Friday, February 24, 2012

Lights, Camera....Action: The Sequel

Do you remember last Spring when the crew of The Weekly Special came to the studio to interview me about dyeing yarn?    Read all about it here.   You can see the YouTube clip on my side bar -->.

I met some wonderful people and had a really great experience.  Imagine how excited I was when the producer, Eric Bolstridge, contacted me to do a piece for The Friday Zone!

The Friday Zone is a program especially designed for kids 6-9 years old that's produced in Bloomington, Indiana by WTIU on the campus of Indiana University.  They asked me to be a guest for a segment on color theory.

Of course, I said, 'Yes!'

We planned the material, packed up three boxes of dyes and tools and samples and headed to Studio 6 at IU on Wednesday afternoon.

After loading everything in with the help of some of the backstage crew, we got settled in behind the cameras with the rest of the crew.    You can see a bit of the area where the crew stays during production.   It was much much darker than these pics show.

This is Michelle.  She was so friendly!  We especially appreciated the time she spent chatting with us before filming started.  It helped calm my nerves a lot.

A lot, I tell you.    Michelle deserves a raise.

I was very excited to find out that she was one of the cameramen.   Here she is behind Camera 1.

Sometime during rehearsal, I'm pretty sure I remember Mike, the stage manager, telling me to look into Camera 1.  Now that I think about it, it would have been nice if I had actually done that.

I'm pretty sure that I never looked at Camera 1 at any time during filming.

I think my subconscious was working on the premise that if I didn't actually make eye contact with a camera, then quite possibly the cameras weren't there and there was nothing for me to be nervous about. 

Denial is my friend.

This is Tyler, the audio guy.   He helped me put the mic on without destroying the mic or strangling myself.

He said they prefer it when guests don't strangle themselves.

I think that's a good policy.

Here I am not strangling myself.    I just let Tyler fix it all.   He's especially good at fixing the loop next to the clip.  This is a highly sought after skill, he tells me.

I think they should give him a raise, too.

Here are the hosts of the Friday Zone!

Emily and Taylor are rehearsing the opening segment of this episode.

And here they are during filming.

My part of the show was divided into three parts.  The first part was at the couch, where I talk about some basic color harmonies.  I brought way too many samples, but it looked pretty all set up.

This is what was going on behind the cameras.

The set is very bright and the backstage area is very dark. Everyone wears black and everybody is very quiet. 

It took me a while to realize that the quiet was deceptive.  Actually, there was a very lively conversation going on that I couldn't hear.

Here's the thing about being a guest on a show like this. You miss a lot.

Most everyone else on set gets to wear a little audio bud thingie in their ear so the producer, etc. can tell them what to do and how to adjust things better.   The producer tells folks when to practice, when to film, when to stop, where to sit, etc. 

The guest doesn't get one of those ear bud thingies.  I'm guessing that this is true for all guests and not just me because I tried to strangle myself with the mic when they came out last Spring to film for The Weekly Special.  

What this means is that there is a constant conversation going on only half of which you can hear.  And when  Mike comes over and asks if that arrangement is going to work and are you OK with this, he really isn't talking to you, he's talking to Eric, in the booth.  But he'll be polite when you answer him as if he was actually talking to you.

So, basically, everyone else knows what they are doing and what's going on and the guest has no clue.

No clue at all.

It's a little disconcerting.  But you gotta roll with it.

This is me on the monitor, and on the couch, not looking at Camera 1.   [It looks like the monitor is one of those big ones on the wall behind us, but really it's a normal sized one on a stand, back behind the camera next to where the crew sits.  Bad perspective. Sorry about that.]

This is me holding the color wheel.  It's the one thing that I did really well.

Really, really well.

I held the color wheel up for Camera 1, so they could get a good clear shot of it.   For about 5 minutes.  Then we realized that I should have been holding up another one.  So I held that one up.  This is what happens when you bring four different color wheels to demonstrate things with.

I hope that my skill at holding things up for Camera 1 makes up for the fact that I never actually looked at Camera 1 myself.   

This is where we did the second part of my segment.   We've got a big white board ready to show what happens when we combine different colors of light - additive color mixing.

That's Mike on the left.  He's the stage manager.

During the actual filming of this segment, I was standing where Taylor is in the pic, talking about additive color mixing and Taylor was manning the lights so we could see what happens when we mix them. 

These are my beautiful helpers.  They got to be on camera with me for the third segment - subtractive color mixing with dyes. 

I learned a lot about being on set and on camera.  Next time will be easier.

Here's what I learned about being on TV when you have no idea what's going on:
  • Don't expect to hear the whole Lights, Camera, Action thing.   If they say that, and I don't think they do, it's in the earbud thingie and since you don't have one, you aren't going to hear it.  
  • They do use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 hand signal.   Watch for that.  It means you're filming. 
  • Trust that the hosts will lead you where you need to be in the conversation.   Remember, they've got someone whispering in their ears about how to move the topic along.
  • Smile all the time.  Especially if you're not planning on actually looking at Camera 1 to see if the little light is blinking or on or whatever [I would know which if I had actually looked at the camera] and filming is in progress.
  • Pretend that every practice is the real thing.  For all you know, it is.   I never did figure out if a take was just a rehearsal or not.   It all felt real, until someone cracked a joke or stopped mid-sentence.  Plus, I figured it would be bad form if I kept interrupting to ask, 'Are we filming?' 
  • Figure that even if you are awful, they're probably going to be too polite to tell you and  you can live in blissful ignorance until that segment hits YouTube.
  • Remember, YouTube is not forever.   I hope. 
All in all we had a wonderful experience.  Thanks so much to the cast and crew of The Friday Zone for having us!

Stay tuned!  I'll let you know when this episode of The Friday Zone airs.


  1. How totally exciting!!!! I can't wait to see it. I have watched your sidebar segment a couple of times and you are so poised and confident in that! You'll be great in this too. Oh, and did you ever look at Camera 1? That wasn't quite clear...

  2. There was supposed to be a big wink (;-)) after that last sentence but apparently the angle bracket police decided to strip it out of the comment!

  3. Murph - :) I have a love/hate relationship with Camera 1.

  4. Was there a camera 2? Is there an intriguing camera triangle???? Were you looking at camera 2 and casting camera 1 aside? To wait, heart-broken for your smallest glance?

    Sorry, I'm feeling silly this morning. I think I'm catching a cold and that always makes me feel a little giddy...

  5. You are amazing. Can't wait to see the episode. Love all the color on the set.

  6. How very cool!! I totally missed this since we were in Arizona at the time. Heeey, you're a celebrity with all those TV appearances! =)


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