At A1R Psychic Radio & Moonstruck TV, we continuously strive to provide maximum production in every show. Or audience is well versed with today’s top broadcasters and can recognize a sloppy program when they see one. Once they judge a show to be amateurish, you may lose a potentially eager set of ears. Luckily, a few tricks of the trade can fix the ugly stuff.
First, lets examine the things that really stand out in low quality production. Those basically come down to just three potential flags.
1- Bad audio.
2- Bad video.
3- Bad content.
If you are already an A1R Psychic Radio host, then #3 can be erased right away. Let’s look at 1 & 2.
One of the main things that can work against you is bad audio. Doing your show over a tiny cell phone microphone, a fan blowing nearby that causes a potential audience irritant, trying to do a show in a room that echoes, having a microphone too far from the host to make out what’s being said, listening on a speaker phone while your microphone can hear the caller, anything that makes the audience uncomfortable, etc. should be avoided. You might hear audio on your show and think all sounds good enough, but you may be ignoring a large segment of the audience who is sensitive you might not hear. Or, you may not have given any consideration to how the caller hears you after the audio travels back down a long distance phone line. Broadcast quality audio is important to the overall quality of the show and should never be neglected. Your own success depends on it.
The best sounding audio we have heard…. a USB connected headset microphone.
A good setup that can hide the headset… a long wire ear bud over the shoulder with a long wired clip on lapel lavalier microphone. Both preferably USB.
A good setup that make hosting guests a breeze… two long wire ear buds over the shoulder with a two long wired clip on lapel lavalier microphones. Mikes will be 1/4″ or XLR connectors. Ear buds will plug into a headphone splitter. Mikes plug in through a USB mixer. Headphones can plug in numerous ways (computer headphone jacks, etc)
If you must use a mobile phone for your show…
Be sure you are connected on WiFi instead of 4G service, if possible. That will make a big difference. If you must use 4G, be sure you have full signal strength.
Use a headset microphone… or, at very minimum, an earbud with the phone’s microphone… and be in as quiet an environment as possible.
Room noise…. background noises like echo, reverberation (think hallway or large shower), fans, etc. triggers a “shut down” in the ability of the audience to comprehend the very important content you are sharing. “Treating” a room for your show beforehand is a good way to make sure all goes well during your broadcast.
The most common problems we see in our shows are cases where there is not enough light on the host, there is grainy or “stilling” video, the host is too close to the camera, there is too much light from somewhere, the host video is set to improper 4:3 dimensions (640) to proper 16:9 dimensions (720), the set doesn’t capture the audience’s attention, etc. Often, we can adjust a few things before the show to compensate… somewhat. However, nothing bets a great shot straight from the host. Let’s talk about that for a moment.
Let’s start backwards… with your background.
A great shot is more than the ability to broadcast. Content in your show is definitely the star, however, just a few thoughtful audience attractions can elevate it to be more than a smart educational show. Think “pizzazz!”
If you were a viewer of your show. Imagine that you could remove the host from the video just by thinking of it. Now think of it. What is left to your show? If you want to do a few things that will build your show on a higher pedestal, consider the wisdom of many video masters before us who believe that 100% of the screen is important to the success of the show.
We know, you are the host, you are not a set designer. That’s why we have a few suggestions for things that you can do to your background that the audience will appreciate.
First, let me say that one of the things many hosts forget is to be sure their backgrounds are well lit. Be sure you brighten up the shot with some light.
-Do your show on the front porch. If there is any light at all, it could be interesting.
-Do the show from your kitchen. Cook something while doing readings. Teach the audience how to cook something cool.
-Do the show from your car or from a ride in a bus, train or airplane… just be sure you have pristine signal and that you are being safe.
-Visit a unique guest’s store or location. If you demo some product, you may have met a new sponsor.
-Do your show from a restaurant. Eating a meal. Alone or with friends. Maybe read for someone while on-site. (Thanks to Rev Eliot for this idea)
-Do the show from the roof top of your building, on an especially starry night.
-Do you show from a willing client’s workplace or home.
-Broadcast live from any event or festival.
-Do your show poolside…
-Wouldn’t a show broadcast from a Ferris Wheel at a fair be neat?
-Get your hair styled during a show. (Thanks to Rebecca Russo)
-Do you have a unique talent? We’d all love to see it. If a ballerina, take us to a ballet studio. If a drummer, do a drum solo.
-Our hosts are all from dreamy locations to the rest of us. Show us a background that looks like your city.
-Daytime backgrounds are awesome, but some hosts do shows in dark hours. Lights, weather car, neon, cityscape, almost anything, is one of the coolest kind of shows you can do. Different color lights really make a screen pop.
-Even a minor historic event can be powerful in a video. If a royal baby named Sydney born, perhaps a respectful celebration show from a town named “Sydney” would be in order. Light or heavy, topical, newsworthy items can help you create an instantly interesting background for your audience.
What if you did your show from the library. whispering the entire time?
I think you get it. The more creative you are when considering your audience, the better the results will be when they are considering watching each week.
Finally, think colorful when thinking about your background. Contrasting reds and blues are always appreciated. Accent lights here and there add even more to their experience. If you step up with colorful lights and bright colored items, you can keep an audience’s interest for quite a while.
Now the most interesting show visual of all.. the foreground. You.
Assuming that your audio is already covered… and knowing that content is in order…. there are only four things you need to think of when staging the subject, you, in a successful show.
-Makeup and/or Wardrobe
-Number of Smiles
Trust me, they all have a real reason for being listed.
-Lighting: The power of light to destroy Skype video is limitless. Shadows, over-exposure, dark face, grainy imaging. All of them is the result of incorrect lighting. Worse even, there are a lot of contradictory tutorials online to confuse even the smartest expert. Ultimately, you learn that the only way to create a good webcam picture on Skype is to have proper “front” lighting. That means that you should have enough light coming from a soft source to eliminate all shadows without over exposing the host. Adding a nice over-head light to make your hair “glisten” can also make the video look better.
Howto do a lighting test. It’s actually pretty easy. Experiment. Test things with two computers & different Skype accounts. Set up your light and put the host on video. Move the light closer or farther away until the right amount of light is had. Shadows gone.. nothing over exposed. Mark that spot. Watch your the video we upload after your show, it will go through our broadcast & editing audio & video processing chain. We upload the end result. Too much light? Not enough? Slide the light source slightly to see if it helps. If it does, mark the new spot. Eventually you will find a good spot.
-Makeup and/or Wardrobe: To start here, is to understand that A1R Psychic Radio & Moonstruck TV are both spiritual thinking broadcasters. We believe that everyone should look and feel like the exact person they are. That’s why, on screen, you should loo just like the real-life version of yourself that you already present. But doing that via Skype (and on video in general) is, often, not the same as the way you might do this in real-life. The host may find that a bit of exaggeration i both wardrobe and makeup could be required.. just to look normal on screen. Without it, you might be a little hard to see for viewers.
Think about it. Even men have to wear makeup when doing a television show. For most, you’d never be able to see it on screen.
As for wardrobe, be yourself. Just a little more of yourself. Contrast and color are good, but the main thing to remember is that will be the character you are during your show. Now, instead of being yourself, be an on-set wardrobe consultant. Properly dress the character so the audience can understand him/her.
-Confidence Level: Your show is your show. Own the airwaves when you are on the air. Your audience is eager to hear what you have to say. Your knowledge is divine. Drive it like you own it. (But do watch language)
-Smiles: There is no way I am going to let this go without saying. If you have ever uploaded a video to Facebook or YouTube, you know that they supply you with a few “picture” thumbnails from the actual video to choose from. The chosen thumbnail then becomes the main picture for your show on the Moonstruck .TV website and in all social media. Neither Facebook, nor YouTube are known for picking the most flattering poses for some of these shots. We do our best to look for smiles first in every batch. If we can’t find them, we might choose, artsy, deep thought, compassionate or whichever the very best shot of each host is. On very rare occasion, we’ve gone through the entire editing process to create a slightly longer or shorter video (by less than a second) to trick the system into picking new thumbnails; but that is a lengthy process. A few smiles during your show might help us game the system into picking the best thumbnails for your show… and that’s a good thing.
IMPORTANT TECHNICAL STUFF:
In the end, we all know how important good tech is in doing the best show possible. There are only a few potential “bottlenecks” that can slow down or stop a great show from happening.
-The device & camera you are using.
-The in-home network of devices in your situation.
-The internet connection you have.
-The device & camera you are using: Some devices are better at some things than others. Here is how we rank setups in the most common situations for hosts…
1- DESKTOP/USB WEBCAM: A decent multicore desktop computer that is dedicated to your show (not for any other use) combined with a broadcast quality USB webcam is the most stable connection you can probably do your show with. Shows are usually pretty beautiful with the right desktop, a wired network connection and the right webcam. The only drawback to this setup is that mobility is more difficult if you want to take your show on the road for any reason. It can be done, but with a little more setup time.
2- LAPTOP/USB WEBCAM: This setup can be just as stable as #1 provided you don’t use a wireless connection and you have a good power/battery setup. While many laptops already come with a camera, a USB camera is important to allow you to get a good shot of the host while keeping the laptop closer so you can read instant messages from your producer. There really is no happy section between them. A camera mounted farther away than the laptop is the best setup./shot.
3- Using anything wireless on WiFi falls beneath the stability of 1 & 2. There just isn’t anything as solid as a directly connected wired, Ethernet cable connection.
4- As bad as WiFi is to a video signal, mobile/cellular internet service is much, much worse. We’ve seen some pretty grainy shows done this way.
It should also be said that, regardless of rank, good shows and bad shows have existed on any of the above internet platforms. Sometimes a host lives right next to a cellular tower, other times someone with lightning fast internet has trouble doing a table show. Most often, the problem is traced back to the “in-house” network (or LAN) a an abundance of internet bandwidth being used for some other purpose (someone else in the house playing video games, watching videos online, etc). It’s always a great idea to warn the house that you only need the net for 30 minutes each week. Everyone but you should disconnect and stop using bandwidth.
Rest assured, bandwidth on our end is never a problem. We are connected by a 24/7 monitored Business Class Ethernet link direct to our ISP Level 3/CenturyLink (no modem) and a wild amount of upload and download bandwidth with super short pings. Besides A1R, we operate an broadcast FM station that reaches 200,000 people from a transmitter site a few miles away. The link between our studio and that site must be solid. Without going into too much detail, trust us, it is. A1R Psychic Radio shares that connection and communicates with you via Skype through a faster and more stable bridge.