Working on a movie set is not typically part of the job description for a Cisco technical marketing engineer. So, I was pleasantly surprised when, back in October, an invitation popped in my inbox to spend a couple of days in Budapest on the set of the latest Matt Damon movie. I was asked to help build some video conferencing systems, which were to be used in the movie, but I would’ve been happy to even get coffee for the movie’s world-renowned director, Ridley Scott.
The plot, as we can tell from the trailer, finds Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) stranded and alone on Mars, and presumed dead by NASA. He must figure out how to survive on the hostile planet and to signal Earth that he is alive. It’s only 140 million miles away, but that’s no problem for our video conferencing technology, I thought. Already, I had found a way to be an integral part of this story: Tobias Brodtkorb, video conferencing TME to the rescue.
My active imagination immediately started working on ways I could land a role. I could help Matt build a video conferencing system from scratch, or as a last resort, sneak my way into the background as an extra. As it turns out, neither scenario panned out, since they were not planning to start filming until a week after I had installed the Cisco systems. So, I did not see any celebrities, but I did take a picture of myself next to a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Matt Damon. But that’s not the end of my brush with fame.
Kristin Wiig’s character, Annie Montrose, has a call with the NASA jet propulsion lab using Cisco video conferencing.
I worked on several sets in Budapest. The first was a modern glass building with steel structures. This was going to act as NASA’s mission control on Earth. It was really impressive to see the amount of work required to prepare a film set. Here, I set up an MX300 room conferencing system and installed ten DX80 desktop video units. Off to the next location at Korda studios, which is in the countryside west of Budapest. It was almost surreal: a big, modern facility in the middle of nowhere. Outside, they had different themed back lots — medieval, New York, Renaissance and what looked like something from central Europe WW2. They looked completely real on one side, but only were empty shells with scaffolding and planks on the back.
Cisco DX80 desktop collaboration system in call with with Kristin Wiig’s character, Annie Montrose, at NASA HQ.
After nosing around a bit, it was time to be productive. We unpacked and installed the MX700 and MX800, Cisco’s large room video conferencing systems. At that point, a small group of people walked past. It seemed like a tour of the prop room for some VIPs. I heard the guide mention Cisco, gesturing in our direction. I was sure he was referring to the debonair TME who could assist Matt Damon in making contact with Earth. After the entourage left, one of the guys helping us asked, “Did you know who that was?” Clearly, I did not, and it was definitely not Matt Damon, but possibly even more impressive by Hollywood standards: It was Ridley Scott, himself. Here was my chance!
As I suspected, Mr. Scott (or should I say Ridley, now that we are friends) would immediately spot raw talent when he saw it, because he came back and sought me out. Well, I couldn’t convince him to give me a part in the movie, but I did give him a run-down of the MX800. He was really impressed with the video quality and that the unit was able to automatically track people based on their voice. I was especially proud of the products, myself; they were beautiful and fit in perfectly with the sleek, space-aged environment of the set.
So, that was another day in the life of a Cisco video TME, and one that I will remember for a long time. I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent Cisco and our products in such a special environment and setting. And Ridley, if you read this, please remember to call me when you’re planning the lead actor in Gladiator 2.
P.S. As it often happens in the movies, the MX systems got left on the cutting room floor, but keep an eye out for our DX80s when you go see the movie (opening in theaters October 2, 2015). There’s already a lot of Oscar buzz bantered about “The Martian.” Maybe the DX80s will get nominated for best prop or set dressing?
Tags: Cisco, collaboration, DX80, MX300, MX700, mx800, Ridley Scott, The Martian
In order to push the boundaries of research we must turn to innovative technology. And since much of research is being fueled by academic organizations, Cisco is making an investment in our partners and in higher education.
This month in Washington, D.C. the brightest minds in technology will gather for the second annual Internet2 Global Summit, a meeting that brings the scientific and academic communities together to explore the synergy between research and scholarship. The 2015 meeting will focus on collaborative innovations in information technology (IT), infrastructure and next generation applications.
So, what is Cisco’s role in Internet2?
Cisco and Internet2 are advancing the fields of research and education through cutting-edge technology. Together we realized the challenges facing higher education decision makers and conducted a survey with 1105 Media to identify the main challenges facing researchers, professors, staff and students around collaboration technologies. The survey revealed that a mixture of collaboration tools is important for research projects to be successful. We discovered that 88% of faculty and 86% of administrators see value in web conferencing and webinars while students favor mobile video collaboration (70%) and web conferencing (63%). The survey results are also represented in an infographic, which exposes the value of cloud technologies on campus.
Additionally, Cisco’s UCS Research Appliance is being leveraged by the Internet2 community to address the need to share large files between institutions faster and in a more collaborative manner.
Cisco will join the Internet2 community from April 26—30 at the Renaissance Hotel Downtown in Washington D.C. During this event, we will explore a number of conversations including “what’s next” for research institutions, and how global Internet governance can work with digital technology to meet growing demands in education.
We invite you to join Cisco and our partners in higher education at the following happenings:
- Cisco Booth/Exhibit Area demonstrating Cisco Collaboration for Education (DX80, Spark, CMR), Science DMZ and the announcement/introduction of a new Cisco line rate research appliance that was developed in collaboration with I2, SanDisk and CompuCom (Booth #36)
- Opening Keynote presented by Rich Seidner (Monday at 1:30 PM)
- Community Showcase: Building a Private Cloud Based on Openstack – Presented by Dmitry Dukhan (Tuesday at 1:30 PM)
- Research Enablement Panel – Rich Seidner to participate with Michael Harttree there to help (Tuesday at 4:30 PM)
Cisco is proud to be an active partner with Internet2 in the university research community and we look forward to continuing to provide valuable solutions that benefit research and education around the world.
To learn more about Internet2, you can visit the consortium’s website here: http://www.internet2.edu/. Also, don’t forget to follow the hashtag, #i2summit15 from on April 26—30 as key insights from featured keynotes, breakout sessions and showcases are shared live!
We will be back to report on the Internet2 Global Summit next week, so keep your eyes on this space!
Tags: Cisco Spark, cmr, DX80, education, highered, i2summit, Internet2 Global Summit
The collaboration momentum at continued today. First up this morning was a Cisco Live Executive Interview with Peder Ulander. In it Peder talks about how the way people work is changing and how Cisco is adapting technology to meet those changes.
He covers our latest DX Series products as well as shares how American Express is using remote expert and video to better serve customers. In a pilot program, premier customers could get an instant connection with the right person, whether to resolve billing problems or find concert tickets.
Today’s Locknote: Sal Khan, Khan Academy
Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, Standing room only. Inspiring. Fantastic. Riveting. Followed by a standing ovation. Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization focused on providing free, world-class education globally.
And when it comes to Khan’s thoughts on collaboration, I can’t disagree: Read More »
Tags: cisco live, collaboration, DX80, Khan Academy, Peder Ulander, sal khan
Wednesday was another beautiful day in the neighborhood, the Moscone neighborhood. I started my day with a 6:30 a.m. conference call with some nice people in Amsterdam to talk about one of the topics John Chambers put front-and-center in his keynote address: business outcomes.
Hosted by Cisco’s Mala Anand, the Wednesday morning keynote focused on Internet of Everything and included Intel’s Doug Davis, NetApps’ George Kurian, and EMC’s Bill Schmarzo. For me, Schmarzo’s points on business models and big data were particularly interesting. His premise was essentially that at the core, the Internet of Everything and big data are about business transformation. A great quote: “Organizations don’t need a big data strategy, they need a strategy that incorporates big data.” Yes, yes, and yes.
Paras and Associates: Using Video to Remove Language Barriers
Melinda Paras was one of the customer speakers at the collaboration press announcements earlier this week. Paras is CEO of Paras and Associates (PAA), which designed and now manages the first operational video/voice over IP call center–the Health Care Interpreter Network (HCIN)–a cooperative of California public hospitals sharing interpreter services. PAA offers technology systems that enable immediate access to language interpreting via video and telephone.
“Clinicians trust that they can reach language interpreters instantly—whether they are across the street, or across the country,” says Paras. “High quality video enables a degree of nuance and rapport that you simply can’t achieve with just a telephone.” Read More »
Tags: #ciscochampion, cisco live, collaboration, DX80, EMC, Intel, netapp
Not too long ago, I was digging around in some old boxes and pulled out my old Motorola RAZR phone, along with a surprising number of other devices I used to carry around. What can I say? I’m a geek. In addition to my phone, I had a digital camera, a notepad & digital pen, an iPod, a GPS, a few spare memory cards and even a Palm Pilot. It struck me that in handful of years everything has changed. All the things I needed those devices for now exist in my smartphone – making my life simpler and easier. Peter Diamandis calls it dematerialization; I call it simplification, and use it as a backdrop for our collaboration technology strategy.
The ability of technology to simplify our experiences inspired our mission: to make collaboration simple. Consider that for all the promise of today’s collaboration technologies to make our lives easier, we are often frustrated by the fact that the most advanced products can’t seem to do the simplest of things; starting a meeting on time, connecting me with anyone anywhere, or allowing me to share my stuff easily. While technology companies race around to one-up each other introducing the next whiz-bang feature, they mostly overlook the one essential: what their product should do really well.
I joined Cisco with the purpose of delivering on this mission and bringing exceptional collaboration technology to everyone, everywhere: every room, every desk, and every pocket. The results of this focus have started to materialize in a set of announcements we started a few months back.
In March, we introduced the products that bring collaboration into every room in the enterprise: the SX10, MX200, MX700, and MX800 endpoints. These products are all about great collaboration experiences: engagement, simplicity, affordability – and award-winning design.
Today, we bring these elements to every desk with the Cisco DX80. It’s time to provide every worker—not just executives—with the tools that let everyone collaborate at a moment’s notice, without technology hassles. Read More »
Tags: Cisco, cmr, collaboration, collaboration meeting room, conferencing, DX80, TelePresence, videoconferencing