TVBRO Week 9 19/11/12-25/11/12

Well, this was a pretty challenging week. Despite our best efforts to correct some of the problems we had with timeliness during the production of our first episode, we found ourselves hard up against production deadlines all throughout this week. As the old saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Despite our planning, issues kept developing which cause us problems right up to and including the morning of the show.

What I had planned to focus on this week was finishing up writing the Script. Which I did do. But it wasn’t without its problems. After submitting the first draft, I was informed that Steve Wicks, who we had planned to use as our News Presenter, was ineligible as he had not completed a Screen Test the previous week as I had instructed him. This meant I had to get in touch with a Presenter from the pool to ask them to step in. Luckily, Charlie Jackson agreed immediately. We also ran into serious slippage problems with getting drafts of the script in for the various deadlines throughout the week as I found myself constantly waiting for the News Script, which Steven had been writing separately, to be sent over.

In the end; myself, Jodie & Laura had to write more of it anyway, as once we did have it in, we were informed that it was not long enough and one of the items was unsuitable.

Amidst all this, I wound up having to take over editing the Chris Solarski insert as nobody else was available to start it on Monday when we got the rushes through from the team who filmed it. In fact, I wound up also having to source the footage of Chris’s work and film some additional cutaways myself, as there was nobody else available, with various other things going on. This meant I had less time to spend taking care of the various pieces of paperwork which fall under my purview as the Producer, an issue which eventually came to head late on Wednesday when a delay relating to staff being busy during the day meant a late review of the insert.

Essentially, by the time the insert was reviewed for broadcast approval that day, there was only Thursday left to perform any additional editing, with the mandatory rehearsal that afternoon meaning it wasn’t even all of Thursday. And with the other tasks I needed to catch up on, I was not able to dedicate the several hours of work needed to make the requested changes. As a result, Peter was encouraged by staff to come in and take over, with assistance from the Studio Manager, on Thursday.

Wit that problem (seemingly) solved, I spent Thursday making tweaks to the script and collating my paperwork ready to hand in on Friday, before attending the rehearsal as the presenter. The rehearsal went fairly smoothly, although the show was a few minutes short. I wasn’t overly surprised by this, as we had had to reduce the length of the Show Choir insert from what we originally planned for pacing reasons, and the Egg Nog insert was very short once pieced together. Not overly concerned, I added some extra discussion to the script, just to make up a bit of the shortfall, but knew we would have to make do with coming off-air around 2 minutes early.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, the new cut of the Chris Solarski insert had been reduced to a runtime significantly (Several minutes) less than it had been when I left it, and despite my having insisted that it could not be much (if any) shorter than it had been in my last cut because I was already concerned about runtime. I did’t hear about this reduction until the crewing team informed me that it did not match the running order, after Laura and I spent part of that morning finalising that and the Studio Script.

This caused a major problem, with the projected runtime now down to less than 25 minutes. We scrambled to make up some of the time by adding in some extra lines to the script, but there was only so much that could be done at that late stage with the script having been approved for air without these changes. Efforts to find a piece of archival material to fill with proved fruitless, and so unfortunately the show ran for just 23 minutes in the end.

I was incredibly disappointed about this. As we had been beginning to put the show together, it was looking very good. The quality of the inserts in isolation was generally quite high – significantly higher than those of our first episode. The trouble we had was, things we had planned kept going amiss and pushing things closer and closer towards the show, until we wound up in a situation where everything was being finished hard up against the deadlines, which consequently meant that we had no time to identify issues and then implement fixes. In this case, the issues boiled down almost entirely to runtime.

Had we been in a position to see all the inserts completely finished by Wednesday, I could have implemented a fix to make up the length of the show on Thursday – most likely by inviting another guest onto the show for a live interview. The lesson here is that you need to have flexibility and a time buffer to enable the resolution of issues as they come up.

In terms of actually presenting, I have mixed feelings about my performance. I certainly found it harder to do the show than usual, which I attribute to the fact that, by the time we actually went live, I had been stressing out about the show was running short for over an hour and racking my brains to try and implement a solution of some kind. It really isn’t a good situation to be in right before going on TV as a presenter. There is a reason it is considered poor form to give talent bad news right before they go live, and this week I lived that reason.

Unfortunately, it was a pretty unhappy week. On a more positive note though, that means the only way is up.

TVBRO Week 8 12/11/12-18/11/12

Things are beginning to take shape as of this week. On Monday, I had a meeting with the other Producers on CCi Live to discuss upcoming show ideas, formatting etc., and agreed to feature an interview (with Chris Solarski, a video game artist who graduated from the University) being taped as a central resource for the Faculty in our show. The team filming the interview for the University will be supplying us with the Rushes of the interview, meaning we only need to film some cutaways. We will also be getting ahold of some footage of Chris’s work, which will also serve as cutaways, making this primarily an editing job, which will take place mostly next week.

That evening we had two film shoots planned – the Show Choir insert and the Man Versus Food RAG Week event. I was part of the team shooting the Show Choir Insert, operating the camera and serving as de facto director (With Jodie busy most of the time taking part in the Show Choir itself, since she is the member who we made contact through).

The main challenge on this shoot was lighting. The Show Choir practices in the Guildhall in the evening. Since it was dark during the evening, the rooms we were in had their lights on, and these lights were ether very yellow, very orange or quite dim – a fact not helped by the fact that one of the spaces we were filming in featured somewhat reflective, metal surfaces. This bathed the room in slightly off-colour glows.

Consequently, it was important to get the white-balancing on the Sony EX1 we were filming with correct, to give the editors the best possible chance of correcting the colours in the edit process. Having never used an EX1 before, it took me a little time to get it set up the way we needed. However, we had accounted for this and deliberately arrived early to get set up. The main problem with it after initial setup came in the second room we were filming in.

This room featured the aforementioned metallic surfaces, which also featured some dark coloured artwork. As the camera was moving around this room to take shots from varying angles, it became necessary to switch on the Zebra function essentially each time a major movement was made, as different walls had very different peaks and lows for light, making it quite challenging to adjust the aperture correctly as what worked in one position would result in washing out large areas of the image from another.

As it turned out, we had been given the wrong start time for the Man Vs. Food event, and so the other team were ultimately unable to film it. Fortunately we had enough Inserts ideas on the go that we were able to move on quickly from that problem, and Steven had proposed a new insert to make up the numbers the next day, which I green lit immediately. This insert is a simple shoot showing how to make homemade egg nog, and we agreed to shoot it today (Sunday).

On this shoot, I took on the role of sound operator, monitoring the levels and adjusting them as needed. Since the shoot was relatively simple, this was a fairly painless experience for me and I found it quite enjoyable. When monitoring the sound, it becomes necessary to listen in very intently to what is coming through the headphones, as the slightest sounds can pose major challenges in the edit if, for example, they make a line unusable and there is no other take.

In part to mitigate this problem, I insisted on multiple take of every line being recorded, so that there was at least one alternate read of each line. For lines where there were problems or Jodie, who was the talent for this insert, was struggling to get a word out or saying it in an unusual way (Actually a more common problem for presenters – especially inexperienced ones – than many would think, as it is actually pretty challenging to properly comprehend what you sound like to other people when you speak) there were as many as four or five takes.

This evening we were originally planning to shoot the RAG Week Bush Tucker Challenge, but upon arriving at the venue and observing how things were set up, we realised that we were unlikely to get much, if any, usable footage. This would have been fine if we had been able to film the Man Vs. Food challenge, as we could have used footage from both shoots to make a more general RAG Week Insert, but the Bush Tucker Challenge on its own was not going to be enough to build an insert around without expending a lot of extra effort through the week. As a result, I’ve taken the decision to pull the plug on that insert and focus our attention on the inserts we have the most chance of succeeding with – the Show Choir Insert, the Chris Solarski Interview,  the Egg Nog ‘Something Different’ Insert and another photography showcase.

Also this week, we learned of a change to the rules regarding using members of the Production team as presenters, which means that I am going to be able to present  this episode, which is great as it allows me to get more on-air, live experience. I had been worried that, with most groups either using presenters from outside the course or gravitating to a select few favourites I was going to be off the air for the rest of the year.

TVBRO Week 7 5/11/12-11/11/12

This week, we began to finalise plans to film for the inserts in earnest. We had agreements in place for inserts on Rowan’s Hospice, The University Show Choir, the RAG Week Man vs. Food Challenge and possibly the RAG Week Bush Tucker Challenge.

We had a shoot planned for the Rowan’s Hospice Insert on Saturday, with the Man Vs. Food and Show Choir inserts taping this Monday evening. However, on Friday, it emerged that the permission given by the Rowan’s Hospice people to film at their event on Saturday was being withdrawn over a clerical error in their chain of command. As a result, we took the decision to explore the possibility of producing another showcase insert like the photography and music insert we used in our first episode, in case we needed to fill a whole due to force-majeure.

With some idea of what the show is going to feature coming together, I made a start on the script for the show today. Since some of the inserts are subject to change, I stuck mainly to writing the introduction and outlining a rouge structure for the show – the arrangement of the various inserts and other elements overall. This actually brings up an interesting point.

In our first episode, I placed the regular CCi News Segment in the middle, the idea being to use it to break the show up a bit. A while after our show aired, I became aware of a mandate to place the News at the front of the show going forward, which presents an interesting challenge in preventing the show from becoming a procession of inserts. Because of this change, the need to feature the presenters talking about things between times is increased, essentially, as this is the best way to break up the show with the elements left after moving the news up.

Another new element to consider is the new mandatory “Something Different” segment, a segment created by another group using a bespoke sting to identify it, which uses the relatively nebulous theme of showcasing things which are a little off the beaten path. From seeing it in episodes airing it so far, it seems to me as if it generally comes towards the end of the show, usually as the final segment before the wrap up.

The format of this second episode will consequently see the inserts forming the filling of a sort of sandwich between the two mandatory elements. This is actually pretty helpful, as it makes not using the news in the middle slightly less problematic for me from a structural standpoint, giving the show the clear bookends I would prefer it to have.

TVBRO Week 6 29/10/12-4/11/12

We had two major areas to discuss this week. One was the continuing of the planning for the November 23 edition of CCi Live. The other was about choosing a Producer, and beginning to pitch ideas for, our “Commissioned Show”. This a separate show from CCi Live we are making later in the year, based on our own format and ideas. It requires a 20-minute pilot early in 2013, before producing a final 30-minute version for the Faculty’s end of year show.

The producer had to be someone who we could rely on to be around and available for the show at pretty much all times. It also can’t be either myself or Jodie Redwood, as I will be busy producing our third CCi Live which, while shorter than the others (At only 10 minutes), nonetheless airs the same day as the commissioned show pilot in January.

We decided Alex Hull, who had essentially taken up a third-in-command position on CCi Live and our TVTRANS outside broadcast (I am first and second in Command for these respectively, Jodie is the inverse) would be the best choice, and began pitching ideas for a format. My favourite idea for a format is a talk show, but I would want to present such a show, so that is something we’d have to consider later.

Other ideas we are floating include some kind of cooking show, or a talent competition of some sort. With the more pressing issue of producing the upcoming CCi Live episode, we decided t come back to the format question for the commissioned show later.

We decided to abandon the idea of theming the whole episode around charities, for much the same reason I had been concerned about the idea in the first place. We were having difficulty getting in touch withe enough suitable charities, so I opted instead to green light the show choir insert and keep up the efforts to arrange the charity inserts with those we had managed to contact in the meantime, but also opened the floor to suggestions for replacements.

In terms of the charity inserts we are carrying forward, we have contact with Rowan’s Hospice to film a dancing event they are arranging and the Student Union has cleared us to film events involved in their RAG Week initiative.

We considered an insert relating to the switch on of Christmas Lights in the city, which falls relatively in line with the timing of the episode. It’s unlikely we’ll carry this insert forward though as it sounds like there may be a clash with another group’s episode.

TVBRO Week 5 22/10/12-28/10/12

This was a relatively quiet week. After a couple of relatively intense weeks of producing and crewing for live shows, we needed to take a little time to regroup, re-energise and catch up on some other projects we needed to take care of. Nevertheless, we were mindful of the time issues we had run into on the first show, so we wanted to make sure we were up and running with our second show as early as possible.

So, on Friday, we met up to pitch ideas for content to cover in our next episode.

Initially, we discussed the possibility of shaping the episode around a theme, as this had been suggested as a preferred way of handling the show by some of the other producers. I’m a little uneasy about the idea, as I have concerns about shaping the whole show around a theme limiting us. My worry is mainly that if we do theme the show and one or two inserts fall through, the theme will prevent us from easily replacing them.

Nevertheless, I agreed we could explore the possibility, at least at first, and opened the floor to suggestions for a possible theme in the event that we did do it. We wound up settling on looking at charitable work as a possible theme. Most of the other ideas we had were related to seasons, events etc. but we believed none of them lined up terribly well with the scheduled air date of the episode (The 23rd of November).

In terms of inserts, we had ideas pitched for looking at a couple of charities which members of the group had contact with, as well as a look at the Student Unions RAG (Raising and Giving) week of fundraising activities. More broadly – outside of the suggested theme – we discussed the possibility of looking at the Show Choir in an insert, as one of the show choir’s members is a part of our group and so could get us in touch with the relevant people very easily to provide the needed access.

We resolved to meet again next week to continue our planning.

TVBRO Week 4 15/10/12-21/10/12

This week, we were involved with another episode of CCi Live. But instead of producing the content, this week we were crewing the live show.

On Monday, we met up to discuss which roles we wanted to take during the live show. Since my career path is that of a presenter, I chose the role of Autocue Operator as this crew member must work closely with the presenters to ensure the autocue is functioning as the presenters wish. It also allowed me to gan more of an insight into how the autocue itself is operated from the other side, which I believe will be helpful knowledge when I am presenting myself.

Since most of us were trying out new roles, we decided to hold a pre-rehearsal on Wednesday to get more acquainted with our equipment and the tasks we needed to perform ahead of the Thursday rehearsal with the presenters and near-final content. This was extremely helpful, as it allowed me time to explore the autocue system and get used to how the dial performed and influenced the flow of the script.

As a result of this pre-rehearsal, we were relatively well primed for the main rehearsal on Thursday, which meant we were able to use that rehearsal troubleshooting the script and the inserts, identifying areas where we believed the producing group needed to make changes before the live show, just as they had done with our show the previous week.

With these changes to things like the flow of the show made, we were able to put together a fairly successful episode of the show on Friday. I enjoyed seeing the production from the other side, having spent most of my time in the studios rather than the gallery. It was also enlightening to see how the autocue responded to the operators input, as this has given me a much better understanding of what might be going on in the gallery when I am reading the autocue myself. Knowing this actually helps a lot, as it makes it far easier to predict what is likely to happen next and how long it will take if something goes wrong with the autocue while I am presenting.

You can see this episode below

CCi LIVE 19/10/2012

Student Super Savers, a broadcast for CCi Live focuses on the financial strains of students and advice that can be given to them, to make sure that stay clear of financial hardships. Student finance advisors have been interviewed to give advice to students on how to stay on top of their finances and which precautions they can take to maintain a healthy bank balance. The show also focuses on how to save money when food shipping, joining the gym and gives advice on how to get a job. There is also a showcase by Dimitri Papazachariou

CCi LIVE 12/10/2012

It’s the third CCi Live of the new Academic Year and we’ve packed it with a look at how the University promotes itself to new students, a look at some of the great work being created by students around the University, tips on enjoying your time in Portsmouth, an introduction to a brand new course on offer in the CCI Faculty and of course your weekly dose of the latest news and goings on!

TVBRO Week 3 8/10/12-14/10/12

This week we had quite a lot to do. The delays with arranging Mark Sexton’s interview slipped it till Wednesday, which gave us just that afternoon to get at least a rough edit together in time for the mandatory rehearsal on Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, we needed to produce our photography and music showcase insert – which meant also receiving clearance for the music from the artist – and edit the footage from the Preview Day shoot.

On top of that, a misinterpretation of a rule meant we had to change one of our presenters. Our interpretation of the criteria we had been given was that the reference to not presenting a show you are “crewing” was to be taken at face value, meaning it referred not to the shows we were producing the content for, but instead only to the other shows we were involved in, where we put were crewing the live show with content created by another group. As it turned out, the “crewing” term in the criteria was actually meant more broadly, so I was ineligible to present the show.

I decided to replace me with Tom Cross, another of the show’s more experienced presenters (Alongside Natalie, who remained our news presenter), since I believed his experience with the show would mean the relatively late call up would not harm his performance. Incidentally, that faith seems to have been well placed, as Tom did a great job for us on Friday.

This change also meant I had to make some alterations to the script. For instance, the original introduction featured some scripted banter between Jo & myself about my birthday being the day after the show. Since this wasn’t the case with Tom, some new discussion was needed. In the end, the entire introductory segment wound up being partially re-written. This was also to avoid unintended similarities to the previous two episodes’ introductions.

Editing the Preview Day insert was a pretty hefty task, as some of the footage had failed to record or had come back too dark to use, which we attributed to the crew’s inexperience with the camera and decided was a problem we needed to make sure we handled before our next show. After reviewing the rushes, I mostly left the editing to our main editor (Alex Hull) and Jodie Redwood, our de facto director, while I handled other things – such as putting together the music & photography insert and dealing with scriptwriting and paperwork.

The photography and music insert was, once we had the content together and signed off, relatively painless to put together. Alex and I opted to display the images static, with transitions, rather than applying any kind of “Ken Burns Effect”, mainly because we wanted to ensure that all the pictures were seen in full but also because we believed that the relatively sedate music track the pictures were paired with suited this style more.

On Wednesday, Jodie and I finally managed to shoot the interview with Mark Sexton. Time constraints meant we were forced to make the insert ultimately very basic, since the two of us filmed it alone and had to edit it, alongside Alex, that afternoon. With that completed, I spent most of Thursday getting production documentation ready for the mandatory rehearsal on Thursday afternoon. I realised that day that cuts to the inserts were going to reduce our running time, so I booked Charlie Jackson as a live interview guest, talking about his time spent working at Wimbledon, to make up the shortfall. After all that, I stayed to watch the rehearsal to make notes on any changes which needed to be made to the show prior to airing.

With that list as a guide, I came in early on Friday and finalised the autocue script, the studio script and the running order before collating those and the other production paperwork with the Programme as Completed Form to submit shortly before the show went on the air.

Generally, I think the show went fairly well, considering some of the difficulties we had with putting it together in the week before it was due to air. I was a little disappointed that we were not able to make the Computing and Digital Sound insert as interesting as we originally hoped, but time constraints were so extreme that there was’t much more we could do with the limited manpower available during the week. Similarly, the Preview Day insert had some disappointing video quality in sections. We did what we could to mitigate these issues in the edit, but it was clear that in future we would need to make sure we had much better, more usable footage (And more of it – one of the biggest problems we encountered in the edit was a lack of options to replace things we decided we didn’t want to make use of).

We treated this as a learning experience. These quality issues were things to aim at improving in the future.

You can watch the show itself below