Alex's Blog

Over the last few weeks, Television and Broadcasting Team Red have been working towards producing a programme on the emergency services. Our brief was to create a programme which focused on the city of Portsmouth; which we’ve all previously made a few programmes on during our time on the course, so this time we wanted it to be something a bit different.

For this programme, I wanted to make the most of my last year in university by getting some practice in with the practical and craft skills which would be useful after I graduate, so I wanted to be the Editor and Camera Operator. I got some practice using the Sony EX1/EX3 cameras which I’d last used for the Meridian general election all-nighter back in 2015, as well as the Sony FS7 cameras which are used in the Eldon building’s pop-up TV studio, known as ‘the hub’, or you can call it the ‘Eldon Broadcast Hub’ if you really want to!

This show was the first time I’d operated a camera on a jib, which was actually so much fun. I also worked with the director to come up with a more imaginative way of using the Hub studio, which I’ve always wanted to do because I was fed up of seeing every programme filmed there looking exactly the same, complete with a pull-up banner, when there could be so much more done with the space. I suggested that we rotated the soft set area around by 45 degrees, so as well as allowing us to make better use of the background lighting (which we lit red and blue like emergency ‘blues and twos’)  but as well as that cosmetic change, it made it much easier to reconfigure the studio for the live portion at the end of the show, where we spread out from the sofa area.

My idea for the studio set as it appeared during the show, incorporating three emergency services and some unique lighting:

Throughout pre-production, we were continually reminded of how ambitious our plan for the programme was, with the emergency services being notoriously tricky to pin down for live TV interviews. At one point, we’d put in dozens of calls to different organisations associated with emergency services, and hadn’t heard back from any of them (which was a cause of some stress for the production team) but we persevered.

That was how we spent most of the first week of production, desperately trying to pull together a show out of the ‘we’ll get back to you’s. The second week was trying to plan out when all our contributors would be free to film, and sending crews out to shoot packages, while we carried on editing others. One of our VTs which I produced, was a feature on a disaster response training day, which we had already had the footage for. I took the rushes we were provided with, and wrote a script and produced an initial cut of the package.

Having pre-production, production, and post-production happening all at once was manic, but we all worked together to produce the content in time. In the final week, we had some feedback on what we’d filmed and it needed some work, so a lot of people took on extra work on top of their original roles to help Jonny and I (the two editors) to re-cut some of them into the finished articles, which I’m proud of. This reminded me just how important it is to have multiple people involved throughout the process, as I had created a little ‘editing bubble’ where I was the producer, scriptwriter and editor for the package, however when I handed editing over to Emma who helped out massively as the deadline loomed, it was so much better than my original cut.

The three week turn-around compared to having basically half a year to produce a show was such a step up for us, but in the end it worked out well. Our studio guest Patrick from the university’s Paramedic Science course came in to demonstrate life saving skills, as well as filling in for our live interview after our previous interviewee was no longer available. Patrick’s demonstration was one of the key parts of our show, and after we struggled with timings during rehearsals on the day before, it was alright on the night. We reconfigured the cameras, including the jib to get some overhead shots of the demonstration.

Part of Patrick’s lifesaving demonstration, a live multi-camera production.

After all the stress and hard work that went in to creating the show, we were all relieved at 12 o’clock when our show kicked off with a bang (in this case caused by Charlie our Course Leader falling over as we came out of the title sequence!). We saw all our work come together as our live show came in at exactly 30 minutes long, no over or under-running which was something we’ve had to get used to on the course, all the way since back in our first year when we produced our 10 minute shows.

A celebratory lunch with the team later and we’re already looking forward to our next programme, which will be on ‘Sustainability‘, and broadcast live on the Big Screen Portsmouth and CCI TV YouTube channel on Friday 2nd of December.

Team Red group photo

Team Red after our first live broadcast of the year

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