Eldon Art is a special one hour live outside broadcast show, showcasing various art forms and art work produced by students from the University of Portsmouth in the Eldon Building. The show features live interviews, caricature drawings and live big “Art Attack”. Presented here edited, not As Live.
The Pilot Episode of my University Chat Show, Tea with Paul, for University of Portsmouth’s CCi TV! Featuring guests Liam Smith, from CCi TV’s “Eldon Wanderers” and Umby from CCi TV’s “The Manual”. This time, we chat about the year that was 2012 plus myself and Matt take on the tea-tasting challenge, to see if my years of reviewing beverages for the internet have made me significantly better at judging the tastes of drinks.
This video was produced in partial fulfilment of the TVBRO Unit on the University of Portsmouth’s BSc (Hons) Television & Broadcasting Course.
Well, we did it! Tea with Paul and the 10 minute version of CCi Live went on air as scheduled on Friday, ran pretty much perfectly to time and went incredibly smoothly.
But it’s not like we simply walked in on Friday to do the shows. CCi Live was pretty much taken care of by Tuesday, as I only had to make a relatively minor revision to one line of the script and from there we just needed to get the paperwork ready, which myself & Laura took care of on Thursday with no real problems.
On the day, I thought CCi Live went very well. We did have some problems with sound, where the audio channel for our guest had stopped working. This meant Peter, on the Sound Desk had to run around trying to fix the problem and so at one point there was a brief delay on the fade up for the presenters’ audio. Generally though, the show came together very well. The Interview went great and Umby’s performance in the News was top-notch. In general, we got standout performances from all three of our presenters, so I was very pleased with my choices.
Tea with Paul though required a fair bit more effort to get to the air though. On Monday, with no opening title sequence ready, Jodie and I shot a collection of stills in the studio which I then stitched together into an opening title sequence by animating them moving and interacting with each other over the next couple of days. This was essentially me running in “disaster recovery” mode, as our previous efforts at title sequences had failed and we simply needed to produce something.
To that end, my preference would have been to use photos of a rehearsal to produce the opening, but as we needed the sequence to be done before Thursday, which was the day of our rehearsal, we had to make do with me simply posing and performing various amusing actions in the studio on my own. As such, the title sequence isn’t really to my satisfaction and I have every intention of replacing it entirely for the second and final episode.
Meanwhile I had to redraft the script several times as changes in the edit suite to the inserts trickled through to me.
One of these changes ultimately led to what I consider to be the biggest problem with this pilot episode of Tea with Paul. The editors found that they didn’t have much usable footage for some of the topic areas in the VOX Pops. This presented a problem because, though we took to referring it as “an” insert, we were actually planning on splitting it up into several shorter inserts to air with each area of discussion within the 2012 topic.
Because of this low amount of usable footage for some subjects, the editors felt that some of these shorter inserts were going to be too short and would seem odd to the viewers. As such, they recombined all the topics into one, longer VOX Pops insert.
In and of itself, this wasn’t too bad. The insert was well produced and looked visually quite appealing. The problem is it really disrupted the intended flow of the show as a whole, especially since the Tea Challenge insert went very far in the opposite direction (From being a good few minutes to less than two). The pacing of the show was thrown way off by this reversal, going from relatively fast-paced and exciting to stopping dead towards the middle for the sedate VOX Pops insert.
This was exacerbated by the fact that putting all the VOX Pops together meant there was nothing to break up the various areas of 2012 discussion in the studio. As a result, the studio discussion covered the same areas as the VOX Pops immediately before, but felt much more rushed as everything was crammed in together, and over a relatively short period of time to boot. Even though the discussion would have featured the same amount of actual studio time if broken up by the VOX Pops, it would have been more spread out over a greater length of time. This, I think would have prevented it from seeming quite so rushed.
As a result, I think for the second episode, we will be ditching the VOX Pops idea entirely and simply taping two remotes like the Tea Challenge, which I think should run for a time less than the VOX Pops did, but longer than the Tea Challenge itself was – say, three minutes apiece.
I also think we should use them to shuffle the format somewhat. Instead of a “discussion” format, we should go for an “interview” style, where guests come out one at a time to talk directly to the host about themselves and what they’ve been up to etc. The second guest can, of course, remain “on the sofa” during the second interview, but the idea is to consider each guest in turn to make things a bit more focused and orderly. The two inserts can go immediately before each guest’s segment and used as an opportunity to bring them onto the set, get them mic’d up etc.
I’d also like to move to a bigger studio space, like the Rotunda – a larger, three-camera studio elsewhere in the University Campus. The virtual studio space is slightly limiting and the space and furniture available caused the show to look slightly cramped. With more space, we can open things out a bit more. With a third camera, we will have the ability to look at either myself as the host in closeup, the guest or guests in closeup and a wide, instead of having to choose two of these at a time. Similarly, released from the constraints of a virtual set, we will have a lot more freedom to move and re-position cameras between shots, which will definitely result in a more visually interesting show.
With these changes I think we can definitely take Tea with Paul to the next level, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to Episode 2 later in the year.
This is the final CCi Live produced by The Blue Group for the 2012/2013 Academic Year. Hosted by Charlie Jackson, Jo Walker & Umby; it features the usual weekly CCi News rundown and an interview with Vice President of the University of Portsmouth Karting Society, Jason Clark.
We really got down to business this week. On Monday, we shot some footage we were planning to use for the Opening Titles and then later the Tea Challenge insert, which we have decided to make into a competition between myself and Matt, which will mean we can partake in some good-natured trash-talking in the studio. Unfortunately, we didn’t wind up using anything we shot on Monday because of separate issues at each shoot (lighting and stylistic issues with the titles shoot and a sound problem with the camera for the Tea Challenge).
As a result, we re-shot my half of the Tea Challenge on Thursday – with Matt’s half being shot in the intervening time.
On Tuesday, we had another big meeting to finalise the show ahead of going further into full-scale production. There was a push at this meeting to change the show’s title, based i part on a perception that Charlie Watts, the Course Leader was not keen on the title. I pushed back against this change for several reasons. Firstly, the proposed replacement title (The Lunchbox) was guilty of many of the same apparent problems with “Tea with Paul”. One of the things said about Tea with Paul as a title was that “tea” wouldn’t necessarily be thematically appropriate for a Friday Lunchtime. Aside from the fact I don’t believe this is entirely true, “The Lunchbox” would similarly be inappropriate if the episode was replayed at any time other than lunchtime.
Second, and more importantly, we had already begun some minor promotional work around the Tea with Paul name, which means that by the time thee idea of changing the name came up, the original title was already floating around some of the CCi Channel’s audience. And thirdly, if we changed the name, the “Tea Challenge” insert, which was our only planned remote with the VOX Pops being our only other VT, would be a major non sequitur. Ultimately, it was agreed that we would stick with the “Tea with Paul” name.
We also used this meeting to decide who to invite on as guests. We had initially considered using, for example, comedians from the Union’s Comedy Society. Ultimately, we chose to book Umby and Liam Smith, from the CCi Presenters pool mainly because it was more convenient to do so given the protracted time frame we we were dealing with. Umby & Liam are each hosts of other Commissioned Shows for CCi Live, so we decide to feature them as if they were promoting those shows in the same way most guests on professional chat shows are there to “plug” a current project.
I also began making plans for what I’ve been calling the “CCi Live Light” – the 10 minute version of CCi Live which will be airing before Tea with Paul. Since it is so much shorter, the CCi Live Light features just two segments – the News and a feature. To save us from running into problems with an insert not being ready or too short because we had been focusing on Tea with Paul, I opted instead to make our feature a live interview.
Using my contacts with the University’s Go Karting Society (Of which I am a Veteran Member), I booked the Vice President to come in and give us a rundown of what the advantages of Karting with the society are, how to get involved and so on. I also selected Jo Walker and Charlie Jackson to host, as they have both done good work for us as presenters in the past so I know I can rely on them. For the news, I’ve booked Umby as he will be around for Tea with Paul anyway so the opportunity to give him some extra airtime seemed too good to miss.
On Friday, it was time to design the Tea with Paul set, using the Tricaster’s Virtual Set functionality. We had opted to use pastel blue, orange & yellow colours in the graphics & promotional art, so we matched those colours in the various controllable attributes of the set. The set also contains a couple of spots in the background which will display the Tea with Paul logo art. Apart from that it consists of a circular central “stage”, onto which we will superimpose the stools, coffee table and sofa which we are using as the physical elements of the set. Stylistically, it resembles the set of the BBC’s The Graham Norton Show, albeit considerably smaller (And mirrored – I sit stage left instead of stage right).
Over the weekend, I’ve been writing the scripts for the two shows. I have the initial draft of the CCi Live Light completely finished, but Tea with Paul will need to be tweaked as the inserts are finished during next week.
This week we had our first big meeting to plan out the specifics of our chat show, which airs live on the 25th of January – just a couple of weeks away! Our first concern was to name the show, since up till now we had just been referring to it as “the chat show” or “our commissioned show”. We held a brainstorming session to come up with a list of names which fit into the conventions of the genre, which meant various riffs on the word “chat”, references to times of day or activities and use of the presenter’s name. The list we came up with was as follows:
- Paul Douglas Chatty Guy
- The Friday Lunch Project
- TVB Crowd
- Loose Paul
- Tea With Paul
We ultimately decided to go with “Tea with Paul”, which provides a nice balance between using the name of the host and using an activity. The idea of the name is to suggest that guests are stopping by for “a cup of tea and a chat” with me, the host, and Matthew Eldridge, who we have drafted in as a sidekick in the vain of Ed McMahon or Andy Richter.
In terms of a theme for the episode, we explored several ideas for things to talk about – mostly relating to the time of year – but ultimately we chose to go with talking about “The Year That Was, 2012”, since last year was a big year in a lot of different ways and we believe reminiscing about it will be accessible and interesting to a lot of people, as well as keeping the show from being out of place when replayed on the CCi Channel later in the year.
More broadly, I stressed the need for the show to have a lighthearted tone. The kinds of chat shows we are aiming to be like are the light entertainment variety – shows like The Graham Norton Show, The Jonathan Ross Show & TBS’s Conan. As such, we need to be talking to people who have entertaining and amusing things to say. We’re not aiming to be hard-hitting, news-y or informational. This is light entertainment, in large part because that is my personal wheelhouse. I do my best presenting when things are relaxed and lighthearted.
In terms of inserts, we plan on shooting some VOX Pops of members of the public giving us their thoughts on 2012, which we will use a jumping off point in the show for the discussions about various significant parts of the year. We’re also planning a remote which riffs on the show’s title, and my existing Web Series “Paul Douglas Drinks to Beverages”, which is a drinks review show. This is the “Tea Challenge”, in which my beverage critic talents will be put to the test by trying to identify five varieties of tea by testing them.
This week was relatively quiet since it was the last week of term. With a few things weighing on my mind though, I arranged a meeting with Charlie Watts, our Course Leader.
The main thing I wanted to discuss what was going to happen throughout the rest of the academic year, and my desire for more opportunities to get in front of the camera and gain experience as a presenter. In particular, we discussed the fact that I was hoping to get another opportunity to present a chat show – as I did in First Year with the Portsmouth facts-themed Reputable (which you can watch here); mainly because presenting a chat show is my ultimate ambition and I want to get experience in doing it. Partly, to refine my skills, but also to help showcase my natural affinity for the role of chat show host.
Charlie suggested that this could be the group’s Commissioned Show if the others in the group were happy with the idea, so I proposed the idea to the group at large that we make our Commissioned Show a chat show hosted by me. To my delight, the others were very enthusiastic about the idea, so we formally notified Charlie that we plan to go ahead with it.
And so, I go into the new calendar year with the knowledge that we will be producing my chat show. I’m incredibly excited to get started!
It was a quiet week on the TVBRO front this week, as we only met once to have a brief discussion about our commissioned show, which we had not had time to think about in the run up to our second CCi Live episode owing to how much we had to get done for that show. Other than our earlier decision to use Alex as Producer, we hadn’t really decided anything about the commissioned show up to this week.
And to some extent, we still haven’t. Although we talked quite a bit about the two ideas we had last time (Either a cooking themed show, or a talent competition of some kind) there isn’t a particularly large amount of enthusiasm in the group for either one. This causes me to wonder if we shouldn’t be looking at doing something which we are more personally invested in.
This, after all, is a rare opportunity to produce a show that is uniquely ours in conception and execution. It should be something we’re enthusiastic about and enjoy doing.
No decision has been made as yet, but it sounds like we need to have an idea soon. At any rate, the show is the third week after the Christmas Break so we will need to know what we are doing by then anyway if we’re going to be able to pull it all together.
Well after the emotional roller coaster ride of last week, this week was, by any metric, much smoother. With no further shows of our own to produce before the Christmas break, we only needed to get together this week to rehearse Orange Group’s show, and then crew it when it went live. This gave us all a good few days to de-stress and recharge after the dramas of producing our own second episode.
I was particularly glad of this opportunity to rest, as I take what we do incredibly seriously and very personally. It breaks my heart if something is not good and I almost can’t bear it when something doesn’t come together at all. So when things stared blowing up last week I was really unhappy about it, and I felt like it was personally my responsibility as the producer to fix it. More than that, I felt extremely disappointed in myself if it went wrong and I wasn’t able to fix it, even if the initial problem had nothing to do with me.
A lot of this may seem melodramatic, and in some ways it is. I recognise, having been able to switch off for a little while that it’s important to try and stop these problems from getting to you. I think being caught up in the drama with so much going on in such a short space of time really prevented me from being able to take a minute to just move past the stress. Fortunately, having made it through, I feel like in future I will be better equipped to handle such situations emotionally. To some extent, it was like a baptism of fire, and now I’m aware of what I’m up against if things do go poorly, I hope to be better able to confront those problems.
In terms of this week’s show, it was a fairly painless operation. I chose to remain in my Autocue Operator role, and most of the other group members opted not to change as well. As a result, we were quickly up to speed on what needed to be done and just had to learn the specific material Orange Group had for us. After the rehearsal, we identified a few areas where they needed to make some changes. We practiced those changes in a couple of run-throughs on Friday morning and they helped quite a bit. And so we went to air and put on a pretty good show, which you can see below.