Professional Experience #3 – Fresh@CU

For this professional experience opportunity, I will be working for the Fresh@CU production house, making several videos for different 3rd party companies, such as the City Council and Rolls Royce.

Opportunity: Fresh@CU

Dates: Tuesday 10th April – Friday 4th May

Day 1 – Tuesday 10th April

For my experience with the Fresh@CU production house, I will be working in a team of 6 completing a tutorial video again for Rolls Royce. For this video we had to show the people at Rolls Royce the top 10 things to think about when making a video. They will use this to show to their staff members who will be making videos to put on their intranet pages.

To begin the day, we had a group meeting with the production company to decide who was taking on what rolls, what we wanted to achieve with the video and the completion time. My role was to simply script the 10 minute video and help produce the final piece. After our initial meeting, we got together to talk through the top 10 things we wanted to include in the video.

A lot of my ideas were put forward to the final video, such as camera stabilisation, editing and keeping the video interesting. For once, the meetings were held in very high spirit and everybody had a chance to air their ideas which I think can only help to make a better piece. I think we could of used 20 or so different ideas, but the ones above really were the best ones to include in the video.

Once we had our ideas, we needed a “spin” on the video. Did we literally just want to show these different tips in a generic manner, or did we want to do something different? Personally I struggled to find a solution, however, one member of the group came up with the QVC/shopping channel idea which immediately made sparks fly. I was already thinking of cheesy puns to add in the video but I was immediately brought down to earth by our producer. She wanted the video to be more “serious” especially working with such a high profile client, which made me think of the previous “experience”. We decided to wait until we met with the production house leaders to decide on how the script would run. Once we met them, they liked the idea of the shopping channel and they said that we could use a mixture of cheesy puns during the video, but overall keep it a serious piece.

From this point, I had a clear idea of how I needed to script the video. I got to work straight away. First I looked at various QVC videos on Youtube to see how the presenter “sells” the product. This is where I thought of actually selling a generic video camera during the piece, but then include the 10 points during the “selling” stages. The rest of the group liked that idea and therefore we went along with it. Below are a few screens of the the script that I came up with.

From this point, the production group was heading off into their separate directions. 2 of the members went to work on locations and set design and the producer was looking at potential actors. With the draft of my script complete, I went upstairs to the production house to ask Spencer to take a look over it and to suggest improvements. Unfortunately, he wasn’t available so I had to email him a copy. At this point, most of the working day was complete and was at this point told to go home and recharge the batteries.

Looking at back at todays event’s, some things went really well and some didn’t. It was nice to see a project start at completely nothing during a pre-production meeting at 10 o’clock, and by 5 o’clock it had real purpose and “legs”. Some members of the group however didn’t pull enough weight in my opinion or didn’t show much of a ‘pro-activeness’. I had already heard things about these members from other groups who have worked with them in the past, and I wasn’t really looking forward to working with them myself but there are going to be times where your not going to like your colleagues in life. It turns out they weren’t reliable during the day, and if it wasn’t for 3/4 of us, the project wouldn’t have expanded and moved forward as much as it did. I now understand how reliability is key when working on a group project, one loose cog can spoil everything and it is a crucial part of being a professional. Getting more experience of scripting is also only helping my writing skills and all the way through my professional experience opportunities, I feel like I am becoming better in this role, which is what I set out to achieve.

Day 2 – Wednesday 11th April

Today was the first day of the Rolls Royce shoot’s that Spencer our director had planned for us. On this shoot, we would be filming how a gas turbine is removed from it’s storage container, placed in a transporter and then back into the storage unit in the form of a tutorial video. This was one of the opportunities I was looking forward to most as we would be heading to the Rolls Royce factory in Derby so it was a great opportunity to go to one of the well known manufacturing plants in the world, whilst also getting some valuable experiences, especially with a camera. Unfortunately, on the eve before we set off, Spencer informed me that we had to change our destination and go to the Schenker plant in Nuneaton instead.

Once we arrived I was informed that I needed some safety boots, which I wasn’t made aware of before the shoot so that gave me some valuable experience to always be prepared. During the day it was a mixture of taking control of the camera, completing the shot list or adjusting the shots. One thing that did annoy me was that there seemed to be no storyboard of what shots was needed. I felt that the whole day was one of those “just get on with it” with an apparent lack of organisation. This didn’t come from our side, it was more from Rolls Royce. Sure they wanted a video made, but I dont think they really knew what it was they wanted filming. So in the end, the day took a lot longer then expected and we didn’t actually complete the scheduled filming. The leader of the Rolls Royce side then asked if we could just ‘reverse’ the footage when it came to the edit. I personally thought that this was a bad idea, especially with some of the shots that we got. There was several problems during the day, such as the lighting changing due to filming right near the warehouse door which was in and out of use during the day, the sound again due to the door opening and the metal grated roof on the warehouse when it started to rain.  We did our best to overcome this by changing the times we filmed an instructional part of the video.

Overall I felt the day was very rushed and had no plan. This didn’t spark a lot of enthusiasm in the way Rolls Royce worked. Although it was to get some more hand’s on experience with the camera, I felt that even if we spent 2 days before preparing for the shoot, making a storyboard etc it would of been a lot better. I gave my feedback to Spencer and he completely agreed with me, but he said that this is always the way Rolls Royce work and he didn’t actually get details of the shoot before we arrived. This didn’t give me a lot of confidence in how things were run, but with the Fresh@CU production group previously completed a lot of work for Rolls Royce, I had to trust them.

Day 3 – Thursday 12th April

So after Tuesday’s first pre-production day, today was all about finalising our plan to make sure tomorrow’s shoot will run as smoothly as possible. We met in the common room at University to discuss what we needed to arrange on this day. Rumi, our producer had a few notes on the script I completed on Tuesday in which I had to edit a few pieces of the script. Whilst I was doing this, the rest of the group were trying to agree on a new location, as our original location was now in use by another member of staff. I said that the photography studio, with it’s clear and basic walls could be an option as it was easy to dress and set up. The team went to find out it’s availability and it was fine. It was now up to our set design team to organise it in the way that would be perceived as a QVC studio. The next task was to organise actors as our producer wasn’t able to secure anybody’s services before now. We went through our contacts to see if anybody was available and for me personally, I knew nobody who would be able to help us out. I left the producer and 2 of the crew working on actor’s and I joined up with our director Tom to work on a shooting schedule. It took a while to sort out what shots were wanted and where but we got there in the end. We joined back up with the producer who told us everything was ready to go and we had a final meeting just to clarify everybody’s position on tomorrows shoot.

Overall it was a satisfying day. It was good to have a producer who knew what they were doing, and gave out roles to every member of the team so they could work on their individual tasks. This made everyone busy and also had nobody sitting around doing nothing. It was good to get lots of feedback on the script that I had produced, both good and bad which gives me an idea of what I need to work on in the future. I enjoyed getting involved with the production side by making a shooting schedule, and learnt that, in the case of actors you really need to be pro-active in achieving some kind of results. It doesn’t just “happen”.

Day 4 – Friday 11th April

Spencer called me and Tom Barnes into University today to talk to us about a new project called “Team Coventry”. It was a direct request from the Coventry City Council, and the idea is to make a promotional video to get Coventry active. We were given a basic script that had been written by our contact at the council and it was our task to think of way’s of changing the script from it’s standard formal status, into something that has more meaning. We also had to think of what shot’s we wanted to use where during the video, and how we wanted the video to run. So we took the script and made some adjustments, but our general feeling was that this video need’s to have that serious edge and as formal as possible. Our next job was to think of what shot’s we wanted to use and what iconic buildings and areas that are familiar in Coventry to show in the video. What we did is go through the script and try and link what the narration is saying to the images that we want to display. Once we did this, we started to call the various places, such as the Ricoh Arena and Skydome to see if we could film on their locations. We managed to get some meetings with these places for the following week which was a good start in getting this project off and running.

Today learnt me to be very pro-active in what needed to be done and not to be afraid of just asking unfamiliar people for help to make your video. I also learnt that by having a reliable partner helping you it makes the project run a lot smoother, and by working for a production house who believes in your work ethic, it greatly enhances your confidence.


Day 5 – Wednesday 2nd May

Today’s experience was all about getting the shot’s we needed for the ‘Team Coventry’ project that myself and Tom Barnes are completing for Fresh@CU. As i alluded to in my previous post, we are trying to get the shots we need to go over the voice over in the script. As originally planned, we went around all the iconic places in Coventry such as the memorial park, the Ricoh arena, the Skydome, the cathedral and the town centre. The problem that we were finding is that it was a very cold and dull day and there wasn’t a lot of activity in each of these places. We were still able to get “establishing” shot’s as such, but it really wasn’t what we wanted. We sat down and grabbed a coffee to regroup and think of how we wanted to go from here. We really wanted to get some in action shots such as people playing tennis or running etc but everywhere was empty. We rang around a few local clubs such as the AT7 centre and the Alan Higgs centre to see if there was anything going on, but they said stuff didn’t really start happening in there establishments till 7. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the equipment that long so we had to think of perhaps a re-shoot. That was until I thought of an idea. Earlier this year I have been working on the BBC Sports project which went around loads of sports clubs in the local area filming their activities, and I put it to Tom that we could perhaps use some of this footage. Tom got in touch with Steve, the projects director who had no problems with us using the footage. This was terrific news and certainly brightened the day up for us (but not the weather). We carried on just getting some nice shots from the places we visited and went home happy in the knowledge we worked out a solution.

So after today, I feel really happy. When thing’s seem desperate or you are struggling for idea’s you just have to keep wracking your brain. Teamwork is also key. Me and Tom have worked together for most of my professional experience and we feel like we are each other’s sidekick in a way. It really helps when you have a partner who you work with well and you know you can rely on. The one thing that I would of changed about today though is the actual day of week we chose to do this on. In hindsight, a saturday or sunday would of been much better as more people have free time during this period and are not in work. Unfortunately, that is when me and Tom work so that’s not plausible. This is where time-management is absolutely key, and with so much work to do currently in all areas picking the right time to do everything makes life much easier. It’s safe to say that I learnt a lot today, and some things that I will keep with me for a long time.


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