Today I went to London to meet with Cathy Runciman and Lisa Goldapple, Co-founder and Editor-in-chief of Atlas of the Future. It was good to see Cathy again and to meet Lisa in person, who largely operates from Barcelona. We started out discussing the plans for the future of the Atlas and how I might play a role in them, which will continue to develop as my relationship with the organisation does. For the moment, under the instruction of Lisa, I plan to help with the running of the Atlas website as well as their Instagram page. The Instagram page offers an opportunity for growth, both in terms of the way it operates and its subsequent outreach. I have a couple of ideas for how to explore this potential growth and will keep those ideas up-to-date on here.
We also met with a few of the clients which the Atlas is working with at the moment. GreenLab is a new set-up in London which works with local people and organisations to trial food-based sustainability projects. From using hydroponics to grow food with fish-poo to investigating mealworms as a potential food-source, GreenLab offers a space to try these small-scale projects which could have worldwide impact. There is the potential for me to spend some time in the lab documenting some of these projects and the growth of the relatively new space in which they are being trialled. This will be my first practical project with the Atlas and one which I’m very excited to begin working on.
Next, we met up with Louise Ash of Meaning Conference to discuss some ideas for generating video output from this year’s conference. The conference, which takes place every year in Brighton, looks at some of the biggest issues we face today. Through a series of talks, workshops and discussion, it aims to facilitate the creation of ‘new methods, approaches and ways of working to create a more sustainable, equitable and humane world’. The plan is me to go to the conference this year to help cover the event, which would include interviews with key speakers and getting extra footage, outside the static 3-camera setup for the talks, to more fully capture the event itself.
Finally, we headed over to Volans to discuss how to move forward with the latest round of content which the Atlas is producing with them as part of Project Breakthrough. I’m not too sure of the full-scale of the partnership, but the bit that I will be focusing on is working with Lisa to edit footage which has already been filmed for the project.
Overall it’s been a great start to the placement. It’s really exciting working for projects which are working towards a better future; I’m already learning more about our world and how we’re striving to improve it. I can’t wait to see how this develops!
On the last day of Loose Women, I met Barry Hinchey, the head of Media Management and Acquisitions (MMA). MMA deals with both ends of the ITV machine – ingesting media into the system and ensuring old media flows out via deletion. Both processes are key to keeping the workflow running smoothly:
Without Acquisition ingesting media into the system, television show’s wouldn’t be able to include content not created in the studios i.e. archive footage or clips from outside sources like the internet.
Without Media Management, the system would quickly become filled with the huge of media which gets ingested every day. You gotta make room for new stuff coming in.
In order to understand how this system works, you must first understand how a media file works. There are two main components in a media file: Metadata and Media
Many people assume they are one and the same, which is an easy mistake to make because when you click on a file on your computer, that file opens to show the media. However, Metadatais a description, acting as a link to the file rather than containing it. The actualMedia is stored somewhere on your hard drive.
Barry used the music on your phone as an example – the songs you see in your music library are metadata, giving descriptions of the song’s name, artist, duration etc. You don’t see the actual song, the endless lines of 0‘s and 1‘s on your screen – you see the neatly packaged reference of the metadata.
Another important point is that you cannot have one without the other. Without the media, your metadata is referencing an empty space. Without the metadata acting as a link to it, media merely becomes ‘dark matter’ on your hard drive – taking up space without actually appearing as a file on your computer.
And so my week’s work experience at Loose Women has come to an end. I must admit, even after only a week I felt a pang as I walked out the elevator for the last time. Of course, with all the running about I’ve done this week this may well have just been the ache ebbing from my legs.
But wow. What a week it’s been. The buildup to today’s big celebration show has certainly been an interesting one, with puppies, prosecco and Gemma Collins all featuring in the highlights. It’s been a really educational experience and even in the short time I was there my knowledge of terrestrial television as an industry has grown tenfold. From the Producer’s desk to Director’s gallery, Floor Manager’s studio to editor’s suite, Stylist’s wardrobe to Set Dresser’s workshop, I’ve had a glimpse into the huge workforce behind the TV we enjoy daily. It’s given me a clearer sense of not only what I want to pursue as a career, but my own place within the media industry.
It’s been a great start to my placement year, I can’t wait to see what the rest of it brings!
So today I shadowed Jack, the Assistant Floor Manager, whilst on air. Running around behind the set getting everything ready, I was suddenly transported back to my acting days at school, the familiar buzz of preparing for a production surging through me. It was a feeling I’d missed.
The Floor Manager’s job is to keep everything running smoothly in the studio. This means organising props, the cast, rehearsals, timings and generally being alert to anything which might cause an issue whilst live on air. As to be expected, this involves a lot of running around trying to do 12 things at once. Thankfully I was only a witness to this, completing errands and relaying instructions, but nonetheless remaining largely observant of this manic activity at work. Gemma Collins (whose memes are dominating Twitter right now) was the main guest who we had to escort around the studio for the day. It was a strange sensation seeing someone who had garnered such a frenzy of attention online in person.
Once the show was over I went down to wardrobe, where I got to see the somewhat less glamorous side of fashion – sorting through and bagging up all the multiple outfits which hadn’t been worn on the show. Although I don’t have a particular interest in pursuing fashion as a career, it was still another insight into one of the micro-industries which make up the world I want to work in.
Well, puppies. As the four tiny Springer Spaniels bounced around the green room, I must admit I didn’t really feel like I was ‘at work’. I must admit, it was a strangely satisfying feeling, seeing the little ribbons which I had spent several hours searching for the day before tied around their collars live on national television. It once again underscored what I have slowly come to realise as I gain more experience in the industry – the sheer scale of effort that goes into making even the simplest piece of media. The puppies that people saw on TV for a no more than a minute were the product of hours of preparation and rehearsal by a whole team of professionals, as well as my personal contribution of the little bows.
It made me wonder how many of those satisfying little moments happen for different people in everything we watch. A prop they’d spent hours finding, a camera-movement timed just right, a line they’d drafted again and again until it rang true. I am extremely grateful that I have had the opportunity to come to more fully appreciate the craftsmanship in such an integral part of the modern world.
Speaking of craftsmanship, I had the opportunity to watch Richard direct in the gallery today. For those of you that haven’t seen the inside of a broadcasting gallery, it’s not dissimilar to some kind of alien spacecraft (or the set of a JJ Abrams movie), filled with large boards of lights and buttons and manned by a small team of highly skilled professionals. I’d try to go into more detail, but I think with the number of Star Trek references I’d make this blog would be shut down for copyright. Anyways, manning this futuristic pod is the director, who (in very basic terms) tells the team what camera/footage to cut to whilst live on air.
It was like watching a conductor. From the wall of screens in front of him known as ‘the stack’, shot-by-shot he pulled the show together, the next command flying out of his mouth before I’d had a chance to process the prior. Speaking to him afterwards, he said that the key was to give everyone in the studio enough information to be able to get through the frantic moments. Seriously cool stuff.
Well, that was certainly an eventful second day. My list of accomplishments for the day include being in the same room as the Mock the Week cast minus Dara O Briain, but including Hugh Dennis holding the door open for me (which is definitely going on my CV) and being a personal shopper for the 4 puppies on the show tomorrow (also going on my CV). I got a proper feel for the runner role, traipsing through London for a list of items which ranged from leather gloves to birthday candles. Of course, I also got to network and learn more about various roles within the company, such as the function of an Assistant Floor Manager. But mostly the puppies personal shopping.
Tomorrow I get to have a meeting with Nick Thomas, the Head of Editing, which I’m very excited about. I’m interested to see his career progression, from his younger years to where he is now, to gain some sense of trajectory for my own path. As someone with a lot of experience in the industry, I’m keen to get his take on where it’s headed as a whole, both in a technical and wider socioeconomic sense.
When I first travelled to London, looking around the crowded tubes I wondered why people stared steadfastly at the floor in front of them, oblivious of the people-watching opportunities all around them.
Heading back to my flat at 6:30 this evening, with the weight of a long day’s work pulling on my eyelids, I think I better understand.
Finally home from my first day working on Loose Women at the London Studios. I’ve chosen a great week to start; Loose Women is celebrating its 18th birthday as the longest running daytime talk-show in Britain. I spent most of the day running around helping with the manic preparation before going live. I got to see a large part of the process of filming the show – pre-production up in the offices, the gallery where they mix the live show, the actual studio (where I got to see The Script warm up) as well as numerous other departments which kept the whole operation running smoothly. Once again I was staggered by the sheer number of people it takes to make a piece of media.
I got to speak to a few people, mostly in the Loose Women team, about their roles and how they had come to work where they were. In particular I spoke to John, the junior editor for Loose Women, who gave me a clearer idea of the career path needed to become an editor (as well as re-affirming my fears that I will, in fact, have to teach myself Avid in order to make a career of it). I need to learn more about ingest (as I will most likely start out in it) and so this will be my mission for tomorrow. I’m very excited to see what the week brings.
So I was hoping to do daily updates but, rather fittingly the history festival had virtually no wifi or phone signal. So instead must sum up my experiences in retrospect. But first a bit of background:
Chalke Valley History Festival has been running since 2011 and is the largest festival in the UK which is dedicated to history in all forms. It has over 100 talks from historians, authors and celebrities throughout the week, as well as an impressive array of Living History spanning from the Romans to WW2. On the Saturday and Sunday there are also air shows showcasing historical planes in all their glory.
It was a lot more hands on than more conventional work experience, we were planning, filming and editing all of the content created. As such, I was able to get involved with all 3 stages of production on a wide range of content including multi-camera talks, cinematic pieces, vox pops and plenty of interviews. Working in a real media environment tested and built confidence in my skills in a way University work could never achieve. It was a great feeling being able to see all the things I’d learnt come together so well.
My favourite project I worked on was the interview of one of the festival’s most beloved patrons, Bryan Beggs. This was admittedly in part due to the quality of the footage being so good, but the man was also a charismatic interviewee, which made staring at his face for several hours a bit more bearable. When I finished they had a private showing for him and his wife which was a bit of a tear-jerker. I was very proud to have played such a large part in the event.
The festival itself was also fantastic. Having a passion for history, the talks I was able to film were very interesting and by the Saturday the whole site’s atmosphere was electric. The Living History was particularly impressive. I was able to talk at length with some of them whilst filming a short cinematic project and the amount of knowledge they possessed about their era was staggering.
Overall it was a great experience, one which I hope to repeat in 2018!