Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Talking Business Card

Candidate Statements are an annual ritual for government television stations. Last time, we tried to use an HD monitor hooked up to CG with a loop playing out of it. It was "okay…" I guess. The height of the monitor couldn't be adjusted, so there were only two positions- the candidate was either on the floor, or on an apple box. It was a bit sloppy.

This year we gambled on using our small folding green screen. It's a gamble because it isn't being keyed out live, so you can't feel 100% confidence. We did test shots a few days before, and we were very clear that candidates could not wear green. When they arrived we demonstrated how their hands would be "cut off" if they were too animated. It went pretty well.

I was very conservative on the lighting and gave a hard edge on the back light for a clean key. For the rest, I used three chimeras and did dance lighting- people are flooded from both sides. I must admit that one of the short candidates (and one extremely tall one) looked a bit spooky.

During editing, I made a dumb producer mistake. I had the official Department of Elections list of candidate addresses, URLs, emails and phone numbers. I used this for the background info. When I was ready to publish, I felt compelled to be a nice guy and double-check with all the candidates. This meant I had to re-type and re-render 13 of the 25 videos because they had new offices, business phones, etc. The other information would have been "correct" but the new information was more helpful to a voter. I could have saved myself three days of rendering if I had a yellow legal pad in the studio during taping and just asked them to write this all down for me.

In the end, it was a huge success. Every one of the candidates posted the video to Facebook and many put the video on their front page. The view counts were way up compared to last year. It was wonderful positive feedback for me to see the candidates supporters give "likes" to my effort. One of the people called it "Cool… It's like a talking business card!"

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