Sunday, April 8, 2007

Our Show Premiered Tonight!

This is what I was working on in I’m Tired Y’all part 3 (a long posting indeed, but one which I Zimbra actually read and commented on). The host of the new show had the crew and producers over for a small party to watch the premiere. It was a really special occasion for me. I rarely get to see projects that I work on, and I often don’t really feel part of the overall team. And I am certainly not a part of the creative process on this show or any other -- I’m just there to get audio while accommodating the needs of camera and lighting. So it was great to be invited.

But what should I take? How should I dress and behave? I don’t go to parties hosted by news anchors. He said it was dinner, but arrive at 8pm. So I made sure I ate something before I went, in case it was more just post-dinner snacks. He said he would have everything, but we could bring something if we wanted. I put on slacks and a new dressy shirt, bought a bottle of wine, moderately priced, on the way, even though I don’t drink.

I got there 45 minutes late, feeling awkward. If they were sitting down to dinner soon after 8pm, then I would be walking into the midst of that.

No cars were outside his house. But there were cars outside another house, so I thought maybe that was it. I went to that door, rang, saw people in there. Someone came to the door, and I said, “This isn’t [the host's] house is it?” No, that was two down.

But the host's house was quiet. I really felt like I shouldn’t be there as I walked up the monstrous brick steps to his front door. I rang, he answered. He was in bare feet, jeans, a nice T-shirt. Only one other guest and his wife were there. Nobody else had come yet. The other guest was a retired SBI investigator who is an adviser for the show. She and I sat at the big round kitchen table picking at the full spread of shrimp, brownies, crackers, cheese, veggies in front of us. “Where are your people,” said the host's wife to him. She put the shrimp away so it wouldn’t get warm sitting out.

Finally, the others came: the three young women who write the show, coordinate things, conduct the interviews; the overarching producer; the on-staff crew (editor, cameraman, sound/webmaster with their spouses or fiancées).

We went upstairs, not just one floor, but two. The host's house is like Ringside in Durham. It has multiple levels, each with TV’s and spaces for sitting and socializing. The ground floor and 3rd floor have bars. The ground floor’s TV is regular format, while the second and third floors’ TV’s are HD. The middle floor has constrictor snakes in glass terrariums. The top floor has special features of pool table and air hocky.

The owner of the TV station producing the show, as well as another station nearby, the Durham Bulls, and much of the American Tobacco Historic District arrived with his wife. He came up to third floor and immediately went around the room shaking everyone’s hand.

We took our places on couches and the floor and it was kind of a wonderful experience. One might say it’s a cheesy sensational crime show, and it is. But it’s our cheesy crime show, and again, one of the few things I’ve worked on where I feel part of the team and I can actually see the finished product. And beyond being sensational, it talks about a sense of community in our state, presents these crime cases in the context of all of us working to improve things. It also takes the stance that much reform is needed in the justice system, and it features segments with judges called The View from The Bench.

In the first episode I did audio on the interviews, the View from the Bench segment, and the host segments in front of a gutted tobacco warehouse (described in I’m Tired Y’all part 3). After we watched it tonight, the host said he thought he sounded like he has a lisp in his segments. Everyone else, including his wife, said he sounded fine. He asked me about it. I said he sounded fine. But I knew something I didn’t tell him. I had put the hidden mic pretty high in his shirt, near his neck, and it did sound a little too up-close. And the quality of his voice changed a little as he moved his head around. I noticed this more in headphones on set, and figured that it would not show up much in the final wash, which was true. But he noticed the difference from his regular newscaster sound.

The night that we shot that, we also recorded host segments for the second show. For that one, I put the microphone farther down, behind the fold of the lapel on his jacket, and it sounded better there.

The streaming video content has changed since I first posted this. Now, the whole feature story segment is there. You can go to the home page, look at video window on the right, and click on the bottom choice. I worked on all the interviews you see and recorded the voiceover on the same night we shot the host segments.

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