Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sanibel Community House broadcasts 'Dancing' live to island restaurants

 The Sanibel Community House has leaped into the use of leading edge technology with its successful internet broadcast of "Dancing with the Islands' Stars" on Jan. 23.

Five local restaurants signed up to receive the sold-out inaugural event. This three camera shoot was simulcast live with a direct feed into the television sets of these satellite locations. The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, The Lazy Flamingo-Periwinkle, Beachview Golf Club, The Sanctuary Golf Club and Doc Ford's Sanibel Rum Bar & Grille all participated in this Sanibel first of its kind broadcast.

Local filmmaker Rusty Farst teamed with Gene Rogers of Attic Chat Productions to arrange the transmission from the Sanibel Community House to unite the locations, complete with interviews and custom advertising tailored specifically to the islands.

"The restaurant owners' willingness to allow our team to invade their kitchen space, television and computer equipment, and their trust in us to pull this whole thing off was inspiring to me. All our successes are inner-connected here on Sanibel." Farst said.

The satellite guests phoned in their votes for the People's Choice Award, creating an interaction with the Community House audience. To maintain the integrity of the voting, the system recorded only one vote per telephone to make it equitable with the one vote each that the Community House audience had.

"The only text votes that counted were during the short intermission that was taken for the Community House audience to vote. Once the intermission was over, no more votes were tabulated as it was time to announce a winner," said Marge Meek, event chair and VP of the Sanibel Community Association. "It was our first attempt at engaging people at remote locations and the technology served us well. We learned just how much people like to text; some didn't know when to stop and kept voting until the equipment was removed after the show was over."

Farst's team included Rogers along with computer genius Kody Peterson, who ran cables and hardware through each of the satellite locations into their televisions, often times running wiring over ceilings and under cabinets.

"I felt privileged to be a part of this great event," said Rogers. "It was inspiring to see many different individuals from many different walks of life come together and contribute to its' success. The anticipation and excitement surrounding the evening was tangible and contagious."

Rogers' expertise operating the high tech computer tricaster enabled him to monitor and select from three different cameras and live feed the show directly to the Web connection and Internet address.

"The viewing of 'Dancing with the Islands' Stars' was a tremendous success. Eighty five guests enjoyed an all-you-can-eat New York strip steak buffet. The audience truly felt a part of the evening and many said this should become an annual event. Thank you for including The Dunes," said Sean Balliet, general manager of The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club. "We hope that a camera crew can be stationed at each satellite location next year to show all the live spectators just how much fun we are having."

"The Sanctuary is proud to support the efforts of the Sanibel Community House. It is an essential aspect of our island community," stated Ken Kouril, general manager of The Sanctuary Golf Club. "We had three members dance in the event and the live feed generated much excitement throughout our membership. We are delighted with the success of the event and impressed with the changes and new offerings the Community House provides for the community."

Doc Ford's manager Raynauld Bentley pronounced, "Every seat was full - our guests loved it. Lets' do it again."

Ron Rich, operations manager for the Lazy Flamingo, responded, "We even had tourists belly up to the bar and watch the whole performance. And when the Stars were dancing, the place got really quiet, then the cheering erupted. Everyone got sucked into it."

The Sanibel Community House would like to thank the West Wind Inn for donating accommodations for the Attic Chat Crew and Billy's Bikes for providing ground transportation.

"I expect to see a lot more use of these technologies," added Farst. "I worked with a great team of dedicated professionals, who brought a new level of innovation to the fund-raising scene."

Farst is preparing DVD copies of the "Dancing with the Islands' Stars" event to be available at local retailers soon and at the Sanibel Community House, located at 2173 Periwinkle Way. Stop by to purchase one and while there, become a member of the Sanibel Community Association and encourage more breakthrough efforts.

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