Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gently Down The Stream

TigerBlog would like to apologize to the people at "The Office" for doubting that they'd come up with a quality wedding episode for Jim and Pam last week. One of the best episodes of the show was the one where Phyllis got married, and yet TB thinks that the wedding of Jim and Pam topped it.

Certainly the scenes involving Andy were great. And Michael's interaction with the women in Pam's family. And anything with Dwight. It was a top 10 episode in the show's history, which is saying something.

Of course, it was on NBC at 9 last Thursday, which left it smack in the middle of Princeton-Colgate football. Not to worry. TB simply watched it Friday morning on his computer (while doing important work-related stuff at the same time, obviously).

This is the world we live in now. Can't see the show Thursday? Watch it on your computer whenever you want.

To those who have passed 30 or so, it wasn't always that way. TigerBlog remembers traveling with the Princeton men's basketball team on its Ivy League road trips back when he was in the newspaper business, which meant pulling out of Jadwin Gym after practice at around 7 or so and arriving at a hotel well after 11. In other words, it meant missing "Seinfeld" and "ER."

So what to do about it? Well, TB could set his VCR, but it seemed like having an available video cassette was always an issue. Plus, there was the whole issue of setting the VCR properly and not accidentally recording the wrong time or wrong channel. Or forgetting to do it in the first place.

TB was fortunate that his old roommate Jim Chesko was a bit, uh, consumed by recording every episode of many TV shows, and so Chet had his three VCRs going at the same time. He'd eventually edit the commercials out, and he'd have volume after volume of his favorite shoes, especially "Seinfeld," "The Larry Shandling Show" and "Friends." He also had great collections of live music he'd record from various sources.

Sadly, not everyone was as fortunate as TB was to live with Chet at the time. Besides, TB was evicted when Chet got married, leaving no access to the video collection - or Chet's two cats, Cybil and Lola, whom TB had grown to accept.

Fast forwarding nearly two decades, technology has long since rendered the VCR obsolete. Today, everything is available on your computer, or should be.

All of which brings us to TigerZone and Princeton's videostreaming efforts, as well as something of a education on priorities.

Princeton's earliest forays into videostreaming were basically about getting the local cable TV telecasts of Tiger football onto the earliest Webpage. It wasn't until maybe two years ago that videostreaming started in earnest, which is somewhat shocking to think about.

TigerBlog remembers a meeting two or three years ago with several coaches who wanted to go down the videostreaming path and TB's research into how hard it would be. The answer came back as "not very," and now not that far removed from those early meetings, Princeton (and every other school in the country) can videostream any event that originates from a site that has an ethernet connection.

The problem is that the more you're able to provide, the more that is expected of these productions. For the most part, videostreaming has consisted of using coaches' video, as opposed to a professional production with announcers and multiple cameras. Often, we here at HQ find ourselves at the mercy of the coaches and teams to find someone to run the camera; if not, there have been times where the camera stays as wide as possible and never moves (or, as in the case of a field hockey game, points only at one goal).

Still, as technology continues to advance, videostreaming will improve in quality. It's TigerBlog's contention that eventually it'll wipe out regular TV, with an ESPN360-type format being the norm.

The other issue is archiving the games, which is not a difficult task. It does, however, fall under the heading of many other tasks that people have to deal with that often get pushed away in favor of other, more interesting, projects.

The former director here at HQ is Kurt Kehl, who, by the way, celebrates his birthday today (it's also the 62nd anniversary of the day Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier). Kurt would always point out that the all-sports schedule that was printed here (back when we printed stuff) wasn't very glamorous but at the time was the publication with the highest quantity printed. In other words, so many more people would see the all sports schedule than, say, the men's lacrosse guide, but the idea of putting more of an effort into the schedule than the guide never entered TB's mind.

It's the same with archiving games. They're an afterthought compared with much of what goes on around here, but they are a huge part of what we do and more importantly a huge part of what people want to see.

It's easy to lose track of that fact in the day-to-day operation around HQ. It's easy to devote all of your time and all of your resources in certain directions, only to figure out in the end that it hasn't been a worthwhile allocation of those resources. At the same time, something as basic as archiving games goes a long way towards filling the needs of a large chunk of your constituents.

After all, it's 2009. If you want to watch Jim and Pam's wedding – or Princeton's most recent soccer games or any other event – it should be there for you.


Anonymous said...

Unless, of course, you live in the hinterlands where high speed internet is an unrealized dream. Just try watching one of your shows on dial-up.

Anonymous said...

I can think of no funnier scene from The Office than the rehearsal dinner at Jim and Pam's wedding.

Chetster57 said...

When I was tipped off to the fact that I was mentioned in the latest edition of the world-famous TigerBlog, I thought it would be something about my three years of doing Princeton Tigers basketball radio color commentary in the mid/late 1980s or my two years of being the public-address announcer for Tigers football in the mid 1990s. Instead, it's a nod to my TV/VCR addiction? Oh well. I'll take what I can get! Thanks TB! - Jim Chesko