BLOG POST – HOW I INVENTED THE POP-UP DROPKEY<sup>®</sup> STUDIO IN A BAG<sup>®</sup>, by Rockwell Scharer, Founder and CEO of DropKey

BLOG POST – HOW I INVENTED THE POP-UP DROPKEY® STUDIO IN A BAG®, by Rockwell Scharer, Founder and CEO of DropKey

CEO Blog Entry (Aug 30, 2019)

Dear Content Creator,

Once upon a time I was a struggling recording artist with the dream of writing a hit song—and hear it on the radio, even make a living at music.  This was before the music industry changed when Steve Jobs and his crew created the iPod with iTunes distribution through proprietary hardware (for the ultimate good of artist meritocracy).  While staying up half the night passionately writing songs I was leading a double life doing Mergers and Acquisitions work on Wall Street.

Back when Apple announced the iPhone, I knew a tornado of opportunity was coming, and it was big.  My brain was blazing a trail that was either going to be the death of me — from Massive Rabbit Hole Burnout by choosing the wrong iOT space — or I was going to help advance content creation beyond my wildest expectations in a world of YouTube content out-competing network content video consumption.

After writing down thirty ideas for a business and skimming it daily for a week, I saw it clearly — the iPhone was missing three things to enable a content creator the ability to make broadcast quality content from home without spending a fortune at an analogue recording studio.  The iPhone was a supercomputing television camera, and in order for it to be a broadcast quality television studio that could compete with network content, it only needed pro audio, pro lights, and perfect HD background replacement.  I quickly discovered Chroma key was a hard, expensive process only available to professionals with time and a budget.

That last one was a bitch. I needed to come up with live, push-button perfect Chroma key and remove the whole post-production step altogether.

So I invented a pop-up inflatable airframe with bright lights and pro audio, and called it the DropKey® Studio in a Bag®. Then I attempted to tackle live background replacement on iOS hoping the processor could handle it. But shadows on the green-screen was a deal-killer with the iPhone 3. So to go with the inflatable airframe (several generations later) we needed our camera app to perform difficult wireless lighting decisions to make it possible to replace backgrounds perfectly with just a push of a button — without hours of labor in post-production or knowledge of how lighting works. I wouldn’t stop until I figured it out. I needed to find a way…or it was going to be the rabbit hole…

The iPhone 4 was a bit faster and I was encouraged. I knew 5G was coming one day so sync-to-camera-roll would be near instantaneous. But that didn’t mean what I was trying to do was possible. Perfect HD background replacement seemed impossible the more I tried.  They said Edison tried 10,000 things and failed before he came up with the light bulb. I was pretty sure I was at 9999—and hit my limit.  

But then I realized successful entrepreneurs don’t quit. Successful entrepreneurs ship.

Somewhere along the line we defined this sort of innovation as The Internet of Things (iOT).  

In the nineties, digital hard disk recording at home became possible. That was when two things happened: 1) I was able to develop the craft of being a recording artist without paying somebody $100/hr for studio time, and 2) practice enabled me to get better at songwriting and performing so I could actually write, produce and engineer radio-worthy top-forty singles from home.  

So how did I solve the difficult physics problem in light to create push-button perfect Chroma key on a smart device?  The same way I was able to write, produce, engineer and sing a top-forty hit…being able to mess up at home a bunch of times until I got it right.

…because I had time to develop my craft at home…without burning lots of money at a professional studio.

Using my experience of getting a top-forty single on the radio I was able to develop my craft of visual media production at home, trying different things, finding ways to do it better, until content I made was just as good as what NBC or Comedy Central could produce in a large, multi-million dollar studio.

How did I crack live, perfect background replacement without fuzzy spots in the content?  I was no Richard Feynman or Stephen Hawking.

I dug deep, learned the craft of gaffers by talking to the best in Hollywood. I sought out an Academy Award-winning inventor and through my passion I made him my partner. I told the best gaffers in Hollywood I was going to Consumerize perfect Chroma key without post-production and they laughed, but they also rooted for me because I was working with an Academy Award-winner, which brought credibility. Background replacement at home or on the road was possible, we both knew it, except nobody thought there was a market for mobile content capture on iPhones. At least no investors were interested. But I kept going.

I remember hearing my song on the radio in my car that day in 1996 — it was thrilling. I got that fantastic feeling you get on a helicopter or a roller coaster ride…the flutter of butterflies went deep down into my throat and down into my gut. All that hard work learning how to write songs at home — and the late nights — paid off.

I finally did it.

I solved the physics problem in light and began developing the airframe, then created the DropKey pop-up inflatable Studio in a Bag solution, paired via Wi-Fi with a social media camera app with video file storage and SAAS post-production in the cloud for automated ad-creation for small businesses.  I quickly realized we had something that could be of tremendous value not only to artists, but business owners and regular folks who don’t know an F-stop from a bus-stop. 

The DropKey App paired with the inflatable Studio in a Bag is now the state of the art green-screen tech on smartphones. 

85% of what we see on television is made using green-screen. I always believed that all professional content creators used Chroma key background replacement, and using simple math, when you put that capability on a few billion smart devices, you’re going to have a revolution.

Now Snap-chatting Tik Tok amateurs as well as professional Instagram Influencers can buy a DropKey Studio in a Bag, pair it with the DropKey Camera App via Wi-Fi and boom — they can have The Daily Show set in their second bedroom for the cost of an Xbox 360 and a joystick. 

Large brands and “The Voice” Reality Show Producers can significantly increase their revenue streams by brand engagement as Dropkey increases their ability to engage with Consumers by giving them professional content in the cloud, instant sync-to-camera-roll, and make content with it. Amateurs will be able to make Lord of The Rings at home using professionally shot backgrounds purchased on Mediabook.tv., an eCommerce Exchange where people can buy and sell b-roll location content to make movies and videos.  It’s clear Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams will find proteges and farm talent across the globe;  Casting in Hollywood will change and de-centralize;  TV News will change because CNN can send an inflatable DropKey Studio in a Bag overnight via DHL to the other side of the world, enabling a student Journalist with an iPad to cover a seismic event from the safety of their hotel room after taking b-roll of the tragedy during the day. 

The DropKey solution is not a gimmick. Hollywood’s been using green-screen for 75 years the same way.  Kids can have a real Hollywood movie studio in their home, making a movie scene with Deadpool or accessing the DropKey cloud so they can be in the mountains while a fourteen-year-old protege sings “The Hills Are Alive” from The Sound of Music…and nobody will know she’s not in Austria.

…and that’s how I thought we should market the app. DropKey…the Be Anywhere App! 

Our developers discover new applications every day for this new advanced portal, resulting in a significantly scaleable billion-dollar industry called the Mobile Content Capture Market (MCC). Due to advances in the robust processing power of tablets and smartphones, along with the confluence of Cloud technology, 5G and targeted advertising on Facebook and elsewhere, DropKey, Inc. has set a new bar for making sophisticated HD content at home or on the road, potentially creating tens of thousands of jobs in America.

So that’s how I came to invent the DropKey Studio in a Bag. Persistence, trials, roller coaster moments and wondering when investors would get it. My new dream is that it will help millions of people all over the world who don’t like to make videos — like it — for the first time.

DropKey will be marketed to Consumers, Schools and Professionals starting at $599 at www.tvstudioinabag.com or www.dropkey.com.  – Rockwell Scharer, Founder and CEO, DropKey, Inc.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. So interesting! I record with pro tools and never had to pay $100/hr – I can’t imagine that – I’m 22 and it’s easy to record tracks in garage band. If we could use that studio to promote the band with videos we wouldn’t have to pay for tv studio time! We can’t wait until this comes on the market.

  2. This is a great piece. Thanks for sharing, Rockwell. It’s good to hear how great things get started in one’s head before implementing a solution that will certainly help me and my kids record. I hope to get a Dropkey Studio for my family.

  3. Great article. Thanks for revealing how green screen inflatable came to be.

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