Stilgherrian Live Alpha: a program brief

Photograph of Sennheiser S825 microphone

Decided! The first episode of Stilgherrian Live Alpha will be “recorded live” on the Internet this Thursday 8 May at 9.30pm Sydney time. Oh shit! That’s tomorrow!

I won’t repeat what I’ve already written about my plans [1, 2]. This post presents a Program Brief — so I can clarify my thinking as much as anything else — and gathers a few recent thoughts. I’m intending to make the entire process transparent in the immodest hope that someone might find it useful.

Aims

  1. Continue my process of moving from doing hands-on technical work to media production, executive production and consulting.
  2. Build upon the “Stilgherrian as a blogger” brand to establish the core personal media global microbrand of “Stilgherrian as a presenter”, around which I can gather other projects.
  3. Establish a regular audience who can become the core of my 1000 True Fans.
  4. Develop and document production workflows so that we can produce similar programs quickly and cheaply.
  5. Experiment with and settle upon a suite of hardware, software and services which works for me in this context.

See, there is method to my madness!

Program Brief

Title: Stilgherrian Live Alpha. Stilgherrian Live is the primary name, and will continue to be used for my personal live programs. The Alpha emphasises that this is pilot material. It will be dropped as soon as we’re happy that we’re moving to a beta product, i.e. all of the components have been individually tested. This may or may not take more than the initial 8 episodes.

In a nutshell: The world from the perspective of a Sydney-based geek. The program will naturally reflect my worldview and interests. However talking to people who have different worldviews will help clarify my own and, with luck, create interesting dialog.

Target Audience: Anyone who’s curious about the world they live in, with a geeky slant. Eventually I’d like to present a general talk show. However I currently work on geek stuff, and the potential audience is primarily geeks. Since I want to build a strong audience initially I need to take that into account.

Format: 8 x 30-minute video programs. The exact format is still to be decided, but I’ve identified some possible elements which I’ll talk about later.

Schedule: Thursdays 9.30pm from 8 May 2008. Live streaming will begin before the program start time for technical tests, and to give the “true fans” a behind-the-scenes view. Recording will start at 9.30pm sharp. Streaming will continue after the live program recording ends so that we can discuss technical issues.

This schedule may change. Tuesday nights probably offer a better audience, and I may need to work around other commitments. Plus there’s our Eurovision thing on Sunday 25 May.

Technical Plan

Live Broadcast & Recording: This is the set-up I’ll be using for the first episode — pretty much what I have lying around. I may upgrade various elements as I go along.

  • Camera: Logitech Webcam Pro 4000 USB. It’s pretty crappy, sure, but my aim in the first episode is to assemble a broadcast chain, now win an award for cinematography. It will be replaced by the built-in iSight when I get my new Macbook Pro.
  • Microphone: Logitech ClearChat Pro headset.
  • Video Mix: CamTwist.
  • Audio Mix: Audio Hijack Pro?
  • Video Monitoring: On-screen.
  • Audio Monitoring: Logitech ClearChat Pro headset.
  • AV streaming: Ustream.tv.
  • Primary Recording: Ustream.tv.
  • Backup Recording: Snapz Pro X?

Podcasting: The program will be podcast as soon as possible after broadcast.

  • Ustream: Automatic after recording.
  • YouTube: Automatic cross-post from Ustream.
  • Stilgherrian.com: Download after broadcast, do a top & tail edit, and post using podPress.
  • iTunes: Automatic cross-post from podPress.

Talkback

Yes, I will be taking calls. Initially this will be via Ustream’s system, so you’ll need a Ustream account. However I plan to take voice calls via Skype — which in turn will allow be to use SkypeIn to take calls from any phone line.

So, how does all that sound?

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  1. Fergus Pitt’s avatar

    During the development phase of a program it’s very easy to get caught up in the work on process, format and technology as opposed to content…. Watch out.

    Reply

  2. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Fergus Pitt: I agree 100%. Very good advice, thank you. Geeks, especially, are prone to getting carried away with the technology rather than thinking about narrative and audience engagement. While this program brief does focus on the technology, I have been developing some content ideas.

    Having produced 4000+ hours of live talk radio for the ABC in Adelaide, though, I know that once the format is decided I can lock in the specific story choices and guests on the day. OK, I’m out of practice so I’ll take a few weeks to get back up to speed — but that’s precisely why I’m only doing a 30-minute program and calling it “alpha”. It will be rough at the edges!

    Reply

  3. bernard’s avatar

    and here was me thinking the “alpha” was “alpha geek”; wouldn’t “beta” normally be given for pilot?

    Look forward to it — if my uber crappy unwired connection lets me get it…

    Reply

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