I've been spending most of my time in the Interactivity van, where the computers are bring set up. With me are Gray Thompson, Interactivty producer for the show, Share Reeves, also on the Interactivity team, Jim Cunnigham and Sherman Blalock of the Williams Companies, and of course Gene Feldman, from NASA/Goddard.
It's really exciting to see the different pieces of technology coming together. When I arrived a few days ago, most of the major areas of the production center were set up, but they weren't linked together. For example, the computers in the Interactivity van were working, but they weren't linked to the TV production van or to any of the sites offshore, so we couldn't share data and images with people working in those areas. But by today, I walked into the Interactivity van to hear Jim exclaim "We're connected to the ship. I'm sending files to the Carolyn Chouest." This will be a big help to us in the coming weeks as we will be able to get data files from the scientists on the ship so that we can post the on the Internet. And we can get updates and planning documents easily to the crew abourd the Caroline.
A short time later, those of us in the production center were treated to our first live pictures from the seafloor near the Carolyn -- proof that the ROV team had begun their testing and were successfully sending video back to shore.
Of course there were a few snags along the way. After the first round of testing the computer network that links all of the PINS (who are setting up the same as we are), we discovered that we were not able to communicate with all of the PINS. Jim and his colleagues figured out that some of the machines in the network were not able to share information with one another. They tried a new configuration here at the Interactivity trailer which seems to have solved the problem. Now they are busy completing the switch in time for the rehearsal tomorrow. Even though all the pieces are supposed to work together in theory, sometimes you don't know until you actually bring everything together, plug it in and try it out.
During the rehearsals, we will continue to test the communications links between the various production elements and the PINS. For example, we will practice taking pictures from our various computers (perhaps an image from the JASON homepage or a photo of a student at a PINS) and inserting them into the live show so that they can be seen by everyone at the broadcats. In addition, the rehearsals also give the scientists a chance to get better used to working with cameras all around.
That's all for now. Stay tuned....
Back to April Expedition Journal
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Gene Carl Feldman
Todd Carlo Viola, JASON Foundation for Education (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Revised: 11 April 1996