Week 8: Audio Mixing and Music

6 04 2010

Writing the Next Episode

Well, once an episode is released you have to at least begin to consider what will be included in the next one.  When I began collaborating with Johnny Hoelting and Nick Miller to write the next episode, I think we discovered all over again just how easy it is to write your episode – or at least to brainstorm the ideas you’d like to include.  The hard part is actually executing those ideas.  Particularly in comedy or other light-hearted genres, lots of things seem like they will work.  In fact, too many ideas appear to be ripe for the shooting and ready for inclusion.  Choosing the right things to spend time on is the hard part.

For the next episode, one sequence we’ve decided to pursue is a sort of Broadway musical-style scene including a somewhat tasteful reworking of Jackie Wilson’s “Your Love (Is Lifting Me Higher),” The Mamas and The Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” and Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom.”  Obviously that idea was set in stone after hours of deliberation and compromise, and obviously I’m being sarcastic.  It’s an excuse to record ourselves singing some completely unrelated songs for a completely ridiculous sequence that will require a tremendous amount of editing work.  That’s alright, though, because I’m relatively happy with the recording of the song we’ve churned out.  Laying down each of the instruments was a lengthy process, as were vocals and mixing.  Johnny and Nick were generous enough to lend their voices to this aural treat and I think you’ll find their duet as delightful as I do.  Take a listen… (last.fm is behaving differently, so you’ll have to download the mp3).

Your Love (Is Lifting Me Higher) / Philadelphia Freedom

I recorded individual instrument tracks on a Boss BR-864 8-track digital mixer which I’ve had for years.  It’s really quite out-of-date compared to the machines on the market now (and it lacks the key functionality of being able to record multiple live tracks simultaneously), but it gets the job done on projects like these when nothing else is available.  For my drums, I used a Yamaha live mixer similar to this one that I ran directly into my Boss mixer as an audio sub-mix.  I have every part of my trap set mic’d, although I don’t have a condenser mic in front of the set – which you really should if you’re mic’ing drums.  Unfortunately, I had to return to Columbia as my spring break was coming to a close, so I only got to do two run-throughs of the drum track for this song.  As a result, the kick and the snare ended up being too low in the mix, giving the song a less “stompy” feel since the drums are less prominent.  I played bass, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, a bit of piano, and the drums for the song, and everything  else I created synthetically during the mixing process.

Mixcraft 5 … meh…

To create additional tracks that I wouldn’t be able to capture naturally, I use a program called Mixcraft 5 that does a decent job.  Instead of creating loops (which is probably its most popular use), though, I use it to write music for string, choir, and other instrument parts.

The Mixcraft additions include about 11 more instruments, although the process of creating these parts takes quite a bit of time.  Each note has to be created individually and with an infinite range of note-length possibilities, so copy/paste comes in handy anytime you need to repeat a phrase.  I took the original rough-mixed recordings of each half of the song and matched each part with it (you can set the program’s tempo to match whatever you’re working with).  I added things like a french horn solo, a tympani part, an orchestral part centered around violins, and a choir/organ combo.  I even made use of obscure sounds from eastern instruments and percussion trinkets.

Each instrument can be played in a separate time signature, key, and tempo whenever necessary.  The toughest part was the string section, which begins during the first verse of Philadelphia Freedom.  It meanders to B flat major for a while, which I never quite figured out.  I may actually go back to rewrite those string parts because they ended up being rather atrocious.

After exporting each instrument created in Mixcraft, I imported every track into Adobe Audition 3.0 and started adjusting the levels.  This didn’t take terribly long, except at this point I realized just how much harder it would be to transition between the songs.  After a bit of recording, we had eliminated the “California Dreamin'” section of the song, to make things easier, but “Your Love” and “Philadelphia Freedom” were still in different keys.  “Your Love” is in D major and “Philadelphia Freedom” is in Bb major.  I figured that if I could get “Your Love” to transition into Eb major (just a half-step away), it could then easily transition to Bb.  The problem was that shifting pitches in post-production will destroy the quality of your recording.  I was not aware of that since I am still not a master of Audition by any means.

I decided to shift the pitch of “Your Love” during the final “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah!” at the end of the second verse, which comes right before the second chorus.  I changed up the whole feel of the second chorus to add a completely different dimension to “Your Love” and transitioned directly from that to “Philadelphia Freedom,” which was at the current tempo and in a related key.  Nick’s vocal part there drops from D major down twelve half steps to D major again before falling out of the mix as the new chorus begins.  The key shift is an interesting break-down-style solution to a problem I should have seen ahead of time.  We really should have just recorded all of “Your Love” in Eb, but you live and learn, I guess.

Now we’re planning out the music video for the song, which will involve Nick and Johnny auditioning to be in a band and dancing across the state of Missouri.  It doesn’t make any sense to sing “Philadelphia Freedom” while dancing across Missouri, but what the hell, right?  Take a listen to the song and let me know what you think we should put in the video!

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Week 7: Surprise! A new episode.

18 03 2010

A new episode… but not what I expected.

So I was approached by the team and we decided that something needed to get done soon.  The “The Surprise” episode is simply taking too long to rotoscope, so it may have to wait until spring break.  In the meantime, it was proposed that we finish a whole different episode in three days.  Done.  We attacked a lot of old footage we had in the can and threw something together to make sure that, as a show, we didn’t drift into obscurity over at MUTV.  One sequence we used for the new episode was “Dinosaurs,” a visit to a Tea Party Rally where we decided to avoid politics if we could.

We were very much concerned with the idea that if we shot something at a Tea Party, we could be offending and alienating part of our audience.  We took great precautions to be sure that we didn’t get political with our piece, which is no easy task.  Unlike a news package, there’s definitely room for partisanship with a show like The RC, we just didn’t want to go that direction.  The approach we ended up taking was to have Johnny ask our subjects a few simple questions about their politics and then to take a turn toward the completely ridiculous.  We figured the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs was a pretty good debate to have, since few people feel very strongly about it.  Then, we just tried to make it a political topic, which either perplexed people or got them even more riled up about their cause (interestingly).  Hopefully we succeeded in making “Dinosaurs” fairly neutral.  It could be argued that we confused our subjects to deliberately make them look stupid, but I think most rational people understand that anyone who is confused on camera, not just Tea Party-ers, would look a bit silly.  We certainly treated a lot of the reactions we got very conservatively, in terms of what was and wasn’t part of the final piece.  We didn’t use the most ridiculous stuff we had.

For most of the episode, things were hastily thrown together.  They’re still fairly amusing, at least to us, but the level of quality isn’t nearly what it usually ought to be.  That’s alright, though, as we just needed to be producing more than we were.  Every episode we produce contains parodies of existing PSAs or commericals.  One that we chose for this episode was the Iron Gym commercials, which clearly use professional bodybuilders as their actors.  It’s always a laugh to see the original commercial, so we decided to re-narrate the commercial the way it really should sound.  In about 30 minutes, we had another short piece for the episode.

Another quick piece we threw together was lifted from one of Johnny’s endless lists of random ideas for RC material.  It’s really pretty straightforward.  I suppose it could be offensive, but since it basically applies to us and therefore falls under the category of self-deprecating humor, society’s rules tells me that it’s okay.  Again, this one was shot in about 30 minutes and cut together as quickly.  We may try to accomplish more in this way in the future, being that some of the simplest ideas can speak the loudest.  We don’t have to riddle every sequence with lots of effects, although that can be important to the perception of professional quality for our show.  I’m sure we’ll revisit Johnny’s list of simple ideas whenever we next get the chance.





Week 6: Promotion Between Episodes

13 03 2010

Memories

We recently prepared this piece, titled “MUTV Memories.”  We weren’t really very anxious to start new side projects, to be honest, but MUTV is throwing a Spring semester party and required a short video reflecting on ‘your fondest memories of your time with the station.’  Frankly, we’re very much an odd-show-out when it comes to MUTV, which is mostly Journalism and Communication students who are looking for experience in production.  As a result, 4 out of the 5 other shows are news-related.  Of course, we don’t mind being in this sort of position.  It makes having a show that started as a joke much funnier.  It often means that the people around us take the content and prestige of their shows very seriously, which often means that we have to partake in projects like this to please everyone else.

That said, we were still strongly considering not turning in a “memories” video for the spring party at all.  It didn’t seem to be worth our time while we were trying to balance academics, jobs, and other commitments.  Then, it occurred to us that it would absolutely be worth it to turn in a video… if it failed to meet every requirement and was shot like a rap video.

They asked us to prepare something 15-30 seconds long, so our video is nearly 2 minutes.  They asked for us to recount memories, so we took this opportunity to reveal to them that we applied for a show as a joke and got one anyway.  In between talking head shots of Johnny Hoelting and myself, we inserted shots of us imitating rap videos we found on YouTube.  It’s utterly uncalled-for.  Anywhere you go, though, you’ll have a bureaucracy that asks for things from you that you shouldn’t really have to do.  If you can’t have fun and personalize those things a little bit, we’re hardly representing the irreverent spirit of our show properly.

We’re still not sure if we’ll be airing this segment on our show because it’s so meaningless, so I’m posting it here for you to appreciate.  It hardly works out of context.

Staying Relevant

On a more serious note, producing a few small projects while a big project is holding you up can really be a good way of keeping up appearances.  Any avenue to get people to see your product is a good thing, so it’s always a good idea to take those opportunities.  If going all out on what should be a short clip for a silly spring party gets you a little attention, that’s great.  We haven’t finished our latest episode yet, so we’re looking for as many ways to stay on the map as possible.

Last semester, after we put out an episode, we saw things begin to heat up around midterm time.  I was looking for ways to keep The RC somewhat active, and one night while watching MUTV I found a solution.  Due to some kind of major technical error (they occur frequently), MUTV aired the Nick Cage war film “Windtalkers,” a stirring drama with brutal violence and very serious overtones, with some audio problems.  You could clearly hear the original audio, but an endless serious of student-made commercials and PSAs were airing simultaneously through the audio channel, all of them with sugary royalty-free music and poorly-executed narration.  Since I frequently enjoy witnessing the mistakes MUTV makes despite taking itself so seriously, I couldn’t help but record the broadcast off of my TV and upload it to YouTube for others to enjoy.  Here’s that video.

Sure, this is bordering on “mean,” but it’s also important to be able to laugh at yourself.  I have tremendous respect for everyone who comes to MUTV hoping to learn the skills they’ll one day make a living on.  It’s the people at MUTV who adore themselves and their work (and constantly let everyone else know about it) who make the above video entertaining.  Occasionally, it seems good to remind those people, even subtly, that they’re in school to develop a respect for their art and to hone their skills – they haven’t arrived yet.  Just watch any show on MUTV and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

While I hope to have the new episode of The RC up as soon as possible, classes and the income that makes classes possible come first.





Week 5: After Effects CS4 Part 2

11 03 2010

As I said last week, the process of creating the lightsaber effect in After Effects CS4 is a pretty involved one.  I now understand, to an extent, what the cubicle-isolated folks over at ILM must feel like when George Lucas tells them he wants Yoda to look a bit more “shy” or “calculating.”  Every detail is carefully thought-out, and the audience doesn’t have time to notice most of those details when they watch the final film.  They’d only notice if something were missing – ruining the illusion.

Lucky for me, there’s no real illusion here.  That’s why I – and people like Jon Stewart – stick to mocking the establishment with satire rather than trying to create an entirely new idea/process/style.  I have nothing against Jon Stewart or other satirists, but I often wonder just how many people could do the job that they criticize (whether that’s the news, public office, filmmaking, etc.).  It’s just a nice breath of fresh air when you can inject comedy into something very serious.  [and…we’re back off the soap box.]

Here we are in After Effects CS4, close-up on a shot of Brad as he walks with his lightsaber laying casually over his shoulder.  There are at least six of these shots where the lightsaber has to be motion-tracked the entire time that brad is talking.  Remember to think ahead when you shoot!  This would be an excellent example of a scene where the work involved in creating the effect is NOT worth the humor.  All the same, it’s good for a chuckle… and it’s already shot so we can’t go back now.

Create a “white solid” and add it to your timeline above the video layer.  Then create a “black solid” and add it below your video layer.  The screen goes white, of course.  Now, click on the “eye” icon to the far left of that layer, making it invisible.  Add a “mask” to the white solid and trace the mask around the shape of the lightsaber.  You just need a quadrilateral at first, with four points.  Don’t worry about rounding out the two ends of the lightsaber until later.  (To test this, click on the eye again to reveal the white layer, which should now cover all of the lightsaber, excepting the small areas at the ends that haven’t been rounded yet).

Repeat this process for every frame in your shot.  Then, go back to the beginning of the shot,  add one or two (don’t go overboard) more points in the mask outline to each end, making the shape closer to the rounded edge shape of the ends.  Use the rounded-edge tool under the “pen” icon in your tool panel at the top (ctrl+G) and click on each of these new points to automatically complete the roundness of your mask.  Now, when you watch the whole scene (with the white solid visible), you should have a crude version of your lightsaber.  Now we need to make it glow – which has the added bonus of covering up any minor errors we made which may have reveals a bit of the original lightsaber in the video.

Now, go back to that mask in your timeline.  Copy the white solid that the mask belongs to about 5 times above your video in the timeline (that’s the number I used, but you can use more or less).  For the first mask, turn the “feather” up 1 point.  On the second mask, turn the feather up to 10 points.  For the third, 30 points.  For the fourth, 60 points, and for the fifth, 120 points.  This way, we’ve actually created what appears to be light surrounding the core of the lightsaber (the original white shape).

The rest is much easier.  First, delete the video from that composition (you should be left with 5 white solids on top of a black solid).  Then, create a new composition and add the exact same video to it.  Drag the original composition into that new composition.  You should not be able to see the video because the black layer is in the way.  To the right of that composition’s layer, under the “mode” drop-down menu, scroll down to “screen.”  Like magic, your glowing lightsaber layer appears over your original video again.  With the lightsaber composition highlighted in your timeline, go up to “effects” in the menu at the top and scroll down to “color correction.”  Under that category, select “color balance,” which adds the effect to the lightsaber composition layer below.  Next, adjust the effect to your liking.  For a vibrant blue or red, I have been turning the shadow, midtone, and highlight all the way up for the color I have chosen (your options are blue, red, or green).

When you play this back, you should have a pretty solid lightsaber effect.  Other tricks of the trade include widening the shape of the lightsaber when it is moving quickly and adding sound effects later to create the full impact of the effect.





Week 4: New Episode Coming Soon

16 02 2010

New Episode On It’s Way

The next episode of Reacharound Clubhouse has taken quite a while to get here.  By that, I’m not referring to the time that has passed since our last episode (it’s been some time since new material has aired).  I mean that the new episode is made up entirely of footage that was shot in the summer of 2007.  The episode will be a 25-minute short film called “The Surprise” which has been waiting for a nice edit for nearly 3 years, lying dormant in my external drives.  It’s one of three films shot that summer that will eventually be cut for various purposes, along with a 40-minute film called “The Middle Man” and another untitled film about a reclusive young man who decides to venture out into the real world.  “The Middle Man” was started in the summer of 2006, but shooting wasn’t anywhere near completion until a year later.  It’s plot is extremely convoluted, but it involves a mysterious necromancer, a briefcase, zombies, a beach, lots of death, and plenty of unnecessary twists – all the typical student filmmaker stuff.  All three films, without consciously intending it, are parodies of the action, thriller, and film noir genres.  Perhaps they’ll all be featured on Reacharound Clubhouse in the near future…

The Surprise” is the action film.  We basically shot it without any script and completely out of order, piecing together whatever stereotypical plot elements of an action movie we could think of.  Also, I should mention that it’s primarily a lightsaber battle, so it’s got that going for it.  There’s no explanation of how these two high school guys managed to get their hands on lightsabers, you just need to accept it and move on.

I found the 4 1/2 hours of footage and realized how amusing it is to cut together old material… it’s often much funnier than you remember after you haven’t seen it in three years.  The whole thing was shot in about 4 or 5 afternoons, with costumes provided by a local second hand store.  Like I said, we didn’t bother with thinking the story through ahead of time, so the “plot” moves randomly and certainly doesn’t have any real purpose, moral or aesthetic.  I recommend shooting this way, though, at least once.  It allows the actors the chance to improvise with the knowledge that the entire story could change depending on what they say next.  Nothing is set in stone, so it’s a very free and exciting way to make a movie.

Special Effects

If you’re not familiar with the lightsaber effect (used originally in the Star Wars movies, of course), it’s created through a process called “rotoscoping.”  That refers to going through every frame in which an effect appears and coloring something in, outlining something, or otherwise creating the look you want.  When the frames are all played together, the resulting animation looks as though you shot a scene with the effects there.  With lightsabers, you create a layer that covers up the placeholder that you use for your lightsaber.  In our case, we just went to the toy aisle at a WalMart and bought toy lightsabers.  Unfortunately, they’re shorter and fatter than sabers that appear in Star Wars, but that’s alright.  The program I’m using is Adobe After Effects CS4 , which is one of the industry leaders in effects software.  It’s terrible complex and overly-capable (like Flash CS4), but once you figure out how you can accomplish what you need to get done, you’re good.  Luckily, I’ve been using After Effects for about 6 years, so I’m not putting myself through a crash course the way I am with Flash.

The program has an effect called “beam” that I intended to use back when I shot the film.  It’s the same effect that I used to create (really awful) laser effects for the short film “Lasers” in which Daniel Posey flips out and starts wreaking havoc when he discovers that his sandwich can shoot lasers.

“Lasers” from Reacharound Clubhouse

Instead of animating the laser moving along a horizontal path, though, I thought I could keep it still in the air and just match it to the path of the lightsaber frame-by-frame.  It turns out that there is a much more realistic method to use, which I am currently putting into the film.  Basically, you create a solid layer that is the color white, then use a mask that reveals this layer in the exact shape of the lightsaber in every frame.  Copy that mask about six times and use an array of feathering (at levels 1, 10, 30, 60, 120, and 240) to simulate the look of an object that emits light.  Then, tint the whole effect the desired color of the lightsaber.  You’ll get a solid white core and a colored light surrounding it.  I felt that this looked much better than the laser effect, so I’m going with it, despite the fact that a 3-second shot takes about 45 minutes to create.  If there are two lightsabers in the shot, you’re looking at twice as much time.  This is a huge setback to production, but the effect is cool enough that it’s worth it.

More on “The Surprise”

The film stars Nick Miller and Brad Sova, who deliver very amusing performances.  Several other people serve as extras, but the vast majority of the movie is just Nick and Brad locked in heated combat.  Watch for allusions to every action movie you’ve ever seen.  “The Surprise” is overflowing with cheesiness, so just enjoy it.  We’re not apologizing.  Again, it was shot completely out of order, so there are many transitions of location that are shaky.  You’ll see some jump cuts and you’ll probably notice arms/legs/eyes/etc. that aren’t in the same place as they were in the previous shot.  It’s very heavy on cuts at times, so that can be a problem.  It’s the price you pay, though, if you shoot off-the-cuff like we did with no planning at all (and with no crew).  It’s also interesting to note that every character is named after some sort of tree, which is just odd.  I can barely remember shooting some of this stuff, which you may relate to if you’ve ever looked at really old footage, so I’m unable to explain every strange thing that appears in the film.

Check in next week and I’ll revisit the process of rotoscoping (and doing a few other effects) more in-depth.  Soon, the site will be up.  I promise!  So… be ready.  Meanwhile, here are a few stills from “The Surprise.”





Week 3: GoDaddy, Paypal, Zymic, and Flash CS4

8 02 2010

Over the past week I’ve been hard at work getting things prepped for the site.  It’s taken a lot of experimentation, though, so if you have any interest in setting up a site for yourself – TAKE HEED!  I’ve learned a few things about the process, so I’d go about it differently if I did it again.

GoDaddy.com

First, you probably want to purchase a domain name, as I did.  I chose GoDaddy.com, despite it’s horrifically tasteless and childish advertisements, because it’s the largest online domain registrar.  I did a bit of research, and I came upon a few sites that had some pretty negative things to say about their experience with GoDaddy.  NoDaddy.com, in particular, railed on the lack of security and poor customer service at GoDaddy, sharing lots of reports that GoDaddy has taken back domain names without any explanation, sticks you with hidden fees for security and privacy services that should be standard, and uses “dirty tricks” to keep you from transferring your domain to another service.  Despite these stories, I thought that if I lost my (relatively small) investment to GoDaddy trickery, at least I’d have an interesting story to share.

I’m happy to say that so far, things have gone very smoothly – which is to say that my domain hasn’t been taken away yet.

GoDaddy’s website is very disorganized (ironically), but ultimately that doesn’t create much of a problem.  The claims that GoDaddy sticks you with fees for site security, personal info privacy, and other services are true.  Once you find a domain name that is unregistered, say “gomissouritigers.com,” GoDaddy tells you that your “.com” domain will cost you $10.69 for 1 year.  It also suggests that you buy related domains, like “gomissouritigers.org,” “gomissouritigers.net,” “gomissouritigers.info,” .biz, .us, .mobi, etc.  I opted not to purchase other similar domains.  Then you give GoDaddy your address, phone number, name, and email.  Then it begins asking you to pay for them to keep that information secret (off the public registry).  Then it asks you to pay for them to put their official “seal” of certification on your site, which is supposed to prove, somehow, that you “are who you say you are” to your visitors.  After that, you’re asked to pay GoDaddy not to take your domain away if your credit card expires or if your contact information becomes outdated.  Next, it offers you email service, then site hosting, then a “shopping cart” feature for your site, then site analytics services, then data encryption for your online customers’ sensitive information, then advertising services.  Before you check out, it reminds you of many of these things again, always with numerous asterisks and “what is it?” links that show you an incredible amount of fine print.

I have to say, GoDaddy really bogs the process down and seems to attempt to trick you into buying a lot of extras that you don’t need.  It makes it difficult to trust GoDaddy.  On my next site, I think I’ll play it safer and use a different domain registrar.  On the bright side, GoDaddy does seem to be improving its reputation for poor customer service.  The day after my purchase, they called me to ask me about my site and to answer my technical questions.

PayPal

I paid for the site using PayPal, which was easy to set up if you don’t already have an account.  I would recommend using your credit card if you have one because you can make instant payments.  I, personally, don’t have a credit card, so I attached my PayPal account to my checking account.  After the site verifies your bank and account number, you have to wait 3-5 business days to get any amount of money transferred to PayPal.  In my case, it took the full 5 days.  After that time passed, I was able to complete my purchase at GoDaddy with no problems.

Zymic.com

Rather than pay GoDaddy for its hosting service (the ability to upload your content to your domain with a certain storage capacity and bandwidth), which is between $4.74 and $6.64 every month, I chose to host my site under a free hosting provider called Zymic.  Zymic offers comparable storage and bandwidth and it’s free.  Even the GoDaddy customer service representative who called me seemed shocked that Zymic didn’t place ads on my site.

Flash CS4

After making the investment in a copy of Adobe Flash CS4, I’ve discovered (perhaps a bit late) just how deep this rabbit-hole goes.  Flash is the wicked step-sister to Dreamweaver that will stretch your ability to learn code-writing and complex layering methods to its breaking point … with amazing results.  Flash is almost too multi-faceted and capable, which can be very intimidating at first.  My strategy has been to first plan out what I want my website’s appearance and functionality to be and then to research how similar things have been done in Flash.  Youtube has turned out to be a great place to find very detailed tutorials on creating projects in Flash, giving you a click-by-click breakdown of everything you need to do in Flash to get a certain result.  These have been indispensable, although I have a long way to go before I consider myself to have any significant knowledge of this program.

The site is designed to reflect the random and ridiculous nature of our program – we definitely don’t want to give people the impression that we take ourselves or the show too seriously.  Hopefully the title “Reacharound Clubhouse” accomplishes that goal from the get-go, but just in case, we make sure to make that a theme in everything we do.  One of the few “philosophical” attitudes we all tend to have in common is that producers of entertainment, news, and other media are perfectly capable of accomplishing their goal without seeming arrogant.  We make it a point to satirize these types of personalities on our show and we’ll continue to keep that attitude upfront in whatever we do.  We feel that an audience will find that sort of casualness refreshing, particularly on a college campus where the routine of competing with your peers wears us all down.

I’ll keep you updated as the site comes along, but here is the site as it currently stands – displaying an “Under Construction” message:  ReacharoundClubhouse.Com





Week 2: Construction begins on the site

31 01 2010

To make things clear then, the remainder of this blog will be dedicated to documenting the production of MUTV’s Reacharound Clubhouse, a television program that would have stratospheric potential were it not for its terrible name, questionable structure, lack of focus, and absence of production quality.  I kid, of course, although something’s got to be done about the name.  This page will be the one-stop-shop for all things related to the RC’s production, including deleted scenes, conceptualizations, staff information, and making-of featurettes.  The show’s goal is to make people laugh, ultimately, but it can’t be considered a sketch-comedy program (despite what you’ll read on our official MUTV website http://mutv.missouri.edu/reacharound.php).  The show is a cluster of our favorite things: on-the-spot interviews gone wrong, live musical performances, short films, scenes from “the clubhouse,” commercials and PSAs altered for our enjoyment, and viewer-submitted material.  Basically whatever we feel like throwing on there.

I’m hoping to make a lot of progress on our new website this weekend, which is where we’ll be moving this blog so that it’s home is integrated into the RC experience.  We’re hoping to include a viewer submission upload page, a place to watch the show, staff bios, this blog, a place for one of our fictitious characters, a music page, and other goodies.  The idea behind the website is to add a new degree of professionalism and legitimacy to our show.  We’re also operating a facebook page and a twitter (both of which have been relatively inactive for a while) in addition to our MUTV website, a youtube, a Blip.tv, and our airing on MUTV.  We’re hoping to expand our web presence and our physical advertising this semester, but it’s more important that we’re reaching our target audience in several different ways as opposed to just occupying lots of different spaces online.

Johnny

Johnny Reaches Out For Fans

We’re hoping to have the site up and running by next week, when we’ll have some screen shots of the site’s construction and scenes from the new episode.  The picture above is one of the main elements of our homepage.  I’m creating a simple flash element that will animate the area above his hand, the area behind him, and the menu below him.  Johnny is a common on-screen personality for the show, specializing in animation and sexiness.  Also, he hates Papa John’s.

We’ve determined that the best design for the site is to put a simple, clean-looking homepage at our original domain address.  This will be dominated by a flash animation with a white background that gives you options.  The first choice is a blog-style informational page where updates give visitors all the latest news on the show.  Other links from the main page (clips, music, behind the scenes, etc.) we’ll anticipate being visited less.

I’ll be chatting with Prof. Jim MacMillan of MU’s Journalism School as I develop the design, but I feel we have a good start.  I’m most concerned with combining the nonsensical, irreverent atmosphere of the show with a sleeker style that lends itself toward the professionalism we’re hoping to develop.

For those f you not familiar with the show, here’s a promo we’ve been using for a while.  We’ll develop a new ad for MUTV soon, but this introduces a few of our regular stars (Daniel Posey, Marcus Miller, Dennis White, and others).