Week 3 (05/02 – 11/02)
Following the group’s unanimous decision to call the station Unlocked the first task was to secure social media handles and domain name. The idea is to brand all online content, Unlocked Online, and all radio content, Unlocked Radio. Initially, Afia and Matt were tasked with creating visual branding including the logo, in order for them to progress in their primary roles; I took over designing the logo, as I previously did this for The Groove (music radio module) and know my way around Adobe Illustrator very well.
Week 4 (12/02 – 18/02)
Although the main part of the logo had been finished last week, it was finalised with the help of James, Eliza and Lucy. The main decision to be made was the colour scheme of the logo and subsequently the Unlocked brand. James and I had a discussion that the logo was missing a certain je ne sais quoi, so whilst the padlock design will remain the basis of any future graphics, if better branding comes along, we would switch to that.
Midweek, I updated the landing page for the website, which now contains a MailChimp sign up form. The intention of this was to make the landing page look more professional for any prospective advertisers or guests, as the website address is included in email signatures. I started drafting a MailChimp campaign (newsletter), which will be sent out to mark the launch of the website. N.B. Afia is designing the website on a subdomain, so that prospective viewers weren’t greeted with a partial website. Following Afia’s completion of the first revision of the website, I will transfer it over to the main domain.
At the end of the week, I liaised with James to discuss what will occur the following week and what needed to be done before then, including me informing James to paste his social media guidelines in the social media policy document, the rest of which was completed by me Friday evening.
Over the weekend, I worked on the web player (player.unlockedonline.co.uk) for the audio live stream. Initially, I copied the code from the Smoke Radio live stream and then customised it for Unlocked; this included visual branding and show data (which took ages to configure/troubleshoot to automatically update). A backend for the system still needs to be written, however this isn’t urgent and can be completed next week.
I then completed the Digital Plan and Strategy document.
Pre-Pilot (Week 5: 19/02 – 25/02)
This week most of our official contact time was taken up with an unexpected shoot. The State of Play team had organised for a VR YouTuber to come in, talk about and demonstrate different forms of virtual reality. Without much prep time, we set up RP2 for the shoot with James filming the session and myself driving the desk in Studio 4. Simultaneously, poor James was trying to finalise the new version of the logo with Eliza. As the presenters were moving around a lot, we used two wireless lav mics, however they appear to have an adaptive level adjustment feature which didn’t work in our favour, meaning that it will likely take a lot of work to edit nicely.
The following day, James and I were in the green studio filming various bits for social media. I directed the ‘Meet the Presenters’ campaign that I produced the previous week. The remaining days of the week, I spent on average 7 hours each day in the library, using a powerful emerging media space iMac to edit the green screen footage. Final cuts of the ‘Meet the Presenters’ pieces were finalised Saturday night and took the majority of Sunday daytime to render and export.
It's time to get to know your Play Again presenter a bit better!
— Unlocked (@unlockedonline) March 4, 2018
I spent Sunday working on the website, as Afia had barely made any progress over the previous few weeks and had become MIA. I started by transferring the little that had been done over to the unlockedonline domain. I deleted all the placeholder data, unused images in the media library and unused plugins, which was clogging and slowing down the website. I then worked on the appearance, such as adding the blue mosaic to the header and changing the site colour to the correct shade of blue. Finally, I removed a lot of information from the About and Public File pages, which had a lot of chunks copied from the remit files in the Google Drive.
Pilot (Week 6: 26/02 – 04/03)
Lucy, Mark, Natalie and I came in at 8 AM to start preparing for the pilot, despite being delayed and stuck at Harrow-on-the-Hill for a significant amount of time due to a signal failure. I had previously agreed to come in at this time to assist Iona with making logs, as she had never done them before. It had gone 9 am and there was still no sign of the music team, so Lucy and I started to upload ads. As there was also no sign of branding by this point, we start drafting clocks in AutoTrack. Eventually, the music team arrived and continued with my own tasks such as scheduling social media.
As we did not want our tweets to interrupt the ‘Meet the Presenters’ campaign and confuse outsiders, I set up a pilot Twitter account (@UnlockedPilot), this enabled us to get a real feel of how the tweets would work. Lucy was tasked with posting tweets that couldn’t be scheduled, for example the Twitter poll.
Unfortunately, the streaming PC hadn’t been obtained in time for the pilot, so although Natalie Plays wasn’t streamed, we made it as real as possible with the full setup and the on air simulcast. Feedback revealed that this feature didn’t really work on the radio, this is likely to be because this was the first time Natalie actually had to do something like and wasn’t really comfortable or in the mind set to provide commentary for the radio listeners. As it was subsequently decided that Play Again and Press Play would switch around, it was decided that the feature would become a standalone ‘show’, which would be broadcasted at the end of the three hours of output.
During the rest of the week, me and James regularly messaged each other in order to prepare for the following week. We decided that it would be better if we entirely managed social media and thus asked producers to provide call to actions and draft tweets. I chased up producers throughout the week so that I could draft the tweets on Sunday night.
I was very aware that the website needed some editorial content, so I came up with an easy short term fix to this. As Afia had already done a lot of research on game release dates, I thought of instead of having one big page, each release could be made in to a single post and then embed tweets containing reactions about the game. After asking Afia about her thoughts on my idea, I was disappointed to only receive an ‘ok’ and a thumbs up.
On Sunday night, I quickly updated the web player I previously made so that it fits with the new branding and also added some description metadata.
I also quickly updated the MailChimp campaign I drafted a week or two prior (which users pre website launch could sign up to) and scheduled it for Monday at 6 AM.
Live One (Week 7: 05/03 – 12/03)
Like the rest of the team, I arrived at 8 AM, I discovered that James had already partially set up RP2. Once James arrived, he quickly looked over the tweets and then I scheduled them in Buffer. We slowly started setting up the rest of the equipment for the live stream; as this was the first time we had properly done the full set up, it took a bit longer than desired. However, we setup just in time for the 2W with Press Play. During the 2W, I headed over to Studio 6 to shadow Ellie and hopefully provide her with a bit more confidence running the desk, not that she needed it! When it came to the live stream, I mainly focused on setting up the streaming software, such as connecting it with Twitch and configuring inputs. When it came to the actual broadcast, I was vision mixing whilst James was driving the desk. The PC decided to freeze a few times which was a bit worrying and something that needs to be worked on in order to ensure sharp cuts.
On Wednesday, James and I had a four hour meeting to discuss Matthew, Tom and Luke’s feedback regarding live streams, social media and website. Whilst social media was better than the pilot, because it was scheduled, if the on air team were ahead or behind socials went out regardless, also any last minute changes and tangents also weren’t reflected. Thus, we are going to draft tweets and input them in to Buffer, with producers choosing when to fire them. James took the lead on social week for the second live show. When discuss additionally live streaming feature, we discussed speed runs and roundtables. I suggested that we use the reason/’excuse’ of a Mario party to live stream the entirely of Play Again’s last show. Before we left, we had a look at the website and gave Afia a to-do list of things to add or improve.
Live Two (Week 8: 12/03 – 18/03)
Surprisingly, I was the first to arrive this week. As open day occurred during the previous week, we weren’t able to setup RP2 ahead of time, so whilst I was waiting for James to arrive, I setup RP2 which included clearing the floor space, moving the flats and curtain and setting up the ‘digital hub’ (the area in the corner where we set up all the streaming equipment). Whilst I was waiting for James, I bumped in to the music team, having previously been in Studio 6 and heard a massive gap between idents and ads, I politely reminded the music team to also segue ads, branding etc. I was first told it ‘wasn’t my week’ and eventually that it had already been done. We first started off by setting up and recording the room for the battle of the presenters. We decided to record this at the earlier time of 10 AM, otherwise the presenters would likely to start stressing as they’d also be on air momentarily. The recording didn’t go out on time, as it took longer than expected to transfer, top and tail and retransfer the file. Next week, we will aim to do it so that it doesn’t need to be top and tailed, additionally, I’ll also bring in an ethernet cable for a directly connection between my laptop and the streaming PC.
Unlocked's presenters are taking today's pre show prep very seriously…
Posted by Unlocked on Monday, 12 March 2018
It was slightly disappointed that Afia left it to schedule contact hours to fulfil the majority of the to-do list myself and James gave her the previous week. Not because she was adding content to the website, but because she was frequently publishing the page which meant that placeholders and other incomplete things kept showing up on the home page, including dead links – during the most important time and when the website gets its most views. Additionally, changes she did make didn’t fit in with the rest of the website.
I once again headed down to Studio 6 for the 2W with Callum, as this week we rigged up a wireless mic pack to provide talkback from Studio 6 to Studio 4. The 2W went off without a hitch although I was disappointed when for the second week in a row, there was a massive gap between an ident the ads, even though I was assured by the music team it was done. I quickly headed back down to RP2 to start the live stream. Like last week, I was tasked with vision mixing whilst James drove the desk. This live stream went off without a hitch this week and luckily didn’t even freeze once!
After the debrief, James and I spoke to State of Play about visualising a section of their show next and spoke to Play Again about the visualisation of their whole show the week after.
Following my group’s audio drama recording, I stayed behind and waited for Fantastic 4 + 1 to finish, so RP2 could be set up as much as possible for the following Monday. Prior to setup, Lucy discovered that the logs had not been done correctly, with Press Play missing songs. I phoned Ellie to discuss options whilst James normalised songs in Myriad. Lucy and I also discussed how some of the songs scheduled weren’t the right fit for the shows, for example in Press Play we replaced Nothing But Thieves with one of the pop songs already in the music database. After we had rectified all the logs, James went through and segued all of Press Play in Studio 6, whilst I segued State of Play and the start of Play Again in studio 4. We then finally got around to setting up RP2 for the roundtable.
Unexpectedly, I received a message from Afia on Sunday, who expressed her disappointed about the ‘lack of communication’ between herself and the digital execs. She also accused me of ‘applying code’ to the homepage; I remember Afia explicitly mentioning this at the beginning of the project which I why when I made changes to the homepage, I used the same system as she did. As I explained this to her, I also explained that the few things that are coded, such as the webplayer and schedule page, have easy-to-use user interfaces in the backend.
Live Three (Week 9: 19/03 – 25/03)
When I arrived Monday morning, I discovered that the door to RP2 and Studio 4 was locked. After speaking to security who refused to unlock the door, Eliza sent an email to Matthew, who subsequently emailed security. After going backwards and forwards to A-Block and back several times, due to being given wrong keys, I finally managed to get Studio 4 and RP2 unlocked. After wasting a good 40 minutes, myself and James started prepping to pre-record the first live stream of the day.
As Natalie couldn’t be present during the pre-record, we pre-recorded a message to be played during the pre-record instead. It was quickly top and tailed and then streamed to Facebook.
Unlocked's presenters are taking today's pre show prep very seriously…
Posted by Unlocked on Monday, 19 March 2018
As that was playing out, we reconfigured the room for the roundtable for State of Play. This was relatively straight forward as we had done most of this the Friday before. Moments before the segment went to air, we discovered that the phone system was broken and that callers wouldn’t be able to hear output. Rushing around also meant that the streaming PC wasn’t set up on time and additionally unbeknownst to me their was no audio output on the live stream, the computer also struggled a lot during the roundtable, which caused the video to jump a lot and the audio wasn’t in sync. In hindsight, there is still no explanation as to why it did this. After the stream ended, I quickly removed the video from Facebook and replace it with the a copy using audio from the desk in Studio 4, I also tried to resync the audio as much as possible.
Fay and Tony were joined by a counsellor, hyponotherapist and an avid gamer.
Posted by Unlocked on Monday, 19 March 2018
During the short break between the roundtable and Natalie Plays, I recorded Adam’s and Mark’s packages for the full visualisation of Play Again the following week. James and Adam quickly reconfigured the room for Natalie Plays whilst I got the footage of Adam and Mark’s packages off the camera. This final live stream went okay, the PC still seem to struggled a bit.
After the show, I caught up with music team to make sure they produced a log for Play Again by Wednesday, so that I could download the music videos as possible and also have Myriad ready for run throughs of the Mario Party at the end of the week.
Thursday after I work, I joined Natalie to record her interview with the owner of the largest video game memorabilia collection in the world. The interview was recorded over Skype and recaptured on my laptop. He did his interview in front of his collection, which made for good viewing. That might I synced the audio from the studio and the screen capture.
Friday was a long day, after meeting with my group for the audio drama module, I begun setting up Studio 4 with all the equipment necessary for the ‘mario party’ live stream. Whilst I was configuring the ATEM Television Studio and streaming PC, Lucy and James were setting up RP2 and dressing the set.
The original plan was to do a run through at 3 PM, however there was no running order or log at this point. As I had to download the music video moments before the first run through, the music videos contained extra bits such as sound effects and etc which meant that true timings couldn’t be worked out. We managed to successfully do two run throughs on Friday night, Natalie seemed pretty confident, the content worked well and all the tech worked relatively well, because we had been running the streaming PC too long it did shut down – presumedly from overheating. Therefore, some extra bits of kit will need to be brought in. That night, I worked on remixing the music video of Mr Brightside to coincide with the power intro.
On Sunday, I quickly popped in to Studio 4 and dropped off the extra bits of equipment we needed (2 laptops, 1 to record off the ATEM and 1 to act as a switching control panel). I then headed over to the library to use the powerful Emerging Media Space iMac’s to complete the edit of Mark’s package, this process took much longer than expected due to the high volume of clips that needed to be downloaded. After spending four hours editing Mark’s package, I then went on to dub all the music video with the radio edits and make them widescreen.
Live Four (Week 10: 26/03)
I was disappointed that I had to run around, once again, in order to get the door to Studio 4 and RP2 open. I had previously sent an email to Matthew, who subsequently sent an email to security asking them to make sure the doors were unlocked prior to use turning up on Monday. As soon as we were in, we began preparing for the livestream. James created a wide screen version of the competition video and created an animation of the lock closing. Once James and I received paper copies of the running order, we collected the camera from Hassan. I discovered that the cameras could only do 25fps whilst the games console and playout were doing 30fps. It was easy enough to change the playout to 25fps but unfortunately, it was not possible to change the console and therefore had to run the games console directly in to the streaming pc. Eventually, we then did a run through which went off without a hitch. After a ten minute break, it was time to go live.
Celebrating her last show, Natalie holds a one-off Mario themed party.
Posted by Unlocked on Monday, 26 March 2018
Throughout March Natalie has been going against the gaming guru in various games, it's time to find out who was the gaming champion
Posted by Unlocked on Monday, 26 March 2018