Former cable analyst and TV news executive Tom Wolzien has been issued Patent No. 8,767,031 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the Video Call Center, a technology that enables television shows and networks to conduct live video call-ins much like talk radio programs.
Wolzien has been working on the Video Call Center from his home in Upstate New York for about two years and has logged in about 50 hours of programming over the past two years with Talk Center America, a call-in show hosted by long time TV personality Diane Dimond that also has served as a test-bed for the technology.
The Video Call Center is different from traditional web conferencing technology in that it allows for an extremely democratic, anyone-can-call-in approach to the genre; and it gives total control to the host, who can switch between callers at will.
“VCC is right at the intersection of social and mass media, TV and the web,” Wolzien said in a statement. “What’s unique is that the system doesn't just handle a single IP video call, but it’s designed to handle multiple video calls simultaneously, each with the power of its own computer--essential for any live caller-based TV program.”
That means that with the Video Call Center, a talk show host can operate a call-in show without a control room. Wolzien explained that automation assists the video switching and audio mixing so that the host can focus on the content of the conversation without having to worry about changing cameras. VCC handles multiple video callers at the same time, with many screened and simultaneously ready for the TV host to select for air.
The technology also makes typically low cost call-in shows even more economical – Wolzien estimates that with VCC, live shows can be produced with just five to six people – the host, a show producer, two call screeners, and one or two video/IT technicians.
“The ability to produce fresh, always-new content not only resets the bar on live TV costs but actually becomes competitive with reruns,” Wolzien added. “This works economically in any time slot, and that means it opens up live content for secondary networks that are increasingly being criticized by cable and satellite distributors for not providing much original content.”
Wolzien knows of what he speaks – before serving as Sanford Bernstein’s top cable analyst for 14 years, he spent 16 years at NBC News and was in on the introduction of early computer graphics, global computerization and studio robot cameras. The VCC patent is just one of several Wolzien has been awarded over the years.