Shooting the TV show

Back in September of 2011, Joel Haslam, from the Ottawa CTV TV station, contacted me about doing a segment of their TV show "Regional Contact" on woodgears.ca. Regional Contact is a local TV show, although you can also watch older episodes online on the internet. I agreed, and so they came, show host and camera man, to film in my workshop and around the house for two days.

The show first aired in October 2011, and again at the end of January 2012.


Having produced YouTube videos for some time now, it was interesting to see their approach to filming. There is much more attention to detail than I put into my videos. Here's the setup for doing an interview, with a big powerful lights set up. To my right is a reflector to add more light from the other side.

There's a light with a pink filter in front of it in the background to add a bit of colour. I thought that was a bit odd, but having watched a number of the show's episodes online, I see they use that technique in other eposides as well.


Here's me showing off the pantorouter. The low ceiling, and even lower ductwork in my workshop made it challenging with the big lights. One of the lights was an 800 watt halogen bulb. That sure warms up the place.

I'm much less discriminating about lighting myself, and shoot with regular compact fluorescent bulbs as my main light source. I can keep a lot of these on for hours without things getting too hot. I recently replaced all the CF bulbs with ones that all have the same colour temperature. That really cuts down on how much colour adjustment I have to do during editing.


Because the videos are an important part of the website, they decided to show how I shoot video. Here's shooting the screen of my camera. I like this shot because it really contrasts the size of my camera vs. theirs.

Unfortunately, that professional gear is expensive and budgets are limited, so they are still shooting standard definition NTSC (480i) onto Betamax tapes. I switched to shooting high definition (720p) in early 2010, with a $300 still camera. But Regional Contact is broadcast on a standard definition channel, so there is noting to gain from shooting in high definition. I later got a DVD of the show, and I'd say their 480i resolution looks about as good as my 720p. The pro gear will make as good a picture as is possible with the format, whereas my cheap camera does not. The video at the bottom of this article doesn't quite do it justice - I lost some quality de-interlacing the DVD format.


High definition or not aside, lighting actually makes much more of a difference than how good the camera is. Here's setting up the shot of my homemade sawmill. We went back and forth over where best to set it up. They settled for setting it up in the shade and adding light with a reflector.


A few days later, I shot my own video of the sawmill in action. Not putting as much effort into lighting, I just dealt with the spotty sunlight that I had. Contrast the lighting on my shot at left, with a frame grabbed from the TV show above right.

But this is a fundamental difference between YouTube and TV. With TV, the cost of production is high, so when shooting, it's all about the production, so the action follows the camera. Whereas with YouTube, one mostly shoots life as it happens. If the lighting is too hard to fix, you just live with what you have. It's a trade-off either way. Not having TV, and watching a lot of YouTube, I look at TV from a different perspective. When I see TV, I admire the high production values and concise editing, but miss the everyday genuine aspect of YouTube.


Here's Joel Haslam shooting a short segment, to introduce the show using my marble machine 2.1. Basically, it's a segment that plays before the commercical break to keep you tuned in. They took quite a few takes before they were happy with it. I could relate - sometimes it takes me five takes to get the intro to a video right, and even then it's not always very smooth.


They also shot some segments of Joel playing my homemade organ, which was intended to be another teaser segment. As far as I know, they didn't use that segment. I wish they had - unlike me, Joel knows how to play keyboards, so it was nice to hear some actual music coming out of that organ!

They shot way more video than they ended up using. That's another difference between their production and me shooting YouTube videos. For my videos, I can always go back and shoot more video if I find I'm missing something while editing. But it wouldn't be realistic, or professional, for a TV crew to come back and say "can we shoot just one more segment?". As for my production, I try to leave things as they are in the shop until I finish my first pass of editing.


And here's the TV show. They said they were ok with me uploading it onto YouTube. The show aired in October 2011, and was rerun in January 2012. As far as I know, they run each show twice. But you can watch all the previous episodes on the CTV website

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