TWiT Live Update

LeoLaporte-20080514-_MG_9169-1.jpgWe’re inching along with TWiT Live, my attempt to turn the humble Tech Guy Labs into an Internet TV station. If you saw the earlier pictures or video tour you wouldn’t recognize the place. It’s turned into a bustling hub of activity and an actual workplace.
To start with we have an office manager and bookeeper, Frédérique (now I’m not the only person with acute accents around here).

Frédérique is an old family friend who comes in every morning to make sure things are running smoothly.

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Colleen is our new studio manager and resident geek. She is helping me build the studio and has been invaluable in getting the wires connected.

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Her latest feat is putting in this guerilla lighting rig. It’s handy having a welder on staff.

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It’s very weird having employees. The guy from ADP came in today and we set up payroll, taxes, worker’s comp, benefits, and so on. I incorporated TWiT as an LLC some time ago – now the chickens have come home to roost. I’m really am the Chief TWiT now (although I still can’t bring myself to put that on official papers).

I’ve promoted Dane to President and Biz Dev guy. He’s been my invaluable right arm for more than a year now, and without him TWiT would never have grown past a handful of poorly edited shows. He’s still doing all the editing and posting but I’m looking to hire an in-house part-time editor to free Dane up to do more high-level planning. Which frees me up to do 20 hours of streaming video a week.

We even have a water cooler around which we can gather and gossip.

Mr. Water Cooler

As far as the studio goes, we’re almost done. We’ve got the lights in, thanks to Pat Grosswendt and litepanels.com. They have already made a huge difference.

We are installing our new Tricaster Studio on Friday so I’ll finally have more than one camera online. The Tricaster will let me switch between up to six cameras (we have four Canon XL-2s and will probably buy another) and several computer screens (so you can finally see our Skype callers, hosts, and guests). When the Tricaster comes online the fun really begins. It’ll be just like the Gerry Todd show…

I’m pleased to announce that our streaming host for all this will be Stickam.com. They’ve really stepped up to help us make this work. Today they put us on a dedicated server cluster which should help us scale to more viewers without slowdowns. We’ll be using the Flash Media Encoder on our end (once we get the new Tricaster 2.0 software) to improve quality, and we hope to start sending the show in widescreen 16:9 soon.

We’ll be using the integrated Stickam chat to get viewers on the air so sign up for a free Stickam account now and request friendship with Leo Laporte so we can put you on. Stickam is helping us design a better page at TWiTLive.tv, too.

I turn on the cameras every day except Monday and Friday from 11a-4p Pacific (2-7p Eastern, 6-11p UTC). You can subscribe to our production calendar using RSS, ICS, or HTML:

If you subscribe using Google calendar, Outlook, or iCal the calendar should get updated automatically (shows are often being moved or added). Turn on time zone support in your calendaring program to convert the times to your local time. I also post changes and updates to the TWiT Live account on Twitter, and Stickam can send you SMS, Email, or IM notifications when we turn on the cameras.

As for content, it might not be as jazzy as the Gerry Todd Show, but I do hope to keep the pipeline filled with interesting information. To start with you’ll be able to see all the TWiT show being produced. They’re all audio shows (and don’t worry, they’re going to stay that way) but we’ll add video elements to most of them. At the very least you’ll be able to see Dvorak’s, Steve’s, Amber’s, Megan’s, Cammy’s, Paul’s, Dick’s, Andy’s, Alex’s, Scott’s, and Merlin’s shining faces via Skype video.

Whenever possible we’ll get our contributers into the studio for the shows, too. I think we’ll be able to do live in-studio versions of TWiT and MacBreak Weekly at least once a month.

People tell me that some of the most interesting stuff happens in-between shows. I hope you caught Scott Bourne’s fascinating impromptu tour of his bird photos after MacBreak Weekly last week. That’s the kind of thing we’re going to do a lot more of. When something extra interesting happens I’ll capture it and put it out as downloadable high-quality video. We’ll be creating a new netcast of these Best of TWiT Live pieces later this month. It will be available on iTunes, Apple TV, Miro, and Stickam.

Meanwhile, I better go pay some bills, as Gerry Todd says. Thanks for your support, and a special thanks to the numerous TWiT donors who are making this possible. We couldn’t do it without you!

TWiT Livelier

TWiT Live inches closer and closer to reality. The lights are in (thanks to Pat Grosswendt of Litepanels.com). A new Tricaster should arrive tomorrow. We’ll be setting cameras this week and working on the network that will allow us to show screens and callers.
We’ve already started broadcasting live on the Internet from 11a-4p Pacific, 2-7p Eastern, 1800-2300 UTC every day except Monday and Friday. You’ll see the live video on the Leoville front page, on the Tech Guy site, and TWiTLive.tv. For now, it’s mostly me recording the week’s podcasts, but we’ll add more content bit by bit, including call-ins, interviews, and new shows. Patrick and Dvorak are skeptical, but I think I’ll be able to do 25 hours of fresh, interesting, programming each week. Or die trying!

For those of you who saw the hour long chat with Scott Bourne about his bird photography last Wednesday, that’s exactly what I hope to do with TWiT Live. It’s just a matter of getting people into my studio in Petaluma, or via Skype video. I’m confident that between viewer calls and the interesting people I can lure up, we’ll have a lot of great stuff. For example, Justine is coming in this Wednesday for MacBreak Weekly and I hope to spend more time with her afterward.

Don’t worry if you can’t see all the live stuff. I plan to offer recordings of the best of these impromptu sessions on Stickam as Flash plus create a high-quality H.264 “Best of TWiT Live” podcast which you can subscribe to in iTunes or Apple TV. The Scott session is a perfect example of that. I hope I can do several like that a week. We may also run them during non-live hours. Eventually I want to go 24-hours with TWiT Live, between me, re-runs, and with any luck, a few additional live on camera hosts. I see TWiT Live as a homegrown CNBC for Geeks within three years.

Back In The US, Back in the US, Back in the USA!

I left Sydney at 2:30p on Monday and arrived in San Francisco at 10:30a Monday. Ah the magic of the International Date Line! Thanks to Qantas I slept most of the way and feel pretty normal. That’s a good thing because there’s lots to do. Besides filing income taxes tomorrow, I have a studio to set up. The new desk arrived when I was gone. Covad installs the T-1 Friday. I’ll start moving gear into the downstairs studio this week and should be able to start using it for the radio show this weekend, assuming I can get the ISDN line moved. I still need to get lighting and switching software, and I’m sure there will be lots of bugs to work out, but TWiT Live is on the way.