Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trentonian TV Production Notes: Weekend Dish (Episode 4)

UPDATE AT 9:25 p.m.: For whatever reason, the first minute looks and sounds discombobulated even though the replay seemed fine the first time I watched it. Weird.

TRENTON -- "Weekend Dish" (Episode 4) was the 37th Trentonian TV live broadcast. It wasn't the best. It wasn't the worst. I'd say it was in the 60th percentile of shows in terms of strength. But that's OK. Hilary Morris and Kirsten Yard and Joe D'Aquila and I are moving in the right direction with the show that celebrates Greater Trenton.

It's different from most Trentonian TV shows because we use the Google+ Hangout format, and if the settings are not correct from the start, it causes headaches and makes the broadcast look and sound awful. In a nutshell, we start the G+ Hangout and record it with Procaster's "Go Live" button. We use Procaster's parameters to frame the Hangout's large window so that all you see and hear is the person whose voice is loudest. It's why you see the screen constantly switch from Hilary to Kirsten to Hilary to Danny to Kirsten to Danny to Hilary to Danny and so on and so on and ... .

Anyway, today we started the episode but cut it off after a few minutes. Because I was hosting the Hangout, my audio had to be all but silent. But I told Danny to sit next to me, and he began talking into the plug-in microphone, which, D'Aquila said, was causing bad feedback or something when he watched it live on Trentonian TV at 
Me trying to explain why Danny couldn't use my mic is like you trying to figure out 34,285 divided by 29.852 without pen and paper. Or calculator. After a minute or two with Danny on the mic, I heeded D'Aquila's advice and stopped recording. D'Aquila set Danny up on a different computer with his own webcam, and all was well again in Hangout World. I hit record for Weekend Dish (Episode 4) Part 2, action!

But let's get back to the 60 percent thing. Not everything in life is going to be easy at first. Weekend Dish is the toughest show I produce and direct. Hilary and Kirsten probably agree that we're still not all on the same page as far as vision. We're getting closer, though. Other Trentonian TV hosts (L.A., Freedom, Tyrone, Phil) are more polished in front of the camera, and it always shows. Hilary and Kirsten are getting there. I love their enthusiasm to improve. The biggest thing Hilary and Kirsten continue to work on is their chemistry. It's not easy having a co-host. You've got to know the yin to the other person's yang. Hilary talks about places to go and things to see while Kirsten talks about where to go eat. They're still figuring out when to let the other person talk. Now we're throwing in Danny to dish out the best places to hear live, local music, and it kind of gums up the works.

Right now I don't know if Danny works in this combination.

That's not a knock on Danny. No one knows music like he does. I just think he needs his own Trentonian TV music show to highlight the local scene -- like he does in his column that runs every Thursday in print and at 

There was a great breakthrough: Kirsten has learned how to show photographs of the food she talks about through Hangout's "screenshare" function. I was impressed, Kirsten.

I like the Hilary-Kirsten-Google+Hangout dynamic. There is so much room to grow, and that's a good thing. There's a guy in our company named Jim Brady -- powerful dude -- who always says you should give new things a chance to breathe. Six weeks is a strong barometer as to whether a project will or won't work. I see Weekend Dish lasting for months, years, decades! Well, not that long. There are many things we have to iron out on Weekend Dish, from Hilary and Kirsten finding their rhythm to D'Aquila and I tinkering with the studio settings just right to make the live broadcast at Trentonian TV worth coming to. We can't promise you any rolls, though. Sorry.

Here are some of the photos I took pre-Dish, post-Dish (take 1 when D'Aquila was setting up Danny) and then real-Dish (take 2). You might be asking why Hilary is sitting in front of a giant dollhouse. Well, Kirsten was having computer issues as go-time approached. Hilary thought she'd have to share the screen again, like they did for the first 3 episodes, but then Kirsten got things cooking and jumped into the Hangout on her own window. But that's when Hilary experienced some weird audio echoing or feedback or whatever on her iPad. So she went from the living room down to the basement. She entertained the idea of doing her part of the Hangout from inside the dollhouse, but it didn't look so hot.

Next time, Hil. Just get better doll lighting.

And here is Episode 4 of "Weekend Dish" with Hilary and Kirsten and Danny.

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