Monthly Archives: October 2013

Hatching Twitter; How that little bird and social media has changed us

Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal, the new book from San Francisco-based New York Times technology writer Nick Bilton releases November 5th and I can’t wait to dig in and read it. 

Bilton spent months visiting Twitter, speaking to hundreds of sources, including former and current employees and investigating documents and internal emails to give readers an inside look at how they went from start-up to a company with an IPO of nearly $1 billion.

Bilton, in some of his early promotion interviews, has distinguished the importance and impact of social media by saying, “Facebook changed the way we communicate.  Twitter changed us.”  

There is no doubt about the accuracy of his statement there.  Social media, in general, has changed us.  It’s changed the way we interact, communicate and the way our society operates.  Facebook changed the way we communicate with others and keep up with friends and family.  Instagram changed the way we document our lives… we now add filters to our everyday activities.  Twitter, though, Twitter did something the others couldn’t do.  It fundamentally changed us.  It changed our society.  It has radically altered how we live our lives, businesses work, revolutions begin, among other things such as politics, sports, journalism and many other industries.  

Recent moves support that notion fully.  Back in the early fall, Twitter filed for public trading and has amassed an IPO upwards of $1 billion.  Recent senior-level hirings show the company is seeking to strike up deals with sports leagues, media corporations and music labels.  

With its 200 million-plus users, my gut tells me Twitter’s best days have yet to come.  Media is changing more rapidly now than we have ever seen and Twitter is setting itself up to come out as, perhaps, the leading information sharing medium we will have.

If you don’t have a relationship with that little blue bird, why don’t you click on over and start?

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ESPN.  “The Worldwide Leader.”  The network that has seismically shifted the landscape of college athletics with multimillion dollar television deals with conferences such as the SEC and ACC.  The men in suits who also pay billions (with a “b”) of dollars for rights to the NFL’s Monday Night Football.

Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and the rest of the MNF crew has stepped up their game categorically this year.  A fleet of new state-of-the-art trucks and a new 90-second open brought to life by Peter Berg.  Then there are five men who get overlooked.  I’m referring to those men who bring viewers to the host city for that particular night.  Supervised by MNF director Chip Dean, scenic producers Allen Powers, Joel McKee, Barry Butcher and assistant Scott Vantassell spend a few extra days in the host city before Monday night’s telecast capturing images that are specific and iconic to the city that is on the big stage that week.

“We look for the most compelling imagery or the most unique elements specific to each city,” says Powers in this interview with ESPN Front Row.  “We also consider timely events and elements that will help viewers travel with us and connect with each city.”

Many people may not have ever noticed or simply thought much about these scenic shots that Dean will use as bumps coming back from commercial or at other moments during the show.

Dean and the other gentlemen get 18 weeks to take viewers around the country to some of Lady Liberty’s favorite places.  Such a simple feature that helps make Monday Night Football the icon it is.

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Orange is the new “Today”

Morning television is a die-hard world of politics, money and ratings.  After celebrating its first full year at No. 1, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” longtime morning leader “Today” had finally grown looking up at its younger counterpart.

NBC execs hope “Today’s” new set, new logo and new face will help it reclaim the spot it had once known, in an age where viewers are opting for their smartphone before the remote control when they wake up.

For those “Today”-lovers that left, however, it’s the content — not the packaging — that will get them back.

MV5BMTM0MTc0Njk2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTIxMTAzNQ@@._V1_SY317_CR11,0,214,317_Former “TRL” face and current host of the ever-popular “The Voice”, Carson Daly, will anchor the “Orange Room,” “Today’s” effort to intersect internet and television.  Daly will be regular, sometimes remote from L.A., updating anchors on what viewers are saying online.

Lead set designer Jeremy Conway did a fantastic job.  The set has a more modern look to it and feels as if the “Today” cast were in an real living room.

For more on this story, here’s a great story from Brian Stelter of the New York Times. You can also see more of the renovated Studio 1A here.

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FOX News Channel revolutionizes technological advances with FOX News Deck

Shepherd Smith signed off of his afternoon time slot just over a month ago. He’s returning now as lead anchor and editor of FOX News’s new breaking news entity, the FOX News Deck.

It’s a very impressive venture for what has historically been an old-school news organization. I believe the idea and format will prove viable enough to stick around.

Check this video and article out from Mashable here.

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Prepare Months to Execute Hours

“Roll video… take video.” And with that, Step Sing 2013 had begun.  Beginning as a production assistant, working my way to video playback operator, this year I found myself behind that switcher of our $6 million production truck, Buddy.


From pulling cable and running errands to playing video, I was sitting in THE chair; behind a Grass Valley Kayenne in a truck that had come to us in Birmingham from the Super Bowl.  Yeah, I was having the time of my life.

That night shortly after 7 p.m. was the culmination of months of work.  Pre-production for the three nights of shows on the third weekend of February began back in September.  Show ideas and formats, designs, video content and features and production meetings with crew; we had discussed it all.

This is the nature of the production industry, in general, not just television.  You prepare for months to execute a few hours of content.  It’s all just another day’s work.

Courtesy of Connor Wangner

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