Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We're editing like crazy!

We have one week to go before we will be outputting all the season 2 programs to tape, so things around the Blue World office are busy!  We have been editing the segments slowly over the past 18 months as we have been shooting them.  Most of the segments were edited by me while I was not traveling, but Art edited two of them and Kerry edited four.  As you know, the segments, which run 6-12 minutes each, end up being "webisodes" on the website, with a short opening sequence.  But strung together, three at a time, with "bumpers" between them, and a 1 minute opening sequence, they are ~28 minute television programs.

With season 2, things are more complicated than season 1.  First of all, we're shooting, editing and delivering the show to television in HD.  (For you technical buffs, we shoot in 1080/60i).  Also, we now have an underwriter (Ian's Natural Foods....yummy chicken nuggets!) so we needed to create a "spot" (15 second promo) for them that goes into the beginning and end of the program for public television. 

So after the Ian's spot was complete and approved, including a theme song by Bruce Zimmerman, we had to get Art into the studio to record his "bumpers"  (you know, the part where the guy with the great voice says "Coming up next on Jonathan Bird's Blue World...").  After those were recorded, the assembly of programs began.  This is fun because it all comes together.  The new opening sequence which we have been working on for months, the Ian's spot, the bumpers, the segments, and of course putting the credits together and trying not to forget anyone.

The last step is when we rent a very expensive Sony HDCAM studio deck for a day to output everything from our editing system (An 8 core Mac running Final Cut Studio) to tape.  This is nerve-wracking for me, because I constantly worry something will go wrong.  It usually doesn't, although once we had a power outage in the middle of an output to tape and everything crashed.  When the shows are on tape, I can breathe a huge sigh of relief because they no longer depend on hard drives and computers!  Having the finished product on a nice HD tape in the hand is a good thing.  That's when it feels real.

Next those HDCAM masters go to a company that does the closed-captioning for the hearing impaired, and the descriptive audio for the blind.  The new masters with closed captioning are then sent to NETA, our distributor, for the satellite feed.  Our satellite feed for season 2 begins October 9, so you can start bugging your local public TV stations for it after that!

Whew, it's a lot of work to make this show.  A typical 10 minute segment requires at least a week in the field to shoot, sometimes more.  Then it takes about 10 days of editing to get it completely finished.  By the time we finish an entire half-hour show, complete with music, bumpers, etc., we probably have a solid two months invested in it.  Now you can see why it takes more than a year to make 7 new shows!

Wish us luck...we go to tape next weekend!


P.S.  Have you noticed that the new Jonathan Bird's Blue World website is live?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Season 3 filming begins in the Galapagos!

We have a lot of cool announcements coming in the next few weeks.  We are launching our new JBBW website, delivering the finished edits of the season 2 shows to our distributor, and starting a marketing effort on season 2.  But for this Blog entry, I want to tell you about the very first shoot of season 3--in the Galapagos.

I spent 2 weeks working in the Galapagos with Pierre and Julia on the first segments we are shooting for season 3.  Since we have already done segments on Whale sharks (coming out in season 2) and hammerheads (season 1) we are not making any segments on the subject which is the most common in the Galapagos.  Instead, we are doing a segment on sea lions and on marine iguanas.  (We also planned a segment on mola mola, but they didn't cooperate.)

We had a fantastic 12 days working from a nice live-aboard dive boat, spending 6 days at Wolf and Darwin Islands to film whale sharks and hammerheads (hey, I love those critters) then headed down south to the cold water to film the sea lions and marine iguanas.