10 Minutes to air is NOT time for Fundamental Change.
An 8 am crew call for a Noon live webcast makes total sense in the total production scheme of events. There’s a lot to set up, review, practice, re-adjust, and more that those 4 hours literally just fly by. I was recently tapped by Magic Video, Inc. To oversee and direct a live webcast for a corporation announcing a name change and philosophy reorganization to their key personnel. The announcement to the public and shareholders will come later.
Crew were all on hand early, making sure all the technical aspects of the production were up to speed and ready for that “red light” of live production. The talent, meaning the two CEOs of the company, didn’t arrive till 20 minutes before air, they had rewritten the script and, instead of bullet points, they said they wanted to read it verbatim. All those changes with 15 minutes to go? Time to scramble…We were well prepared with two large plasma displays on the set for the talent to see the A) bullet points they said they wanted before they showed up, and b) questions from the webcasting audience. We dedicated one person to taking the new script and chopping it up into slides the CEO would read from the plasma display.
Why not a prompter?
Well, if you’ve ever set up a teleprompter, you know that it simply cannot be done in 10 minutes. The cameras were already set up, timed and color matched. Even building the prompter on the tripod would take more than 10 minutes. Then you have mounting the camera, aliment, balance, and after all that’s done, the camera has to be color matched again because the mirror glass always has an effect on the color and brightness of the image. So, no. We’d have to make due to be ready for the 12p airtime.
We did a run through and the eye line of the CEO was awful. Not only was he looking down slightly at the plasma display arranged right under the camera, but the text was not moving on a prompter to keep it as high and as close to the camera as possible, so as he read the slide of information, his eyes traveled lower and lower– away from the camera.
But, in the 10 minutes we had to arrange and test a solution, this was all that it was going to be.
We had some video playback set up for the key announcement of the name change; a video box turn to visually show the change happening. The old logo would open the show, the new logo would close the show, and there was a graphic of the six key operational departments of the company that we would use several times after the name change. Other than that, it was a simple announcement and responding to questions. In all, about 30 minutes.
The production went flawlessly and the questions that came in were very detailed, meaning the audience was fully engaged. Did the CEO’s reading from the screen detract from the production? Maybe a little, but here it was all about content, and the big corporate announcement and not how pretty he looked.
For next time, we’ll have the prompter ready and encourage more interaction between the two CEOs. Because, there’s always a way to do better next time.