Marking out it’s territory

Posted on March 29, 2010


Every now and again I stumble on things which do – literally – make me gasp. Sometimes that feeling is swiftly followed by feelings of jealousy. Other times I want to jump and down excitedly like a kid.

This post (and more specifically the video which accompanies it) refers to the latter kind of discovery. The video is one of a series of presenter promos Radio 3 Interactive Content Producer Andrew Downs has worked. He wrote a blog about it.

It would be fair to say that there’s not that much to them really. The editorial idea is simple. Get a Radio 3 presenter to talk about themselves.

Whilst the content may be simple, actually realising it breaks a convention.

There’s an unwritten stylistic rule in the media world. Talking about yourself is generally sneered upon. BBC presenters are meant to maintain a certain impartiality or objectivity in their presentation. Their enthusiastic tone is vital in selling output but their opinions are not required. Just note down how you feel when you hear a presenter share an opinion about something they don’t like and you’ll see what I mean.

But these films are breaking that convention. They’re deliberately offering a window on an aspect of the people whose voices are the Radio 3 Network.

The sub-text is clear: we’re not just people who sit in a studio and read a script before sitting back and munching on a sandwich while the track on the CD plays. We know what we’re talking about. We’re not just voice-over artists. Those of us who love Radio 3 and who wince whenever anyone mutters something like “let’s change this a bit” always feel reassured when our presenters know what they’re talking about.

But there’s another reason the videos take my breath away. The visual language established within the first few frames of the McGregor piece delivers a tone in-keeping with the network as a whole. Areas of the shot are deliberately blurred, drawing the eye to where our focus should be.

And there’s movement too. Loads of it. The camera hardly ever keeps still. But not in that jolty way favoured by TV wannabees or self-consciously hip documentary makers. Instead the camera is our window, following the presenter giving us the impression that we’re there in person. More importantly, the severe culling of static shots gives the impression that Radio 3 isn’t stuffy, isn’t staid. It’s presenting something different from everyone else. Radio 3 is marking out it’s territory.

Be sure to take a look at the Sara Mohr-Pietsch set at Dartington. Keep an eye out for the shot where she’s looking over the parkland. The shot mirrors the wall she stands in front. Its the kind of thing which makes me go weak at the knees.

And of particular note is Sarah Walker’s promo. She’s right. Classical music is shrouded in detail. Plenty of people love to lord it up over others with their knowledge on the subject. But more important than that fact in the film, she’s a cat person. And what a gorgeous cat she has.

Of course. I’m gushing. I realise that. And with my own homework approaching, this portfolio of work only serves to raise the editorial bar. If I was nervous last week when I pitched, I’m petrified now. I need to start browsing the kit department’s online catalogue.

Posted in: Audio & Music