James Larvin

Post 1 – Brainstorming (22/02/2018)

This week we were briefed on the pop-up station module and began to brainstorm ideas for the station. We reviewed pervious projects such as Zest, Radio Lola and Radio Polly to gain a better understanding of what we would have to achieve. Some members of the group already had thought through some possible station ideas so we decided to sit down as a group and any idea suggested would be put on the board. We decided at this stage it was best to write all the ideas down and then review them at the end of the session.

While we were sat as a group suggesting possible station ideas we were able to bounce ideas of each other and this allowed us to develop them further. Also, during this session were researching key dates and events taking place during the dates we will be broadcasting. Ideas include a Harry Potter Station, different music genres, equality, sports, gaming and talk stations.

We had around fifteen ideas on the board by the end of the session and it was decided that we would all pick one to research into further during the week. I decided to back the idea for a pop-up gaming station as I thought it was an achievable idea which had many digital possibilities. Although I’m not a gamer myself, form a radio point of view I thought this idea was the best. Talking with alumni of the course they mentioned that this idea had come up for a number of years.

Post 2 – Station Idea / Role Allocations (29/02/2018)

During our teaching day for pop-up station this week we needed to decided on a station idea and also allocate the group roles. We started off the session by reviewing the list of ideas form the week previous and naturally four ideas came forward at the strongest. These ideas were sports, equality, disco and gaming. I was pleased that gaming had support as it was the idea I was championing and had been researching the previous week. We divided into four groups decided by the ideas we were backing. Each group had an hour to create a pitch to convince the rest of the group that our idea would be the one to go with.

Gaming, the idea I was backing had four members in the group although other teams had six members. We knew at this point our gaming group would have to have a very convincing pitch and developed idea. We decided to make a power point with suggested logo’s and brand names alongside the key points such as the target audience, OB ideas, shows, sales and digital. I was responsible for the digital strategy and also making sure the idea was inclusive of people who were not games such as myself. To do this I picked up on everyone else’s ideas such as sport, equality and music so they felt comfortable with the idea.

When it came to pitching our gaming, group went first and the presentation went well. We were the only group with a power point and I really think this helped people to understand and visualise the idea. The disco pitch had good enthusiasm and the had a good knowledge but it was not as developed when it came to OB’s and programme ideas. The sports pitch had good passion but was quite vague and contradicted itself by saying people who wont like sports will like this sports station. The equality pitch was quite hectic and was not focused on equality, it was focused on women’s rights. I feel it would have been better if it accepted what it was and not sell it as something it wasn’t.

We then all two votes and in each round the station with the less votes was eliminated. Gaming in the first round just scraped through and sports was eliminated. In the second-round gaming made it into the final round and the equality idea was eliminated. Disco in the second round did very well against gaming so I thought disco would win the final round. In the final round everyone had a vote and before the vote everyone had the opportunity to ask any questions. In the final vote gaming some people abstained from the vote but gaming won by one vote to my delight.

We then moved onto allocating the roles for the station. To do this we followed the station flow chart I had created and used in the pitch. For each role everyone interested had time to tell the team why they should have the role. Then those wanting the role would leave the room and it would be debated as to who should get the role. I put myself forward as programme controller and digital executive. Just before the programme controller was selected it was decided that with my passion for digital production I would be the digital excitative. Over the next week I will work on digital ideas.

Post 3 – Production Week 1 (05/02/2018)

This week was the first production week and with the first pilot not far away I wanted to get started quickly. I will be working mainly with a fellow digital executive but will also be liaising the branding team and the web team over the next few weeks. My main priority this week was to meet with Daniel my fellow digital executive to have a chat about our ideas, priority’s and concerns. We both work well together and have both have strengths in different areas of digital production which means we have a very strong digital team.

Ideas this week included exclusive online contentment, visualising shows, livestreaming on twitch, social media, video ideas and presenter photos. It’s useful that there is two in the team as it allows us to bounce ideas off each other and see ideas from other angles. After our initial meeting we approached different departments to see how they can produce digital content. We first met with news and they mentioned they would be doing an original feature story every week. It was agreed that this would provided an opportunity to create online content in the shape of a promo video for the feature.

We then met with the talk show, music show and rewind show to discuss the digital possibilities. I suggested to music show that each we an online only music video show is produced. The team thought it was a great idea and I will be working on this with them next week. I will also be working with the OB presenter as they could produce video content surrounding there OB’s that can be used on social media. Other video ideas were clipping up parts of the talk radio show when a guest is in the studio and also livestreaming on twitch at the end of the shows. I will work on these ideas through the week and so will the teams involved then we will feedback ideas on Monday.

We also began to write the social media policy and the social media guidelines which are due in for next week. This week has been beneficial in terms of ideas and has put the digital team in a good position to work on the practicalities to put these ideas into action. Over the week I will be working on the logistic of the ideas we have had and what needs to be done to produce them. This includes booking studios, kit, writing scripts, creating social media accounts and creating graphics.

Post 4 – Production Week 2 (12/02/2018)

This week my main focus was to take the ideas from the previous week and work to make them happen. Booking kit out for the live online content was a key priority as it is a big booking and the kit store need good notice of the booking. I am taking the lead on the video content as I have the most experience of it from the team.

I decided on the location for the live stream which will be the room RP2 but known on air as ‘the arcade’. I have chosen to use this room as it has a patch bay into a studio, it has good acoustics, a black curtain that covers the walls and a lighting grid. The kit booking includes cameras, lighting, streaming PC’s and microphones.

I have also been working on booking out the green screen studios for the online only video shoots. I have booked out the green screen studio for next Tuesday after completing a comprehensive risk assessment. In the next week I will create the call sheet and shoot plan so the appropriate members of the team members know when to arrive on location. I am also working on the scripts for the shows alongside the producers. We only have two hours shoot time and lots to film so a tight schedule is essential.

Over the next week I will be developing the social media plans and other ideas for digital content. I have the idea to produce a multiple choice personalise YouTube video where the user will choose their preference to be matched to a games character. I also need to ensure the logo, themes and typeface are decided and implemented on social media as all the accounts are now live.

Post 5 – Production Week 3 (19/02/2018)

This week was a busy one where many of the ideas of the past weeks began to take shape. The main events of the week were a green screen shoot on Tuesday and sorting out the kit of the twitch livestreams. I also suggested a change to the logo as few people had mentioned that they thought it was not strong enough.

During the past week I had experimented in Adobe Illustrator and then on Monday took my ideas to the other digital executive. We both worked together on the idea then presented the updated idea to the station manager. The station manager chose a different colour scheme to my idea but the design of the logo stayed the same. Also, on Monday we had our first video shoot for digital content. The shoot was with a YouTuber who specialised in virtual reality.

The digital team has only been given notice that this shoot was happening 16 hours before it was due to take place which was not ideal. However, this shoot was something that could not be missed so we had to make time for it, a comprises was met with the state of play, the show that had organised the guest, to produce the feature and then the digital team would be responsible for the filming and editing. More time for planning would have been ideal but after a rough edit the footage looks good and will make for a YouTube video.

The surprise filming of the digital feature did take four hours out of the digital production schedule which meant the rest of the week we were working on clawing back time. By the end of Monday after of a chain of 11 emails and a risk assessment I had confirmed the booking for the green screen studio. I had also booked out all of the technical kit needed for the shoot. Once all was confirmed I emailed out a call sheet with all the shoot information to everyone who was involved.

On the day of the green screen shoot my preparation into ensuring I had access to the studio and kit meant that the digital team were able to set up the studio in good time. The call sheet meant that all the contributors arrived on time and the recording off the shoot went very well. By around 11:30 am we were about 15 minutes ahead of schedule until a fire alarm caused a mandatory evacuation of the whole building. I had scheduled in 30 minutes of extra time into the schedule and was pleased that I had done so. The end of the shoot was less dramatic with kit and keys return on time.

During the week myself and Dan have begun editing the footage and images from the green screen shoot and are pleased with the results. The video is well lit which allowed for a crisp key in post. I will be editing the music show’s countdown which will be 4 episodes each 4 minute in length. I have already created the header for Twitter and on Facebook I have used the video header feature alongside the green screen footage to create something a little different.

I have also been working on the technical side of the feature ‘Natalie Plays’ which will be live on air and Twitch. I have created a wiring diagram below which has given me a list of cables and adapters which need to be offered or sourced. I have worked with the radio intern to source a TV which she has done so. I am still in communication with the SU to get the live streaming PC. The communication has been very slow but we have been given the go ahead to use the kit for the live shows.

Over the next week I will be working on editing the green screen footage so we have it stockpiled. I will also work with the programme controller so we can create a social media plan for individual shows. I will continue to work on finding the best solution for the livestream segment of the live shows. For the pilot I would like to ensure the ‘Natalie Plays’ feature works on the radio and we have a set-up that will work, that is why I have made the decision not to introduce the livestream on the pilot week as I think it may initially make the setup too complex.

Post 6 – Pilot 1 (26/02/2018)

This week was the Pilot week and one of the main things I wanted to ensure worked this week was the Natalie Plays feature. Technically it is a real challenge that with the amount of kit needed it has many points of potential failure. In my own time before the pilot I have been testing the kit and have found out one of the converters I was using was faulty but I left myself time to order new part.

On the day the setup took some time but this was expected as it was the first time, hopefully as the weeks go on this process will be much quicker. When we finally had all the kit plugged in and powered up it all worked and with some minor adjustments myself and Dan were happy with the technical aspect of the feature. I did however have to run home to pick up some radios as take talkback feature would not work as planned.

The feature itself did not go as expected on air as the production team of the show had timing issues. This meant that what was expected to happen did not and subsequently the feature fell short what I would expect. This was disappointing but out of our control during the week, however the order of the shows had been changed so the concept of the feature would now have to change.

Now Natalie is not the last show but the live stream will still take place at the same time. It was decided that the last link of the last show will be a two way with Natalie from the arcade and the presenter from the studio. These two ways will be a nice plug and ensure that the content doesn’t stop when the radio does. The production team are also slightly adjusting the role of the second player in the feature so he will need to have a mic next week.

In preparation for the live stream we use cameras to get used to the setup, however we did not stream from them. On Tuesday of this week I was able to pick up the live stream pc and I now have it for testing. I expect on Monday to spend some time getting everything working and creating the graphics package.

Also, this week I have continued to edit the music chart episodes which take about three hours per episode to edit. I have also taken the on-air competition and created social media content for it, something that the programme controller thought was a great idea. The work to stockpile social media content continues and we are now in the pre-launch part of the social media campaign with limited content been published.

Post 7 – Live Show 1 (05/03/2018)

This week was the first live show and also the first week that we had all of our livestreaming kit. Before Monday a lot of work was put in ensuring all kit was booked and also transporting kit from our central London campus to Harrow. It has taken over three weeks from the first contact to eventually pick up the streaming PC. It also took some convincing to allow the kit store to loan out the amount of kit they have to radio students.

In the lead to the launch on social media a meet the presenters campaign was launched. This was filmed during the green screen shoot I had organised the week before. I was also working with each show team to ensure they filled out what we have called the call to action log. It is a document where each show post’s what social media content they would like to be posted, the time they want it to go live and then the platform’s they want it on.

Every Sunday night the log is then taken by the digital team and improvements are made to the content. We want social media to have one style and also use social media to engage audiences, this is something some producers struggled to understand. On a Sunday night content such as videos, gifts and branded photos are made by myself to go alongside the social media. We add this as it is favoured by the social media sites algorithms and therefore increases our reach. This is evident because the weekly top 10 countdown I edit has a much wider reach than other text-based posts. These are then scheduled into a site called Buffer which automatically posts content at a specified time.

On the Friday evening before our show I had set-up the live area as much as I could to ensure that the set-up was as fast as possible on the Monday morning. I was pleased I had done this as it allowed us to test the sound and camera system for a few hours before we went live. I was pleased we did this as it did require some work to figure out the system and make sure everyone was aware of what had to be done for the live twitch stream.

Just before the livestream we patched our feed into the system so Natalie could have a two way with the on-air presenter to promote the feature. This worked well but I need to look into some talkback options for next week. The actual live stream worked very well and I was pleased with how it tuned out. Both myself and Dan worked well together and I epically like how Dan embedded the twitch livestream into the home page of the website.

Over the next week myself and Dan need to think of new ways to use the livestream equipment we have now we know it works. We’d like to integrate it into shows more and ensure every show has a visual element. We also have taken on feedback form tutors and producer’s and will no longer schedule social media posts but have them ready to be posted by the producers at a click of a button. We will also continue to promote content on our website throughout the week and keep or social media alive when we’re not on air.

Post 8 – Live Show 2 (12/03/2018)

After last week’s show myself and Dan had a for hour meeting on Wednesday to discuss Matthew, Tom and Luke’s feedback regarding live streams, social media and website. We first agreed that the digital team would have the last word on social media, the posts would be posted by the producers rather than scheduled. This is as this week the social media posts wrote by the producers didn’t match with the content been disused. I have now taken the lead on social media and by changing this system, it will allow producers and ap’s to be more reactive with social media posts.

When discussing additional live streaming features, two ideas that stood out were speed runs and roundtables. The Gaming Guru was praised in feedback and we were told he should be used more. Therefore, myself and Dan suggested developed the idea of a pre-show where each presenter would compete against each other. The main two purposes of this were to let our audience know that we were about to go on air and what was coming up on the shows. We also met with the State of Play team to pitch the idea of a simulcasted round table discussion. We suggested this idea as it would rewire live guests to come into the studio, something we felt the show was lacking. The final digital idea was a Mario party for Play Again’s final show which would give us a reason to live stream the entirely of the last show.

On the day of the second show we set-up the live space on the morning as soon as possible as we only had a half hour slot in which to pre-record the beginning pre-show. We took the decision to record the live stream at 10 and then stream it live at 11.30 so that the presenters would not be rushed before they go on air. It also allowed us ample time to reconfigure the space for the post show live stream. Although there were some issues exporting the live steam and it went out a little later than intended, it did come across as completely live.

During the show’s I kept an eye on social media to make sure producers were on top of it while also preparing for the Twitch stream. An important aspect of the stream is a two way live on Press Play’s show. For this while Callum is on air he swaps studios for his final link in order to talk to Nat live from the arcade. I need to ensure that all faders are correctly assigned, levels are correct and our feed is at the correct level for the link to work smoothly. After that we have the Twitch stream which showed a marked improvement to last weeks. Over the next week I need to continue my work managing social media, continue to edit the weekly countdown chart, sort out the tech for the round table and ensure the State of play team are happy with the plan.

Post 9 – Live Show 3 (19/03/2018)

This week consisted of a lot of planning and work with state of play alongside all of my other responsibility as part of the digital team. Logistically I had to source all of the equipment for the round table and order in any kit or accessories that were not available. So far as part of this station I have had to beg and borrow most of the kit as it is the first time anything like this had been done in the department. The main reason for this idea was that it would encourage State of Play to bring in live guests to the studio, something the show was lacking. The fact that I was livestreamed was simply an online bonus. We met a number of times with the production team to ensure they were happy and clear what was going to happen on the day.

On Friday night at 5pm myself, Lucy and Dan discovered that no logs had been created for the show’s. Although not mine or Dan’s responsibility we felt that we had to do something as show teams needed the logs for show prep. The music team had scored and imported music but not created any logs. Also tracks has not been normalised, in and out markers were missing and all elements had not been labelled clearly. While I created half of the log’s Dan went to another studio to do the other half. People on many occasions had shown the team responsible for log’s how to create them but they simply hadn’t been done for some reason. I ensure everything was in the log, nor misled, segued, had stop markers and text links before sending the pdf of the log’s off to each show. By the time we were done it was 9pm on a Friday night but for me it was simply too late for them not to be done and not fair on presenters or producers.

To save myself from repeating myself every week the pre-show stream and twitch stream went well without major incident. The reach of social media content is great, especially the video content. One social media post was wrongly fired off by a producer but the team did delete it as it was during the live stream when we were incredibly busy. The set-up for the round table went ok but we did notice that the patch bay used to get the mic’s into the desk was a bit faulty as it emitted a contestant low level buzz and ticking sound. This was out of our control and so was the faulty phone line which meant live callers couldn’t be included in the feature which the State of Play team were great at reacting quickly too. These tech problems did put me and Dan behind which resulted in a rather rushed start to the stream.

On reflection a pilot of the feature would have been good but the space was otherwise in use so we did not have the opportunity to do so. The communication from studio to studio was hard as talkback did not work so it was done over a mobile phone which made it more complex than it needed to be. I was in charge of driving the feature and on the radio the audio sounded good on the whole with only the odd knock of a mic or tap of a table, we did not have acoustic mats available for our use. The audio going into the streaming PC was working as Dan was vison mixing but for a reason still unknown to us there was an issue with the Facebook audio. Although disappointing we quickly reuploaded the video with audio. There were also issues with the university WIFI, as a result next week I will get a network port cleared so we don’t have to rely on WIFI. Also over the next week I will work with the Play Again team as we will be live streaming the whole of there show alongside organising additional livestream kit to increase the possibilities of what we can do.

Post 10 – Live Show 4 (26/03/2018)

This week was the final week and the digital team had big plan, to visualise a whole show. This includes music videos, packages, gameplay and interaction with the audience. Technically we need to learn from last week and operate on a radio first approach. Again, to save myself from repeating myself every week I edited the top 10 countdown, maintained social media and worked with producers to ensure social post’s for there shows were complete. Also, I edited a VR video from State of Play which I recorded a month ago into a ten-minute video for social media.

This week a main focus of mine was the logistics of visualising a whole show. This included transporting new and improved visitation kit to the studios, ensuring a network port was cleared, working with the Play Again production team and ensuring all elements tech wise were covered. As we approached this week with a radio first approach and drew form our past experience all involved decided that we had to complete at least on pilot on Friday. From midday on Friday I began to setup the live area and source the last few bits of kit needed. An hour later I was joined by Dan and after lot’s of testing we were ready for a pilot. Over the past few weeks we haven’t prescribed roles to each other but we work in a way where we know what need’s to be done and we get it done. While live Dan has take over of vision and I have taken control of sound and it has worked well that way so we didn’t change it this week.

The pilot was put back as a result of the log yet again not been made for the show. Although the music was in the system it has not been scheduled or normalised. After the first run-through I had a lot of notes to add to my running order about how to drive the show and technically the patch bay which was faulty the previous week was a whole lot worse. After some rewiring technically, we ran the second run-though which from the digital perspective went very well with only one or two slight issues. Over the weekend these issues were ironed out which is something we wouldn’t have been able to do without any run thoughts.

On Monday morning as soon as we got in we began preparing for the live stream. I also worked with all producers to create and manage the social media. This included branded images, videos and live stream details. I ensured all producers were confident and happy with the social media posts they had.

We then rehearsed the both live streams and ensured all kit was functioning. Myself and Dan noticed the cameras could only do 25fps whilst the games console and playout were doing 30fps. The kit we used meant we could only uses on frame rate but I had an idea whereby we were able to bypass the issue so the live streams wasn’t affected.

Both live streams went very well and I think this was because of the amount of pre-production from myself and Dan and also the amount of rehearsals. I was very happy with how I drove the show and I hit times perfectly. The social media went well and over 40,000 people have seen our content over the few weeks we have been active which is an incredible number.

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