NHL and more.
“I’ve done thousands of sports talk radio shows in my career but none have captured the impact of being face-to-face with the audience,” host Lundberg said. “Stick-to-Sports viewers are literally on air and part of the show. The VCC’s system gives me complete control to determine the direction we go, who comes to air, and when they appear. It is incredibly exciting and new. No show exists without viewers and thanks to the VCC no sports show engages them so directly as part of the process.”
Lundberg’s live show brings the pacing and dynamic host-audience interplay familiar to sports radio to a live television format. The result is sports TV with an ideal combination of engagement and participation that has instant appeal to young, socially-engaged audiences. Seeing fans on air provides a novel viewing experience that radio cannot offer. This past week alone, callers appeared dressed in full hockey attire, promoted their favorite teams with banners; one even wore a knight’s helmet prepared to battle for his viewpoint.
The VCC’s unique video caller television platform enables Lundberg to bring his show to air without the vast, costly technical crew and control room normally required for live television. Caller participation starts with a simple click of a link on the show’s Facebook or YouTube pages, or its website www.callsticktosports.com to connect them to the VCC’s Caller Queue™—the green room in the Cloud—where they register as a guest. There callers select their preferred video calling app—such as FaceTime, Skype, or WebRTC—that they wish to use from any smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop.
The show’s producers verify the visual quality and propriety of each caller before making them available to Lundberg. The host then selects video callers to air in any order or combination that best serves the show’s direction. While in the Caller Queue, callers watch the live show and promote their participation to their own social networks; a powerful, organic means of expanding the show’s audience.
Executive Producer Tom Porpiglia said, “Building a video caller talk show is all about having lots of callers with unique points of view, from wide-ranging visual locations, and each showing us different things. The audience truly has a stake in the content. The VCC makes this format work by giving the host maximum choice of video callers and the confidence that those calls will air with the highest reliability.”
The VCC uses newly patented call reliability techniques. Consistent with the VCC’s demonstrated on-air call reliability rate of over 99%, no video calls were dropped during the record-breaking Stick to Sports episode.
Stick to Sports is one of more than 450 shows produced via the Video Call Center for broadcast, cable and web (including for the broadcast stations of Tegna and Fox) that have brought nearly 5,000 live video callers to air. Samples of these shows, as well as additional information about the VCC, are available at www.thevcc.tv. Stick to Sports can be seen live on Wednesday nights, at 8PM EDT, at http://www.talkcenteramerica.tv/
Expanded Patent Portfolio Reinforces VCC’s Unique Position as Technology and Service Leader in Addressing Needs of Growing Video Caller-Based Television Segment
PALISADES, NY. May 16th, 2017—The Video Call Center announced today the issuance of US Patent #9,654,731 by the United States Patent Office, expanding coverage of the VCC’s unique system for creating video caller-based television. This significant addition to the VCC’s patent portfolio, which now includes 120 claims, acknowledges the VCC’s leadership in the field and covers the VCC’s techniques and workflow for many areas including connecting, prioritizing and screening callers, managing caller information within the production team, and switching the production through automated hosting techniques.
The system, with its expanded patent coverage, is at the heart of services and solutions from the VCC that enable traditional and online media companies to create compelling new, live content formats that bring stars, experts, journalists, athletes, and everyday audience members to air directly from video calling apps on their phones and laptops. uspto.gov