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.
I was responding to a message from a friend whose advice and feedback I highly value. As I wrote my response, it occurred to me that I was also addressing issues that had been raised by other good friends whose advice and perspective I value highly. I decided to re-post my response here so folks could get a better feel for what we're trying to accomplish.
We plan to feature everyone who sent in an application. The only issue is if we can't get the artist out of his performance persona and get to the human side of him/her, we probably won't air his interview or performance. As I said, the show is about the struggles and epiphanies that people like you and I and every other artist has dealt with in the pursuit of our art. It is my sincere hope that if we can maintain a modicum of honesty and candidness, without necessarily exposing any deep dark personal secrets, the viewing public will find ways to "connect" with that artist by recognizing the same struggles and epiphanies in their own lives. Other artists "get it", and we've had a lot of positive feedback from them. The challenge is to keep things simple enough, and focused enough, that the average person will pay attention to what's being said rather than how it looks. I know attention spans are short. I know that current thinking stipulates that entertainment comes first, or that spectacle and drama come before the real story, but I want the things our guests say to live in the hearts and minds of the viewers longer than a 5 second sound bite. Several people have told me that the show is too dense, that the interviews are too long, that things need to be broken up into smaller pieces so viewers will take the time to watch them. Fair enough, but if the interviews are any shorter, then the viewer has very little chance to see what the artist is really like as a person. The show becomes kind of a comparison of best practices rather than a window into a person driven to take up the challenge of an artist's life. If there is too much B roll or visual effects, then the viewer gets lost in the visual experience and isn't paying attention to what's being said. In both cases, we make it harder, not easier, to connect with the artist. So I've chosen this retro format because viewers in the early 60's were still fascinated with the concept of television. There weren't a lot of special effects or elaborate sets, so the viewer paid attention to what was actually going on, what the TV personalities said, and how they felt about things. Think Johnny Carson, Jackie Gleason, and Art Linkletter. We have some wiggle room to tweak this format a little bit, but if we go too far, we might as well forget the public service we're trying to provide, and just start shooting infomercials for the artists.
This is a fun interview. It gives some insight into the making of Artist's Connection, the producers, and what it's like to take on a project like this. Here is the link:
We put a lot of time into this one. I brought in 3 studio mics to see if we could improve the sound of the Artist's performance. This resulted in an overall improvement in dynamic range and frequency response, which made it seem like the Artists were in the same room with you. These mics are more sensitive though, so there is some room noise and hum from the lights that are barely detectable, if you're looking for it. We're going to try more experiments to see if we can fix that.
We also had a problem with the synchronization of the audio with the video. The weird thing was the problem only was there on SOME of the takes. Others were fine. The fix was to align the audio and video of the unsynchronized takes in post production.
Episode 2 was edited entirely on Adobe Premiere Pro CC at home. The final product was brought to Davis Media Access for upload and airing on their system. We have a very slow internet connection speed at home, so upload to YouTube took 26 hours. The show went up on the Artist's Connection YouTube channel on Wednesday, March 4th. We currently have 387 views.
Taping Episode 2 took more than 6 hours. Kevin, the Artist's , and the crew were infinitely patient with the technical problems. I've developed procedures for initial studio setup and taping that should go a long way towards reducing the chaos and speeding up the process. The March taping session will encompass 2 episodes--one aired first Tuesday in April, the other aired first Tuesday in May--so I'm hoping these procedures will get us out of the studio in time for dinner.
300 YouTube views the first week. 96 page likes. Positive comments from musicians and folks who enjoy music but aren't musicians themselves. I didn't know what to expect from our first show, but this feels like a good start.
We've gotten a lot of input from folks that really want to help us make the show even better. We'll be incorporating some of those ideas in future episodes. Thanks to everyone for the help!
Pieter and I would like to thank Davis Media Access for providing the facilities, the production crew, sage advice, and the belief, that turned this idea into a reality. We couldn't have done this without their help.
And now, on to Episode 2--Songwriting!
The YouTube link is live for a sneak preview! The television show airs tomorrow, Feb. 3, at 9 p.m. on Davis Community Television. This episode's topic is "Forming a Band" and features interviews with Roger Trott of The Hey-Nows!, Kari King of Bonanza King and Richie Lawrence of Richie Lawrence and the Yolos.
The post-production edits of episode one were finished right AFTER the Super Bowl!! The program debuts Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 9 p.m. on Davis Community Television. This episode's topic is "Forming a Band" and features interviews with Roger Trott of The Hey-Nows!, Kari King of Bonanza King and Richie Lawrence of Richie Lawrence and the Yolos.
Arrange...rearrange...cut here...nudge there...video editing is perking right along. Alex Silva-Sadder, Programming Manager at Davis Media Access is a bottomless well of knowledge when it comes to anything having to do with a computer. His help made the whole post production process seem easy...well, almost. I need a couple aspirin and a nap, but I'm really pleased with where we are so far. We should be finished by Friday.
The first show is in the can and ready for post-production. Check out the candid shots from yesterday's video shoot on our Photo page.