Politics Assessment: The package

Here’s my package on Cornwall’s views on the so-called ‘bedroom tax’:

(It’s conveniently split into two which means you have time to go and make yourself a nice cup of tea before you listen to the second half.)

Editorial choices:

  • Longer, yet relevant quotes to allow my interview subjects to tell the story. Yes, it runs the risk of sounding rambling and boring, but I’d like to think the clips I chose are interesting, informative and where appropriate, emotive.
  • Music and SFX. I took a gamble in using music to run through my package. It’s something I’ve never done before and I was aware it could prove distracting or even cheesy. I’m pleased with the outcome, however, and think it brings out the best of the clips and adds plenty of drama. The main reason I used it was to move the story on in an interesting manner. Six minutes is a relatively long time for my audience to sit listening to the story, so I hoped this – along with the clips from the protest – would add that extra bit of interest.
  • A strong focus on how the issue will affect locals. This package is aimed at a Radio Cornwall audience, so I made sure I spoke to relevant people from the county (protesters), along with Cornish politicians who spend much of their time down here, as opposed to Westminster. I reigned the national story in from how the changes (to all welfare benefits) will affect those on benefits, to how it could impact those claiming housing benefit in Cornwall – with a particular focus on the Camborne area.

The triumphs:osborne happy

  • The interviews: They all went smoothly, and all of my subjects were helpful and provided plenty of good talking points – particularly George Eustice who spoke of elderly people who “continue to hog houses that are too big for them”.
  • The protest: As luck would have it, there was an anti-bedroom tax protest staged in Camborne in March. I went along and picked up some interviews and lots of SFX.
  • Being organised: As I’d planned my story well in advance I knew from the start who I needed to speak to and what I wanted to ask them. I then felt relatively confident that I could put together a decent package.

The catastrophes:Osborne sad

  • Sabotage by computer: An error message appeared on my computer, followed by the blue screen of death, the very second I’d just laid down my final clip. I had no choice but to force a shut down. Fortunately I’d been saving my project as I’d gone along, so I only had to re-do a small part of my piece. Annoying all the same though.
  • The M-Audio: Always a bit of a trouble-maker and the quality of the recordings isn’t great – spending ages de-essing and getting rid of static is not fun. I guess you know by now that I don’t rate it much.

Do you feel more informed about the changes to benefits as a result of listening to this radio package? Leave your comments on the form below:

VIDEO: Interview with Falmouth sailor Sam Goodchild

I was asked to produce a feature video for the Packet on Falmouth sailor Sam Goodchild.

Here he talks about his recent success in the RORC 600 race in the Caribbean, and his plans to take part in the Vendee Globe solo around-the-world race in 2016.

Reporter: Ben Power

Filming and editing: Alex Pesic

Here, ye! ‘Twas St Piran’s Day 2013, Truro

Tuesday 05 March marked St Piran’s Day. And what better way to spend the afternoon than reporting live from Truro’s parade – after a quick pasty, of course.

Here’s a video I did as an experiment – it was filmed and edited entirely on an iPad mini. It shows some of the highlights of the day:

 

Assessment – Radio Package Production and final thoughts

Here you go. Brace yourself:

What went well?camface happy

The interviews

Securing the interviews was a far easier task than I’d expected. Normally when I’ve asked to speak to politicians I’ve had to jump through hoops to get them to agree to see me. But not this time.

I arranged interviews with MEP Julie Girling (though she could only commit to a phono), Stephen Gilbert MP, Mairi Hayworth of UKIP, and Richard Snell from Tremough Innovation Centre. And all in one day.

Getting from one interview to another was no problem. I made sure I’d left myself enough time to switch from place to place, and I’d prepared all of my questions for the four interviewees the night before.

Each of them seemed happy to speak to me and they were all pretty open about their feelings on EU membership, which helped form solid arguments in my package. Even when I asked how they’d be voting should there be a referendum they didn’t mind telling me, removing the need for me to go all Paxo on them.

The only issue I’m having so far with my piece is where timing is concerned. Fitting four voices into a package little over two minutes long is a challenge, and I may have to consider dropping an interview.

The SFX

I’m fairly pleased with the few I managed to record. Because sound effects don’t really lend themselves to my piece, I decided to use a clip from PM David Cameron’s speech (watch it in full here) to lead the audience into the package. Then I recorded one of my links on location at Tremough Innovation Centre, just so it sounded a little more interesting. I recorded Stephen Gilbert’s assistant welcoming members of the public to a surgery at his St Austell office, and used Mairi Hayworth saying her name to introduce her.

What went wrongcamface sad

Timing

Well obviously it’s not wrong now, but during editing, figuring out how to cram four voices into a short piece was no mean feat. Seeing as each interview lasted about 15 minutes, I had an hour’s worth of audio to whittle down into two minutes.

My decision to keep all of my interviews meant I had to be ever so slightly brutal in choosing which clips to include. I eventually settled on dramatic, short and sweet ones, to add impact to my package, but without stealing too many seconds off it. Take for example, Mairi Hayworth’s. I changed her clip right at the end, because -with her introducing herself – she had almost twice as long as everyone else. Instead of having her pretty much repeat what Julie Girling had already said, I used her quote saying it’s about time we had a referendum.

The phono

I’m begrudgingly including my phono with Julie Girling in the ‘what went wrong’ section as nothing went wrong per se, it’s just the sound quality isn’t great. She was travelling in the car on her way to a meeting about guide dogs, so as you can imagine, her voice occasionally cuts out. But given her position as an MEP and my story topic, I felt it necessary to include her views in my package. And besides, the poor sound quality kind of adds another dimension to the piece!

I feel she starts the debate off quite nicely, saying something along the lines of ‘it’s bad news for Cornwall, but actually we’d have more money if we weren’t paying into the EU’. That gives the other interviewees a change to agree or disagree with what she’s laid down.

SOC

Don’t get me started on this one. It was part of the assessment criteria to add a SOC to my package.

I’m sure plenty of you will disagree, but I think it’s completely unnecessary to include one. As I was already struggling with timing, adding another couple of seconds onto my package with a pointless SOC was the last thing I wanted to do.

Listening to local and national radio stations, only rarely will you ever hear a SOC. It’s far more likely a presenter will say “that was our reporter Joe Bloggs there” at the back of a package.

After spending a good while thinking of a nice, thought-provoking out line which sums up the piece, it seems something of a shame to stick a clumsy SOC onto the end. It doesn’t fit well with my piece (or any, for that matter) and I don’t like it.

Final thoughtsDavidCameron

To be perfectly honest, I’m not overjoyed with the overall package, there’s nothing really wrong with the clips or my script, but I strongly feel the equipment I used has let me down (more on this later).

If I could have my time over again, I think I’d probably choose a different story – one with more of a distinct narrative – which would allow me to be more creative and show off my radio skills, particularly with sound effects. That said, I’d like to think my piece drives the debate forward, and displays some of those skills – after all, super-exciting SFX will not be suitable for every radio package, and it’s good to know how to deal with different types of stories for different audiences,

Anyway, on the bright side, I feel I’ve learnt lots from putting this together. For a political piece, I’d like to think it’s not too dry, and I had the opportunity to speak to the different politicians about their views on EU membership. As a short political package, I wasn’t able to cover as much ground as I’d have liked, I really feel this would have lent itself better to a 4-5 minute piece.

Assessment – Editing the TV Package and the finished product

So here it is, ta da!

What went well?

The filming

I’m fairly happy with the result of my filming – nothing’s under or over-exposed, and I tried to be creative with the types of shots I got. I made the decision early on to avoid doing anything too fancy with the camera-work (zooms and pans and the like), instead I decided to concentrate on getting good, steady, in-focus shots that would illustrate the story well.

My script tells the tale of how Polly came to get stuck in the under-carriage of a high-speed train and luckily made it out alive. I made sure I paid attention to detail when filming and got pictures of the right type of train on the platform she was found, the exact same sandwich she was fed…that kind of thing.

I’m especially pleased with the close-up of the vet’s face and the wide shot of the cat and the vet, which I’ve cut between pictures of the cat being fussed. I think that’s worked really well. I’m also happy with the footage of Emily the train manager, where I asked her to pretend she was looking for the cat under the train.

I made two round trips to Penzance, which actually turned out to be less of a faff than I’d expected. I made sure I’d planned the route before leaving the house, then simply hopped onto a train, into a taxi and to the vet’s clinic.

The graphic

I decided to have a go at a graphic myself using my (limited) Photoshop skills to show just how far Polly had travelled. Ideally I’d have liked to have had the trail moving in time with the voice-over, but for a first attempt, I think it looks pretty good and it’s certainly better than simply listing the places she visited.

The edit

I used Avid to edit my piece, and up until the export (more on this later) it did little in the way of jeopardising my piece and behaved itself without mangling up any of my clips or losing any of the sound.

The finished product

Overall I’m pleased with the way my video package looks. It told the story in the way I wanted it to, and it’d fit in nicely as an ‘and finally’ story on The World Tonight.

What went wrong?sound_waves

Sound quality (not all of it!)

There were a couple of general issues with sound, which couldn’t really be helped – I blame the vet’s room and the noisy train in the background. The room was particularly echoey and there wasn’t really anywhere else to do the interview. When I got to the edit suite I was actually surprised that the sound wasn’t worse affected that it was, because when I was filming it sounded terrible.

Exporting from Avid

The edit went smoothly, but less can be said about the export. After three attempts (and three separate trips back to the Avid suite), the piece is finally playing out the way it’s supposed to. I have no idea what Avid’s problem is, I did exactly the same thing each time, being careful to choose all the right settings. At least it works now.

Incurring an injury

As I’ve already said, I cut my finger on the killer-tripod I was using. Did I mention it really hurt? It’s still sore.

Nadelik Lowen

The brief:

1) To make a one-minute news package on Nadelik (a Cornish Christmas to you and I) for a festive edition of our TV current affairs programme, The World Tonight.

2) To make all the necessary arrangements for a live guest to appear on the show, preferably in time and willingly.

The reality:

Pendennis Castle in Falmouth was holding a Nadelik event the Sunday after our show aired, posing the first problem: filming a preview piece.

Now capturing the spirit of a party on film before it’s actually happened was always going to be a bit of a fruitless task, but thanks to a much obliging interviewee and lots of pretty cutaways of the castle grounds and surrounding area, I think we pulled it off. See what you think:

CREDITS:

Presenter: Sarah Yeoman

Camera/Sound: Alex Pesic

A frosty reception to Truro’s first ice rink?

You’ll forgive my absence, it’s been a busy month.

To begin with there was the pressing issue of noise and light pollution allegedly affecting one residential area of Truro as a result of the city’s new ice rink attraction.

Here’s a two-minute-ish report on the matter:

CREDITS:

Presenter/Camera/Sound/Edit: Alex Pesic