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.
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.
This weeks show focuses on a few of the most popular societies within the UoP. We show the Basketball society, the Dance society and the Comedy society. The show includes a live stand up from a member of the comedy society, and a live interview explaining how to become interested in the area. Also included in this week’s packed show, Purple Door’s placement and recruitment fayre, which includes a very informative interview with the careers manager explaining the advantages and usefulness of the graduate fayre. Our “Something Different” includes arts and crafts: How to make your own Christmas Gift, made and presented by local artist Tracy Herrity.
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.