Radio Assessment Pt.3

POST PRODUCTION

When I got back to uni and listened to my audio I was really annoyed and disappointed because my levels were low, despite doing everything in my power to get good sound. I regretted giving my original M Audio back, because although it was faulty, the sound on it had always been ok.

I wasn’t sure whether to find another second interview after listening to the one I did with Neil Roach, and I think this is where I lost touch with the assessment brief.

REFLECTION

Though we knew the news story only had to be in some way related to the EU- once you have someone talking to you about it, your mind lapses, and I began focusing on Convergence Funding rather than making the package about something actually news worthy. Unfortunately I realised this too late. I was able to change my cue, as I’d left finishing that right up until the last minute, but it wasn’t until someone else said ‘I’ve just realised my radio package doesn’t actually have anything news worthy in it’ that I thought.. oh crap.

Convergence Funding has been around for years, but it’s so easy to get carried away with your material (particuarly when the information is all completely new to you), that I’d forgotten this. I’d originally started off wanting to make my package about 4G and faster internet being more accessible and available in Cornwall. That was the news, that was my story. However when I’d asked Julian Cowan about it, what he had to say was only really how it works, nothing on how it tied in with their programme. Listening back to the audio from his interview and Neil’s, I thought that Cornwall’s poor economy was the most interesting thing that was said and would be the most interesting to listeners. I ended up scrapping my initial story. I sort of lost my way a bit..

Your package wasn’t meant to be interesting it was meant to be news worthy, and there was nothing new about my story. It’s one of those classic scenarios. You get carried away with something and forget what you’re meant to be doing.

Radio Assessment Pt.2

INTERVIEWS

Out and about in Redruth.

I checked all the settings on the M Audio on the train and had the levels right up. I had a lot of time to spare so I also wrote my questions, with my printed out articles in hand, that morning. I asked a few questions about the EU, but also about the company and 4G internet- as this is what the Western Morning News article had covered. At this point in time I didn’t know what my angle was going to be.

I met the loveliest bunch of people imaginable in Redruth. Everyone I spoke to was ridiculously nice. I found out which bus I wanted to get from the station to get to Poole and met a really nice lady who didn’t know where the nearest cash machine was (because I foolishly had no change for bus fare) but who asked the driver to wait for me! I also met a Camborne Cornwall College student who I now have on Facebook! If I can network as well with people in the industry I might be alright!

Lesson number one: always get to your destination in good time. I had 45 minutes to get from Redruth to Poole, which is aaages, however there were roadworks on the route there and when I arrived at my destination I didn’t know which building I needed to go to as there were a lot of them, and I ended up turning up just ten minutes early, rather than half an hour early like I thought I would.

INTERVIEWEE: JULIAN COWEN

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Everyone at Superfast was really nice, including my interviewee Julian Cowen, which was good. I felt quite at ease sat in his office and after testing his levels (which were fine according to the M Audio) I kept the levels turned up and moved right in for the interview! Cowen was fairly softly spoken, and after having gotten too low a levels in my previous radio assessment I was very conscious about getting it right this time. Plus Mel stressed that non perfect levels would be unacceptable. Well…

  • The mic was held right.
  • Was in the right place, under his chin.
  • Could not have been any closer to his mouth without trying to make him swallow it. We were sat in a great position, at the corner of the table so that our chairs were right next  to each other, but so that both party was comfortable.

I carried out the interview technique we’d been taught to perfection (and it made no difference) *see post production

After taking copious pictures and also chatting to Matt Silver, who gave me his business card and went to Falmouth uni and did a BA in Journalism! I asked if Cowen (though it was a long shot) knew of anyone else relating to Superfast Cornwall that I could speak to. He suggested people I could speak to over the phone, which was no good, but then he said that another EU funded project were based right next door. I went there not expecting to get anything, but completely out of the blue that turned into my second interview.

INTERVIEWEE: NEIL ROACH

Head of Partner to Succeed, Neil Roach, was soo obliging; the entire office was, considering that I just waltzed in, no warning, with a mic and recording device.

It amazes me how helpful and willing some people are in comparison to how against talking to you others can be.

Neil explained how Convergence Funding works and drew some diagrams for me. Which was very helpful!

free notepad!

drawing number 1

drawing number 2

After he’d been explaining how the EU works for a while I knew I should take the initiative and ask him if he’d mind me recording/interviewing him. I didn’t know if I was going to use it for my package, or if it’d be relevant, but I was there and these people had welcomed me into their work space. I’d also learnt my lesson after missing out on an interview that has stared me right in the face, for my tv package.

There was no separate room in Partner to Succeed’s office, so when someone started talking on the phone I requested we go somewhere quieter. Unfortunately there was nowhere! We moved to a seating area which was quiet, until the automatic coffee machine started humming, so Neil searched for a vacant room. Unfortunately he didn’t have access to any of them with his card, so we moved one floor up to the next seating area, which was fine until people started walking around below us, in high heels, chatting. Neil was such a good sport- we re-did the answer regarding Cameron and what would happn if we were to pull out of the EU (which I really wanted to get) several times, until we had to give up because lunch time was approaching and it was starting to get noisier.

Neil gave me a lot of his free time which I was grateful for, and I just hoped the background noise hadn’t been too bad or too frequent in case I wanted to use any of the audio.

The journey back was frustratingly long.. the bus showed up only 2 minutes after I reached the bus stop, but when I got back to Redruth station I found out the next train to Truro wasn’t for another  hour, and when I got to Truro the next train to Falmouth wasn’t for 40 minutes! I didn’t want to hang around the train stations so I did a lot of walking around. I’d not been to Redruth before and I guess you could say I made the most of it!

Radio Assessment Pt.1

RADIO

PRE-PRODUCTION

For my radio assessment I trawled through the thisiscornwall website in order to find a story that was EU related. When I saw the one to do with Ofcom and Superfast Cornwall, I immediately went for it and emailed them. Having emailed Thursday morning and not heard anything back I gave them a call Friday afternoon and spoke to a very nice receptionist who said someone would read my email and get back to me.

Now, a lot of people that say ‘we’ll get back to you’ actually mean ‘we’re going to pretend you never called.’ So I was concerned. It was now the weekend and so I had to play the waiting game- which is one of the worst things, I’ve discovered, about being a journalist.

Thankfully I got an email back Monday aftertoon saying YES! All I had to do now was figure out how to get to Pool Innovation Centre from Falmouth. I pondered over what to do for my 2nd interview; I had considered the manager of a phone shop or the like, to talk about 4G, but I thought I’d go and talk to Superfast first, as that might give me an idea of what direction I wanted my radio package to go in and who to talk to.

Looking back I should have got an interview with someone about 4G anyway. Best to give yourself as many options as possible, plus, as you will see reading my postproduction post, I shot myself in the foot a little bit.

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES

I didn’t enjoy doing my radio package as much as I would have liked.. my M-Audio had a loose connection and so I swapped it for a different one at the Media Centre. I took it home Tuesday evening, the night before my interview and charged it all night. When I went to switch it on the next morning I discovered it was completely duff. Dead to the world. Broken. Crap. I wasn’t much amused. Luckily, Emma Fry had offered to lend me her M-Audio  the night before, should there be anything wrong with the new one I’d gotten out, as she was with me at the time. I walked to the train station via her house,worrying whether the battery was going to last the day- fortunately it was fine.

Part of me thinks I should have got a new M-Audio out sooner and not as I was leaving uni at 8:15 at night, the night before my interview. But another part of me thinks broken things should be separated from working things, rather than just lumped together in the same box.

I’m going to be paranoid about things working in future.

TV Assessment Pt.3

With my package pretty much done and 5 days til the assessment deadline, I weighed up the option of attempting to get a different interview. However with my radio interview organised for Wednesday and no radio package at all so far, I decided to be sensible and stick with what I had. The shots I’d got on Monday and Tuesday were geared towards and complimented what Richard said in my 2nd interview, and doing another one might mess up what I had so far so I stuck with it.

FINAL EDIT

On Friday I went back to my package for a re-edit. Now I had more time, there were certain things I wanted to alter and at 2:41, it was also too long. Changes and things I took into consideration were:

  • cutaways, there were a couple I wasn’t happy with that I took out and a couple that I juggled around. When editing I wanted to get the pictures to fit the words as best I could- particuarly because the subject of my package wasn’t exactly rivetting; I wanted to get as many good shots in it as possible, and ones that helped tell the story.
  • something I forgot about, that I really wanted to put in after I remembered (but which would have meant scrapping my entire sequence and starting again) was when you have the overlay of audio over image. I wanted to have Gill Grant talking over the zoomed out clip of Penryn before she appeared on screen, but I only remembered about this technique too late. I attempted to do it, and flukely managed to get her first utterances ‘I, er’ in there, but that was the best I could do. If I was to do it again, that’s a technique I would have used.
  • I chose to re-do all my voiceovers. Writing them was a lot easier than it has been in the past for other projects. When I was out taking shots I was quite conscious of how they were going to fit into the package and tell the story- I guess because this package is something we had complete control over, rather than working on it with others. Some people do their voice clips first, so that you can put in your video clips accordingly, others do it last and edit around them. I did it half n half. I put in a rough outlay of clips, and got around the risk of them being too short by simply making them longer. Then you can always chop them down. I also re-did my initial voiceover because I’d phrased it ‘Penryn Town Councillors approve 7 new student flats‘ which isn’t accurate. They can give their approval but they have no authority to authorise actual builds to go ahead
  • The sound in my package which went out during The World Tonight was really bad. The levels were all over the place; my voiceovers were too quiet, so I made sure to rectify that when I re-did them in the studio. I also upped Richard’s levels, though unfortunately it resulted in a bit of a hiss during his clip.
  • I would have liked to have subtly increased the brightness of the clip with Gill Grant however I had no idea how to do it and I completely forgot to ask Pete.
  • My piece to camera: this ended up coming out because it just wasn’t needed and watching the package back I was merely repeating a lot of what I’d said in my opening sequence. Seeing as I had my cue still to write, it was the sensible thing to do. Otherwise I ran the risk of two much repetition. Writing my PTC was done in a bit of a rush and at the time I didn’t consider what I could say about the story that was new. Removing my PTC also decreased the length of my package significantly, getting it closer to the time frame I needed.

TV Assessment Pt.2

TV

The whole of Monday morning was spent trying to get a 2nd interview. I went down every avenue I could, I rang estate agents, I rang Pound&Co, I rang The Falmouth Packet to ask them if they knew anyone I could speak to (or who might be willing to speak to me) to give me another angle on the story, however they just suggested the two other councillors who voted against the planning application. I rang them after finding their contact details online but both their phones were turned off and went straight to answer phone. Pound&Co said they’d call me back (but I could tell it was a no half a minute into the call) and Millers Countrywide told me to call them back later on in the day.

In the mean time I went into uni to upload Saturday’s footage. I connected the camera and ‘CARD ERROR’ in hostile red letters flashed up on the screen. Shortly afterwards I discovered that the memory card had randomly wiped itself for absolutely no reason. That was disaster number one. At this point I had no interview and neither did I have enough shots, so when James offered to drop me in Penryn on the way to Helston for his interview I accepted. I called Millers and gave them my number and they said the manager would give me a call back…

In Penryn I re-did my shots, though it had started raining so it was a tad tricky and seeing as Millers Countrywide was right there I popped in (knocking my massive tri-pod against the door upon entering in classic fashion) but was told by the scary-looking manager that she had no time whatsoever and that I’d have to book an appointment for the end of the week, which was obviously no good. She recommended I try Heather and Lay by the traffic lights, so I walked down only to be told the same thing.

At this point it was about 3pm in the afternoon and conscious that I still had no second interview I started to panic and realised that Richard Wilkins (what a good sport he is) might be my only possible option. I really wanted to get someone outside of the uni, however time was running out. With this in mind I realised I was going to have to alter my story slightly to make it focus more on student accommodation and housing rather than commercial spaces.

I walked up the never ending hill on the way back to uni and took some shots of the new student accommodation build next to the train station, whereupon an 11 year old girl with the oddest spelt name I’ve ever heard and that I don’t remember-  though I remember she said it was Cornish- offered to help me. Sometimes people surprise you…
She had fluorescent yellow gloves and told me she liked photography and asked me if uni is expensive.

I got back to the media centre and wanted to get some shots of student accommodation but by then it was properly raining and getting dark, so I retired back to my edit suite to upload my footage.

Before doing so I rang Richard Wilkins who was away that day but who, perhaps after hearing the sound of desperation in my voice(!), either that or my persuasive powers, agreed to do an interview 9o clock Tuesday. Relief.

EDITING

Disaster strikes twice. I connected up my camera and dragged my clips into my hard drive (thank god that was the first thing I did..) but they wouldn’t open up in Avid. We tried accessing them straight from the camera only to find… the memory card had wiped itself again.

Then I broke down.

I’d been traipsing around in the rain, lugging a load of heavy camera equipment around, redoing shots I’d already done once only to lose them again. And I was really happy with the shots I’d got. I was a bit of a state. It felt like everything was going wrong.

I did the best with the shots I had and put together a rough sequence, but I was pretty sad. Needless to say I got out another camera and memory card.

Tuesday I did the interview with Richard, after I sorted out the minor technical issue of someone having turned the sound off on the camera options (you never think of these things, though I will in future) asking him questions geared towards the animosity between Penryn and the student community, in order to get the angle on the story that I wanted.

Then I got shots of students and accommodation around Tremough campus.

I knew Pete was in Tuesday so I asked him about the footage I’d lost that wouldn’t play into Avid, as everyone had told me he’s a miracle worker. To cut a long story short, Pete saved my life and I love him.

With all my footage now restored and in my bins, I was able to put my package together. I was worried that I would struggle, or more likely fail with James being away doing the job of editor all day and no-one able to help guide me through the complexities of Avid, however I amazed myself in that I was fine and managed to figure out how to do it all by myself. I found out that mastering all the different video tracks and options, once you get to grips with the basics, is just common sense.

Laura  1
Avid    0

I was pretty chuffed to have my package finished by half 1, which is why it was so frustrating when it wouldn’t export… but that’s another Avid story for another day.

Lessons learnt so far:

✔ always/always/always save all your footage onto your hard drive from the memory card, rather than working off the camera (otherwise I would have permanently lost everything when the card wiped itself)

✔ that a P2 camera is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get, and you need to check them before you start filming everytime.  You turn them on and things may not be as you want them to be, but not to panic, because somewhere externally or internally there’s the option for you to change it

✔ that you can film, do the sound and interview all at the same time but it’s not easy, and if someone is softly spoken, even if the levels look fine when you check them, you may want to raise them just in case (as mine turned out to be too low)

✔ don’t leave getting your interview til so late if you can help it… start trying to get something sorted ASAP, don’t leave it til the last minute

TV Assessment Pt.1

TV

PRE-PRODUCTION

I kind of stumbled upon this story- a building development proposal for 7 new student flats to be erected on Commercial Road in Penryn. It was suggested as a story for The World Tonight and seeing as the assessment deadline was creeping in (and more importantly because I don’t drive) it made sense to do a story close to home. It’s not the most exciting story in the world, that I’ll grant you, however it covered a prevalent issue, particularly in Falmouth regarding housing and so that was what I ended up doing.

The first interview, in contrast to the second one; which I will explain in due course, was nice and straight forward. James (my partner in crime/chauffeur) had already arranged it before I arrived at uni, so I spent Thursday evening researching the story and compiling my questions. After becoming familiar with the story I made a list of things I needed/wanted to get shots of but didn’t quite follow through..  (*) The interview was set for 10am Friday so I took out all my camera bits Thursday evening ready for the next morning.

INTERVIEW

Gill Grant, mayor of Penryn, was really lovely; very forthcoming and obliging. She even gave us some off the record gossip about the councillors who voted against the new development (that they might be a little bit stubborn and vote against every proposal put forward to the council no matter what that proposal is…  hang on if it’s off the record can I.. ?!)

Though I could tell she was getting a little impatient when I was fumbling around with the equipment pre-commencement of the interview. She said she’d give us ten minutes to set up, but then that changed to 5 minutes before she left the room. I was feeling the pressure as this was of course the first time I’d scripted/asked the questions, done the sound and filmed the interview for a package. I wasn’t really sure where the sound plug went and had to familiarise myself with the exposure/lighting switches on the camera and before the blink of an eye she was back! I felt very unprofessional faffing around with the camera whilst she was in the room.

However it was a good learning process doing it all on my own and in future I’d be a lot more confident. Though I remembered to be careful of the lighting and where the camera was facing, as it was a dark room but there was a lot of sunlight coming through the windows. There was a bit of shuffling of tables in order to get a suitable standing point. In the end I was pleased with the angle I’d got- the only thing that bothered me was that the sound could have been higher or the mike closer, though I tried my hardest and asked her more times than I care to remember to state her name and job title- problem was she said it too quickly. I think it all came down to not knowing entirely what I was doing. Also it wasn’t until after she left that I re-discovered the existence of the filter switch and that flicking it down gave more light to the picture and accurate colouring. However I did:

✔ take lighting into account when positioning my interviewee

✔ remember to do a white balance

✔ check the camera settings before leaving the house (I was so paranoid about making sure the format options were on SQUEEZE not CROP!)

✔ zoom in and focus before filming

SHOOTING IN PENRYN:

I was reaaally over zealous with my filming. It had been a long time since I’d had complete control over the camera and I ended up (being the perfectionist I am) taking loads of shots of the same thing just in case the previous one wasn’t very good. To be fair it did pay off to a point, but I probably went a bit overboard. Think Patrick Clahane thought that too when he saw how many shots I had in my Avid bin of the same things!!

SECOND INTERVIEW:

Whilst out filming the shots of Commercial Road and Merchant House (which we eventually found) I tried ringing Councillor Ted Wilkes who Gill Grant recommended after I said if she knew anyone I could speak to. I did persist with him, however having told me to ring back later on, after doing so he got a bit funny and refused to do an interview. By this time it was 3.30 and after also ringing Pound & Co (the chartered surveyors) and getting an answering machine we headed back to uni to start cutting footage.

EDITING:

Editing is very frustrating. The first suite I went into wouldn’t read my camera so I changed rooms. The second room wouldn’t either, so I took the camera upstairs and after trying it Adam said it was because I had ‘a new camera’ … so he gave me an old model. I tried that and thankfully it connected to the usb, however then I plugged my hard drive in and that wouldn’t connect. So I ended up moving back to the original digi lab I was in with my new ‘old’ camera which connected up to the hard drive and the camera.

That was 50 minutes or so down the pan.

Not being a fan of Macs, I was slightly apprehensive about doing all the editing on my own. I say apprehensive, I felt pretty much clueless. No matter how many times you watch someone do something, in any thing in life, it’s not the same as doing it yourself. Though I already knew this. I had to get James to guide me into the programme and refresh my knowledge by explaining the basics to me. After finally getting settled with Avid and looking through my clips I realised I didn’t really have any establishing shots, and the one I did have was slightly out of focus (typical)… but I managed to get a rough layout put together, much to my disbelief and pleasure (pressing i and o and b really isn’t too difficult).

2012: Fresh start, new blog!

We’re already 10 days into 2012 (scary right?) and I’m writing my first WordPress blog of 2012!

I’ve shamefully, shamefully (twice for reinforcement) neglected my WordPress blog the last couple of months. You’d think that writing/talking about yourself and what you’ve been up to would be simpleess and take hardly any time at all, but this is so not the case! Particularly when you’ve got to upload and configure and compress audio, video and image files constantly in order to make your blog in any way interesting or relevant or aesthetically pleasing.

Putting up a picture of a giraffe simply isn’t good enough.

For the record that took me about 20 minutes to draw and upload (10 minutes was spent choosing what font to use for the word giraffe) but all in all the giraffe image took considerably less amount of time than uploading some audio onto soundcloud and then from soundcloud onto my blog:


OK maybe not… well technically that little box there did take me 20 minutes, but that’s because I tried using Soundcloud first, which frankly, is complete pants. Thanks to Lisa-chicken-Stephens I discovered how to upload using Audioboo. SO MUCH EASIER! Took me 2 minutes. I cannot believe I have actually learnt something really useful today! 😛 haha.

So, if I insert my pre-written cue:

(don’t fret it’s not real news)

There has been an explosion at Stamford Bridge during Chelsea’s match against Arsenal. The police say the incident is being treated as a terrorist attack, however are unable to give more details at this time. So far up to 15 people are believed to be dead and many more injured. Our reporter Laura Feltham is at the scene.

[CLICK PLAY ON AUDIOBOO CLIP NOW!]

__________________________________________________________________________________________

There you have an uploaded and finished (though a bit rubbish really) rap!! Or for you simpletons out there, a radio cue and audio clip with a bit of extra talking ;D

The giraffe is looking less impressive now isn’t it? Unless you happen to think my Paint skills are exemplorary and my radio skills crap, but I’m going to assume you don’t think that … perhaps I should hold a poll. I’m sure there’s some way of doing that on your blog but I wouldn’t begin to know how.

This is probably very confusing to read methinks, but I guess the point I was trying to make is that I can’t just upload pictures of amusing animals to my blog in order to keep it interesting, but that if I could life would be a lot easier and I would blog a lot more often. However then I proved myself wrong.

I think I should change subject.

Today I did a rap (which is what that mock news story & audio up there is for) which I’d completely forgotten how to do, because it requires a certain odering of information. So, more for my own benefit than yours- because if I blog about what a rap comprises of then I can access it on my phone and from a computer when I forget(!) – here is what a rap is:

CUE – this is what the Radio Cornwall/ Radio 1 Newsbeat/ or Pirate FM presenter will read out.

REPORTER intro – this is you telling your listeners where you are and what’s happening around you, whether it’s the London Riots, Charlie’s new chocolate factory or in a field in Berkshire for a Gusiness World Record attempt at the largest ever foam party.

CLIP – this is your interviewee, telling you about whatever it is you’re reporting on, e.g. falling into a river of chocolate and getting stuck up a pipe

REPORTER outro – this is you rapping up the story. You need to end it in a way that sums the story up or leaves it open if it’s news that isn’t ‘over’.

In Augustus Gloop’s case, after your clip of his mother saying ‘I hate that man! Because of him my son suffered horribly, I will never forget today!’ you might rap it up by saying ‘though all the children invited to Charlie’s factory suffered trauma in some form or another, most of them remained unscathed and without purple skin. As to whether Charlie will invite any more children into his factory in the future, it remains to be seen. Laura Feltham, reporting for Cornwall Crunch Radio.

Tada 🙂

Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. Those who persevere, teach themselves!

I think that’ll do for my first blog of ’12. See you next time folks!

Lil’ miss Liz x
Or to quote James ‘Lil’ Lozzaaar’ *in the worst Cornish accent ever*