Broadcasting Breaking News

This week our annual news project, Nyhetsprosjektet, started at school. It’s a cool project that involves the TV-production class and journalism class working together to create a multi platform news broadcaster. Through our website, NettavisaUllandhaug.no we’ll publish news like an online newspaper. In addition we’ll have regular live streaming of web-based radio and TV.

The TV-production students are responsible for the TV webcast from the studio as well as producing news segments to be part of the webcast. The journalism student act as reporters and journalists on all platforms.

In the preparations for the project I, along with one other, served as technical manager. Our job was to set up all the technical equipment, ensure it was connected correctly and working as intended. Interesting and educational job. As the project started however, I took on a less technical job (still consulting the current TM at times though, as I knew the set-up).

The set-up in the control room we use (titles and job description may vary from production to production or studio to studio, but this is how we do it)  consist of the following crew: One sound engineer, one script (responsible for scripting the show, keeping track of the progress of the production and news segments in production and gathering information like time, names of people etc. and running the teleprompter. Basically this position gathers several jobs that may be split on a larger production) one graphic coordinator, on technical manager (also responsible for video playback and vision engineering) and a Producer (combined vision mixer and television director). The control room crew is all second year students. In addition we have three camera operators and a light assistant, all first year students.

From Monday to Wednesday my job was Script. An interesting and very busy job. Today and tomorrow I’m the producer. It’s not as busy as script so that’s why I have time to write this. From next week I’m in the segment production group, meaning I’ll be serving as a camera man or video journalist producing news segments.

Anyway, you can check out the previous webcasts on our website, NettavisaUllandhaug.no or Vimeo. If you want to watch it live, we’ll be broadcasting on this link at 17.00 from Monday to Friday the next weeks.

Friday production: Notekoppen #3

I was the producer for this week’s production of Notekoppen, our weekly production at school. It was an interesting experience.

My job was pretty much to make sure everything tied together. I had to make all the major decisions, answer everyone’s questions and keep track of everyone. Who’s doing what, when and where. As the producer I had my say in just about everything. One thing in particular I wanted to improve for this week’s production was the camera work. It had been okei in the past, but I wanted it to be good for this week. I wanted the all over visuals to be good.I knew the preparations the light and set design guys had done was very good, but I was still excited to see if everything would work.

Friday morning started with a briefing, followed by everyone preparing for rehearsals. Then came the first rehearsal. We rehearsed all the studio stuff first then later when the band came we would rehearse the musical parts. The first rehearsal went terrible. People were unprepared and lacked focus. So just before lunch I gathered everyone in the studio and had a little speech. Not exactly harsh, but determined. I simply told people that this was not good enough, and pointed out things that needed to be fixed. Then I asked if everyone would be ready for the next rehearsal or if anyone needed more time. No one replied. Not quite sure if they didn’t want to say or if they had control, but when time came to rehearse again after lunch everyone was ready and everything worked.

The next rehearsals went pretty well. We got control over the studio stuff. Then came the band. Or at least part of the band. Two band members ran late. Very late. And no-one could get the hold of them. We prepared all we could prepare, but then we ended up waiting. After waiting an hour or so, people were getting restless. It was Friday afternoon, we were running late and people had plans and places to be. I made the executive decision to do a final test and then just record the show with an ad hoc guitar duo if the rest didn’t come. Just then the remaining band members arrived. But we were running late. I decided we have a 5 minute sound check which also became the camera rehearsal. Originally we would have run through the two songs at least twice, then have a final rehearsal of the entire show, then go to recording. I decided we didn’t have time for any of that and after a 5 minute sound check /camera rehearsal we would go straight to recording.

Our teacher was not too happy with this decision, as it was a bit bold, but agreed it was the right one, considering the circumstances. So how did it go? Well we had a couple of hiccups, but nothing to serious. Just a couple of times the pre-recorded stuff was started a little late. We’ll edit it before it’s uploaded to Vimeo.

When it came to the musical part I dare say it was the best looking musical part this far! We had some beautiful dolly and jib shots, some great cross fades and in and out of focus stuff. All in all a pretty good looking result! Impressive in fact, considering we hadn’t had time to rehearse a complete song, only partials.

It was a relieved and happy producer who left campus Friday night.

Producing

Currently sitting in the studio control room at school checking out different camera angles. I’m the producer of this weeks Notekoppen, our weekly Friday production. I’ve been tying it all together while making plans and answering questions. Right now, I’m looking at the studio through the lens of the cameras checking out the lighting and it looks great. The guys doing lighting and set design have done a really great job! I also have a camera guy in there rehearsing on the jib and he’s getting some nice smooth shots.

As the producer I want to up the ante a bit for this weeks show. Which is why I have a dolly,  jib, a handheld and a fourth unmanned camera in the studio while there’s usually just three cameras om studio tripods. I want to take the visual one step further.

All in all this looks like it’s going to be a good show. We’re a bit set back due to people being ill and elsewhere occupied, giving me some extra challenges. However, so far things have tied together nicely, and I’m positive about this show. It looks like we have things under control. Light and sound is doing final touches and this weeks band, Sporv, will be here in about 10 minutes to do light and sound checks.

I think I may be a little to calm, but so far it seems like everything is under control. Tomorrow however, it’ll probably all be total chaos!

Showtime!

Today started with caos. I was up pretty early and somehow I managed to take the wrong bus to campus. Unfortunatley this bus went straight out on the highway and didn’t stop for 15 minutes. So, I arrived a little late. I was really happy about setting everything up yesterday. The set up today was quick and easy, so my late arrival didn’t hinder the production.

Control RoomFirst we shot a test. It went pretty bad. Mostly because the cameracrew had not seen the show and had no idea what was happening. After a quick de-brief we were ready for the actual production. This time everything went smooth. Nice images and mixing. Everything was under control. Until the screen went pixels that is. A little misunderstanding lead to us running out of tape and we lost the last minutes of the show. Luckily, we did tape the test and we did run a recording on a camera holding a total shot, so I think we’ll be OK with just a little editing.

Child’s play

Today I spent the entire day rigging for a production at school. We’re shooting a play the drama students at school are performing for local school children.

Being director/producer I had a busy day today, making shure everything was set and ready to go for shooting tomorrow morning. Now normally this wouldn’t be too much work, but our group got a different location than the others forcing us to produce the show a bit different. See, the drama students stages and our TV-studio at school are located close. So when producing something on a drama stage, we can just pull out some extra feet of cables and run the show from our studio control room. Our group, however is going to shoot a show being held in a different building on campus. So we could not use any of our studio equipment at all.

The solution was to pull oOur temporary control roomut some Panasonic HPX 301 and 371 cameras, connect them to a portable mixer with SDI and hook up two monitors we got from the editing suites. Then we used some old com-system we found laying in storage and set it up. It felt like we were running around raiding the school for equipment to use.

Another problem was to find a room where we could set up the video and sound mixers, a temporary control room. We actually considered setting it up in the hallway outside the room we were shooting in, but this would be far from ideal. We ended up however with a quite good solution; the room right across the hall. It was some kind of music room with loads of guitars and pianos and music instruments in it. Anyway, no one was using it, it was big and after contacting the right people we also got a key. Perfect!

Now I just hope everything still works tomorrow morning.