We had some fairly significant breakthroughs with Episode 4. These were in the post-production phase, and represent an editing milestone for me. Since we started this show, I’ve been wanting to process the sound separately from the video. I’ve been using Cubase for more than ten years, and am vastly more comfortable with editing audio on that platform than with Premiere Pro, the video editing software. For several reasons, there were a lot of problems with doing this. I’ve finally come up with a process that works pretty well, although it adds a few extra hours to the post-production schedule. The average listener may or may not notice a difference, but there were audio track issues that have been driving me crazy from the start, and they are fixed in Episode 4. We are trying something in Episode 5 and 6 that, if it works, will make the audio even better. Stay tuned.
Why is the audio important? Well, we promise the artists a very nice video that they can use for their promotional activities, and if the audio is sub-standard, that kind of screws up the whole video. The artists come to the DMA studios on their own time—some have even come from as far as Southern California—provide us with a candid and honest interview and a wonderful performance, and leave without asking to be paid. The least we can do is to try our best to keep our promise to give them a quality video. And audio is a major part of a quality video, so we’ve been working very hard to give them that.
The other big achievement with Episode 4 is we now have a workable process to produce soundtracks of the show, edited for radio. This means that Artist’s Connection will be introduced to an additional community, the radio listeners—both broadcast and internet. So our community becomes larger, and the artists will have more opportunities to connect with them. We’re really excited about this. As we send it out to the various stations that have requested it, we’re hoping to get feedback about the format of the show, to see if it needs to be modified to make it more radio-friendly.
So, a lot of progress, a few discoveries, and a lot of hard work. But that, after all, is what retirement is for!
We tried out a lot of new ideas for the Episode 3 and 4 shoot. Here are the ones that seemed to work well:
1. We set up the studio the evening before.
2. We made a detailed schedule for every activity we planned for that day
3. Pieter kept a running log of our actual times so we could compare them with our schedule to see where we needed to improve
4. We shot two episodes instead of one so we could get the most out of Kevin’s availability
5. We assigned Lori Stage Manager duties, which made her the single point of contact for the camera and sound crew
6. We had 2 sound engineers, one to work in the control room and one in the studio for setup and equipment changes
7. We built breaks and a lunch period for the crew into our schedule—the union have would have loved that!
Here are the ideas we still need to try out:
1. Have a data taker write down the highlights of our guests’ comments so we can be better equipped to write the Host’s closing remarks
2. Have 2 shifts of crew rather than asking them to commit to a seven or eight hour shift
3. Use lower, more comfortable chairs for the Host and guests
4. Have a production assistant work with the Director to record information on each capture file (subject, take, etc.)
Post production had a few improvements as well:
1. Most transition times are shorter
2. Song titles appear at the beginning of each performance rather than being introduced by Kevin
3. Credits are a little more complete
4. All audio has been “normalized” to -1 db
We’re still tweaking the sound, lighting, camera angles, and furniture, to get the most out of the DMA studio and equipment.
The viewership for Episode 3 has been much lower than the previous episodes. Have we saturated Facebook? Has the novelty worn off? Have we made some mistake or left something out in getting the word out? Lori is doing some in-depth analysis to try and figure it out.
In summary, Episode 3 represents a quantum leap in our procedures, processes, and the overall “look” of the show. In Episode 4, we made some further post production improvements, but Episode 3 represents the biggest change so far.