On Sunday, the Teaching Awards was broadcast on BBC2 at 6pm, and I was part of the team that produced it. It’s an inspirational event which honours teachers of the sort we all wish we had!
I was one of the VT producers on what is known as a fast turn-around edit – which is basically one where you have a very short time between a particular event happening (and being filmed) and putting it on air as a completed programme.
The Teaching Awards ceremony took place at Shaftesbury Avenue (normally the home of Priscilla Queen of the Desert!) during the afternoon, beginning at 4pm, and ending just before 5.30pm and our programme was on air at 6pm – and was scheduled to last 58 minutes.
This meant the team in VT (videotape) cutting out over quarter of an hour and getting it on air within half an hour of the end of the event.
Needless to say, it’s all carefully planned in advance. There were three teams in VT, each comprising an editor and producer, and each had to edit a third of the programme.
My lovely – and excellent – VT editor Andy Barker and I had to edit the final part. Our first job was to record some lines of commentary from the host Lenny Henry for the very end of the show, where we were planning to feature some of the awards which we didn’t have time to feature in full.
Once he’d recorded his lines, we then edited them together with the closing music and graphics, leaving little gaps for the winners’ speeches.
All this time rehearsals were going on for the cameras – each shot in a programme like this is meticulously plotted and planned.
Then it was time for Beverley Knight, who was presenting one of the awards, to perform the music number which would close the show. We then had to edit this together with Lenny Henry’s introduction to her and the final closing section.
By this time, the programme was on air, so VT was in full swing.
There were three awards to be featured at the end of the programme, so as soon as each one had been given, we had to select the best shots for their 20 second slot (generally them walking up to the stage and receiving it from a celebrity, then pick the best bits of their speech to feature.
We were still on the third one of these when the last third of the programme – which we were responsible for – began. This was basically the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award by Sir Trevor Nunn.
We knew that our part of the programme needed to be 13 minutes and 2 seconds long for the programme to hit it’s required duration of 58 minutes and 56 seconds. We also knew that the final section (Beverley Knight and the last three awards, which would have the credits running over them) was just over five minutes long.
This left just under eight minutes for the final award – which took around nine minutes from the point where the presenter Sir Trevor Nunn was introduced to the end.
In fact, our edit was very easy – as there was a chunk of the winner’s speech which lasted just around a minute which could easily be removed without the overall sense being lost.
We were still about 13 seconds too long. And we discovered that the duration of Part Two was over length by about 20 seconds. So we then started cutting a section out of the chat between Lenny Henry and Sir Trevor Nunn, before discovering that the other team had managed to cut their section down enough, so out chat went back in.
We were cut – before we were due on air! Which is not, I promise you, always the case.
Then all that remained was to ‘play out’ from the Avid, which we had been editing on, and for me to give the script supervisor a completed ‘VT form’ which detailed the exact duration and the ‘in’ and ‘out’ shots and words of our section. And we were done!