Elections 2015 built on some of the successes of 2014 and also took advantage of YUSU effectively doing a load of our marketing for us to be one of the most successful live YSTV productions in recent history in terms of viewer numbers. It comprised the 60 Second Manifestos, Full Time Officer Debates and the Elections Results Night itself,
60 Second Manifestos
Manifestos were set up the weekend before filming, making use of the slightly larger greenscreen frame borrowed from the Electronics department along with some creative lighting to get a fairly even key (roughly, light the greenscreen first to be completely flat, then light the subject as far in front of it as you can). Initially keying live was attempted, but due to the difficulty in consistently getting a clean key across a variety of clothing patterns and skin tones this was scrapped in favour of doing it in After Effects.
For filming the studio was left in this set up all week as no other productions had booked it and it took us the better part of a weekend to set it up. The lighting desk was configured as a sort of "video village", with the laptop feeding a clock graphic to the plasma which was situated immediately behind the camera, along with being used to copy successful takes to Pending Edits and update the spreadsheet. A TV was also set up and connected to the AC90's HDMI output with the OSD output turned on, to monitor the video and audio levels (and also spot the one time when the camera crashed).
Candidate briefing took place in the middle of the week before filming, during which a sheet of paper was handed around for slot bookings for manifestos, and candidates were briefed on what they could expect from 60SM, FTOs, ERN and URY's Candidate Interview Night. An online system was also setup, making use of http://youcanbook.me to sync slot bookings to a Google calendar and allow candidates to edit their slots if they needed to. Slots were 15 minutes long and available all over the weekend, with a limited additional number on the Thursday and Friday for those who were away - candidates who couldn't make any of these times were encouraged to email the producers to find an alternative. Unfortunately several didn't bother, even with URY sending an email summarising the briefing to every candidate a few days later, and a few candidates complained on the following Tuesday morning after the studio was cleared up on Monday and the videos put online - unsurprisingly their failure to read their emails or get in touch meant they didn't get one! Sending the email out to all candidates the evening after the briefing instead of the Friday may have helped with this.
Following filming of each manifesto it was copied to Pending Edits and one of the editors (set up with the two edit PCs and Tom and Lloyd's desktops in G/020) would pick it up and follow through the neat workflow Peter devised, which involved replacing a template video in After Effects, tweaking the keyer settings if it didn't quite work and then flipping across to Premiere to adjust opening titlecard, background colours and names before exporting. All in all manifestos were completed and ready for upload in about half an hour after they were started. One of the main reasons all the videos got finished in time without anybody needing to pull an all-nighter was having so many people around to help, with four editors along with the two producers and a few other crew filming candidates, finishing videos, reviewing and putting online the backlog was relatively short, although a few Adobe bugs meant some of the manifestos were re-exported five or six times!
Manifestos were put live on Monday evening after Station Meeting as the last of the candidates (who had been away over the weekend and contacted us) had filmed hers and the edit had been turned around. Thanks to YSTV breaking the candidate list (abridged by those who didn't bother filming a manifesto) and YUSU embedding the videos, at time of writing there have been 112778 views of the 42 manifestos for 2015, with the view count crossing the 100k mark by the time voting had closed!
Coming soon (when my degree finishes!)
From a content perspective, the set-up was simple: we had a short introductory section before we cut back to our presenter chatting to two pundits for some general commentary and analysis. When the results were ready to be announced, we'd cut to front of house and as the winner of each position began their speech, we would go back to studio for some instant reaction and results analysis from our pundits. As the winning candidate came to the end of their speech, we cut to VT (the winning candidate's 60 Second Manifesto) so we could sit the winner down, mic them and brief them really quickly on our interview before we came back to studio to chat to them. The cycle was repeated throughout the night and seemed to work.
Towards the beginning of the night, however, due to candidates not showing up to the announcements, the timing of the event was altered and URY filled any gaps for their show or for the event with music. We can't do that, and this eventually resulted in our presenter and pundits having 20 minutes of airtime to fill mid-way through the broadcast. Without our presenter and pundits being so well briefed, this would have been disastrous so advice for future producers would be to make sure that you've got plenty of content researched and ready to talk about.
As with FTOs, thorough research of candidates and their campaigns was essential if we were to provide insightful interviews for viewers to watch and in terms of interviewing, we found that winners interviewed well on their policies and campaigns despite being in a (in some cases very) emotional state. Future producers should look at keeping this rather than asking the same old 'How are you feeling?' question to every candidate.
Note from Producer
This year, YUSU Elections were a great success. Our 60 Second Manifestos amassed over 105,000 hits over the course of the campaign period and YSTV were given the right to reveal who was running for what before any other society.
One major issue with this production is liaising with YUSU and URY - this meant that both of our carefully constructed introductions got cut short. I'd advise any future producers to have a floor manager to act as liaison between us and YUSU/URY to make sure that our show goes out okay.
Matt also advise that producers be given access to Comms sets so that they can talk to presenters during Result night. On a show like this, there were times when Matt needed to talk to Jess when we were live but he couldn't - it frustrated both Matt and Jess that we couldn't communicate so when she had to ad-lib she had to do so with very little help.
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