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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 06:36 PM   #1
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Launch a new TV channel - in Africa!

Yep, that's pretty much what I'm doing!

I'm currently in Ghana working with Sony Broadcast and Autocue.
.
I am running a consultancy project and carrying out all the training for radio & TV journalists to work in a new tapeless bi-media newsroom - and that includes everything from set design to script-writing and from camera work to how to produce content that your audience wants to see.

It's a major overhaul for the state broadcaster here....and there's an ambitious plan to
launch the first 24 hour new channel on the African continent.

The journalists are among the best in Africa but currently operate with no teleprompter and the radio and TV newsrooms operate with just one outside phone line each!

Ghana is a big country - and pictures from the North of the country can take a staggering two days by road to reach the capital, Accra....so much for instant news!

I've opened this thread in case there's anyone who'd like to find out more about the challenges etc broadcasters and film-makers here face.

The camera crews shoot on XDCam but they edit on a two-machine assembly edit set-up.

That all changes in two weeks when they start to use Sony Vegas.

So here it's a major leap-frogging in terms of technology...kinda from zero to hero in one giant step.

If you have any questions or ideas you want to share I'll try my best to answer you. I'm out here for another two weeks - but internet coverage and Skype etc is very patchy.

Sean
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 10:05 PM   #2
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The first main think that I'm thinking is ... this in itself would make a very interesting documentary!

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Old March 4th, 2010, 04:25 PM   #3
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Very cool project! Something I'd totally take on! Have fun while you're there!
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Old March 4th, 2010, 11:44 PM   #4
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Maybe his real reason for posting was to make the rest of us jealous???

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Old March 7th, 2010, 07:58 AM   #5
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The answer Andrew is both 'yes' and 'no'!

And believe me, it is hard work - but someone has to do it!

We had a major hiccup two weekends ago....the electricity sub-station which is at the back of the new news centre and which handles all the power literally blew up! We had fire tenders etc rush to the scene to deal with it....and it was top story on the national TV News.

There was real concern one of the lighting engineers who'd been checking power feeds a short while before might have been fried. Thankfully no-one was hurt.

There was a major investigation by the police as there have been several high-profile fires around the capital Accra in recent months and there was concern it might have been sabotage.

Last week there was a major power cut which means we had no aircon - and as a result the whole system had to be shutdown because there was concern the servers would have been cooked in the heat.

On Friday we had a visit by the Serious Fraud Office who were checking up that the money invested in the new news centre was actually being spent on the project and wasn't ending up in someone's pocket.

So, never a dull moment here.

My focus is less about the technical issues and more on the quality of the journalism and editorial content.....and operating as a bridge between the Sony technical team and the journalists and producers. This is to ensure that now they have all the whizz-bang equipment they can actually make quality content with it.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 12:32 PM   #6
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Congrats on the new endeavor Sean!

Sounds like you definitely have your hands full. And I agree with Andrew that it'd make an interesting doco.

Maybe in your, um, spare time, you can post some pics.

Best,
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Old March 13th, 2010, 06:27 PM   #7
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Thank Jeff....ask and you shall receive.

Here's a link to a quick video I've put together on Vimeo: (Funnily enough bandwidth is so low I personally can't actually view the video via Vimeo here in Africa).


For those who'd like to know:

The first piece to camera was shot handheld on a Sony Z5...the rest was shot on a full-size Sony broadcast camera on XDCam....by a four person crew! (...and they still couldn't get the lighting right!)

It was edited using a combination of Premiere CS3 on my old struggling laptop and Vegas on a low-powered HP workstation.

And before you write a reply, yes I know it is in two different aspect ratios (I am a beginner with Vegas) and yes I know there's a red flash frame near the start (I can't figure out how to lose it easily in Vegas).

The film has been exported and re-exported a few times, hence the quality - but at least it gives some impression of what we're up to.

And no, I didn't have a script or teleprompter.

The new set, which I've overseen the design of, is being built and installed tonight.

It's been designed by two great young Ghanaian guys, Tony and Charles - and tonight there were 20 or so carpenters etc working furiously to get it ready for rehearsals tomorrow.

The green carpet has been glued down - and it was a bit like a glue sniffers get-together tonight in the studio.

I'll try to upload or link to some pix of the actual set. In the meantime, I've attached a shot of the set design which given an idea of what it looks like.
Attached Thumbnails
Launch a new TV channel - in Africa!-gtv-news-new-3.jpg  
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Old March 13th, 2010, 11:12 PM   #8
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This is fantastic. Looking forward to even more.

Can you do this in a weekly update / blog sort of way?

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Old March 14th, 2010, 07:45 PM   #9
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Here as promised is a montage of a few shots I took last night as the new set was being constructed.

Check out the number of lights suspended from the studio ceiling.....

Today, while the set was being finished off, I held a series of meetings to sort out programme format, opening titles, music, dress code for presenters etc ahead of tomorrow night's launch. I've also tried to alter the scheduling of adverts to ensure the programme runs smoothly.

We begin rehearsals at 3pm tomorrow - ahead of the first programme from the new studio at 7pm.

That's not a lot of time. Whether anything/everything is ready by then remains to be seen.

For political reasons they have decided to launch tomorrow - before everything is fully in place ...and my hope is that this will be a short-term solution which will bridge the period before they aim to go to a 24 hour rolling news format this summer.
Attached Thumbnails
Launch a new TV channel - in Africa!-studio-set1.jpg  
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Old March 15th, 2010, 02:29 AM   #10
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My condolences to your stress levels!

(arrrgh!)

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Old March 15th, 2010, 07:16 PM   #11
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Well, what a day!

We got on air tonight from the new studios for an hour long programme at 7pm and again at 10.30 pm.

But the best laid plans often go astray.

I had planned for rehearsals from 3pm but, heck, this is Africa and despite all the enthusiasm and willingness, we went on air without any real rehearsals at all.

I came close to blowing my top in frustration two hours before the on-air TX time, but I had to remind myself I'm not the producer. I'm a consultant and trainer - and it's fundementally up to them to decide what to go to air with.

Overall it was a great success - but there's still a lot to build on and refine.

It wasn't blemish free, but it's a huge improvement on what they were doing two months ago - and they can only get better. It was great team work and we had some strong packages, three live inserts, business, sports and entertainment and a live studio interview.

Now the real work starts, getting the whole tapeless newsroom running efficiently - and that means for both TV and for radio.

One great phrase I've learned here is: Yehbeshweh - we shall see!
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Old March 16th, 2010, 02:50 AM   #12
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I trust there is video recorded of the historical first broadcast?

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Old March 19th, 2010, 11:50 PM   #13
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Hi Sean,

Congratulations on getting up and running and for the new studio (the design pics look good).

Good job on the Vimeo video (yep, rather strange that "red flash", which I was more out of sorts with than the aspect ratio), and I expect a video at least twice a day from now on!

It's rather sobering to think about all the training and education that you're giving to your clients in Ghana. I don't take for granted at all that time I spent in school and on set learning all this stuff (and continue to learn).

So when you get done in Africa, make sure to stop by the university here so you can teach the journalism classes a thing or two :)

Best,
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