Not sure where in my dark and perverse mind this came from, but:
I was thinking it could be fun (and funny) to develop a character so insecure with his manhood and masculinity that he tries (and fails) to compensate for it with his gun and how he talks about it.
For example: this guy is in situations — shooting range, hunting lodge, wherever — everything seems somewhat normal, when unprompted and out of nowhere, he interjects with an outburst about his "stiff, long, piece..." Everone around him is put-off and looks and him like a weirdo...
I think this kind of character could work as a few 30-second sketches throughout the episode. Or, maybe longer...? Or, maybe not-at-all! :P
Way, way more checks for way, way more profits made out to way, way more artists than ever before in hitrecord history. (Over $700,000 to well-over 1,000 contributing artists!)
Next up: someone's got some envelope stuffing to do... :P
Checks on-track to be sent out June 1!
Recently I started the "RE: Season 2 Production" collaboration for the community to contribute ideas on how we can improve site features, production methodology and communication going forward. The contributions have been very helpful for us to identify elements of our creative process that we can make better and we're really looking forward to addressing elements in a variety of ways.
One particular topic that we want to focus on is Credits.
Thank you for all of your feedback regarding our approach to credits for Season 1 of HITRECORD ON TV. As is being discussed, for the most part, when a record that contains the performance of multiple artists within a single record, it has been our practice to only provide credit to artist who uploaded the record. In addition, it has been our practice to provide payment only to the artist’s account affiliated with said record, placing the responsibility of dispersing payment in the hands of the artists themselves. Fairness in attribution and payments are two areas paramount to the creative success of hitRECord. As hitRECord continues to scale, I’m not sure we’ll ever arrive at a system that will be 100% fair in all cases for all artists all the time. But, I do believe in creating systems that are most-fair in most-cases for most-of-the-time.
I understand our communities frustration re: crediting of productions. And, we want to focus on what we learned from Season 1’s Crediting and identify specific areas that we can improve upon.
We have looked at this issue from many different angles and have had some in-depth discussions about what we are capable of doing to improve this system, and what will be scalable. In the long term, we believe we can achieve improving Crediting through the development of feature sets on the site. This will take some time to create, develop, and implement onto the site. But, we also have some ideas for how to better and more accurately credit participating artists in the meantime.
Proposed solution #1: NEW FEATURE SET FOCUSED ON CREDITS
Long term, we are planning to create a feature set on the site that will allow for the community to credit artists who collaborate on their records as performers and/or crew. While we do not have a timeline for this below are some initial ideas on what we’d like to implement:
* When you upload a record, perhaps there is a field where user can assign a role to another contributing artist. (as a performer, as a crew member, etc.)
* We would create a validation system so that artist would have the opportunity to confirm/accept the role they were given credit for.
* Once a user has confirmed their credit, they would then be eligible to be included in the credits of a production.
As with everything feature-set related, this concept will have to be tested. And, of course, the devil is always in the details. But, we’ll start developing and see how this element evolves.
But with everything on hitRECord, we don’t just tackle our challenges with feature sets. We understand that we must also be open to modifying our behavior to accommodate our methodology. Which brings me to:
Proposed solution #2: MODIFYING THE CULTURE
We are aware that hitrecord staff needs to be more conscious about the community’s feelings about Crediting. We also want to be mindful of instances where we will be able to acknowledge Credits of Performers better, while also pointing out that we will not be able to do so in every case.
For instance, the “Still Here” short in our episode RE: Trash featured, “The Bed Song” video record, which was uploaded by tdolan included the performances of joerud and MargauxArmour. However, these two artists were not credited. We acknowledge that they should have been, as their performances were integral to the short film. I believe a more-conscious approach on our part in addition to some more advanced crediting feature-sets, we’ll be better equipped to manage crediting, where appropriate, for season 2.
But, while we strive for more-fair and inclusive attribution, I believe that we should acknowledge that there will be inherent limitations. For example, for a production like “Front Lawn Freak,” some of the video records that aired on the TV show included numerous background actors like the record “Freaking on my front lawn - 75 stop sign freak”, which was uploaded by debit72. We would consider the performers in this video record to be background actors, thus not warranting individual credits like joerud and MargauxArmour. In order to properly scale our Crediting system, we do have to make distinctions between who we can credit, while striving to credit performers within records as often as possible.
While it’s important to get the credits right moving forward, it’s also paramount to make sure the credits for Season 1 are fair and accurate. Therefore, we will be creating an “official” credit list page for Season 1 will make the opportunity available for all participating artists to be included.
Here is how we will be revising the Credits of Season 1:
* We will upload Albums of the Credits for all 8 Episodes of Season 1.
* The community will have two weeks to comment on them and propose additions (we'll provide a format for submitting these proposed revisions.)
* We will compile the Final Season 1 Credits and post the updated Credits on the site.
But, what shall we do as a work-around until the new feature-sets are implemented? We will create a system for users to resource Performers and/or Crew with the site’s current components (which would most likely be resourcing Portraits and including Role info in a record’s description - which we did ask last season of users. We would add any resourced Portraits to the Credits going forward, unlike in Season 1 where we did not do this.)
I’m afraid that this category affords us less flexibility. Our Terms of Service state that records used in a monetized production are paid to the artist that uploads the record. This will continue to be the policy going forward. It’s fair for us to assign a monetary value to various artists/crew members within a record when we only have the final uploaded record for review. It’s not fair to us — or to the community — for us to place value on certain aspects of a record, like Crew or Performers, in a way that is scalable or consistent. However, we do feel that the fairest way is to pay the contributor of the record and leave it up to the one who uploaded the record to distribute the profit of the record to contributors that were either Crew or Performers.
For example: in Season 1 the “Patterns Cold Open” animation by FollyA included 23 visual resources. Because each of these resources is a tangible record on the site, everyone can refer to each of these records and evaluate them and their individual value to the final production.
With the “Patterns Cold Open,” the community can look at each resource because they are all uploaded records available for all to see on the site.
In instances where contributing artists upload a record where others perform in it (as actors, musicians, etc.), neither we — or the community — have any background on who contributed what to the final shot. There is only the shot in which we can evaluate, and to us, that’s not enough to go on.
The community has discussed some instances from Season 1 of HITRECORD ON TV where guests artists that performed in parts of the show were allocated percentages of the profits. For instance, in "First Stars I See Tonight" the actors Elle Fanning and James Patrick Stuart are included in the Profit Proposals.
As a general rule, we try to have hitRECord staff and actors play by the same rules as the hitRECord community. And, I acknowledge that the example above is inconsistent with the terms our community plays by. However, actors like Ms. Fanning and Mr. Stuart are a bit different from a community contribution. Not because we place any more or less value, but because we specifically hired them to perform a specific task. For better or worse, we believe that because actors like Ms. Fanning and Mr. Stuart were hired by us, their situations are inherently differently than community members who contribute records to the site. We have them join the site and we feel it is more transparent to include them in the Profit Proposals. We understand that this is handled differently than with performers from the community. However the alternative in the case of “First Stars” would be for us to allocate Ms. Fanning and Mr. Stuart’s percentages to a record uploaded by us (like the “First Stars Reference Cut”). We just don’t feel like that would present a clear picture of the production, and where the money allocated to hitRECord would be distributed. By crediting and allocating profits the way we do, we believe, presents their roles in a more-clear and understandable way in the profit documents.
Of course, we are always open to suggestions on how we could do this differently, but we feel this is the most transparent.
We continue to encourage feedback on this topic and any other element of Season 2. We want to know if the above proposal feels good to everyone given the limitations of this complex process. We will be preparing the Season 1 Credits Albums soon and will announce once they are posted so we can begin gathering the community’s feedback and revise them accordingly.
Please share your thoughts in the thread below so we can continue the conversation, or contribute a Text Record to the "RE: Season 2 Production" collaboration with your additional ideas.
Mr. Seinfeld can't be the only one able to make a show about nothing...
Or, something. (Or, nothing...)
Ladies and Gents:
Just a quick heads-up: for various reasons — including a lot of the good feedback we received from the RE: SEASON 2 Production Collaboration — we're going to be lengthening the production timeline for HITRECORD ON TV S2. But, to get the show done by the end of 2014, we'll need to start ramping up now! (announcement vid to follow!)
Starting pre-production of Season 2 now will provide more development time and hopefully ease some of the deadline-related stress that crept into Season 1 production. With more time, we'll be able to spread out the TV requests (which should be more easily identified) and will allow us and the community to focus on our other collective creative endeavors.
The idea is to have a slow slow ramp-up to production, starting with the generation of theme ideas. So, for the next month, we'll be coming up with theme possibilities with an eye to narrowing it down to the eight by the second week of May. And then, starting in May, we'll have a long, slow burn to producing season 2 wrapping up by the end of the year.
Of course, we'll be continuing to implement improvements on the site's functionality, how we communicate with each other, our creative methodology and other key logistical elements as we work on Season 2. We'll also keep the creative development on collabs recently started that are not TV-related, as well as introducing new ones.
As always, I'll be here checking the conversation and will try to address as many community concerns as possible.
Excited to get back to making TV with all y'all! :D
Hello all — I’ve been following the conversation going on over at missamerica’s record RE: EDITING and wanted to address some of the issue’s raised by her and the community at-large. My response turned out a bit too long to post in the conversation thread. (for those keeping score — Length: 2 Brevity: 0) Anyhow, I thought it might be better to post as a text record.
RE: RE: EDITING
Thank you for contributing your feedback to the collaboration. I appreciate the time, consideration and passion that were so apparent in your record. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what you’ve written and the responses and conversations your record inspired:
For better or worse, HITRECORD isn’t always necessarily going to be all-things to all-people, all-the-time. For each production, we sincerely try to make as many areas of production as collaborative as possible. Sometimes, the nature of the project will allow for our community to be extremely involved. Other times, deadlines and complexity will require Joe and the HITRECORD staff to exert more control. More complex projects + Doing this for the first time = unfortunately and unavoidably (sometimes) inefficient practices. With HITRECORD, it has been our experience that this is a cost of doing business, I’m afraid.
Speaking of which — I have read some discussion regarding the degree to which HITRECORD is a business. We always say that the point of HITRECORD isn’t to make money. Indeed, HITRECORD’s commitment to creating high-quality art with our open-collaborative community of artists is the most important thing. Whenever we enter into any business relationship, on any level, protecting our community, our creative process, and the quality of the art we make are at the very top of our list of priorities. At the same time, HITRECORD the company does have business commitments with very real contractual obligations and consequences. For HITRECORD ON TV, the company was contractually obligated to deliver eight episodes of television on time and on budget. These time and budget constraints gave us less flexibility, so it sometimes dictated how we produced certain segments (more on that later). Alternatively, hitRECorderly #3 did not have much in the way of time or budget constraints, so we were able to work closely with editors from the community — which required a bit of back and forth.
As I’ve previously stated, I do understand and appreciate that our communication and process can and should be improved. I believe this will come in multiple forms: direction/outreach from the HITRECORD staff via our site, improving our creative methodology, and enhancing/refining and further developing our feature sets for the website. These improvements will take place in the short-, mid- and long-term, and I’m happy to keep you updated on these developments along the way.
Before I go on to address some of the points folks have raised in this thread, I’d like to attempt to neutralize some of the more harsh charges that I’ve read in this and some of the other conversations in this collaboration:
It’s always our intention to make art in the most positive, fair and even-handed way as possible. Of course, no methodology or technology is perfect. Inevitably, there will be artists whose work was mistakenly unattributed, resourced, or otherwise uncredited. I’d like to acknowledge that it’s in all of our best interests to make HITRECORD the most fair creative environment as possible. And that’s what we try to do. Great work is created when everyone feels great about how it’s created. We know that no one system can ensure 100% oversight. So, we’ve gone to great lengths to create (and refine) as many initiatives as possible to provide opportunities for the community to review and give feedback.
And, as with anything creative, sometimes we’re going to disagree. We’ve always said that HITRECORD is not a democracy. We don’t vote or encourage active competition (Tournament of Champions, notwithstanding!). I believe one of the things that makes our company unique is that we have a definitive director that gives our productions a point of view. As a result, certain types of aesthetics will be favored over others. And, while I believe we can point to a number of instances where community editing was included in the TV show, editorial control is one of the ways we pull our point of view into focus. That distinguishes HITRECORD from other creative environments that do not have a clearly defined creative perspective.
RE: EDITING REQUESTS
Throughout season 1 production we put out numerous requests for editors. We asked for editors to cut down testimonials, to work on edits of live shows, to add cutaways, etc. Indeed, it’s in our best interest to try to incorporate as many community edits into the show as possible. We sincerely put a lot of thought into every request before it goes out to the community — we don’t want anyone to waste time or resources on anything that may not at-least have the potential of being a part of a production. (Or, that doesn’t serve some creative development role). And, we do intend to incorporate the results from our requests into production. However, the task of editing is an inherently iterative process. It’s a very difficult art form to provide direction from afar.
Season 1 was a learning experience for us all, and a lot of time was spent discovering what the structure of the show would be, and a lot of time was spent iteratively editing each segment. Joe is the kind of director that sits with editors for hours (and hours) on end (if he’s not the one editing himself). This resulted in changing course sometimes, which is often a large part of the creative process—especially when you are making something from scratch for the first time. It’s certainly challenging to direct a small team of people down uncharted territory. Putting out more requests with perhaps conflicting direction, I believe, would have been damaging and perhaps even more frustrating for our community.
Another aspect to our production that lent a heavy-hand to how some portions were edited is with regards to the technical delivery specifications. Some technical information to consider is the total running time (TRT) of each episode. Our show has a TRT of 22 minutes, 50 seconds and 0 frames. As mandated by our network, the show must be broken down into 4 Acts. And, there must be a 30-second (and 0 frames) video between Act 2 and Act 3. ALSO — each act has to start on frame :00 and end on frame :29. This is called “locking to time.” And although we are working in 24fps, we need to “lock” at 30 Drop Frame FPS (as required for broadcast.) Hours and hours and hours (and hours) were spent shaving and adding frames to bumpers to accommodate these delivery specs. (It truly is a painstaking process that only our in-house editor can do — and can only be done once all the elements are in.) As a result - we often had to ‘reconstruct’ bumpers contributed by our artists — as was the case with ‘Trash Truck’ contributed by RyanPatrick. We were also required to provide a “Textless Master” of each episode to the network for international distribution. (This is a copy of our episode without logos or text. And, this delivery detail was provided to us quite late in the production process, I’m afraid.) Having to deliver locked cuts with these specs, combined with ‘title-safe’ requirements by broadcast and the overall uniformity of font and text color, we regularly needed to reconstruct each bumper from the site. Such was the case with the “re: fantasy - birds bumper” contributed by missamerica. Dr. Gory first downloaded the footage she used by KevinMaistros to remove the logo and text, and then had to cut down that footage for time. We did not approach missamerica to re-contribute a new bumper because delivery was imminent and all the resources were available on the site. It was a mistake to not provide missamerica with attribution and, I sincerely apologize for that. However, there was no malicious intent here. That said, I’m not sure if I understand how Dr. Gory’s treatment of missamerica’s bumper isn’t considered a remix, or why it is different than anything else we create on HITRECORD. We have attributed missamerica’s resource in the profit proposal docs, just as we would any other resource. (BTW — bumpers are some of the very first places we go to add / cut a second or two of time; and therefore, they are occasionally re-edited last minute by staff editors.)
It should be noted that the final construction of each episode really does come together in the edit. Big decisions are made when Joe sits with Dr. Gory in the final 12 - 16 hours before we lock. And, while I believe we can refine our process to accommodate more accurate attribution and crediting, for Season 1, we were on the hook and delivered in the best way we could.
Now, having gone through Season 1 and having experienced the process and delivery schedule — and, this was a suggestion made by Marya (http://www.hitrecord.org/records/1539685) — I think it would be very helpful to post all the delivery specs: fonts / colors / title safe dimensions / frame rate / etc. to our community before the season starts. This will obviously save time and also cut down on the possibility of records going unattributed. With Season 1 completed, I think it will be a lot clearer what we will be looking for in Season 2. There will be many Season 1 examples to refer to when requests are made for editors, and I anticipate our Request Videos for editors consisting of specific examples, which will help make the creative direction clearer now that a lot of the structure of the show has been defined.
RE: EDITOR CREDITING
We are always working on ways to improve our crediting process to get it even more accurate. With thousands of resources throughout the season, we approach the Credits from as many vantage points as possible. With the television show, unfortunately we are only able to lock Credits once picture is locked. This gives us very little time to compile all the Credits and Resources. That said, we do devote as much time as possible in the Crediting period to evaluate each record and create the Credits in the fairest way possible.
However, there are times when our system fails. Case in point: missamerica's "RE: Fantasy" bumper (as used as an example above). This was a remix of a KevinMaistros record - our Editors were in fact influenced by missamerica’s bumper and wanted to put a version of it into the locked cut. Because the original resource by KevinMaistros was on the site, the most efficient way to re-cut this bumper to make our episode delivery deadline (and to meet our delivery specs) was to download the original resource and add text that differed from missamerica's edit of the bumper. In this case, the KevinMaistros video resource was credited, and missamerica was not. This was an oversight that we take full responsibility for.
As I mentioned earlier, our system is not perfect. But we continually take great steps to make it as accurate and fair as we can in each case. For example, because our show is not yet distributed internationally, we were able to work out a way for several thousands of contributors to view it and make sure we didn't miss any resources. We do this because we want to hear the community's feedback and we want to provide the episodes to as many people as possible so we can revise the Profit Proposals in any applicable cases. And, we'll be monitoring each comment from the community to ensure the Final Profits reflect the feedback that we receive.
For Season 2, I am aiming to have as many as possible staff-remixed/repurposed bumpers uploaded to the site so that we can resource them immediately for the community to review. I think this will help the community in identifying any instances where our resourcing is off in a more-timely manner. That being said, some bumpers may be made rather last minute, so we will do our best to upload those records as quickly as we can in the event that we have time to alter any Credits.
One comment that I wanted to address from the conversation thread in missamerica's Text Record was a comment from LilacAmy11 which read "I made several edits of Still Here, including one that used many of the same cuts and footage from The Bed that was used on the show." I can personally verify that the final edit of "Still Here" was done by Joe himself. He exclusively cut with "The Bed Song" footage that tdolan contributed to the collaboration and “Still Here all shots” contributed by PaulBeauChamp. Joe retained many of the cuts that were in the original edits contributed by tdolan + PaulBeauChamp, but did not include cuts from other community contributions. This is why the Profit Proposals do not cite any community edits. Of course, we will be reviewing all the Profit Proposal feedback from the community within the coming weeks and will be replying to any comment in the "Still Here" profit doc that asks a similar question. These kinds of questions are all a part of the Profit Proposal process.
It is with utmost sincerity and respect for our community when I say: it does not behoove any of us (on staff) to unfairly copy or mis-credit members of our community. If/when this happens we try to do our very best to correct it. And, of course, that goes for the community profits. As far as we’re concerned, the community profits are the exclusive property of the community. It’s always our primary goal to make sure that credits and payments are most fairly accounted for. The goodwill and morale of our community depends on it and we don’t take it lightly.
RE: RAW FOOTAGE
I understand that the requests we made for Editors to work on parts of the show like the Opening Monologues were limited to the footage that the community uploaded from the live venue shoots. Each live venue shoot resulted in terabytes (upon terabytes) of footage being recorded by our television camera crews, and we simply did not have the capacity to transcode and export all of the footage, upload each clip, and then organize all of the footage on the site. It pains me to have not been able to deliver this — especially since Joe personally (and consistently) made this very request himself. For Season 2, I’d like to have more media managers on staff so that we’re able to make more of our footage available to our community. However, given the massive amount of data, manpower, and equipment this would require, I cannot guarantee that we will be able to deliver all of it, unfortunately.
Having said that, there was a detail in missamerica’s text record that I don’t believe characterizes her interaction with our Community Director. In her record, missamerica asserted that we refused to upload the live footage. Normally, I wouldn’t raise my hand about something such as this. (And, perhaps this is me being sensitive, as we really do try to have at least pleasant exchanges when artists from the community reach out.) missamerica did indeed reach out to Matt about uploading live-venue footage. She knows that we are always open to questions from the community and we devote as much time as possible responding to questions that arise. However, by saying we refused to provide the footage indicates an unwillingness on our part to do so — and, that wasn’t the case.
Below is the answer that Matt provided on Sept. 26th:
"...with the TV Production, we bring in terabytes of footage from each show, and are shooting with cameras as varied as the SONY a99, the NEX-5, and even 4K. The footage immediately goes into our AVID editing systems - which takes a lot of time. But then to transcode each clip, render, and export (along with all the time that would then go into uploading, organizing, and quality controlling) it is simply something we cannot do…"
I share the frustration of not being properly equipped to deal with this issue. And, as I stated above, we will make the effort to try to get more of our footage onto the site for S2. However, this response wasn’t a refusal, it was a statement of constraints.
The John Waters piece was also brought up as a Collaboration where raw footage we shot was not uploaded to the community. In this instance, three parts were edited and uploaded for the community to edit cutaways to. We did this for a few reasons:
1. We very rarely, if ever, release raw footage of any subject other than Joe. And, in the case of Mr. Waters, there really wasn’t much room for negotiation on this. There are times when we may be able to provide alternate camera angles, but for the reasons expressed above, we did not have the capacity. 2. The conversation was over an hour long. We knew the points that we wanted to hit and we knew the approximate length of the pieces. So, we pre-cut it to provide context. 3. If we didn’t cut it down and instead asked the community to do so — after already knowing the sections we want to hit on, would we not be sending our editors down a rabbit hole? 4. We spent an incredible amount of time choosing cutaways, adding music, taking away music, etc. — exclusively using the interview footage we uploaded to the site. As such, I believe there was more than enough material for an editor to create a unique take on the interview.
Pretty much the same principles apply for our Green Screen shoots. Additionally, to stay on schedule the cuts have to be locked when we present them to the community so that the community is working with footage that is locked to time. Also, visual artists need to be provided with a locked cut so they can illustrate and animate accordingly. Our production schedule simply does not allow for us to upload all the takes of raw footage and see what results from community edits. Joe's process as a director, as I alluded to earlier, is to sit with an editor and construct the edit.
It is my sincere wish that we learn and grow from our experiences in Season 1. I believe we’ve already started to do so and that we’ll be stronger going into Season 2. From the beginning, it has always been our desire to have as many tools and ingredients available to our community as are available to HITRECORD staff. And, while it’s never our intention to stack the deck in our favor — the reality is that for the reasons I listed above, and others that are bound to come up in the future, sometimes that’s going to happen. And, as I said said at the top — I think that’s okay. Every production is going to have it’s own way of producing itself. For better or worse, some projects will be inherently more collaborative than others. In the end, I believe in the balance we strike overall from year to year.
Thank you all, again, for your ideas and passion in proposing how we make HITRECORD an even more streamlined and efficient production company. The future is bright, indeed.
Friends and collaborators,
I've been following the text records and comments re: Season 1 production for the last few days. And so, I've written some (many) words to join the conversation. I apologize for the length as I didn't intend to hijack your day with my musings. But, in an effort to provide context and to address as many community concerns as possible, I'm afraid length won the battle over brevity this time...
RE: PRODUCING SEASON 1 of HITRECORD ON TV
After months of production and years of development, I’m not sure it’s truly hit me that HITRECORD ON TV season 1 is officially wrapped. It’s been an incredible ride and I’m really excited and grateful to get the opportunity to do it again for Season 2. (After a bit of sleep!)
About 18 months ago, when pitching to networks, we described HITRECORD ON TV to television executives as a variety show where each episode would have at least one moment to make you laugh, one moment to make you cry and one moment to make you think. I feel that the show we’ve all made together does just that. I believe we’ve created eight thought-provoking episodes of entertainment totaling over three hours of art with substance. I’m really happy about it and feel an enormous sense of accomplishment.
What we set out to make with this first season is extremely different from traditional television. We don't say this out loud very often, but there's never really been a television show created quite like HITRECORD ON TV. There's certainly no road map for producing an open-collaborative variety show where anyone from all over the world can contribute. Making this show has been a very public process, and one of our goals was to include the HITRECORD community in the creative process in as many ways as possible.
As a producer, this is the kind of challenge that excites me. Having no pre-disposition in a certain field (like television) can be empowering — it’s an opportunity to attack problems in ways you think they should be done, not necessarily bound to common practice held by an industry or by any specific tradition. The idea of tackling challenges without much context is also very much in-line with how we do things at-large here at HITRECORD. We try to approach creative problems with solutions that feel the best — “let’s do x,y,z the way we think it should be done, not necessarily the way it’s done all the time.” This can be a great process, though not without its challenges.
As I said — I’m very proud of the work we made together. I’m also very proud of how we made the work we made together. BUT! — with all things you try for the first time it’s always a good idea to have a major debrief — almost immediately — to reflect on what went right, what could have gone better, what went wrong and how to take steps to improve for the next time. I’m really excited to take what we’ve all learned in our collective experience and apply that not only to Season 2, but to how we make art at HITRECORD in general.
I'd like to hear what you all think, so I've started a collaboration HERE for us to contribute our ideas and suggestions on how we can take what we learned making Season 1 and collectively come up with ways for Season 2 to be even more efficient and transparent for the community at-large. I’m very interested in hearing about your experiences. And, I’m eager to share mine. I’m looking forward to constructive conversation about how to make the show better and the process more streamlined. I would also like to add that we're already underway working closely with our Development Team to brainstorm ideas of new features sets on the site that will improve communication and the overall site experience.
Now, I’ve been following the conversations going on over at skriks’ (and others’) text records. There are some interesting points and inspiring ideas being talked about, and I look forward to engaging in some healthy discourse. There are also some ideas that I don’t feel are as constructive and notions I believe to be misunderstood. I’d like to address both categories:
As I mentioned at the top of this record, the goal of HITRECORD ON TV is for it to be an entertaining show that is funny, poignant and thought-provoking — (laugh, cry, think!). Each episode should examine multiple angles on a theme. Initially, Joe and I thought we should aim for at least 5 different expressions on the theme. (I think each episode ended up delivering more.) If put together right, the show should take the audience places the audience isn’t necessarily expecting to travel. Making sure each episode had an array of tones and textures of themes was a guide for what we should make. But, how to do that?
I think we all have our own good ideas for what the various angles on a theme can/could/should be. I know I did. But, the benefit of working on a show like ours, using the open-collaborative process such as ours — engaging hundreds of thousands of artists around the world — is you get more good ideas. Certainly more ideas than you would in a Hollywood writers room, for example. I love that. And, as we saw with Season 1, our community’s ideas took us (as creators) and us (as an audience) to unexpected places. Roswellgray’s unique experience of seeing the stars for the first time comes to mind. Or, KarlieJ's take on the theme Fantasy — fantasizing what your day could have been / what you should have done — which then made way for the text record by danikins that inspired the short film “Customer Service.” The range of ideas in each episode is, I believe, one of the things that makes our show so special and unique.
But, I don’t necessarily believe that a well-rounded episode of HITRECORD ON TV relies on quantity alone. I don’t believe that the quantity of ideas or contributors will automatically equate to the very-best episode. Surely some episodes and (for lack of a better word) segments, will have many contributing artists. Some will have fewer. And, at-times, perhaps a take on a theme is best communicated by a solitary artist.
There has been much discussion about the format of episodes and how each short piece is bridged to the next. Indeed, this element of the show was the number one question most television executives had for us, and it was the biggest question we had for ourselves. HITRECORD has made short-form content together before. But we knew it would be a challenge to link all the disparate elements together based on the theme when sometimes the various elements would not go together tonally. And, while our creative process isn’t necessarily what makes the art that we make great, we wanted to additionally show glimpses of how certain shorts were created and introduce members of our colorful community to the viewing audience. It was our guess that by doing so, all the short films would be enhanced for the better. The audience would have a richer understanding of what they are about to see when they see how it evolved within our community of artists.
I believe the way we structured the ‘connective tissue’ that bridges the pieces together is done effectively. I think we were successful in juggling the various elements: briefly discussing the creative process while also staying on theme. This season we tried a few different methods — Skype calls, in-person interviews and artist mini-profiles. Personally, I really loved Joe’s conversation with Metaphorest about flying for the ‘Above It All’ intro. The dialogue between fdot78 and Joe in the "Still Here" intro, I feel, really enhanced and set a nice tone for the piece itself. And, the set-up of the community's First Times contributions that segued into the Skype call with roswellgray regarding "First Stars I See Tonight" is a truly special moment of the season, I think. (I can't wait for everyone to see how 'We Can Go Back Again' is set up, btw!)
I’ve read that these segments can come across as an advertisement for the site. I accept that note. Of course this is not the intention. In an effort to try to describe the ‘making of’ process in the most efficient way possible, we put ‘host Joe’ in front of a hyper-animated version of the site to support the sometimes-confusing way we create with (perhaps) easier to understand graphics. I believe this approach looks cool and distills the often-complicated concept of “open-collaboration” to the audience — a majority of whom don’t know what it means to collaboratively create with an international community of artists. It also allows our viewers to see how any artist on the site can download records and remix them, as 12.42 discusses in the "Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder" intro, and the animated graphics visually demonstrate. I understand the concept that cutting this ‘connective tissue’ will allow for more individual pieces. But, if the pieces are not stitched together with some consistent device reinforcing the theme and providing context, we run the risk of the episode failing to work as a whole.
I believe having a host walk the audience through the process while staying on theme helps ground the episode. For Season 1, as founder, director and creator of the show, Joe makes sense as host. And, he will remain the host in Season 2. But, surely there are other ways to stitch segments together as well. So, let’s try some things out between seasons and see what alternatives we can come up with and explore together.
A major topic of discussion in the last few days has been the “Never-Wrongs and the Ever-Rights” short film. I’ve read a lot of thoughts about our decision to cut it from the episode. And while it’s a perfectly valid conversation to have I’d like to make something very clear. The piece was not cut for time. Joe and I LOVE the elements that went into the piece. We’re very, very happy with the work that Metaphorest, Cat Solen, the puppeteers, the animators, musicians, and other members of the community created for this collaboration. Further, the texture of piece, the look, is different from anything else in the entire season. However, when watching the piece through — especially within the episode "RE: The Other Side" itself — it was clear to us that for whatever reason, it wasn’t working. It dragged on the episode I’m afraid. I’m happy to discuss specifics in the conversation thread for the piece itself — and we recently uploaded our most recent cut of the piece to the site. It is with utmost respect to the contributing artists when I say: I believe that our episode "RE: The Other Side" is a stronger episode without the "Never-Wrongs."
To be clear, we did not cut "Never-Wrongs" to make way for Joe’s Op/Ed testimonial "The Other Side of the Screen" (more on that piece below). We decided to cut "Never-Wrongs" about 10 days before the Locked Cut of the episode was due and so we went directly to the site for replacement options. We actually filled the time originally allotted to "Never-Wrongs" with four pieces: “Stay Away,” “Freestyle Something,” “The Turtle Discovers the Sky,” and MottelZ's video testimonial. By cutting "Never Wrongs" we were inadvertently able to include way-more collaborators and more points of view into this episode. I definitely think it was the right call to make and that the time was effectively used to broaden the angles on the episode's theme. In fact the "RE: The Other Side" episode ended up having the most individual segments of all our episodes - though, again, I don't feel that quantity necessarily always equals quality.
And, who knows what will become of "Never-Wrongs"? While there are masses of pieces in development at any given moment, opportunities always avail themselves for projects to get picked back up. Serendipitously, “Stay Away” was a not-yet “completed” project we started at Sundance 2013. With several days to craft it into a short film for the show, we contacted many of the musicians who had contributed to the collaboration and requested that they upload video footage of themselves performing their contributions. rewfoe's animation was already on the site, and it made for a wonderful visual resource to compliment the song and the footage of the musicians. We felt this was the best course of action to make the short film in the time that we had before Locked Cut. This is an example of how there is always a chance that any record or collaboration can continue to evolve at any given time, and the same will go for the "Never-Wrongs."
All-in-all, there were only two collaborations where we really focused a lot of community attention and resources that were not aired - "The Never-Wrongs and the Ever-Rights" and "Tournament of Champions." In both cases, key contributors were informed via e-mail prior to the respective episodes airing.
And some background on “Tournament of Champions” — first, the contributions were INCREDIBLE. And, I think it’s going to make a really great piece. However, when editing it together we discovered that it played best when contributions were played in full. (as opposed to editing down). And, it didn’t really make sense as a 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 minute segment. It also didn’t work broken up into bits and spread across the episode. It seems like the best way to treat the “Tournament” would be as a special half-hour TV episode. And, we’ve already started discussions with the network on this. Not sure what direction that conversation will go, but whatever happens, it is definitely our intention to develop the Tournament further and we will keep you posted on it.
And speaking of keeping you informed: in an effort to keep the community more up to date on the status of projects in development for the TV show, we are going to work on ways to better communicate collaboration deadlines, the status of collaborations, and upload more resources to the site. And, while we cannot upload all the final pieces of each episode for contractual reasons, we will make as many resources available as possible to the community during Season 2's production (though some resources, like live venue footage, will be too time-consuming to upload unfortunately.) I do want to add that we don't want to discourage the community from contributing to collaborations that resonate with them, so we're always going to have to evaluate how we communicate what the "status" of a particular collaboration is.
Our creative process is always going to be a work in progress, and I'm eager to hear what you all think with regards to ways we can make things more efficient. For Season 1, we were really pleased with how the Request List system worked in collaborations. Not only did it inform the community of specific elements they could contribute to, but we were able to cross the request off once it was fulfilled. (But, we should make this feature better!) We also created an "In Production" Album that included the active collaborations for each episode, and we removed the collaborations as soon as they were completed or no longer in development specifically for the episode. (But, let’s develop a better way for the community to know which collabs are actively being developed for episodes.) At-times deadlines for contributions were given but they varied for all the aspects of our projects; some deadlines were stricter than others, and some projects didn't necessarily have deadlines. We feel that keeping the guardrails and structure loose in certain cases allows for more organic development, but we also want to reduce as much frustration as possible. We'll be examining the structure of the website to find additional ways to improve the communication of productions, deadlines, etc — and I’d love to hear your ideas. At the same time, these challenges shouldn’t only be addressed by developing new feature sets. So, let’s also discuss how to focus our behavior to allow for better communication and transparency. Again, I’d like to hear your thoughts and suggestions.
I have read a lot of conversation and criticism about Joe's "The Other Side of the Screen" testimonial. Most of the criticism I’ve read doesn’t seem to concern the piece itself as much as it questions the fact that it was more of a monologue rather than a community effort. I accept that note and understand the community frustration. At the same time, I believe Joe is in a very unique position to speak about the subject of being on both sides of the screen. It’s an interesting take on "The Other Side" and not completely dissimilar in format to the interviews Joe did with John Waters or Elon Musk. It also is one of the documentary pieces that I think most directly relates to HITRECORD. And, while this piece didn’t necessarily include community testimonials, it did interweave community visuals and music.
But, perhaps there are ways to make these kinds of pieces more collaborative? It was a mistake for us to not put Joe’s "Other Side of the Screen" testimonial footage on the site for our community to edit. We definitely should have done this and I apologize. Funnily (well, not funnily) due to the nature of rocket-building, the NSA would not allow us to upload the Elon Musk footage. But, the John Waters material was all up on the site in advance for our community to work on.
I would like to sincerely commend you (and your patience) for staying with me and reading this far. I apologize for the extreme length of this record, but I wanted to cover as much ground and respond to as many points from the community as possible. But, as with everything on HITRECORD — this is a dialogue. Going forward, I feel that we can collectively discuss alternative courses of action for Season 2, and identify ways to improve our creative process. I very much look forward to your constructive feedback and engaging in a positive conversation.
sitting in the middle of Yoko Ono's art installation 'play by trust' — one of my favorite's of hers.
Seems like invading Russia is never a good idea. I can only think of two times in history this hasn't panned out: Napoleon + Hitler. I'm sure there have to be other instances... what are they?