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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?

So we had a foray into the world of live video broadcast which was....

Considering we spent most of the 80s and 90s writing and producing
television drama, you would think it would be a skoosh to do a wee live video from the
comfort of our home. And it was... or at least half of it was.

A bit of backstory. Le Chef's writing schedule meant that a US book
signing tour was going to be impossible this year - so I came up with
the brilliant idea of a live video broadcast to talk about his latest
book Blacklight Blue and the other new editions in hardback and
paperback which are coming out in the USA this year. The only thing
was, to catch all the time zones around the world, I figured he should
do two broadcasts. So he recorded part of the talk in four clips with
some of his research video cut to music and we decided he'd kick off
with that then switch to live for the Q&A session at the end.

So - at 4pm our time, we set everything up and it goes like a dream!
Recorded stuff cross fades to live. Q&A is great, people online from
Lochgoilhead to Minneapolis! Cue a glass of celebratory bubbly.
Phone to order a pizza from Georges in Saint-Cere. Collect Pizza to
re-heat and enjoy after the next transmission... everything going to
plan... the time rushes by and suddenly it's almost 7pm our time and
we go to set up for the next broadcast....

With two minutes to go, we're sitting in Le Chef's study lining things
up when we lose the internet connection.
It's too late for us to try and get to another internet connection and a mailing has gone out to all his fans across the world, so it's really important that we go live without delay.... If we can't do it - someone else will have to do it.

We phone my brother in New York and do the old... "Okay, both the
pilots are incapacitated, you're going to have to land the plane, oh
and by the way, there's someone who needs an appendix taken out, but
don't worry, we have a pilot and a gastric surgeon here in the control
tower, and they'll talk you through it" routine.

So my brother logs in to the TV station online pretending to be Le
Chef, he locates the four pre-recorded segments, he presses all the
right buttons, cues up the first one and Bingo! Gets it transmitting -
only 3 minutes late! We give him instructions about how to do the
others, then start phoning friends trying to find somebody nearby who
has internet. We have 27 minutes until the pre-recorded stuff is
supposed to link back to Le Chef live for the Q & A. Of course the
nearest neighbours are suffering the same internet problem as we are.
We have to try further afield. Finally we locate a friend and try to
explain the problem - in French - he gets the point that it's an
emergency and tells us to come over.

A hair-raising drive, with laptop, in the dark through wee French
country roads, up across the ridge, and down through a jumble of stone
buildings (with a half an inch to spare each side of the car) to an 18
century converted barn which this photographer friend has converted to
a studio. In we rush! Of course he's French so we have to kiss and
shake hands and go through all the pleasantries. Then the wife and
the son and the daughter-in-law and oh look you haven't met the new
grandchild... all come out, to see us.... and they all have to be
kissed and handshook..... and do we want a drink?


It's an emergency - urgence! Comprenez!

Damn, what's the French for "Live internet broadcast"?!!!!

So down we dawdle to the studio where the photographer says to Le
Chef, no problem - it's Wifi.

Yes, it's Wifi all right. Password protected Wifi. Can he remember
the password?

Mais non!

He never uses it himself, it's in his computer.

But, he says, we can use his computer. Le Chef says it's a live
internet VIDEO broadcast. So - he needs a camera. Is there an
ethernet cable and he will connect direct to the modem?

Oh yes, the photographer is sure he has one... Somewhere around
here...........? or here........... ? or is it here...........? Ah
yes... finally..... here it is!

Le Chef gets his butt on to the seat, and logged in with his camera
cued up just in time to hear his voice on video announce.... 'and I'll
answer all your questions, live"..... cue camera.... action!!! He
was on! Breathing heavily, but on! Answering questions from readers
from Fife to San Diego. Unbelievable!

Oh how we laughed. Well, afterwards, we laughed. Well, after our
second bottle of bubbly back home in front of the fire, we laughed.

And the best bit was three hours later.... the internet inexplicably
came back.

And just as we were going to say never again, all these E-mails came
in from folk asking - when is the next one?


Apart from that ... it was a breeze...

So now the show's had more than 3500 viewings, I guess it was all
worth it! If you want to see the recorded video, you can view it any
time at

....and now he's thinking it would be fun to do another one!


DJ Kirkby said...

Well hello to you! How cool am I to have Carol's mom visiting my blog?! You've made my day thank you. I havent seen Mr May's live broadcast but I did enjoy the video I saw on his blog.

Janice said...

Hi DJ,
Well, in truth I'm a terribly infrequent blogger and blog visitor - but Carol had been talking about the book launch and I popped in. That was a super photo, by the way! Oh, and good luck with all the promotion, by the way!

Aerie-el said...

I just found your blog via the 'black box' and have enjoyed it immensely. I've added it to my 'follow' list so that I won't miss new posts. And I plan to come back to catch up on the older posts I am too tired to read now (it's late here). All the best, from Seattle!