CCi Live 30/11/2012

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.

http://vimeo.com/ccitv/301112

Building The Olympics

2012 Olympics

The videos produced by Distinct Productions, as part of the University of Portsmouth’s Television & Broadcasting Course for the Module “Video Industry & Television Studies”. Production Credit goes to Daniel Schultz, Reanne Bull, Ellen Sharkey, Lewis Avarillo-Singh & Paul Douglas, who were executive produced by Charlie Watts and Lou Appleby (Within the University) and Dave Batcock from the BBC. This project was created for and screened as part of the BBC Big Screen Project.

Video Industry & Television Studies Academic Essay June 2011 – A vision of the future for British broadcasting

The following is an Essay written for the Video Industry and Television Studies Module of my Degree Programme at the University of Portsmouth. It received a 2.1 Passing Grade, my First Year overall was passed at First Class Standard. The title for this Essay was “Using an historical perspective, outline a vision of the future for British broadcasting” and it was printed for submission on June 10 2011 – note that certain details may have become outdated since then owing to rapid developments in the UK Media.

Introduction
British broadcasting has, throughout its history, been an highly changeable medium. It has evolved constantly to keep up with advances in technology, changes in taste and an evolving political situation. This pace of change, always considerable, has been accelerating at an ever increasing rate. Today, the industry faces its largest upheaval ever as trends in multiple areas are shifting concurrently.

As a result, British broadcasting in the future will be virtually unrecognisable…

A Brief History of British Broadcasting
In the early days of broadcasting in Britain, Television, the dominant form of broadcasting today, was mostly a dream. The broadcasting age was kicked off by the advent of the radio in 1922. That year, a number of independent stations began broadcasting and the BBC was formed, initially broadcasting in London.

Right from the start, the BBC was funded by a License Fee. Initially, the Broadcasting Receiving License. The industry as a whole was protected from collapse by forming a syndicate, with royalties being earned on all wireless sets sold. By 1925, though, change was already in the air as the wireless manufacturers wanted out of the deal. Meanwhile, the BBC’s leader (Lord Reith) successfully convinced the Government’s Crawford Commission to continue Public Service broadcasting.

As a result, the British Broadcasting Commission, which largely survives to this day, was established to oversee the nascent British Broadcasting Corporation under the authority of the Crown.

That set the scene for much of the remainder of the post-war period, until around 1935 when the BBC began experiments with television broadcasts, initially using Baird’s 30-line system. By 1936, “High Definition” had already arrived – 405 lines versus the 240 of the Baird system used at that point.

The service wasn’t available for long, however, as service was interrupted by the breakout of World War II.

Once the War ended and stability returned, efforts to resume television service began. In July 1946, the TV License was introduced and TV Service resumed, with the BBC showing a Mickey Mouse cartoon (Mickey’s Gala Premiere) which had been the last programme aired prior to the shutdown of the service seven years earlier.

Three years later, the BBC Television service began to expand outside of London. This expansion continued, with the BBC maintaining its monopoly, for a number of years. Then, in 1955, Independent Television – commercial broadcasting – arrived. And the shape of British broadcasting was altered once more.

This was just the first of a rapidly accelerating number of paradigm shifts in British broadcasting over the coming decades. In the 60s, BBC2 and colour television arrived. In the 70s, Ceefax launches – a nascent foray into information services for the broadcast industry.

But things really changed in the 1980s. Channel 4 launched, bringing commercial broadcasting to the state-owned broadcasting slate, with a focus on exploring new ground with programming aimed at niches not catered to by the existing BBC/ITV Duopoly – most notably the rising “youth” movement of teens and young adults, an increasingly distinct set of demographics.

On top of this, satellite broadcasting went online, beginning an industry in premium TV which would eventually become one of the most important sectors of British broadcasting. Amazingly, it was only in this same decade that British networks began 24-hour broadcasting, which just serves to demonstrate the rapid pace of acceleration in British broadcasting’s evolution.

By the end of the 90s, Channel 5; Six TV and a plethora of premium channels like Sky 1 and the Disney Channel had become available to British audiences. Whilst some were unsuccessful (Six TV went defunct in 2009 after a troubled and highly limited run in its ten year lifetime) others, like Sky 1, remain dominant forces.

Into the 21st Century, analogue broadcasts – satellite, cable and over the air – began to cease. Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media Television have battled for eyeballs, and all four have launched new HD services in 1080i. But a growing competitor in the form of the world wide web, born in the 90s, has begun eating into television’s market – both with original content on sites like YouTube and blip.tv and through on demand distribution of television programming through services like BBC iPlayer.

This is the scene as we look ahead to the future of British broadcasting.

The Future of British Broadcasting: A Vision
As it stands, British broadcasting is engaged in a massive-scale “war for eyeballs”, caused by the plethora of services demanding the attention of the public.

There is little chance that all these services can continue to co-exist. As a result, going forward, it is inconceivable that we will not begin to see ever-increasing instances of convergence amongst these services. Already, we have seen television broadcasters like the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, BSkyB and more make their programming available online.
Some, like the BBC and BSkyB even allow viewers to watch television live as it is broadcast over the web – and even on mobile phones.

The future of British broadcasting will be crafted in this image. Video content is platform-neutral at its most basic level. As a result, video services from one platform can be delivered on another platform with minimal additional effort. We are beginning to see this coming to fruition in the form of Internet-Enabled TV sets and devices powered by software like GoogleTV.

These products, which will become increasingly prevalent in the coming years, invert the move of television to the web by bringing the web to television sets. As a result, audiences are able to watch live transmissions or on demand content from the comfort of their living room, on their big screen, without additional effort on their part.

The secondary result of this will be the resurgence of independent and even semi-professional video producers. With internet video services – which offer a far more accessible platform for smaller producers – with equivalent prominence to conventional broadcasters on TVs, independents and semi-professional individuals will be able to reach a far wider audience than at present, radically increasing the viability of small producers.

One possible side-effect of this will be the collapse of the Government’s efforts to launch a new sixth terrestrial broadcaster. The new sixth channel is being pitched has having a localised remit, patterned after the US Networks system, where a national Network produces prime time, late-night, (in some cases) daytime and news programming and local stations broadcast it to small areas (Eg. Cities) along with locally produced content like the local news and weather. Note, ITV used to be organised in this way prior to a mass of station mergers which has rendered the ITV Regions system a nominal one only.

This focus on localised programming will likely have its audience consumed by independent efforts making use of the web. Already, services lie Portsmouthlive.tv are serving the same basic purpose – at very low cost – without the government’s backing.

Similarly, it is highly unlikely that the proliferation of channels (Hundreds broadcast in the UK at present) will continue. Indeed, it seems likely that the number of channels available to UK audiences will plummet over the next ten to twenty years as the niche markets catered to by satellite and cable begin to be eaten up by web services. These niche channels are by far the most vulnerable to being subsumed by the web, as their inherently smaller audiences mean it will be viable for users to stream video live far sooner because less bandwidth will be needed.

As bandwidth concerns are overcome, channels with ever-wider audiences will be able to move online. Theoretically, if enough bandwidth can be added to the UK’s internet infrastructure, every channel currently on the air could be broadcast via the web. But that is a long way in the future.

One other thing seems likely: 3DTV will not achieve truly widespread adoption. Whilst their is a market for 3D content, the inconveniences of the technology make it ill-suited to broadcasting as it is generally consumed. Studies in the UK (The Guardian Online, 2010) and the US (NTDaily, 2010) have shown that an increasing proportion of the audience – particularly amongst younger viewers – prefer to multitask whilst watching television. This means their attention is divided between a TV, perhaps a laptop computer and even a mobile phone. They are social networking and reading the news whilst they watch.

3D doesn’t fit in this lifestyle, as it requires concentration to work. So whilst it has a market in event programming like live sport and movies, particularly movie premieres, conventional programming is unlikely to move to 3D in a meaningful way.

Conclusion
Ultimately, it seems possible that in the future, there will be no Freeview, no Satellite and no cable – as we know it. Instead, broadcasting will be consumed via an online portal with access to all the channels and on demand content in one place and an interface which scales from small screens (mobile phones) through laptop screens all the way up to big screen TVs.

Additionally, this portal could integrate with social networking services, to tap into broadcasting’s role as a creator of shared experiences and converge it with the advent of modern day social media.

Bibliography
Wearden, G. (2010) The Guardian Online: Multi-tasking media consumption on rise among Britons, says Ofcom study. Retrieved 9 May 2011 fromhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/aug/19/multi-tasking-media-ofcom-study
Landry, N. (2010) NTDaily: Study shows increase in technology multitasking. Retrieved 9 May 2011 from http://www.ntdaily.com/?p=7975

On Final Cut Pro X: What Pro Video Editors Won’t Tell You

And the Pro Editors are hopping mad about it. You’ve probably seen the brouhaha all over the tech corner of the web, with Pro Video Editors fuming at Apple’s slick new upgrade for Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Pro X which EOL’d Final Cut Express and the Final Cut Studio Package, unifying Pro and Express and splitting the Studio Suite into three core Apps all available on the new Mac App Store. What’s got the Pro Editors hot and bothered? They’ll tell anyone who asks (And anyone who doesn’t) that it’s simply the fact that Apple has abandoned them, Apple doesn’t care about Pro any more because this App is “unsuitable” for professional video editing – it’s not Final Cut Pro, it’s iMovie Pro! (Note the irony here: the iMovie Pro name is supposed to demonstrate that Final Cut Pro X is not a tool for Pros. One would wonder then why it has Pro in its name even in this derisive nickname?)

Here’s the truth. That’s all a load of FUD. And I’ll tell you why: the reality is, the world of video has grown and changed. Pro Video Editors? They have not. They’re dinosaurs, stuck in a world of TV (TV Networks in general can be considered at least partially responsible for the dinosauric attitudes of the Editors owing to their cheapness and general unwillingness to upgrade technology – many still require masters on tape) and film in an era where video has shifted.

Simple question for you: where would you say you saw the most video content in the past 24 hours? For most of you I’d wager the answer is not “Traditional TV broadcast” and certainly not “in a movie theatre”. Nor is it likely to have been film or TV on DVD/Blu-Ray. For most of you, the answer is probably “the web”, or some variation of it – such as on-demand on a TV.

Apple’s aim with Final Cut Pro X was to produce a Pro Editing App for the modern era. Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere and even Sony Vegas are all built from he perspective of the past. And it’s one the Pro Editors love. It’s conservative, it’s heavily keyboard-driven, it’s bathed in dependence on timecode and syncing and preposterously complicated formats and drivers and encoders and decoders and tapes and format wars and piles of jargon-heavy windows with unusual and complicated interfaces. It’s built on a foundation of “you’re going to do x by doing y or else z is going to break unless you a b and reverse the c of n”. In short, it’s complex, hard to learn – harder to master – and inaccessible.

Existing Pro Video Editing Apps are built with the wrongheaded belief that you should be made to learn the App to edit the video. It’s My Way or the Highway with Avid and Adobe. Even FCP 7 was guilty of this to a certain extent.

And that was weird, because it’s not Apple’s way. Nor is it a credible way to design a video editing app. A lot of Avid Editors will scoff at the idea of someone using the new Smart Tools Avid added in the latest version of Media Composer. Know why? They use the mouse. Editors don’t like the mouse, they like the keyboard. Know why? Cos anyone can use a mouse, and video editors are special. But that’s their own hang up. If they want to prove you need to be a Pro to be great at editing, then the tools shouldn’t matter. A Pro should always be able to edit better than a consumer, regardless of the App, otherwise their training in editing theory was an expensive nothing.

The real reason the Pro Editors all hate FCP X so much is simple and twofold: it makes editing too easy and it’s not optimised from a conservative worldview.

Final Cut Pro X is optimised for an all file-based workflow. Do you know who uses all file-based workflows?

People like me. People like the folks over at Channel Awesome.

Oh sure, some independent web producers use tape or DVD in their workflow right now (I believe Cinemassacre do, or at least did until recently) but it’s more about that kind of work than any specific producer. I myself do use a tapeless workflow. And FCP X cures literally all the bottlenecks and hangups in my workflow. Better yet, it operates in such a way that editing is easy, the App gets out the way and lets you arrange the video and audio and export for the web with ease.

Independents like me and the other examples do need Pro grade tools – I couldn’t use iMovie for what I do – but that doesn’t mean we need Avid Media Composer. I’ve been professionally instructed in Avid and I still hate using it because it constantly gets in my way. Likewise Premiere Pro which I found to be mess of complications and incompatibilities – as well as being hideously ugly and suffering the worst UX of the big three (FCP, Avid and Adobe Premiere). The App being simple o use is very important in the era of democratised video:

Sometimes the editor is the talent. And the producer. And the cameraman. And the writer. And the director. Certainly that’s the case with me. In this era, we need pro tools which do not require speciality training in order to use.

Pro Editors hate all this because it means change which offends their conservative nature and it also means they might not be able to command such high salaries or face tougher competition. Unfortunately for them, that’s just the way it is.

About ten years ago, Apple heralded the birth of a new era when they claimed that home video production was about to be the next Desktop Publishing. Like the way desktop publishing took longer to evolve than assumed and wound up a very different beast (The World Wide Web supplanted the original vision of people printing their own newsletters, but had an all the more devastating impact on the traditional print industry because of its inherent advantages, including cost) Apple is being proved sort of right, much later than they probably planned.

The big growth in video is small operations – less than ten people on the whole production, often as few as one person or two people doing to the majority of the work – producing for the web. Final Cut Pro X was designed with that in mind. The response thus far has suggested it’s the answer to a question no one asked at best and at worst, the wrong answer to the question the pro editors asked.

The truth is, the Pro Editors were asking the wrong question. FCP X is the Right Answer to the Question the Modern World Asked.

TOTS: On Trial Show

Back in the so-called “Golden Era” of GameSpot, Ryan MacDonald and Richardine K. E. Gallup III IV Jr. created a live weekly show called On The Spot. On The Spot was the shit. It was perhaps the only Live video game show that actually mattered (Outside of E3). Certainly, it would be uncontroversial to say that in all its forms (Except its latter days with a certain bimbo proto-feminist) it was one of the best magazine shows, or shows of any kind, about video games, delivering a heart “fuck you” to the inept management of G4TV.

After the conclusion of last year’s run of On The Spots, GameSpot made the wise decision to put the show on ice and give it a revamp. At this stage, the show had been around for a long-ass time, so it was a good idea to take a step back and re-think things. It’s standard practice in Television, you just have to make sure your shows are fresh.

Unfortunately, GameSpot had the show off the air for months. Then finally, they announced a date. Then pulled it, explaining that they essentially wanted the show to be “even more awesome than we were gonna make it”. Naturally, with all the delays and promises and teasing, the expectations of the show were high.

Perhaps too high. The show that GameSpot took half a year (Including a quarter year delay) to produce was a radical deviation from the original On The Spot. It’s not the same show. Hence, it was given a fancy (And slightly mis-leading) new monicker “Today On The Spot”. It’s no longer live. And the producers are shooting for an average run time of 20 minutes, a minimum of about 15. What they have, is a prototypical web show run time.

Web show run times are not a good thing, even on the web. Programming needs to be thought of in half hour chunks. Why? Because most shows feel rushed if not programmed for a 30 minute or longer slot. Commercial television shows run about 20-22 minutes of content per 30 minute slot, but they don’t have to rush. They’re made into clear segments and the break (Whether it actually rolls ads or is just an act break like on DVD) gives the audience time to catch their breath.

You can do a 20 minute Magazine show. But the only way to do it is to cut back on the variety of content. And I still say don’t do it, because 20 minutes of programming is an anomaly in TV Shows caused by the presence of ads. where it can be avoided, it should because it can sometimes feel insubstantial. This only applies to shows setting a standard run time. Web shows often have varying run times, and there it is okay to have some shorter episodes.

The reason GameSpot opted for this radically curtailed run time is simple. The show is now on 3 days a week – although a casual reading of its name would cause one to believe the show was daily. Essentially, the same amount of content is produced as was before (Albeit now shot to tape and not live). On the face of it, that should be fine. But it just isn’t. Once again, the reason the run time is a problem has nothing to do with the quantity of content, and everything to do with the format.

This is a show that is fantastically well made. Production values are high and much of the talent is there (Tor Thorson, Brian Eckberg, Chris Watters and Co. do a great job “on air”). The format is the show’s elephant in the room. Despite being cut down to 20 minutes, the show is now trying to include a wider variety of content per episode – not per week, per episode. And that’s a big problem. Why? Because the show is too short for this many different things to happen. It feels breathless. Whether it’s Brian Eckberg going from receiving the throwback to throwing it out again via a mere few seconds of banter or Chris Watters flubbing a line as he speeds through a sentence, here we have a show which has no time to breathe.

And the rushed-feel of the show doesn’t just affect the hosts. It’s a tiring show to watch. The breaks between the segments aren’t long enough. It’s a subtle art, defining the different segments of a show. This is a bad example of how to get it done. The pauses and graphical splashes are short-lived and the cuts through black fast when there at all. Cuts and fades through black exist partly so the audience can catch their breath. This show is too short to waste time on filler between its already rushed segments. As a result, it comes across as way more “seat of your pants” than the old live show.

And it kinda suffers for it.

Other than the format, the other key problems with the show are the writing (Which runs the gamut from “Good” to “Corny” to “That’s so funny I forgot to laugh >_>”) and the on-screen personas of some of the talent, and how they interact. The writing is weak, and it suffers both from existing (These all seem like people who ought to just be going from an outline) and from the aforementioned pacing issues. The key to comedy is timing. We’ve already discussed how the show’s timing is screwed up, so what do you think you get when you introduce already poor comedy to poor timing?

Nothing good.

As for the talent personas and interactions, for the most part, they’re fine (If in most cases a little constrained – the show does tend to have a slightly repressed feeling, likely a result of both the fact it’s taped and it’s so short). But the real problems start when you have Chris Watters hosting, with Lark Anderson as his sidekick. These are both very obviously likable guys. But whatever chemistry they have is diminished by the shoddy writing and corny jokes, which makes it hard (As a member of the audience) to develop a rapport with them. It’s the chemistry between the talent that causes audience attachment. That’s why The HotSpot and The Bombcast worked and work.

Somebody also needs to give Lark some onscreen charisma lessons. There’s no problem when he’s talking, but when he’s sitting listening to Chris, he remains perfectly still staring semi-interestedly at Chris as the latter talks. No reaction, no animation until he is called upon. It doesn’t look so great and it makes it even harder for the audience to get in on the hosts’ chemistry.

Anyway, this is just my little critical analysis of Today On The Spot. I promised I would do one, and as you all know, media is kind of my thing. So here it is. Some of you might disagree, that’s cool. Explain why on the Twitters @Jensonb. Or whatever. But for me, this is a show which needs to be aiming for 30 minutes minimum, even with the same amount of content, before I could call myself a fan.

This Blog Post originally appeared on Giant Bomb (dot) Com