A Glimpse at the Infamous Spreadsheet
If you have been watching Desert Bus for Hope the last couple of years, you might have noticed how fast videos go up on Youtube. If you thought that there were little internet elves working away to get you the third “Africa” rendition that you missed, you’re not all wrong. The Video Strike Team, or VST, is a group of off site volunteers that work diligently throughout the run to keep a record of what events have happened, grab the video footage, and upload and edit the video for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
The group grew from the community of the Desert Bus Chat, which boasts nearly a hundred active chatters off season. The members talk about everything and are bonded by their love of the event, their desire to help children in hospitals, and sometimes even their own experiences with medical issues. The transformation from a fun way to keep in touch with one another to diligent workers was started when a number of chat moderators and members were considering trying to upload sections from the torrent that was to be released of the entire event after DB5. One member, LadySephiroth, began work with XelaReko and others on a spreadsheet to keep track of what important moments had happened in the run.
Coincidentally, after switching streaming providers, Graham wanted to try out some of the features Twitch offered and contacted chat members Master Gunner, Dave_Random and Aerocmdr asking them if they wanted to use the highlight system to edit the stream during the 6th event. From this, a spreadsheet of massive intricacy was born and this spreadsheet along with the directions for uploading were circulated. While initially the plans were to keep the group small, the effort of trying to keep track of all of the call-ins, skits, songs, and everything else was a bigger undertaking than anyone expected. The group of five or six grew to include a dedicated list of chat members:
2stepz, Andreas “LambMower” Engström, Betsy, BillTheCat, Blaine aka BrainStew, Deserai “Caitiri” Del Duca, Dave_Random, Dicey, Invariel, Jace “J” Greywool, Kidspanner, LadySephiroth, LordZarano, Master Gunner, Mowinkel, QuarterNote, Derek aka Sektor88, Sokar, SweedChef, Taylor/NewClassic, Telnaior, Tyranic-Moron/GarrusVakarian, & XelaReko.
A larger portion of the group set about recording the start and end times on the sheet, and a smaller number would then take these time signatures and clip the video out as quickly as possible.
This year there is an even more complex system in place than ever before. Dave_Random almost single-handedly set up a script that will cut video from a running capture of the stream automatically using multiple servers for redundancy, including his own and ones hosted by Anubis169 and Chton. The spreadsheet is more important than ever as the script will read the times off of the sheet, pull the clips, and upload them with a small time buffer directly to Youtube. From there, they need only be given a finishing touch on the beginning and end before being made public. And the over-caffeinated elves will work on, staying up far too late to make sure every Jenga tower is documented, edited, and uploaded so you don’t have to miss a minute of the fun.