Format Review: The X Factor

The X Factor is a reality talent show created by Simon Cowell that started in 2004 and is now in its 8th series. It is a singing talent show which is based on the format of a panel of judges on a mission to find the next big singer in the country. Every series they start by travelling around Britain for the audition stages which then moves on to each judge having there own group (typically, under 25 boys. under 25 girls, over 25s and groups) to whittle down to the finalists who would feature on the live shows. When the show gets to the live finals it becomes up to public votes as to who leaves the competition and who stays.

The show has been massively successful around the world, especially in america. The show is widely seen as the biggest talent competition in Europe because of its universal appeal, overall around the world there has been a total of 57 winners in 35 countries. The hook of the show is in the humiliation of the bad contestants in the audition stages and the sometimes brutal honesty of the judges. The audience relishes in not only the humiliation but the success of the contestants. People become avid fans and supporters  (some would say fanatical) of the contestants resulting in them becoming the subject of a lot of public scrutiny.

The show brands itself with dramatic music, the colour red as a prominent colour and blue as a secondary. It has been so successful over so many years because although the format of the show doesn’t really change the variation of the contestants keeps the show fresh and interesting. The show also relies on the key personalities the judges and presenter which have changed over the years multiple times although now Dermot O’Leary has established himself as the fixed presenter over the past few years.

Some would say that the show isn’t about the talent of the acts any more but simply their personality and their ability to be a personality, meaning the show is not a talent competition but a popularity contest. However this has not hindered the viewing figures of the show due to the public’s thirst for celebrity, this is also one of the main reasons for the success of the show, the public need celebrities constantly to admire, hate and aspire to.

Personally I have started to dislike this program over the last couple of years due to this format of celebrity production rather than talent contest. It has almost headed the way of Big Brother in the way that it is making celebrities out of people with little or no talent. Despite this it has still produced some of the best pop singers of the last few years including Olly Murs, JLS, Leona Lewis to name a few, proving that the show, despite its celebrity hungry nature, can allow real talent to shine through.

Unfortunately it also produced these two despicable creatures

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Radio Show: Editing

As the editor of the program this was my main part in the production of the show. I used Adobe Audition for this because of my previous experience with Adobe programs and so I felt I would be able to use this program the most efficiently and would get the work done quickly and to the best of my ability. First I went through the script and put the studio parts and interviews in order. I then cut down the interviews to the relevant information and added the sound effects. For each section of the show I built a sound-scape out of sounds that relate to the items that are mentioned in that section, this signalled the different portions of the show and gave good signposts. I used the song from the film the good, the bad and the ugly as a theme throughout the show, which is relates back to the title and as a well-known theme song makes the whole show have more credibility.

Unfortunately I had to cut down most of the interviews because they were very long and full of interesting but not necessarily relevant to the show. Our limit for this show was 5-7 mins and this was a struggle to achieve. Once I had put all the sound effects, music and interviews it totalled almost eight and a half minutes which was far too long. I then had to spend a long time cutting any small gaps out and making all the music and effects ever so much shorter to try and reach the targeted time. I ended up having to be quite harsh with myself about what was needed in the interviews and what wasn’t as important. And here is the trailer and final result!

 

I am really happy with the final result and it didn’t suffer from cutting it down too much. The show flows quite nicely and I think its very informative and interesting. Over this project I have found out some very interesting history about the city of Coventry which I never knew before. I think we worked well as a team and all took part almost all of the processes involved in the overall production, we all brought ideas to the table and made sure everyone had a say in everything that was done as part of the project. The interviewees were all very enthusiastic and interested in their subject matter which gave the interviews some energy and kept the show upbeat.

We could have improved on this project by getting our idea sorted out much quicker and so began scripting and planning at a much earlier stage. This would have meant that the project as a whole would have been finished quicker and therefore left more time for improvement and development.

Radio Show: Editor Role

My main role in my radio show project is editor, this means I do all of the cutting and final putting together of the show. After doing some research I have found out that the role of the editor in a professional setting requires much more than simply the cutting and editing of the show. Edwina Wolstencroft who is an editor on BBC radio 3 talks about the responsibilities of the editor in a professional radio setting in this video on the BBC college of production website.

The Editor Role at the BBC

A typical editor overseas multiple programs at once. The responsibilities of an editor include, setting the editorial direction for the show and the parameters of the show. This means picking the music within the show and the presenters used and the tone and style featured. The show has to not only be coherent in itself but also compliment other shows on the station to the give the whole station a running theme.  An editor runs production meetings where the team review past shows and decide the direction of new and existing features. The skills required for this role are good leadership, motivating to the rest of the team and the ability to give others freedom.

Unlike the editing role in television where it is mainly focused on the cutting and production of the show, radio editors have a lot more responsibility. They are more like a producer as radio shows are mostly sent out live there isn’t as much first hand editing required.

Radio Show: Recordings

We have now recorded all of the interviews and the presenter parts in the studio. It all went very smoothly and all of our interviewees said a lot of interesting and relevant information which will work perfectly with the show. The equipment we used (edirol RO5) worked perfectly in all the interviews and didn’t pick up all the background noise which would have ruined the show. For the studio recording the script had undergone a few revisions but we had a good final script for this final recording:

Welcome to History Mystery!  Today’s show we investigate ‘Undiscovered Coventry the good, the bad, and the ugly.’

– Theme tune come in

Coming up on today’s show:
> The Police leave Coventry
> Mice in the Cathedral
> And a questioning caterpillar ‘Whoo are youu?’
> And a special exclusive just for you listeners out there.

– Theme tune come up (roughly 3secs)

Do you know how Coventry got it’s name? * …Well in fact* nobody knows, but everyone has a different idea.

– Clips of when we proposed this question to our experts

Our ideas yet again are different. Victoria what do you think?

– Victoria’s idea – My theory comes from the idea of the word being split up, ‘Conven’ meaning ‘Convent’ and ‘Tre’ the Celtic word meaning settlement or town. This gave birth to Convent Town, which later became Coventry.
– My idea – Interesting as my idea actually comes from the Goddess of water ‘Coventina’, this is because the grounds that Coventry evolved from were known for being plentiful in drinking water and in fish!

I Guess it’s just one of those…Both say History Mysteries.

– Soundscape of Sting song, motors, and cathedral music.

Everyone knows this song,* do you recognise the lead singer?…*…Of course you do, but did you know the lead singer of the Police ‘Sting’ was actually born and bred in Coventry, along with….

– Industry sounds

Coventry launched some essential industries including wool, ribbons and other textiles. However the motor industry proved the most pinnacle to Coventry trade.

We spoke to Steve about the importance of the motor industry to the development of Coventry.

– Interview from transport museum

– Cathedral music

The cathedral is just one of the three spires that marks the city of Coventry.* In 1990 Queen Elizabeth the 2nd visited, and clearly nervous in her presence the host had made the mistake of spelling her name wrong. The Queen as lovely as portrayed didn’t bat an eyelid and signed her name correctly which can still be seen today on the cathedral wall.
*….As with most history, along with the highs comes the crashing lows.

– Soundscape of the bad, bombs, fire, and prison bars.

As everyone knows Coventry was blitzed! It was the 3rd worst bombed city in the country.
This brought the city to it’s knees but forced it to literally rise from the ashes.* To represent the regeneration, a phoenix was added to the Coventry shield, which continues to share this space with the elephant, and the mountain lion.

– Battle sounds

This wasn’t the only war that Coventry faced;* the civil war during 1861-1865 was instrumental in the creation of the phrase* ‘Sent to Coventry.’

– Interview explains.

– Fireworks and fire sounds.

A lot people know the story of the 5th November and it’s star Guy Fawkes, but not many people know that the parliament participants originated from Coventry. *This day in history has gone from tragedy to celebration. The country now illuminates the skies with bold and beautiful fireworks.

….and like they say, when it rains, it pours!

– Soundscape of ugly, Alice in Wonderland tune and battle noises.

The famous author known as Lewis Carroll but born as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who wrote the wild and wonderful fairytale ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was sent to Coventry,* as his relationship with the inspiration of the character Alice, deemed too much.

– Battle noises

During the war, times were hard for all young recruits, but Coventry was hit slightly harder when Scotland came down to recruit the boys. In remembrance of the sacrifices they made Coventry cathedral proudly displays the Scottish flag.

– Theme tune

As we promised it’s now times for our exclusive! Drum roll please…* …the cathedral cellars are being cleared out of all the rubble to retrieve any old treasures that may still be down there.

Find out more* next time…* and on that note thanks for tuning in, join us again for another History Mystery.

Now that all of the sound is recorded and the sound effects are downloaded Its just left to me to edit it all together to create the final show!

Radio Show: Script

Now that we have a solid idea and research to back it up we have written a first script. Including some interviews we have planned with various specialists around Coventry.

  • Quick coming up feature, teasers
  • Debate over origins of Coventry’s name
  • Good section including, famous people from Coventry, and the industries that Coventry helped start
  • Interview with someone from the transport museum
  • Bad section including the blitz, the origins of the gunpowder plot and sent to Coventry
  • Interview with someone from the church where the royalists were held during the civil war
  • Ugly section including the story of the origins of Alice in wonderland and Scotland using Coventry’s men in the war
  • End of show

This script is just a basic starting point which can obviously change depending on interviews and other information we find out during our research. I am the editor in my group and so will have to find the related sounds and background music to use during the show such as battle noises, songs, car noises and anything else related to the script . I am happy with this structure of the script as it brakes up the show so it does not get boring and tedious. If the show is in sections it wont sound like one long dreary show which the audience can get bored of and loose the original idea of the show.

Radio Show: First Idea

Our brief was to create a 5-7 minute radio show for BBC Coventry and Warwickshire with the title, undiscovered Coventry. It took a while but we finally came to the idea of exploring the phrase ‘sent to Coventry’. We thought of a few different items which could make up the show based around the idea of the origins of the phrase and its meaning to different people. One item could be the different reasons why we and other people living in the city came to Coventry, our reasons obviously being for education.

There could be a history element of the show that explores the original meaning of the phrase ‘sent to Coventry’. After some research we have found out that it dates back to the 17th century civil war between the parliamentarians and royalists was the origin of the phrase. Coventry was a parliamentary stronghold and so became the place royalist prisoners were kept, they were imprisoned in a church but allowed to walk around the town. The townsfolk would ignore them and not give them food or drink, hence the meaning of the phrase being to be ignored.

We are were going to explore the different reasons, through history, why people came to, or were sent to Coventry. But after some research and a basic structure we don’t think there is enough material to make a long enough, or varied enough show to capture the audiences attention the entire way through. Because of this I think were going to have a more general history program that covers more of the history of the city as a whole, giving us more material to work with.

TV Studio: The Edit and Final Piece

Now that all the filming was done it was time to get down to the fiddly business of editing it all together. The studio parts which made up most of the show simply required finding the best take and adding some titles as all of the choosing of the cameras is done in the gallery as a live recording. The hard bit was going to be the outside VT which had three different cameras that all had to match up to the same edit and stay synced. Three of us were on the editing team including the director to make sure that we didn’t miss anything out or cut out bits that are important to the show. The actual cutting of the footage, including the outside VT, didn’t take much time at all, it was almost as simple as putting the shots in order from beginning to end. There were however some issues with the titles which did have to be re-done in the end causing a lot of time delays. Another problem was finding music that would fit the show appropriately without sounding too cheesy. We didn’t have any original recorded material to use so solely relied on royalty free music websites for titles and background music on the VT’s. It took 3 of us hours and hours of time sat at a computer making sure everything fitted perfectly.

So here is the final product!

Overall I am happy with the final product, there were some hurdles along the way but we got there in the end. The gunging looked particularly professional due to some very dramatic lighting and close-up camera shots. I think the show maintains a pace throughout, keeping the audience interested with music and constantly changing camera angles. There is a constant theme during the entire show of the logo and font used which gives the whole show a solid recurring idea. As a team I think we worked really well and showed brilliant teamwork throughout, everyone knew their role and was comfortable in it meaning all the work could be done efficiently and to the best of everyone’s ability.

 

 

 

I believe that this format could work in any country and would be able to be sold around the world. The show is based on the age old question of who is better? men or women? This debate is happening all around the world all the time, it is something that everyone can relate to. Wives and husbands are always challenging each other at simple games of skill and of mental strength to see who is better, and that is why they would watch this show, to support and hopefully back-up their side of the argument. The idea is that it will involve a lot of audience participation so that it almost feels as if it is the nations men battling the nations women. This type of interaction will make the programme to appeal to everyone no matter what there age or social class.

TV Studio: Final bit of filming

We did our final bit of filming today! This involved the presenters introducing the show, explaining the games and looking at scores. This is all stuff we have practised about a million times and doesn’t require and fancy camera  work or messy beans or eggs. We recorded this a few times to perfect the timing and try a few different camera combinations giving us a lot to work with. The set and lighting was a standard set-up which we had used before so we were comfortable with setting this up quickly and efficiently. It was good to see each person simply get on with their job without much direction, it showed how comfortable we had all become in our roles.

After this we had to film “last weeks” gungeing of Dean. This posed a few problems as we had to change all of the lights, move all of the cameras and set-up the crane. This set up took some time with experimenting with different lights and colours and the usual problems with the crane (dodgy wires, worry about the weights not supporting it, settings on the camera matching those of the studio cameras, etc), but when we had finished all of this the set looked brilliantly threatening! (in a good way). We then met the same problems we had had with the other two VT’s, because of the messy nature there was only one chance to do this so had to get it right. A few moving shots with the crane were tried and decisions on which camera would catch the moment it took quite a while until we finally went for the final take of the project. Thankfully it all went smoothly and the lighting looked brilliant on camera giving a great overall effect.

The final shots were brilliant and I’m really happy with them but unfortunately we went through the same problems we’ve had previously, taking small decisions and turning them into big discussions which takes up huge amounts of time that could have been spent filming. Despite this what we have is brilliant and maybe this is because we spent time making all those small decisions, now all that is left to do is it to edit it together, add the titles and the music and we have a final piece!

 

TV Studio: Inside VT

Our second VT was an inside game that will actually be shown before our outside VT. Once again it involved our presenters being covered in food they they’d rather they were eating. This one was a simple game of darts with a couple of twists, firstly the presenters were blindfolded and for every dart that didn’t score a different substance would be thrown over them, firstly beans, then flour and finally feathers. For this challenge there no contestants but we did have two helpers to help the presenters with picking up the darts and with putting the blindfold. The Girls won this challenge by quite a big margin meaning Dean got a lot of Beans, flour and feathers chucked all over him!

The set-up for this VT took sometime as we had to put the set together properly for the first time which included building the stand for the dart board and attaching the board to it. This took sometime as we ha no power tools so had to rely on brute strength! When the set was finally done and all the props were prepared we had to go through the game a few times without enforcing the punishments as once they had been enforced the presenters would have all the beans, etc all over them and would have to clean themselves up if we wanted to shoot again. This put quite a lot of people under pressure to get things right or the whole take would be ruined and be almost impossible to be-do.

I feel that this, like the outside VT, took far too long to set up and to begin filming. This is probably due to a fear of us getting it wrong and not being able to do it again, but nevertheless it still took far too long from getting into the studio to actually beginning filming. This could be improved with quicker decision making and less discussion over small details that could be sorted out in a couple of minutes. In a professional setting this type of behaviour would loose a lot of money in the form of time and those responsible would have to change this before they lost their job.

TV Studio: Floor Manager Role

This year I have got the role of floor manager in the TV studio which I am very happy about! I tried to get this role last year but was unsuccessful due to other competition. This role has appealed to me because it contains an element of responsibility over the studio floor but is still given direction from the gallery, which I feel is a perfect amount of responsibility for me.

The responsibilities of the role include:

  • Setting up the talk back for the floor manager and cameramen to be able to contact the gallery
  • Checking that equipment such as earpieces are working
  • Talking to presenters and guests so they know what is happening
  • Counting the show in and out  and giving cues to keep timings tight
  • Keeping the director in the know about what is happening on the studio floor that may be off-camera

I have felt very comfortable in this role and feel I have done well in it so far. I seem to be able to convey messages well and keep the studio floor under control. One thing I can sometimes do is talk over the director or talk more than is necessary over the talk back, sometimes causing confusion but now that I know this I will be working on avoiding this. There is a good relationship between myself, my cameramen and my director allowing for good and effective communication so no time in the studio is wasted.

Before taking on this role I would not have seriously considered thinking about it as a career path but with my experience so far it is definitely something I would consider in the future, after university.