By Brian Leopold
Let’s face it. Unless you’re an emergency room doctor or nurse (and if you are, then God bless you) very few of us leave work knowing we’ve saved lives. But that’s exactly how the men and women who work at the American Cancer Society feel every day. Nearly everything the employees of the ACS do on a daily basis results in saved lives. It’s all in keeping with the organization’s mission of preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. That higher sense of purpose is one of the great things about working at the American Cancer Society. Just ask Andy Huff, Senior Director of Multimedia Services.
“Our job is showing people that our organization is continuing to move down the path towards saving lives, and preventing suffering from cancer,” Huff told me. “And when you’re able to do those things, it feels pretty good to go home at the end of the day.”
“The thought of creating a studio space or control center or even broadcasting live is terrifying to many senior-level executives, but for a relatively small investment, you can make a really big impact with the tools NewTek provides.”
The American Cancer Society was founded in 1913, and since then, the ACS has funded 47 Nobel Prize winning scientists. Since its inception, the ACS has always focused on making use of the latest technological tools, and that forward tech-focus extends beyond the research laboratory, to the way the ACS communicates their lifesaving message to the public. So, it was only logical that the ACS would choose to become an early user of NewTek’s TriCaster® to produce video content.
“We were one of the first people in the southeast to get a TriCaster 850,” says Dan Hodlick, Executive Producer of Multimedia Services at the ACS. “We were able to look downrange and see the value of the tool as a staff communication vehicle. And that’s where the studio part of ACS really began. Our studio was put together as a way to communicate information to the staff about who we are, what we do, and how we do it, as well as the latest advances in cancer treatment.
“When the TriCaster 850 came out, we put our arms around it, and built our whole facility around that piece of gear.”
Taking The Show On the Road
But not too long after working with their TriCaster, the innovative video staff at the American Cancer Society realized they could take their studio-based TriCaster on the road. In 2013, an internal decision was made to take the ACS’s TriCaster 850 beyond the confines of the ACS’s corporate headquarters in downtown Atlanta and utilize the unit on remote productions. The TriCaster was loaded into a travel case, along with cameras, microphones, and the other equipment necessary to produce a live stream on remote, and shipped to various locations across the country. The ACS’s TriCaster 850 did yeoman’s duty, producing live shows in Texas, Washington DC, and Minnesota, to mention just a few locations. The ACS had no qualms about taking their TriCaster wherever they felt they could tell their story.
“Instead of telling our staff about the National Cancer Information Center in Texas, we were able to take our show on the road and show them,” Hodlick says.
“We could say, ‘you’ve heard us talk about the NCIC, and what it does, but here, let’s take a look. Here’s someone who runs the NCIC. Here’s a doctor or nurse that handles the calls. Let’s talk to them about what they do.’ Rather than send out an e-mail, we were able to show them, and that had a great impact.”
“We also use NewTek’s TalkShow® product to integrate voices from the field,” Andy Huff says. “Just last week, we used TalkShow to bring a live guest from a research lab into a one-hour show for staff we were producing. She talked to us about the research she is doing that the American Cancer Society is funding. So, we were able to see, from our studio in Atlanta, a researcher in the New England area doing research, funded by dollars given by our donors. We were able to get an update, see our investment as staff and donors in action, all because of this tool. It’s invaluable.”
Saving Lives on a Budget
Whether in the studio or on remote, the American Cancer Society uses their TriCaster to tackle a dual-purpose mission. First, the ACS wants to encourage its staff and keep them informed about the organization’s progress in meeting its goals. And second, The ACS hopes to invite the public to invest in their fight to find a cure for people suffering from cancer. Purchasing NewTek’s TriCaster has allowed the organization to fulfill this two-pronged mission in a cost-effective fashion.
“When you look at what we are able to do with a very minor investment, compared to what would have been a very major investment not even five years ago, the technology and the cost of that technology provided by NewTek has allowed us to enter a place and produce a product that is far superior, and we do it for a minimal cost which, at the end of the day, puts more money back into the mission of saving lives,” Huff says. “It’s a tool that can help you communicate more effectively, in a way that’s very relevant to today’s consumer and in a way that’s cost effective. The thought of creating a studio space or control center or even broadcasting live is terrifying to many senior-level executives, but for a relatively small investment, you can make a really big impact with the tools NewTek provides.”
To give to the American Cancer Society, go to: cancer.org/donate
Key Equipment & Software Used in the American Cancer Society’s Atlanta Headquarters
- NewTek TriCaster 8000 running Advanced Edition 2 software
- NewTek TalkShow VS 100
- Transmission for programs is ASI-fiber to CDN, and then a Polycom RealPresence 500 as an IP backup
- 3 Sony 300k1 cameras with Sony RMB-170 ccu’s using custom in-house fabricated Sony 8 pin to CAT5 adapters
- Sony NX5 on a Manfrotto tripod/head for wide
- Vinten 250 heads, Vinten sticks
- 3 Arri 250w, 4 Arri 650w, 2 Source Four 750w leko, 6 Desisti fluorescent broads, 10 30” AMX LED lightbars, 10 channel Lightronics AMX dimmers, Smartfade lighting console
- Absolutely ancient ClearCom MS-4 IFB and MS232 com system – pushing intercoms through DigitalArts tally & intercom CAT5 controller
- 6 Tram TR50, 6 Sony ECM 77’s
- KiPro Rack
- Aja Kumo 16×16 router
- Drake EH244 ASI encoder and Digilink 1220E fiber encoder
- Comrex STAC 12-line telephone interface
- 2 sets of Blackmagic SmartView Duo LCD monitors for routable signal monitoring
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