2011 Year in Review

For prospective employers, potential clients, and my own future sanity, I thought it might be a smart idea to start recounting my achievements from the year. It’s been a very long and extremely busy year, professionally. The overwhelming majority of my professional capacity in 2011 has been focused on PlayON! Sports, my current employer, but I do have some other personal/professional achievements to recount as well, so let me just dive right in.

2011 TSSAA Basketball Finals on TPTC, ESPN3

Way back in March of this year, I spent the better part of three weeks in Tennessee producing and managing the 2011 BlueCross Basketball Championships – the state finals for high school basketball. Each week began with streaming video coverage of the quarter- and semi-finals on our high school video portal site, TSSAANetwork.com and culminated with the finals each Saturday live on Tennessee Public Television and well as ESPN3.com. I served as the technical manager on-site, overseeing all of the end-to-end technical operations of the three-week tournament. I also spent a good deal of time pre-producing the event in the weeks leading up to the finals: site-surveys, operations coordination, programming and planning. This marked the first time the basketball tournament appeared on public television and was considered a great success. PlayON! will again be producing the 2012 basketball finals coming in March.

Comcast National Production Vans

Following the end of the school season in 2011, PlayON! finalized a multi-year agreement with Comcast to produce hundreds of high school sporting events under the “Xfinity High School Sports” brand and distributed on Comcast’s On-Demand network. The agreement called for the build-out of eight multi-camera HD television production vans. I was assigned as a technical lead in the project, overseeing the specification and acquisition of nearly $750,000 in physical assets to complete the build-outs. After sourcing all of the equipment, I helped physically assemble the production vehicles and train the field producers who would be taking delivery of each van.

One of the vans also received a significant all-around upgrade to serve both the Comcast agreement as well as a weekly live telecast of high school football in association with the local ABC affiliate, WSB-TV. The upgrade included a larger Sprinter chassis, significantly upgraded camera systems and cabling, and an upgraded switcher control panel, as well as the addition of a dedicated audio console and audio processing hardware, a three-channel replay system, and a 16×16 HD-SDI router system. In total, more than $145,000 went into making “SuperVan” an extremely versatile live television production vehicle. I directly oversaw design and installation of the upgraded equipment and build-out and later operated as chief engineer on the van for its inaugural season of football from August to December.

2011 BlueCross Bowl on TPTC, ESPN3

Similarly to the basketball finals earlier in the year, the Tennessee high school football championships were broadcast live on Tennessee public television as well as streamed live on ESPN3.com. While this was the second time PlayON! had produced the BlueCross Bowl in Tennessee (having also produced the event in 2010), this year marked PlayON!’s marquee production. I once again served as technical manager on-site as well as production manager in the weeks leading up to the championships. This year’s production included a 53-foot digital production trailer in the form of CrossCreek’s Voyager 4, a separate satellite uplink truck, a multi-camera studio production, and a multi-camera sideline set. In all, more than 27 hours of coverage were aired live in just three days.

Production Hub

In January of this year, I began development of a web-based production scheduling and resource management application. The application would serve as the hub of operations for PlayON! and is designed to handle all of our day-to-day operational tasks. Features include client management, production and crew scheduling and conflict resolution, deliverable tracking, venue scouting, and asset acquisition and tracking. The application is built in Ruby on Rails 3.1 and should hopefully beging moving toward a 1.0 public release after the first of the year. I intend to begin licensing the software to other production groups if at all possible.


After leaving the development arm of PlayON! in August 2010 for the production side, I felt there were some works-in-progress I had left that, while totally functional, could be understandably difficult for the next developer to pick up and run with. Chief among them was the state of our JavaScript video player. Previously, I had built it with Google Web Toolkit, leveraging its great features like code minification and perfect caching. Getting your development environment up to snuff to run GWT isn’t trivial, though, and it also meant having a background in Java. The code was also, admittedly, far less clear and concise than it could have been.

I took it upon myself to re-write the entire project in plain-old JavaScript, aided by jQuery. My goal was to make sure any web jockey with half a brain and some experience with jQuery could run with this.

It turned out really well. In about two nights of caffeinated coding sessions, I was able to reduce thousands of lines in dozens of complicated Java classes down to just about 650 lines of code (plus a few dependencies) in JavaScript. It still compiles down to minified code using Google’s Closure Compiler, and the source code is now very straight forward to understand (in just two key files!). It took a little time, but I was able to convince the development team to adopt my new code and they have now almost finished deploying it out across the board.

If you’d like to take a look, the source code is on GitHub.


Lastly, of course, this blog came into existence. I initially began developing the blog in Rails (and still am), but I found myself spending in inordinate amount of time building rather common functionality (a blog engine) instead of writing great content. In the interim, I have switched to a hosted WordPress engine but I am nearing completion of the initial version of my Rails-based showcase piece of code. This site, of course, is intended to act as a portfolio of my work, my skills, and my personality. Look for big changes on this site in the coming weeks!

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