Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Live at Five

This Monday was my Live at Five day, for those of you who have no idea what the project is or entails, I’ll give a brief outline for you: A group of either 4 or 5 students work together as a team, one volunteering to be producer, to create a series of graphics needed for the Broadcast Journalism students in time for the recording of their television show “Live at Five” which they record, as it happens, at 5 o’clock to be streamed on the internet.

A few weeks ago I was feeling pretty apprehensive about the whole thing, having a distinct lack of skills in After Effects (the program that most other groups used to produce their graphics and title sequences on). Having told this to Pete, our After Effects teacher, last Friday he found me a few tutorials to do which really helped to boost my confidence with the program and about Live at Five in general.
The group I was consisted of Laurence Nairne, Max Porteous, Alberto Montana and me. Laurence, had used our AE session to create some astons (title straps where peoples names appear on the screen) and weather map symbols so he volunteered to act as producer, which we all thought was fair as he had already done quite a bit to help ease the pressure off on the day. This was also a bit of a blessing too as Laurence had the highest skill level of AE between us, so he was able to help us out when Pete wasn’t around.

I took my graphics tablet thinking that it’d be a good idea and help me in creating my graphics, but the computer I was using only allowed the tablet to move around half of the screen whilst on Photoshop. Not particularly helpful, so I had to go back to using a mouse, feeling really strange after all the time I’ve been using my tablet to work on Flash. However I was not deterred and set about creating my first graphic for the day, Laurence asked us if we had any preference over which graphics we wanted to do, which nobody really did, so Al set to work on the Astons and Max on the weather. I worked on creating a medal table to show the results of the Vancouver Winter Olympics. I had to make a table showing the top six gold medal placings and the countries with the highest number of total medals and Great Britain’s position on the lists (which wasn’t very high on either sadly). I started off by searching for pictures of the Vancouver Olympic medals and a suitable winter-y background. Pete suggested I take a look to the Press photography website we had access to, where I found the following picture:

I decided I would edit the skater out, because I needed to put writing over the top, and the intense look on his face was pretty distracting! This left me with a nice blank background of the Olympic rings, I decided I would use the shapes of the medals as a part of the background, and have the number of each medal won written on a layer above the corresponding medal colour. At first I tried to fit all of the 7 rows of medals that I needed to display (the top 6 & GB) onto one picture, but after going up to the gallery with Pete to test it on a screen (I got confused with the resolution size, the computer was telling me it was at 100%, but it was far smaller than the actual size it was meant to be) I realised it would be better if I spaced them out more evenly, making it much easier and clearer to read.

I then ventured bravely into AE (with Pete standing by) and (very simply) animated my tables with subtle fades between each one. I managed to do it without Pete’s help, and was pretty pleased with the result.

After this, I had a quick break for lunch around half one, then came back to find poor Max (he had a pretty bad cold/cough) still working on the weather, being aided by Laurence. The journalist students kept coming in to ask when the weather map would be ready, which was pretty frustrating as the weather map is the graphic that takes the longest, especially as it has to be timed to what the presenter is going to say. I think Max had the hardest job, and despite being ill and not at his best, he managed to pull it off really well, I don’t have a copy of the final graphic, but I’m sure he will upload it to his blog at some point, so you can see it there.
One of the journalist students had requested for an unanimated quote on a transparent background, so I did this straight after lunch to get me back into the swing of things, it didn’t require very much effort, and it wasn’t even used in the end, but I’ll supply a picture anyway.

Al and I were going to collaborate on creating a graphic for the rugby results table, but the Journalists (who had decided that they didn’t want to use the animated astons that Laurence had already prepared, even though they would have looked far better) came down to tell us that their was a problem with all of the astons we had supplied, despite them being saved in the correct format, they were all showing a black background. So poor Al, with Pete’s help, had to change every one of the title straps he had spent the whole morning working on, which must have been very frustrating, especially when the journalists only used about 3 in the actual program. So, I ended up creating the whole rugby table graphic by myself, it was far quicker to make than the Olympic table, but I kept the fonts the same to keep some continuity within the sports section. Al had already found a logo for the Rugby league, so I decided that I would animate it leaving the middle of the screen to the top corner, and then have the results table appear in the screen centre. This looked a little plain compared to the Olympic graphic, so I decided to add some grass to the bottom of the screen to resemble a sports pitch, then had this fade slightly when the results table appeared, working solo once more in AE!

Overall, the day went far better than I expected it to go, we’d finished all of the graphics by 3:45, although the journalists came back to tell us their was a problem with another of the astons we’d given them, which poor Al had to sort out again. I now feel far more confident with AE and am pleased with the graphics I managed to produce, still having time to spare afterwards. It was really good to work as a part of team, with people I wouldn’t have necessarily worked with had we chosen the groups ourselves, I think this was probably better, as it means you pull together as a team and really focus on the work you have to get done. In the end the journalist students only used a small part of my Olympic table (it turned out the information containing the number of medals I had been given had a mistake on for one of the results, so they couldn’t show it), and a hand full of Al’s astons, Max’s weather map looked really good and I think we were all pretty proud of what we had managed to achieve.

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