Live News Show

Our Ideas

A lot of members in our group are interested in Dungeons and Dragons, we decided to do a news show and base it on a DND environment converting current news stories into that world.

We plan to have the main sections of news including covid 19 as the main headline but we are calling it Draco plage to fit with the planned time. We also plan to have some smaller sections and also add in some advert breaks with adverts that we will prerecord of course still fitting the time period. We are brainstorming ideas for that such as horse insurance, we were told we could just leave spaces but as a group, we are always a bit extra and think it will be fun and more interesting.

“We plan to integrate comedy throughout the show, by having one actor as all 3 presenting characters, which will also reduce the number of actors we will need, excluding interviewees we plan to have over video calls.”


Basic Layout

Intro (15 Seconds)
Headlines (12 Seconds)
Draco plague (5 Mins)
(transition graphics) (4 seconds)
Weather (1-2 Mins)
(transition graphics) (4 seconds)
Trump king story (2 Mins)
(out graphics) (4 seconds)
(in graphics) (4 seconds)
Ham sandwich story (2 Mins)
(transition graphics) (4 seconds)
Sport (1-3 Mins)
Outro (15 Seconds)


As displayed on the notes

  • Producer – Gareth
  • Host – Jack
  • Technician / Graphics – Adam
  • Camera Operator – Charlie / Ellie
  • Autocue / Script – Harley
  • Floor Manager – Ellie
  • Costume design – Jack
Step By Step Plan

We had so many notes and documents around for the plan it was getting messy, we preposed we stick it in google slides and have a slide for each section of the show to see what we have and don’t have, this is obviously not the fully planned layout or document for that matter it’s more for us to visualize and work on. 

^ Notes created by Ellie based on group conversations.

v Initial PowerPoint (before planning point)

Adverts, Music & Graphics

For this project, we were asked to incorporate commercial breaks into the programming, these could just have been spaces where something would have gone but we always like to go the extra mile (and probably make it harder for ourselves) so we want to produce some mini advertisements for our live production.

We looked at doing this a couple of ways, we looked at reusing old adverts/commercials we had made for other projects on the course however they did not fit the time we were working at so then I looked briefly into using medieval real-world adverts that would fit the style and where already premade which would be easier mainly just because at the time we did not know how much studio time we were going to be able to access to film these extras.

After a group conversation, we agreed we would just shoot some of our own when we can get greenscreen access, they will only be short we are looking at 30 seconds to a minute maximum to fit into the schedule, during that the rest of the team can  work on other aspects.

Music / Jingles

When it comes to music and jingles they are a recognizable part of the program, for example, the iconic BBC news intro/ intro music when you hear it you know exactly what it is and it’s a nice transition into the actual program itself.

Charlie set to work at making our soundtrack for intro, outro, and transitions for the program using a program he had, called “Music Maker JAM”. We produced several versions, the top one being current, it fits the style of medieval sort of magic-themed, they are all 36 seconds long which allows for a decent time or can be cut down to fit.

The bottom version was the original one created and there was several version in between to get to the current one. In my opinion, the original would have still been very useable for the program but I do like the current one since it’s more catchy and faster passed.

Looking at what makes a good piece, you want something not too long to fit with the indent (intro)(and the rest of the program), you want something quite fast-paced and catchy. It’s also common that they use higher notes which is also one of the reasons we moved on from the original version of our peice.

BBC Intro Example

The music now paired with the opening fits amazingly, exactly what we wanted, the mood and the style compliments the visuals while also providing a realistic news-themed beat. I did think about adding some music to the transition graphics but seeing as it is only 4 seconds long I don’t want to over complicate it again, since the graphics are doors I might add a creeky door sound effect (Like my Y1 film noir which I liked) or something like the swoosh of dragon wings.


Props are important for our production since it’s in a medieval setting we will have to transform the normal style news studio. We invented some money into some items specifically for backdrop and setting, including as seen on the left the dragon tapestry and fake stone wall print.

We originally looked at using the green screen for the entire set so that we could just simulate the background as the tricaster is really powerful and supports live keying. This would have been a good plan but due to the short amount of time and access we have to the studio Chris was not prepared to move and reset up all the equipment considering other groups will also need to use the kit which is perfectly fair. I had this conversation in the early stages with Chris over email.

The other props such as the goblets, dice, and balls would most likely be used as decoration for the presenter’s desk. It is possible that the presenter might pick up an item and use it in the broadcast but it will be available if they do decide to use it.

Other props will include the studio setup most likely the news desk stage and seating but this will be assessed while on set.

Concept Art

This concept art was drawn by Ellie to try and come up with some ideas for the main logo and title sequence. 

A lot of these concept drawings incorporate a 20 sided dice (D20) which is seen to be sometimes the symbol for DND (Dungeons and Dragons).

We liked these drawings and concepts but in the production graphics, the D20 was mostly dropped apart from in the lower third which will be explained in the next section.

All the concept lower thirds were able to be made giving us a wide selection to choose from depending on the scene and need.

Production Graphics

Going back to the D20, this is what I started with first when trying concepts, as I said we dropped this later for the most part. During the first stages, I was trying to make an image of a d20 I had (The one used for the lower third in fact) a 3D object both me and Ellie explored the option of using cinema 4d which is a modeling software but also the 3d rendering service used for after effects. I had basic modeling experience but not with that software and did not have the timeframe to realistically learn it to be able to make a 3d object and the 3d tools in after effects did not properly support flat images.

It was a great avenue to explore but we ended up going with a globe which we were taught how to use in an after effects lesson using CC Sphere. (Yes I tried this with the D20 but it looked really warped)  I was comfortable using this and it created an amazing effect when paired with a map Gareth supplied of the “forgotten realms”. The map itself contained a border around it and a key and scale which did not look very nice when converted into the globe. I loaded this into photoshop and cropped it to remove the border and then used the spot healing brush to remove the key and scale which was very effective.

In between doing the intro sequence I also did the lower thirds which consisted of a sword, dice, and scroll which would move out from the left of the screen. The boxes were created using the in software shape tool with a glow effect. The dice and sword handle were stock images I found on the internet, the scroll was also a stock image which I cut up and stretched in a mix of after effects and photoshop to create the desired long scroll image.

Going back to the main intro again and the other motion graphics, I had the idea to use a lot of open-source green screen material I found on youtube (Will reference) It would allow me to speed up my workflow and create professional sequences and bridge the gap if I did not have the skills to create what I wanted. 

The intro consists on multiple layered greenscreens clips that were keyed using the key light utility, accompanied by effects like glow to make items stand out, speed ramps to make sure I fit within the time limit of 15 seconds and make sure things don’t drag on as well as text effects for the divination at 12 texts in the intro which was a mix between keyframes and animation presets available in after effects (I downloaded the fonts as an extra). Plus with the globe, I created with the map and some free sound effects and the music charlie created we made an amazing sequence. I even color corrected the backing image so that it would fit just a bit better in the current atmosphere. I have had really positive feedback on from the tutors, team, and family members.

We wanted a transition that we could use between sections and commercials I had several ideas, I was once again thinking green screen, I had downloaded a couple of doors, I was thinking about using multiple but I ended up using the one in the intro and felt that it would flow better and be simpler for me in the studio if we used the same one. Using speed ramps and cutting, the room pulls you in the doors shut which allows me to change the scene in the background, and then the doors open again and it pulls you back into the new scene, I thought about adding some text but decided not to as it was a quick transition and I did not want to over complicate things.

However, we did create a watermark that we can put in the corner of some footage which consists of the swords you see at the beginning of the intro (Once again trying to stay on brand) with a shield containing the 90% Bloopers logo (Our logo).

Phase 2 of the graphics after I had finished the main lot was to create an outro which I had not done yet and also made a couple of other bits like the news ticker. The outro I modified from the into to save time and keep it on brand that went from the globe to the doors it was faster than the intro and did the job. When designing these I had transitions in mind heavily.

The news ticker was just something extra I wanted to play around with and see if I could create which I did, when it came to using it we realized I had done it the wrong way around but it kinda fitted with the comedy of the show.

I was able to properly try these out on the Monday we where able to come in and I started to learn the system, throughout that week I made modifications including adding space before all the graphics so I could switch them on the tricaster without being seen straight away.

I also made the lower thirds appear on screen for longer because they were a bit short, as a group we decided to stick with the scroll lower thirds as not to complicate things which when it came to production was a good idea as much as I liked the other ones.

They were rendered in after effects but I had to do some research into it since they required transparency so I rendered them in AVI Custom RGB + Alpha, Alpha being the transparent layer. I tried these on the tricaster and they worked but I later went back and rerendered everything to QuickTime (.MOV) since the file size with AVI was extreme, still using RBG + Alpha these were some of the only formats that supported Alpha but the file size was so much better.


The week

So we ended up with just under a week to complete the practical side of the project, we were limited on Tv Studio slots since other years and groups would also need time in there. Monday was normally our day off, but we fought to get in for a couple of ours that day allowing us some green screen time to record the adverts and pre-recorded sessions, while the others did that since I was not needed I started in the gallery getting myself acquainted with the systems, it was all a trial and error experience because apart from basic operations like cutting cameras and recording no one really had, had time to use it in depth. 

I was the first one really to import pre-records and graphics and use these channels by the time we finished on Friday I had knew what worked, there was still lots I had no idea what they did since it is such an advanced tool and in some areas, I couldn’t tell you why it worked but it did.

On Tuesday production really started, spending the morning out and about recording the news packages (It was cold). We had originally planned to cast our tutors in an interview but Atilla turned out to be very busy and Nick was ill so it was a good thing on the day we recorded a backup using Dave and Gareth in the background. In the afternoon we had a Tv Studio slot in which Attila used to show us some more basic operation of cameras and gallery equipment, we where also able to film the jousting on that day also while I was learning the tricaster once more, I think I made around 3 changes in the end to the graphics imported.

Wednesday not too much happened we came in and had a quick chat it was only a short day, the main bit happened in the afternoon once we were home where everyone was editing their sections for the program and getting ready in general. Each of us was given a section to edit to spread the load and keep it time-friendly. I did the editing for the weather which meant doing the audio and green screen aspects.

Thursday was the big day, read my overview post below.

Today after months of preperation we recorded and produced our Divination at 12 News show. We have been countlessly preping all week and today was the day. With Harley,Quest (Jack), Ellie and charlie in the studio and myself and gareth in the Tv Gallary we practiced and recorded for about 7 hours including setup (about...
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Today was our first day back in college in months and it felt so good to see people and get stuck in. Dont get me wrong we had a lot of stuff to do, monday is our day off we are technicaly not in on this day but we wanted to get in and work...
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Final Recording


So this project has finally come to an end after months of anticipation and planning. A big thing with this project was we never knew if we were ever actually going to be able to produce it since at the time we were in strict lockdown.

Only now we have been able to produce it within a week due to a tight schedule, however, we have overcome this and produced something that I think is amazing and exactly what we set out to do.

I touched on this during my blog entries but I want to look at it in a bit more detail.

When we started this project and we were told to do a news show none of us had at all an interest in news in fact I think we have all decided to stay well away from it now, although this was a learning experience and now we know we don’t want to do that so I don’t regret at all doing it. So we came up with the idea to make it more appealing to us by transforming it into something we would enjoy which was this idea of a DND-style News show. We were told we needed to include headlines and packages that fit with real-world events so we went and we rewrote real-world events into our world.

The trump king story – Donald Trump leaving office earlier this year, The Draco Plague – Covid 19 and the ham sandwich story – based on a news article that appeared on my phone during the planning when a border officer confiscated a ham sandwich at the border due to Brexit import laws. The weather and sports were completely created by us and the adverts, based on real adverts as well such as car insurance and teleshopping. The show and all of its aspects were designed to be funny and this is one of the things we really did right, it is very funny from the news presenter taking the P*ss to Bart the Human saying his name over and over again. Well, news presenters do like to introduce themselves.

Quest (Jack) did extremely well to pull off all of the presenters with assistance from props and costumes done by themselves and Gareth. This was another core idea we had, normally each section has its own presenter that specializes in a subject like sport or weather, so we did they were just all played by the same person which also added to the comedy of the show. Originally we did plan to have even more presenter personalltys and costumes but was not realistic for the live sections as costume switch would take so long.

Our show was very much a mixture of pre-recorded, live, and graphics which was quite different from what other groups had decided to go with, pre-recording and graphics made it easier to do news packages and of course show the audience what we are talking about since its in a fictional world. We had to record this at the start of the week as said before to get it ready for the actual show on Thursday which was a bit of a rush to get it all done but they looked fine none the less, some of the graphical parts (not including core show titles and graphics) were able to be produced before but some were also done during the week as we would spend each evening trying to get it all sorted.

When it came to producing it and mixing it on the tricaster on the actual day having all of this stuff rather than just basic camera cuts and maybe a recorded section here and there did over complicate it and make it harder to do, I had a lot to think about at once and so did Gareth as the producer. I have said this before and I will say it again, I don’t regret it at all, yes it was stressful, yes it was a pain but it looked sooo good and at the end of the day that’s what we wanted and we got there, the production quality was high.

What we also had over other groups (not to say the other groups was bad at all, more as a comparison) was the full set of core graphics I created and put my heart into for the show, my favorite must have been the title sequence, the core graphics just helped to once again raise the production value and make it more professional but also to set the environment, you start off seeing and hearing words and a medieval village and then transition into the main set. 

Talking about the main set I wasn’t sure how it was going to look and I had only seen pictures of what Gareth had bought for us, I don’t think he had even opened it until the day but wow did it look effective. We originally tried to get into the green screen to use a virtual background to set the environment but we had no time to move the kit since other groups would need it plus the fact no one knew how to key the green screen on the tricaster.

The stone material print was held up via string and tripods which I was also expecting to fall down so the fact they didn’t was great ha ha. Mixed with the blankets and various on set props it really did set the scene. As the set was only temporary we had to be careful what the camera could see when we did zooms however we also discussed that a lot of the time on the news you see shots of the studio anyway so it was not really an issue.

Looking at the rendered and uploaded version now it seems a little dark, in the gallery it seemed fine at the time but I have to take into consideration that it has been compressed multiple times through the recording and exporting of the tricaster itself, editors and then onto youtube which has probably caused a dark colour range so I don’t think that was actually an issue.

Although it was a “Live” show and we did record it live we did then go to post-production afterward to fix and add the last couple of bits we wanted, I think we recorded about 3 takes in the end and went mainly with the final one. On the day we decided to add some of the graphical elements in post like the news ticker and the in & out simply because I would not have enough time to set them up while switching cameras and playing other sections. I did do the main graphical sequences and pre-records live like the packages and into and outro sequences, on the pre-recorded sections any graphics like the lower thirds were already put on just to save time and effort.

So really not much was done in post we also had to turn up the audio a bit since it was a bit quiet and correct a mistake I made were autoplay did not carry on during the adverts and there was a pause very minor things, but the corrections just made it a bit better.

For once we had no kit issues everything worked as planned or was sorted out before the recording, we used our own cameras for the pre recordings (Canon 1400D – Canon 700D) plus the college sound equipment such as the microphone and zoom audio recorder.

In conclusion, as much as we hated this project we also loved it which makes no sense at all, it was a very stressful project with a lot of stuff needing to be planned while also doing other units at once. We learned that we don’t really like news but we like the Tv aspect we would do that again 100%. My role in this was graphics and vision mixer and I loved being the vision mixer in the gallery environment I felt really in my element, it is a hard job but one I would consider. As for the final product itself, I don’t think it could have come out better, exactly what we wanted with all the sections and the fictional environment we created for it, and it was funny which is great. Going to have a rest now.

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