Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘broadcast television’ Category

One Missed Putt

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If you go back and read the media coverage prior to this past week’s 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s in Lancashire, U.K., very few sports writers were talking about Ernie Els.

But it was exactly Ernie Els, the one-time British Open Champion and 42 year-old grinder who walked away with the Claret jug yesterday after surreptitiously ousting Australia’s Adam Scott who had led much of the tournament, and was, in fact, leading yesterday through the 17th hole, before collapsing with a missed par putt on the 18th hole in front of thousands of golf fans in attendance and millions more in the TV and Internet audience.

What made the collapse even more painful was that Els and Scott are good friends, and for Scott, this would have been his first major victory.

Despite the outcome, the 2012 Open Championship made for dramatic sports television, especially if you’re a golf fan.

Though other notables, including Tiger Woods, world #1 Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, and a handful of others seemed like they might have a chance to head up higher on the leaderboard at times, it was Scott who seemed destined for victory, playing strategically, cautiously, and most importantly in golf, consistently –that is, all the way up to the 15th hole at Royal Lytham.

But then, as is the case with the game of golf, fate, the winds, and perhaps even some nerves, got in Scott’s way, and with a long birdie putt on 18, Els earned his way to his second Claret jug.

One couldn’t help but have empathy for Scott — he seemed calm and collected throughout the tournament, and no doubt played steady, eddy golf. But the closing holes of a major are key, and just a couple of minor slip-ups — overshooting the green on 17, and driving into one of Royal Lytham’s lethal pot bunkers on 18 — sealed his fate.

As for Tiger Woods, it seemed going into Sunday he might have a chance to overcome Scott early in the day. Throughout the tournament, Woods had only pulled out his driver once, instead opting for smart and more strategic placement of his drives using irons to avoid Lytham’s 205 bunkers. But in the end, that strategy shortened Tiger’s distance off the tees, and lengthened his approaches, making it especially difficult to get close to the already-hard-to-reach pins on Sunday.

And Ernie Els, well certainly his iron play kept him in the running, but it was his putter that won the day. His 12-foot putt on 18 to draw Scott one shot closer to him will be recorded in perpetuity on the great Open Championship highlight reels.

Unfortunately, so will Adam Scott’s missed 7 footer that, had he made it, would at least have given one more opportunity to close the deal in a playoff with Els.

With three majors down, and one to go (next month’s PGA Championship will be held at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina), this has proven to be a year of dramatic golf and even more dramatic majors.

It’s also likely going to be the year that golf’s key governing authorities, the USGA and the Royal and Ancient in the U.K., are going to face increased pressure to finally contend with what many call golf’s “steroid,” the belly putter, which players like Els, Scott, Matt Kuchar, and so many others have begun using that allows them to “anchor” the putter in their chests or bellies, and which many think is an unfair advantage.

Me, I’m just hoping for one last and final major in the form of the PGA Championship that is even half as dramatic as the British and U.S. Opens have been, all of which will have been the consummate set up for this September’s Ryder Cup matches in Medina!

Written by turbotodd

July 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm

British Rocketballz

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Golf fans everywhere, be forewarned: I went and bought myself one of those TaylorMade Rocketballz drivers over the weekend, and everything those pro golfers say in the TV ads are true, so long as you don’t swing TOO hard.

I was on the 18th tee of one of our local courses here in Austin, Riverside (where renowned golf teacher Harvey Penick once lived and taught), and hit the ball a good 280 yards straight down the middle, and this from the back tees.  Much farther than I had ever hit the ball even from the middle tees, and so straight and long that it earned some serious “Ooohs” from the 20-something flatbellies I had been joined up with.

Never mind the rest of my game’s still a muddling mess…the point is, the Rocketballz driver lets you hit it like the pros, at least once in a while, and allows you to live your Walter Mitty-ish golf fantasies out on your local public course.

Of course, the pros this weekend we were focused on were Steve Stricker, among others, whom many of us were hoping would become only the fourth golfer in history to win the same tournament four years in a row.

But Zach Johnson, another midwestern favorite who hails from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had other ideas, taking the trophy away from Troy Matteson, who led wire to wire but lost in a playoff on the second time the two played the 18th hole.

Two shots we won’t soon forget: Matteson’s 59′ foot putt on 17 to make eagle to tie Johnson and get in the playoff, and Johnson’s brilliant sand shot from the “Stricker” sandtrap on 18, a shot that landed about two feet from the hole and pretty much cinched Johnson’s victory.

And THIS time, I remembered to add extra time to the broadcast schedule on my DVR so I could actually watch the playoff. What a concept!

To me, there’s nothing like watching a golf playoff, especially when it’s mano a mano like that.

It’s nervewracking, it’s compelling, it’s, sometimes, yes, even spellbinding.

So, major kudos to Zach Johnson, as this makes for his second win this year (he also took the honors at the Ft. Worth-held Colonial back in May) and sends him roaring back up the FedEx points list.

Now, most all golf attention turns to Royal Lythan & St. Annes in Lancashire, UK, for the third PGA major of the year, the 2012 British Open.

As PGA Tour.Com pointed out this AM, first-time major winners have won nine straight at the Open Championship, so consider the field wide open.

Tiger Woods has certainly been on a streak, but there’s lots of hungry Irish lads like Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, and Graeme McDowell who’d like a sip from that Claret Jug as well.

Harrington’s won the Open twice, Woods’ three times, Els’ once…McDowell and McIlroy, uh, never.

David Duval, who last won an Open at Royal Lytham in 2001, will also be making a return visit.

The action starts early in the A.M. EST Thursday, so get those VCRs and DVRs tuned and ready to go.

I have a distinct feeling this is going to be a seriously compelling, and competitive, week of golf.

Sewing Up The London Olympic Games

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The new Ralph Lauren-designed uniforms for U.S. Olympics athletes at the coming London Olympics games may look spiffy, but a number of U.S. politicians have come out recently to complain they were manufactured in China. Let the games begin!

Well, it seems that the London Olympic Games are only a couple of short weeks away now.

As we get closer and closer to the lighting of the London 2012 Olympic torch, we will also start to see lines get drawn in the digital and social sand, as this will likely be the most “social” Olympic Games ever.

There will be lots to juxtapose in this year’s games in London with those of Beijing in 2008.

Most notably, the fact that we won’t have a 12 hour delay by the broadcast networks. Instead, NBC has already indicated that they will show many of the events live.  American GDP could swoon to a new low in these London Olympic summer games!

If you’re looking for a place to follow the games, there will be no shortage of television and digital opportunities. Just this week, Facebook and NBC announced a collaboration for “transmedia” coverage of the London Olympic Games.

In that deal, data from Facebook will inform TV coverage on NBC and other channels that will carry portions of the Summer Games starting on July 27, according to The New York Times. The specific uses will vary, says the Times, but there will be a “Facebook Talk Meter”  occasionally shown on TV to reflect what is being said online.

Conversely, on Facebook the NBC Olympics page will get frequent updates with what the companies call “exclusive content” for fans only. Fans will then be able to share what videos and articles they’re perusing on the network’s Olympics website.

It’s hard to believe that in only 4 short years, Facebook has grown from 100 million users, the number they were at during the Beijing Olympic Games, to over 900 million.  There’s no question this will be a much more social Olympics, but let’s also not forget the projected TV audience is 4 billion (In Beijing, the global TV audience was estimated at 4.4 billion.)

Speaking of China, U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) castigated the U.S. Olympic Committee for its decision to have the U.S. Olympics team dressed in Ralph Lauren-designed berets, blazers and pants that were manufactured in China even as the U.S. textile industry struggles to keep U.S. workers at their sewing machines.

Maybe they should introduce sewing into the Olympics as an official sport and we can have ourselves a “sew-off?”

I recently did some Olympic scouting of my own, looking for Websites and mobile apps to help make sure I keep up with the Virtual Joneses during the London sports festouche.  Here’s a few of them I unearthed:

I also found an interesting app for the iPad, the “Ultimate Olympic Guide,” which cost me a whopping $.99 and provided some nice background and overviews of each of the Olympic sports.

Feel free to add any other useful London Olympics resources in the comments section below.

CNBC: Texas’ Is the 2012 “Top State For Business”

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I turned on CNBC this afternoon to catch up on business news just in time to see Texas governor Rick Perry doing a standup interview over at the University of Texas to celebrate Texas’ being chosen for the third time in the past several years as the “America’s Top State for Business.”

According to CNBC’s Scott Cohn, Texas “racked up an impressive 1,604 points out of a possible 2,500,” and had top-10 finishes in “six of our 10 categories of competitiveness.”

Texas has never finished below second place since CNBC started the study in 2007.

This year’s categories, developed in concert with the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness, included the following: “Cost of Doing Business,” “Workforce,” “Quality of Life,” “Infrastructure and Transportation,” “Economy,” “Education,” “Technology and Innovation,” “Business Friendliness,” “Access to Capital,” and “Cost of Living.”

Diving deeper into the results, Texas has the nation’s best “Infrastructure” and improved to second place for “Technology and Innovation,” and boasts the third lowest “Cost of Living.”

On the downside, Texas came in 26th in “Education” and 35th of “Quality of Life,” apparently getting dinged for less available health care and higher property and sales taxes.

Obviously, this is very exciting news here in Austin and across the state of Texas, especially considering the vast diversification we’ve seen of the Texas economy over the past decade.  When I was growing up in Texas, energy and oil dominated the economy, but we’ve seen massive investments and innovations in more diverse fields these past 20 years, including high tech, telecommunications, biotechnology and life sciences, health care, and many more, all in a business-friendly (read: less regulation and taxes) climate.

But we’ve still got some work to do, I would submit.

If you’re a person of little means, whatever else you do, don’t get sick here.  Texas is not expected to expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance exchange, according to another recent announcement by Governor Perry, and only 31 percent of physicians in Texas accepted Medicaid patients in 2011, according to the Texas Medical Association and as reported in the Texas Tribune.

So, congrats to the great state of Texas…I’m really glad to hear we’re doing a great job of taking care of business…but clearly there’s some work yet to be done in taking better care of our people!

Impressions From SXSW Interactive 2012: Q&A With Twitter-Challenged Cisco Social Video Guru Tim “Washtub” Washer

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I apologize in advance for the following interview.

A colleague responded to my posting of this video on Facebook and wrote “Wins the award for least content in an interview.”

Noah, you’re really being far too generous.

That said, there’s nothing more fun than interviewing Tim “Washtub” Washer, former IBM social media pioneer and now social video guru with Cisco.

Tim is a comedy writer and actor whose credits range from The Late Show With David LettermanLate Night with Conan O’Brien, Saturday Night Live, and more recently, The Onion.

As you’ll see from our interview, all Tim has to do is show up and breathe and Scott and I would laugh.  Really! The fact that we couldn’t seem to land an actual time to conduct the interview amidst a SXSW chock full of social mediated, geo-located smartphone applications…well, that tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

During his tenure at Big Blue, Washer produced one of the most brilliant corporate social video campaigns ever, “The Art of the Sale,” which was selected as a Comedy Central “Staff Favorite.”  And you know they were reaching for the bottom of the barrel when selecting an IBM video series for such a distinguished honor.

Tim’s work has been covered by Advertising Age, NPR, and The New York Times, and he holds an MBA from the University of Texas.

When we weren’t laughing, Scott and I spoke with Tim about his having left IBM under auspicious circumstances, how he came to be a corporate comedian, and why it was that we couldn’t use Cisco Telepresence technology to conduct such a scintillating interview.

Impressions From SXSW Interactive 2012: Q&A With Mark McKinnon, Political Innovator…and The Most Interesting Man in the World!

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When I realized I had a way to reach out to and speak with Austin’s-own “political innovator” Mark McKinnon, a former Bush media strategist and longtime political maverick, at SXSW Interactive 2012 I seized the opportunity.

Mark has been a familiar part of the American political landscape for several decades, having worked for causes, companies, and candidates ranging from 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain, late former Texas Governor Ann Richards, Congressman Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, Bono, and many others.

Most recently, McKinnon has served as Global Vice-Chairman of Hill & Knowlton Strategies, an international communications consultancy, and the President of Maverick Media. He is also co-founder of No Labels and serves on the Board of Advisors of Americans Elect, an organization whose stated goal is “to nominate a presidential ticket that answers directly to voters—not the political system.”

We spoke with Mark about a number of topics, not the least of which included his experiences working with Congressman Charlie Wilson, the role of social media in politics, and the opportunity Americans Elect has to alter the U.S. presidential election landscape.

The Artist

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I’ve not had time to see all the films nominated for “Best Picture” for this year’s Academy Awards, and will, in fact, be flying up to Toronto next Sunday as this year’s Oscars are set to be awarded.

Will "The Artist" win this year's Oscar for "Best Picture?" Perhaps a more important question, what will companies around the globe do to avoid becoming victims of their own industries' transitional equivalent from silent to talking motion pictures?

Why is it that I’m always on a plane during these big events?  Three weeks ago it was the Super Bowl.  Reminds me of the time that Spain was playing Germany in the UEFA Euro soccer finals in 2008. I was flying back from Madrid to the States, and there were all these poor Spaniards stuck on the plane as Germany played Spain for that once every-four-year title.

The good news was, Spain won (for them…I don’t want to start any internecine football blogging wars here).

I did get out to see one of the nominated films this weekend, Michael Hazanaviciu’s “The Artist,” a mostly silent film focused on the late 1920s and early 1930s which explores the transition from silent to “talky” pictures.

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the movie and plan on doing so, stop reading now!

I mean it…I’m about to spill the beans!

Actually, there aren’t a lot of beans to spill.  The movie plot could just as easily haven been taken out of the radio-to-TV transition, or the broadcast-to-cable transition, or even the search-to-social network transition.

Meaning, that change is universal and inevitable. And those who choose to protect the business models of the past and to ignore the potential of those of the future are doomed to history’s sidelines.

In “The Artist,” George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the silent movie star of his time, but as he meets up-and-coming but still fledgling actress Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) his movie studio, Kinograph Studios, led by Al Zimmer (John Goodman), Valentin fights the rising tide of “talkies,” and soon finds himself going bankrupt during the Great Depression as silent films go the way of the dinosaur and his own last-ditch attempt at self-financing one last talkie is a failure.

It’s not without some irony that this film is, largely, silent. Yet in its own unique way, it demonstrates the power of visual storytelling, seeming to explain why silent films had their day — that a good story is, in fact, universal, no matter the manner in which is related.

As its viewers experience, it’s not until the very last scene of the film that we finally hear George Valentin speak at all, as he explains with a heavy French accent that he will do yet another take of a scene with his new co-star, Ms. Miller, “with pleasure.”

He’s had his epiphany, his denouement is complete, and Valentin seems set to become a part of the future he once denied, only this time more as dancer than actor.

He has, in short, evolved.

The object lesson in all this?

In some ways, it’s akin to Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma, in which the author outlined the opportunity and challenges of disruptive technologies and innovations.

Clayton’s basic thesis suggests that a disruptive technology is “an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network.”

If the introduction of “talking” motion pictures’ and subsequent disruption of the silent film market doesn’t fit this definition, I’m not sure what does.

This transition, of course, didn’t come without some pain, experienced both by the motion picture industry at large, and a variety of its “players.” Actors such as the fictional George Valentin (but also scores of silent motion picture actors ranging from Theda Bara to Mary Pickford to Charlie Chaplin) were impacted by the transition, often when their voices didn’t match their silent film image.

But technical challenges also abounded: New mikes and cameras had to be developed to prevent pick-up of the grinding noise that silent film cameras made as the film moved through the sprockets, and the industry had to find a way to synchronize voices properly, considering the sound head on a projector is about 10 frames away from the projected image.  Even new sound-proof sound stages had to be built, as did squeak-proof dollies.

But, ultimately, the industry and many of its players did adapt, and in the process generated a variety of  new opportunities for newly required vocations (sound editors, boom operators, voice actors, and on and on).  But, many also fell by the wayside.

As for “The Artist” and whether or not a silent movie in the year 2012 can win an Oscar for “Best Picture,” keep an eye out on the evolving social sentiment leading up to Sunday’s awards ceremony, for which IBM has partnered with the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab to bring you the Oscar Senti-Meter where we follow the Twittersphere action day-by-day.

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