Presentation techniques: Channel WCC

Tasked with producing a pilot for a new television show for ‘Channel WCC’, which  showcases techniques used by various presenters which they demonstrate in various genres and roles within the industry.

Focusing on important factors like the style and tone they perform to camera, scripts of the show, language, clothing and location to film in.

Inspiration can be drawn from well-known personalities who are renowned in their specific area of television and look at how they shown in front of the camera. But first, preliminary concepts will be explored in order to guide my research into those familiar with those genres. 3 ideas that I can up with were:

  • A comedy show in the style of Shooting Stars (Vic and Bob)
  • A video game/film/ TV review show.
  • Sports show focused on UFC news (UFC on Fox)

From these we can look at them in more detail, starting with the comedic duo of Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and to an extent Angelos Epithemou (played by Dan Skinner.)

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With a career in television spanning back to 1986, Shooting Stars first appeared on our screens in 1993; taking the conventional formula of a panel show but adding a unique slapstick comedy style which the pair are infamous for.  Not taking itself seriously, the questions asked to contestants are normally absurd with the answers just as surreal. The scoring system is very loose, even though George Doors (Matt Lucas,) and then in the last two series Angelos Epithemou, kept the scores. The style is informal yet there is an obvious structure in place that revolves around two teams with a team captain (in recent series these have been Ulrika Johnson and Jack Dee) and 2 celebrity guests answering questions for points, which normally is as follows:

  • Meet the contestants
  • ‘True Or False’ round
  • ‘Clips’ round
  • ‘Dove From Above’ round (mix of questions that are taken from picking a word from the dove, that are mainly visually based e.g, the cabaret round, club singer round etc.)
  • Quick fire round
  • ‘The final challenge’ (where one contestant from the winning team has a chance to win a ‘star prize’ which for hilarity is usually along the lines of a £5 book voucher or a cocktail stick holder.)

Intertwined between these core elements are slapstick jokes and banter with the guests, giving it a spontaneous vibe that links in well between the next item.

The way Vic & Bob perform to camera is comedic, this is done by their delivery of lines and the content that they placed into the show which bordered on foolish. Even now, after the end of Shooting Stars, Reeves & Mortimer possess an evergreen quality; meaning even though they are both in their mid fifties, from the sketches they do and the humour that is portrayed to an audience, they still remain young at heart. An example taken from Shooting Stars would be Vic Reeve’s schoolboy-like crush on Team A’s guest nearest to Vic (who as it turns out is always a young female celebrity.) The language used is again used to drive humour and to make us laugh; this is done by strong descriptive, daft imagery that are comedic, (Like when Vic Reeves introduces Jack Dee, ”Jack, with your face like an abandoned greenhouse…Like a bankrupt pug…”) but also, on the other side of the spectrum, Angelos Epithemou is rather blunt and forthcoming in an ignorant, uneducated way; often mispronouncing words and his escapades with Ulrika Johnson verge on vulgarness.

The way they dress and talk is another distinct factor of their performance. From the North East of England, their accent is recognisable and adds to the tone of the humour- if someone like Michael McIntyre were to host the show with the same script then the humour may feel detached due to the posh tone in his voice. Even though both dress smartly, Vic Reeves persona is more flamboyant, reminiscent of Eric Morecambe; with his thick glasses and custom suits that Vic wears ranging from Tweed to old-fashioned army costumes.

Finally, the set is colourful, visually engaging and bright; taking inspiration from cubism in design- especially on the backdrop of Vic and Bob’s desk. The props in which the show uses seem basic and unsophisticated (i.e Angelos’ mobile DJ station) which are comical when in use or are in shot.

Looking at shows or footage dedicated to video games is virtually non-existent on terrestrial television, even on satellite television, shows such as Gamer.TV and ‘G@mers’ have ceased production. However, the internet is home to a rich source of websites and content specialising in this area that we will use to see how those on camera present news items.

Perhaps one of the biggest websites for video games and entertainment is ‘IGN’ who produce a concise news show called ‘The Daily Fix’ presented by Naomi Kyle. The style in which it adapts is minimal, but everything it delivers caters perfectly to the target audience. Averaging 3 minutes on each edition, the content is full of important news in the world of video games that helps those watching keep informed in a short space of time.

The way Naomi presents the piece is straight to camera, comparable to most news organisations. The backdrop is dark and neutral blending in extremely well with the graphic along the bottom of the shot displaying a short statement of what is being covered and, rather cleverly, tying in a specific ign.com address to the particular news item so viewers can look into it more.

Standing off-center, Naomi’s words run in tandem with a green screen displaying a main image relating to what is being discussed being a visual aid and to make the overall shot more aesthetically appealing. A mixture of game footage and screenshots complement a particular item seamlessly without interrupting Naomi’s dialogue.

Naomi Kyle’s onscreen presence is relaxed and at ease; shown through the casual clothes which she wears and her tone of voice, possessing a normality viewers could easily attach to. In between each news item, Naomi often uses humour in the form of a comical voice or quip adding an extra layer to her persona and a great device to use as a bridge from one topic to the next.

The last few points Id like to raise is based on the terminology and language which she uses throughout the piece; referring to specialist terminology associated with gaming, examples in the clip above include Multiplayer phrases and patches for the PC game ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic.’ By using these in The Daily News, and using them comfortably, she bestows an authoritative presence of someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Finally, with the demographic being mainly young males, to have a presenter like Naomi Kyle who is attractive and knowledgeable in the area of video games is another factor in targeting its intended audience.

chael-sonnenPNG

The last area of presenting surrounds the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), in particular, the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC.) Since holding the very first main event in 1993 the UFC has gone on to become one of the biggest organisations in the world.

Less contentious in the eyes of public, MMA is at the heart of mainstream culture- and with it, the attention and coverage it gets is higher than ever. Two of the highest rating shows are ‘UFC on Fuel TV’ and the magazine show on Fox called ‘UFC Ultimate Insider’ covering news, interviews and upcoming events.

On both programs, there is an air of professionalism from the quality of the sets, props and design. Whilst Chael Sonnen and Kenny Florian are discussing Chael’s fight against Jon Jones, Jones and Sonnen’s images are displayed on 2 huge monitors either side of the pair on stage; much like what The Daily Fix implemented, the screens give focus to the topic and make the set more visually engaging.

In the UFC Insider, presenter Jon Anik starts the show talking straight to camera introducing the show to the audience, but it also introduces us to the next segment. In the example shown below, a VT plays of a feature with fighters Uriajh Faber and Dominick Cruz in an informal interview whilst reviewing a previous fight.

What you notice about presenting style in relation to these two UFC shows is its script and language used has the essence of a traditional interview and news programme; questions being asked, topics being discussed and debated and opinions being aired. Take Chael Sonnen and Kenny Florian’s interview once again as an example, both fighters themselves, they are recognisable to an audience which makes them a reliable, trustworthy and respectable sources main would want to listen to. The structure of Florian’s’ questions directed at Sonnen were open, even using social media to build some of his questioning. Positive rapport is evident between the two- shown in their relaxed body language which makes the interview feel natural and never in jeopardy of faltering, with the enthusiasm never diminishing through the course of the piece.

Briefly touched upon, the professionalism exuded from both shows has somewhat to do with how those on-screen present themselves and how they dress.  The presenters attire is smart, wearing suits with guests such as Faber and Cruz electing to wear more casual clothes (which may have something to do with sponsorship deals they have with certain companies.) But it is much more than how they look, but rather the manner they present themselves. Those not familiar with the UFC and MMA would imagine fighters and commentators to be simplistic, intimidating and crude. Yet, Sonnen and Florian (who both graduated from University with degrees in Sociology and Communications) aswell as figures such as Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, are intelligent, articulate and effortless in the way they speak.


DECISION

After much consideration, my video sting will be based upon the UFC. My decision was based on numerous reasons; for one I felt it was the concept that would allow me the most artistic license for me to be creative and imaginative, not only in terms of character but also in set design and props. I could also make it topical- drawing on events happening currently in MMA, that turns this sting into a real piece of sports journalism. The other two preliminary ideas had real potential and could have easily been the one I had chosen, however, with the UFC being an interest of mine I felt this would benefit the overall project having a strong foundation of knowledge prior to carrying out this task.

Now that a topic and presenting style has been selected, a proposal needs to be undertaken to develop ideas and chronicle the process of building my own unique persona to portray on-screen.


From this research, an extensive proposal can be put forward in order to clarify what exactly the process will be in order to film this piece.

Firstly, a structure to the show must be attained; drawing heavily on UFC on Fuel TV the idea of having a programme based on current news in the world of UFC with guests whereby the presenter draws opinions and insights which generates a broader spectrum of understanding for an audience. Guests from the world of UFC make the show more interesting and could be a reason why people would want to tune in to hear what they have to say.

So, guests will be intrinsically woven into the script- with the aim to create rapport and a flow to the piece. My decision to choose Josh Warrenger for the role of ‘Sports Writer’ is down to his already existing knowledge of the UFC so talking about the subject matter would appear comfortable and informed. To add a dramatic element and the perception of realism, a fictional character posing as a real life UFC fighter will be played by Andrew Shepherd. Knowing Andy well, the portrayal he will deliver and the connection that already exists will be evident on-screen.

The script will feature all the main characteristics of presenting to camera; an introduction, overview of content and then head into the main body of the feature. Research was done revolving around UFC 175 (Research notes in a separate physical form,) this was done on the basis that the UFC is ever-changing and news readily grows out of date quickly. By looking at an event not held until July 5th I retain some control over the longevity of the content. Research was made into individual fighters by using online sites such as the UFC’s official website and also watching fights as I did for the Michael Bisping Vs Tim Kennedy shown on BT Sport- whilst watching, notes were made to help write a better quality of script and also help the guests on fighter profiles. Specialist language relating to the UFC will be incorporated into the script to not only give the impression we know what we are talking about, but use correct terminology accordingly.

The script also shows the framework of the piece, including videos to be inserted and when guests are open to talk about particular things. In the separate  physical folder is a copy of that script.

So, as part of the sting will be coverage of the Michael Bisping Vs Tim Kennedy fight to appeal to a British audience followed by key fights from UFC 175- linking the intro’s will be predictions and background stories relevant to painting a better picture of context for the viewer.

When closely researching presenting techniques used by UFC shows, one of the most obviously things of note is how they are dressed; their attire is smart and professional- this in turn adds to the sense of authority and tone to the show and this is what I wanted to replicate in my show. Selecting a a suit jacket, shirt and tie as my attire (my guests would optimally be wearing similar attire, but for purposes of this project I was relaxed with them wearing their own clothes- this helped somewhat with Andy’s character as most UFC fighters wear casual, branded clothing due to sponsorship etc.)

Props were another area that I wanted to invest a lot of effort into. Again, when you look at UFC on Fuel TV and even BT Sports coverage, the sets are quite lavish and aesthetically appealing- using bright colours and a wealth of technology. Not having the budgets of these productions, scouting was done to find the best area to make our set and improvise as best we could in order to replicate the tone of what the likes of Kenny Florian and Chael Sonnen work with.

After much consideration a room in the College called the Bunker Room was picked for numerous reasons including the size, privacy and it also had a large table that would be perfect to have me, Andy and Josh around. Below are images taken of the space and how we finally arranged our set:

The Bunker Room.

The Bunker Room.

How the shot looks through the lens of a camera

How the shot looks through the lens of a camera

Example of another sports news set at the BBC in Media City

Example of another sports news set at the BBC in Media City that I drew inspiration from.

Touching again on the props to be used in my design, a Mac Book will be placed in shot, not only aiding me to control the television screen which will be placed in the background, but also show a sense of status that comes with the newest Apple devices- it is also something which is industry recognised, many shows these days use iPads while broadcasting for example. Also, cue cards will be incorporated and used by my guest to help them when discussing certain aspects. Brief bullet points will be typed on them, so if they need direction on what to say, they have it at hand.

All shows need a logo, and I designed mine with the use of Photoshop. The same colour combination was used as the UFC on Fuel TV logo which will be clear to see in filming on the titles of the sting, the main title screen which will be displayed on the screen behind us along with banners on either side of the monitor as well as on the cue cards.

My UFC on WCC logo

My UFC on WCC logo

The Mac, whilst sat on-screen will be used by myself to control the screen behind me to visualise what is being discussed, these images were places onto a Powerpoint presentation and when we touch on a new subject the slide relating to our conversation will show.

UFC Presentation (Via Dropbox)

When it came to finally filming the final piece, the following equipment was used:

  • Film Camera
  • Tripod
  • Mac
  • Television
  • Bunker Room facilities (e.g the chairs, table etc.)
  • Cue Cards and Scripts for each person.

As a final touch, I got 3 Costa Coffee cups from the Costa on the ground floor of West Cheshire College to use as props in shot. Again, it is an aesthetic touch which is seen in many shows; not just relating to sport or news. I personally believe small touches contribute to a more richer visual scene and create a smart appearance.

Drawbacks just before filming was the fact that, originally, footage of the Bisping Vs Kennedy fight, but unfortunately I was not able to get content of it to give commentary over- so to compromise I used still images and used the guest to hear their opinions of the fight.

With Danny Hughes filming, presenting to camera seemed somewhat more challenging than previously anticipated, but after a few takes and using the script to help the flow of the piece, all the footage was recorded and ready to be edited.

A drawback I did encounter, realising after shooting, that I didn’t keep up with switching between slides as smoothly as I would have liked- this was probably down to the fact of not being used to multi-tasking in front of camera. If I were to reshoot, I would have had another assistant to operate the screen, providing more fluid transitions. Another area I’d of liked to of improved is my eye contact to camera, but in the future, I would have wrote the script out onto an auto-cue system and had an assistant hold them up behind the camera, giving the illusion of constant eye contact. But overall, I am extremely pleased with the way filming went and how the presenting technique I implemented through attire, tone of voice, style and design came across. Watching the footage back, my use of pauses just before the end of a section is somewhat reminiscent of traditional news presenters that in a way adds a retrospective feel to modern styles of presenting- making my portrayal more unique. What I was most impressed about was how well Andy’s delivery of his character by immersing himself in the role and being comfortable in front of camera. The way the script blend reality and fiction made for a more interesting and enjoyable shoot.

All which was left to do then was to edit the raw footage obtained on a program called iMovies. On this we were able to easily select the best segments and combine them to make the full video sting. To make it seem more authentic, a title screen and background music were selected to keep in accordance with how a professional, commissioned show would be broadcast.

The music I wanted to play over the title shot was the old UFC opening score used before main events called ‘Face The Pain’ by a band called Stemm as this is synonymous with UFC fans and they could instantly relate to it. However, unable to use YouTube audio in iMovie, and not having a physically or digital copy of the song myself, I looked for alternative music which I felt best suited the content and was similar to ‘Face The Pain.’ Wanting to find a piece I could use within the heavy rock genre but was obscure enough so that it could be passed off to the mainstream audience as an original piece composed for UFC on WCC, I came across the song ‘Buried Alive’ by CombiChrist. Fast-paced, aggressive and intense, this audio fits in fantastically well to open the show. Below is a sample of the song:

In conclusion, the final edit may not be of industry quality, but the elements I wanted to showcase are clear to see; from the way the set was designed in a clean, modern manner to my choice of attire in line with how those already presenting for shows based on the UFC would dress. Overall, the tone first imagined at the start of the project was captured very well based on the script and my delivery, although not perfect, encompasses all the traits of a UFC presenter.


Cameos in other peers work

As well as my own project, I was happy to be asked by both Adam and Ashleigh to star in their video stings as contestants.

Adam’s concept, a football quiz show called ‘Quiz Ball,‘ pitting me against a selection of questions with the goal to move on to the next round by scoring more than the other contestants Adam had selected. Already hearing the answers to the questions, I wanted to add some suspense and drama to delivering my answers instead of just saying them abruptly- in shows such as The Chase and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, the contestants build up their answers and give reasoning behind why they are picking an option; this is what I wanted to replicate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncSdVxwLo30 (Example of how contestants answer on shows similar to Adam’s concept- taken from The Chase on ITV)

Ashleigh’s proposal was a general knowledge quiz called ‘In General.’ Using a two-team structure consisting of Ashley and Fiona on one team and Saskia and myself on the other, and with both teams having buzzers (from mobile phone apps), the first team to buzz in and give the correct answer would score a point and after a series of questions a winner would be announced. What I compared Ash’ sting to was shows such as QI and Never Mind The Buzzcocks and similar ones of that ilk. My intention was to not take my character too seriously and be somewhat juvenile- I know in response to one of Ash’s questions I answered in an immature manner, but it added to the tone of fun Ash was able to create. Finally, being a member of Saskia’s team our rapport had a good connection, in terms of conferring answers and whispering to each other- hopefully that was captured on-screen for the viewers to see.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6sW0QOnxH4 (A clip from Never Mind The Buzzcocks, that I felt was similar in terms of tone and structure which I wanted to draw upon in my performance.)

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