The disc golf personalities that quickly became one of my favorites are the guys of SmashboxxTV. Terry “The Disc Golf Guy” Miller and Jon Van Deurzen started SmashboxxTV in 2014 to bring live disc golf tournament coverage to the masses. I discovered their weekly live streamed podcast sometime after the tenth episode, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I managed to get Terry and Jonny V to squeeze in some answers to a few questions about their work in disc golf media. Take a gander inside the minds of the guys behind SmashboxxTV.
As one of the premier videography teams in disc golf, what do you get out of providing disc golf video coverage for us who don’t travel the country playing in tournaments?
Terry – Being a conduit to much of the disc golf world is the reward in itself. I have been very blessed to enter this sport at a young age and the passion for it only continues to grow so sharing it with the rest of the world is such a natural thing to do.
JVD – I personally enjoy the community it builds around the sport and event. There is a feeling of excitement around live disc golf that you can’t replicate with the recorded rounds. My hopes and dreams of being a pro disc golfer left a long time ago, so this is another way that I can give back to the sport and the fans. And for me, I’m a guy who like bleeding edge technology. So getting to play with all this stuff and have an excuse to purchase a really nice desktop and new software is a bonus.
When you are doing live coverage, what hassle do you fear the most?
Terry – Technology. Rarely do I get genuinely nervous about the functions I have to perform or the work we’ve trusted our entire team with but not knowing if technology might fail us is what drives me crazy. The ironic part of that answer is that you would think we’d be more concerned with human error rather than a camera or cellular device but it’s the latter that happens far more frequently.
JVD – For me, I fear the technological difficulties that can arise. Cellular dead spots on the course that we couldn’t foresee, equipment overheating, and 4G provider issues. Basically things out of our control. And even these things are surmountable with a little bit of preparation and backups. Our crew is rock solid and knows what to do. The other thing is weather. Extreme heat and rain are bad for electronics, so whenever there is a chance for those situations, I get a little panicky.
I’ve heard a lot of grumbling online about “Why don’t they use a satellite truck? They’d have better signals and provide better coverage” during any of the live disc golf coverage in 2015. What is your take on the satellite truck debate?
Terry – There isn’t much of a ‘debate’ as it is a ‘debit’ or ‘credit’ and what I mean by that is … footing the bill for a multi-million dollar outfit. The sport of disc golf doesn’t exactly scream rich people throwing around money and until there are real viewers and real sponsorship or real donors, expanding to an ESPN quality broadcast just isn’t possible. We cover our events on a shoestring budget and cut every corner a start-up company possibly could do and cover events for less than 5 figures.
JVD – The Satellite truck debate is always funny to me. A truck like that comes with its own set of expenses and hurdles. With a satellite truck you are dealing with 1 point of failure. At my first live broadcast I helped with, the crew used a satellite and were having issues with the connection due to sunspots or something. In addition, now you have to get all of your camera feeds back to the truck located on one side of the course. This means a lot of cable running to static spots on the course or using line-of-sight equipment. Once you do that, you limit yourself as to what you can see and cover. Look at the 2 events that have (or will be) using a satellite truck, European Open and American Disc Golf Tour, both are limited to covering only 5 or 6 holes of a course due to costs. While you might get a higher quality of signal you will only get a portion of the action.
What is your favorite event to cover?
Terry – I love covering any events where we know the cellular signal is good and where I have visited before. Already possessing knowledge of the course and some recent history of play there helps me put my mind at ease. Being a long time attendee of events like The Memorial, the USDGC and the Vibram Open all fit my description.
JVD – I think that my favorite event to cover has been the Maple Hill Open. The course lends itself pretty well for 2 camera coverage. And while we do have some signal issues on the furthest reaches of the course, that particular course is so much fun to watch. And in the past it has always been unpredictable as to who will come out on top. 2nd to that is the Amateur World Championships. I enjoy the freedom of not having an agenda to anyone, we are free to follow any division or group. Our main goal is to provide the people playing a little exposure and coverage. It is something that most of them will never have. And to hear back from their friends and family that they were able to watch them online for just a few moments is a wonderful feeling.
Looking at all the events you have covered in 2015, are there any adjustments that you are planning on making for events that you will be repeating coverage for in 2016?
Terry – It’s hard to believe that we are already in our third year of broadcasting live disc golf but what we’ve learned as been the hard way and we hope that makes us better. Teaming with organizations such as the Pro Tour will help us elevate the overall production quality at all of our broadcasts. Yet again, we’ve invested our own personal money into a number of equipment upgrades which should show immediate improvement.
Another adjusment from previous years is that early on we already have a pretty set schedule of events we will be covering. Although the schedule may expand, we are happy to announce our coverage at: The Memorial Championships, The Glass Blown Open, The Vibram Open, The Silver Cup, The Majestic, Ledgestone Insurance Open, Green Mountain Championships and the Pro Tour Finale. We have a number of other events we are talking to but to have this many booked this early in the year is very exciting for us. (Note: Terry sent me his answers quite a while later than JVD due to the crazy #discgolflife he lives, which is why his list of coverage is longer than what JVD said.)
JVD – As of writing this (Jan. 2016) there are only 2 events that we are signed up to repeat. Maple Hill & Ledgestone. We are in contact with a few of the other ones, and hope to work out deals in the near future. I thought our Ledgestone coverage was pretty good, and with the course changes and experience on the courses we hope to improve upon that. For Maple Hill Open we purchased some antenna whips/amplifiers that will hopefully help out with a few of the dead spots we know are out there.
A big thanks to both Terry and Jonny V for putting their thoughts in writing. Watch their podcast live stream every Tuesday night on Youtube at this link. Also be on the lookout for their live video coverage this year as it gets better every time they do it.
Find SmashboxxTV at the following: