Evaluation – Net TV – Production roles

Ever since we were first introduced to the TV studio, I’ve been trying hard to understand how it works and what can be done with it. I tend to be very technical – so I was always amongst the people who got their hands on the equipment, setting up cameras and talkbacks, and learning the gallery mixers. I have tried some of the roles in our weekly sessions before the Net TV project:

  • I tried to be a Camera person, which was OK as long as I had to be steady, but I wasn’t very confident with moving and tracking.
  • I tried to be a Floor manager – huge fail! Turns out I can’t count down on my fingers and I mess up the numbers.
  • I tried to be a Director – but my mind was in the sound and presenters rather than the monitors, so I messed up a lot.
  • I tried to be a Vision mixer – but I couldn’t get my head around it.
  • I had a go being an Autocue operator – and found out that’s something I could do. I’ve always been attracted to text, so I was happy to do it, and I think I did well.
  • VT operator was also OK – especially when I had prepared the tapes myself. I am getting more and more familiar with the recording equipment and miniDV decks, so I felt comfortable with this role. Plus, I’ve always had something to do with cassette players, so I understand how the equipment works.
  • I left the sound for the end of the list – just because it’s been my obvious choice for a long time, and most of my readers (hey, thanks for reading!) already know I am a sound-centered person. So yeah, both studio and gallery sound are roles I enjoy, and I think I’m quite good in these.

Things I didn’t have any interest in even trying – I was happy to only watch people deal with them:

  • Gallery PA – Counting and real-time multitasking are not my thing. I do enjoy working with time constraints, but not in this form.
  • Lighting – I don’t believe in lighting hanging from the ceiling – it’s too unnatural for me. Plus, the lighting equipment in the ET studio isn’t particularly user friendly, so I prefer not to do it if I can avoid it.
  • Set design – I am a fan of simple layouts – and this isn’t very useful for a TV environment, where it is believed the sets should be busy and eye-catching – so I preferred to not interfere with the more creative and brave colour users in our group.

Since our initial skills instructions didn’t involve actual production work, we didn’t get quite familiar with the Producer‘s role. However, from the previous projects I’d been working on within the course, and from my previous work experience, I felt this could be a role for me – I am interested in managing people and processes, and I am quite happy doing administration, communicating with other people involved, etc. Something I didn’t quite look forward to though, was the fact the Producer would need to think about content. I am more than happy to edit content and make sure it fits a brief / assignment – but I find it hard to come up with initial ideas, plus TV is not really my preferred medium – so I had these thoughts keeping me back from pitching as a producer.

So when we were told we’d need to choose our own roles for the studio project, these were in my short list (not necessarily in order of preference):

  • Gallery sound
  • Studio sound
  • Autocue (but then I found out I would need to do lighting too, so I scratched that)
  • VT operator / producer
  • Camera 2 (if no one else wanted it, I was happy to do it)
  • Graphics (only if no one else wanted it)
  • Producer (but I didn’t go forward because of what I mentioned earlier)

The day we pitched our roles, I found out VT operator / producer was not a major role (and neither was Studio sound) – and because our group was the smallest of all, we only pitched for the main roles and then some of us had to do more than one. Some other groups had the luxury of Runners – we didn’t know how that would have worked – because there weren’t enough people for the main roles to start with.

Anyway, as we started pitching, I was delighted of the choices people had made, and quite happily voted for their roles:

  • I knew Andrew is quite skilled and confident with cameras, so I was happy he pitched for Camera 1 – and he got it.
  • I also knew that Jess Wilkinson is a very helpful and hard working kind of person (plus she is a good communicator), so I believed she chose the perfect role as a Floor Manager.
  • Edina has a more technical approach – so I voted for her to be a Vision Mixer. I was then happy to see her playing with the vision mixer at every possible occasion – and she was getting better and better!
  • Jenny Sheen is, I believe, a person that knows what she wants and finds her way to communicate it to the group – plus, she is hard working when doing an assignment, so I think her role as a Gallery PA suited her well.
  • Abdul has some good broadcast experience, he is quite confident with the equipment, and has the attitude and attention to quality that is needed in a TV production – so he was a good asset to our group. Lighting was a bit of an unexpected role for him – but he did great, spent lots of time and effort arranging the studio lights, which resulted in a very well lit studio and it made a huge difference to our bright and colourful set.
  • Aeron was an obvious choice for a Presenter right from the start – and he didn’t dissapoint. His random jokes and humour maybe aren’t suitable for any type of programme – but for ours – food themed game show that had to do with spontaneity, they were a huge plus.
  • As far as I can remember, Jak joined in a bit late, so he was just given the role of Presenter 2 – but from previous projects I know he is confident and has the right attitude. Plus, he is a bit more focused on the structure and the big picture – so he was balancing out Aeron’s randomness at times.
  • Nigel was one of the surprises in the group. He joined in a bit late, so he was given the role of Camera 2 operator. But that didn’t quite sound like him – so we later gave him the star treatment he deserves. He would do a freestyle rap – which fitted perfectly into our brief, and added some more freshness to our show.
  • Sara-Lee did lots of research and put her heart into choosing the right material for the set design. Plus, she was quite confident on Camera 3. Even though she didn’t have the chance to rehearse with us, she made a huge difference to the final show. Some of the funniest shots came from her camera.
  • Rhys put a lot of effort into Graphics and did a really good job with the show’s logo – it is fresh and colourful, and fit well with the theme. The opening sequence was also quite good – with UGC clips of people laughing. A very positive start for a show. He also helped out with studio sound and was the VT operator. Hard working fellow.
  • Adina was a bit shy at the start, but that changed – the more time we spent rehearsing, the more confident she grew, and I was delighted to see her in action as Director.
  • Sarah also had her highs and lows being a Producer – I think she didn’t believe in her abilities at the start, but she was able to shine with her own light on the day of recording, always keeping time and helping communication between the gallery and studio. She also filled in for Camera 2 for the last part of the show.
  • I think the only person I haven’t yet listed here is myself – I know I was causing some tension at times, but I hope I’ve been a good asset to the group. In terms of studio roles, I ended up doing Studio and Gallery sound and VT Producer – and I am thankful people trusted me to do them. Edina also helped me with the sound – we were usually setting up the microphones together. I am now more confident with the miniDV decks and working with Avid as a result of my VT producer tasks. I also got to know two very different types of sound desk systems – and I was working with them confidently.

So you see, the technical and creative energy was there – I think everyone fitted in their roles quite well. We also truly believed in our idea right from the start, so even though the group had its highs and lows, we wanted to make it good and worked with enthusiasm at the ‘as live’ recordings.

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