The project, in and of itself, was an ambitious one. You took a format which looks---on the surface---simple to do and probably realized it can be extremely complex. Let's break this up into strengths and weaknesses of your presentation:
You chose an upbeat format. It's entertaining and tried-and-true. It's also tough because comedy on television is much more difficult than it appears. Anthony has a strong, interesting personality before the camera. He needs more self-confidence, which more rehearsal in this format would help, but he projects well.
Debby and Robin were a good combination in the truck and handled their individual responsibilities well. Jennifer was a good time coordinator and stayed well focused on the entirety of the show, including time. Camera work was relatively sharp.
The interview segment was done in tighter closeups than some groups would do and that's good because it gave a solid depth to the personalities. Adding a musical segment to the show was a good change of pace and follows the line of most entertainment-oriented talk shows, particularly one late-night oriented as was this one.
Having Demetrius introduce the show live had a presence which recording it would not have. He gave a "Tonight Show"-style adaptation to the show.
A very strong point was the videotaped segment with the questions. For one thing, they were creative questions designed to get the kinds of answers you had and Anthony was talented at egging on the interview subjects. You have to have a good emcee to push that. Plus, it looked good going to different locales, including the Christmas parade. About 70 per cent of the interviews were well-lighted but more on that in a moment.
The musical segment was very well-directed. Debby has paid attention to the progression of shots which are essential to directing a good musical number. Based on this, I would have full confidence in her to call the shots on one during I've Heard That Song!. She had the right pacing and the dissolves came at the right time with quality varied angles. Plus, she used the techniques of having one camera pull off Crystal while the other one panned on. Nice, nice work.
Can't say enough about Robin's work on audio under intense pressure. You're having one shot to do a show as it was live and the mix was strong. Not one upcut of audio and a nice mix on the song, particularly since we couldn't get the reverb to function properly.
You kept yourself together on time at the end of the show and it was a bit of a rush to do it because you didn't leave a lot of leeway in case her song ran long. Your timing and rundown sheet was thorough and you knew where you were at any given time in the show. I just hope you were prepared to end the show on her song, had she run long. We'll never know, will we? Tee hee.
We have to look at several things: 1) lighting is the major weakness throughout the show. Candidly, you'd have never been allowed on the air with the kind of lighting you had on Anthony at the host's desk. It's a case of two things: one, waiting too late to get that established....and two, Chris did light Anthony and then he moved. The camera 1 shot on Anthony was horrendous with the lighting angle. Almost as if you were under a shade tree. You can come up with all the defenses for it but the fact is, you weren't ready with an absolute essential. No matter what help you needed, you needed to be better prepared. Viewers would have tuned that out. You also had sections of the taped interviews where you were inconsistent. Some parts were stronger in lighting than others but you took too much for granted in some of the hall and gym shots.
2) Doing a monologue with no audience is just dead. That's one of the things I told you to consider: do you need an audience for your show and if you can't pull off your segment without an audience or can't obtain one, rethink it. You had a video opening to set things up over the city and a hot anouncer intro....but Anthony's lines just went flat with no audience reaction. Plus, I have to just be frank: it may be contemporary and the intent was positive and on the high ground, but to even bring up sex-related material was just not the right thing here. We're supposed to be charting a higher course and I would have been disciplined enough to toss out something the culture suggests is okay.
3) You've got to have a better contingency plan. Why is your announcer suddenly your guest? I realize what happened with Dr. Mallard but that was not her problem as much as it was someone from the production team did not brief her well in advance. When I heard, "But we haven't briefed her," when she came in at 12:55, my mental note was: why HASN'T someone briefed her before now? It doesn't make sense to the audience when they've already had the announcer established to suddenly introduce him as you would any other guest. If anything, backup plan: go to a break after the video segment and come back with Demetrius already on the couch in the sidekick position and have him and Anthony banter for a bit. I would also have had at least one other person ready as a backup other than your announcer. You have to be prepared for the worst happening and while this filled time, it doesn't make sense to the viewer why the announcer is now like any other guest. Could you not have had Crystal be a guest and then have her go over to sing? Anything to provide a variation. Plus, the interview loses a little zing without an audience again.
4) A few small glitches: accidentally went to the set too quick in the opening. You realized it and went back to the video but that was a loss of concentration, probably from nerves over the show starting. Also...the video was too shaky in those traffic scenes. I don't know what it's going to take for me to get through to you people to use a tripod. That's just lazy when you don't take the extra 2 minutes to set it up, particularly shooting long, establishing shots when you aren't steady. One shot looked like you'd hit a bump on a rollercoaster.
An ambitious try and you had some decent moments. However, for those of you going on to advanced production, I want you to pay more attention to detail about lighting and steadiness of camera in the field. Also, in studio productions, thinking through contingencies. What backup plans do I develop in case the show falls through, a guest doesn't show, the announcer's voice collapses, etc.?
Embellish your strengths. Debby may not be advancing in production but she's a good director and has excellent skills. Robin, who can also direct well, also has a crackerjack talent on audio. And good studio camerawork here. I hope this critique gives you a thorough review of how you did well and what you need to improve on in future productions.
PROJECT GRADE: B
OVERALL CLASS GRADES
Okay, gang. Got a problem. I inadvertently did not copy down which code name corresponded to which student when I handed them out to you Friday. So, if you will bring me your code name or e-mail me your code name at firstname.lastname@example.org, I will give you your overall class grade. For the record, we have two As and four Bs. That should alleviate SOME fears.
Have a wonderful Christmas,
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