Well, we did it! Tea with Paul and the 10 minute version of CCi Live went on air as scheduled on Friday, ran pretty much perfectly to time and went incredibly smoothly.
But it’s not like we simply walked in on Friday to do the shows. CCi Live was pretty much taken care of by Tuesday, as I only had to make a relatively minor revision to one line of the script and from there we just needed to get the paperwork ready, which myself & Laura took care of on Thursday with no real problems.
On the day, I thought CCi Live went very well. We did have some problems with sound, where the audio channel for our guest had stopped working. This meant Peter, on the Sound Desk had to run around trying to fix the problem and so at one point there was a brief delay on the fade up for the presenters’ audio. Generally though, the show came together very well. The Interview went great and Umby’s performance in the News was top-notch. In general, we got standout performances from all three of our presenters, so I was very pleased with my choices.
Tea with Paul though required a fair bit more effort to get to the air though. On Monday, with no opening title sequence ready, Jodie and I shot a collection of stills in the studio which I then stitched together into an opening title sequence by animating them moving and interacting with each other over the next couple of days. This was essentially me running in “disaster recovery” mode, as our previous efforts at title sequences had failed and we simply needed to produce something.
To that end, my preference would have been to use photos of a rehearsal to produce the opening, but as we needed the sequence to be done before Thursday, which was the day of our rehearsal, we had to make do with me simply posing and performing various amusing actions in the studio on my own. As such, the title sequence isn’t really to my satisfaction and I have every intention of replacing it entirely for the second and final episode.
Meanwhile I had to redraft the script several times as changes in the edit suite to the inserts trickled through to me.
One of these changes ultimately led to what I consider to be the biggest problem with this pilot episode of Tea with Paul. The editors found that they didn’t have much usable footage for some of the topic areas in the VOX Pops. This presented a problem because, though we took to referring it as “an” insert, we were actually planning on splitting it up into several shorter inserts to air with each area of discussion within the 2012 topic.
Because of this low amount of usable footage for some subjects, the editors felt that some of these shorter inserts were going to be too short and would seem odd to the viewers. As such, they recombined all the topics into one, longer VOX Pops insert.
In and of itself, this wasn’t too bad. The insert was well produced and looked visually quite appealing. The problem is it really disrupted the intended flow of the show as a whole, especially since the Tea Challenge insert went very far in the opposite direction (From being a good few minutes to less than two). The pacing of the show was thrown way off by this reversal, going from relatively fast-paced and exciting to stopping dead towards the middle for the sedate VOX Pops insert.
This was exacerbated by the fact that putting all the VOX Pops together meant there was nothing to break up the various areas of 2012 discussion in the studio. As a result, the studio discussion covered the same areas as the VOX Pops immediately before, but felt much more rushed as everything was crammed in together, and over a relatively short period of time to boot. Even though the discussion would have featured the same amount of actual studio time if broken up by the VOX Pops, it would have been more spread out over a greater length of time. This, I think would have prevented it from seeming quite so rushed.
As a result, I think for the second episode, we will be ditching the VOX Pops idea entirely and simply taping two remotes like the Tea Challenge, which I think should run for a time less than the VOX Pops did, but longer than the Tea Challenge itself was – say, three minutes apiece.
I also think we should use them to shuffle the format somewhat. Instead of a “discussion” format, we should go for an “interview” style, where guests come out one at a time to talk directly to the host about themselves and what they’ve been up to etc. The second guest can, of course, remain “on the sofa” during the second interview, but the idea is to consider each guest in turn to make things a bit more focused and orderly. The two inserts can go immediately before each guest’s segment and used as an opportunity to bring them onto the set, get them mic’d up etc.
I’d also like to move to a bigger studio space, like the Rotunda – a larger, three-camera studio elsewhere in the University Campus. The virtual studio space is slightly limiting and the space and furniture available caused the show to look slightly cramped. With more space, we can open things out a bit more. With a third camera, we will have the ability to look at either myself as the host in closeup, the guest or guests in closeup and a wide, instead of having to choose two of these at a time. Similarly, released from the constraints of a virtual set, we will have a lot more freedom to move and re-position cameras between shots, which will definitely result in a more visually interesting show.
With these changes I think we can definitely take Tea with Paul to the next level, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to Episode 2 later in the year.