Nonetheless... loads of you seemed to love the first ep, and I'm very pleased it has gone down so well. The feedback makes the exhaustion worth it. It has been one heck of a journey getting it to this point, and so many people have been kind and helpful along the way. Not least the backers, and everyone who has shared it.
Here then, is a sort of commentary from me on last night's debut episode. Beware: SPOILERS.
In the end I went with the theme - because it's so good - and tried to find a way to at least hint at the show's gaming content, and suggest the chaotic wonkiness that is our ballpark. I still tried to keep titles to a minimum. It's YouTube land; even though we're pretending to be a TV show, people want to get straight into the content.
Also: the opening titles remind me of Jon Pertwee-era Doctor Who, which I like.
Something I wanted for the show was some sort of simple icon. Originally I went with those primary coloured circles you see in the background during the intro, but late in the day I realised how versatile the classic teletext logo actually is. It's simple enough to be iconic, and incredibly versatile in that I can fill it with various textures or colours, and it is still identifiable without actually needing to be read. If that makes sense.
The two biggest voices of doom were Horsenburger and Jenny, but I'm very glad they spoke up, because it really helped to shape the series.
The version you've seen is edited down from about 20 minutes, and we were all on our BEST behaviour for those 20 minutes, but we got to the end and breathed a sigh of relief; that was the point at which the show really started coming together. The original edit of it was much longer, but I stripped it right back, as I wanted to get into the episode as quickly as possible.
It's really just a chance to establish the show, and give all the hosts a moment to be introduced. I think they get more relaxed and fun as the series goes on.
That said, I'm still amazed how quickly we all learned to work together on set. It might be the thing I'm proudest of, that the mix of hosts - me, Larry, Octav1us, Jenny, Gannon - just fitted together as a team. All of us are so different to one another, but the jigsaw is seamless, I think.
Also, A Beautiful Boy will return...
I always knew I wanted us to have a desk. It becomes a focal point, it gave me something to hide behind, and it's just a really practical feature. They presented us with three designs - which they built in miniature scale first! - and I went for the moderately-priced one in the middle, blended with the front sign from the high-end version. I love it.
The entire set was conceived outwards from there. Some bits are salvaged from The Trojan Arse protocol, while the barrels were bought off eBay; I learned on Trojan Arse how versatile a barrel can be as a bit of set dressing. I've since seen the exact same barrels crop up in all sorts of films and TV shows. They're even in the background during The Last Jedi (albeit spray-painted white).
We also had a lucky accident when we found the big scaffolding thing in the studio, which became an integral part of the set.
Originally, the reveal-o-hatch in the desk was going to play a bigger part, but it became a faff; either we had to have somebody under the desk for an entire segment, or stop shooting while they got under there, and we'd edit around that.
The hatch still comes into play in later eps, but I chose instead to honour the spirit of Press Reveal with these Found Footage-y inserts.
My other half says that my mood lifted the day I first put them into the ep. She was right. It did.
Those chains are real metal by the way, and incredibly heavy.
While we're on Mr T... big props to our sound recordist Chris Bullock. She had a tough time balancing the sound with Mr T, because those bins really echoed, and his chains rattled like Marley's Ghost. I owe Chris something of an apology, because the main complaint people have had with the episode is that the sound could be better. And if there are problems, it's not her fault.
It's a mixture of issues on set (my stupid fancy shirts and jackets caused a lot of noise, and the power pack for the desk lights created interference), and me deciding for the sake of time and my sanity to go (mostly) with her raw on-set mix, rather than painstakingly piecing together all the separate audio tracks from scratch.
With more time and money we could've fixed all that, but I think it's an uncanny valley effect; we're so close to seeming like an actual TV show that when things aren't quite there, they really jump out. On a show this ambitious, with the budget we have, it would've been a miracle if everything was perfect. The good news is, as I've said elsewhere, the subsequent eps are being professionally mixed, so should sound a lot more evened-out and punchy.
That said, I don't think the sound is anywhere near as bad as some have made out. I quite like that it drops out at points, as it gives it a Saturday morning live TV effect, from the days when they'd be frantically mixing up in the gallery (which is, effectively, what Chris was doing).
But while we're talking technical issues, a few people have picked up on frame-rate problems when watching it on a big telly. I'm not sure why that is - it looks fine on my desktop - but if anybody has any advice... I'm all ears.
Also, Larry is the perfect blend of funny and knowledgable for me. He's as likely to come out with an outrageous comment - many of which were probably slanderous or politically incorrect and needed to be cut - as he is some weird bit of trivia. He was the last person we added to the team. Originally, I dismissed him, thinking he was some big YouTuber and wouldn't want to be involved. I'm very glad I did ask in the end though.
Again, flaws which seem to be forgiven in a less ambitious YouTube video just jump out more. But - equally - we ARE still a YouTube show, our budget was relatively tiny, and it has been a nightmare trying to compensate for that in the edit.
Things like lighting - which had to be adjusted with every shot on the day - can be incredibly time-consuming. We had a ton to get through in the week we were there, so on set I often I had to make the call to just crack on, even if things weren't perfect.
The good news is; I got better at grading, and I think the show looks better from ep 2 onwards.
The interviews are the closest we get to somebody just playing a game. I'm sure some people would've appreciated more of that, but for me it's just anathema to good tv.
I can't think of anything more dull, which is why we tried to mix an interview with the playing. And not actually show much of the playing. If you want gameplay footage... there are plenty of other people on YouTube who have entire channels dedicated to it.
I'm going to be honest here: I don't enjoy doing the interviews, and ended up splitting them between me and the others. It's the one part of presenting the show where I still feel awkward doing it, and I don't think it's my strength. Gannon, however, is brilliant at it - his interview with Big Boy Barry next week is something to behold.
This is one sequence that really came together in the edit, after getting to watch his GamesMaster appearance. The whole "trigger happy" thing was a happy coincidence following what we'd filmed on set.
Right. That's it for this week. Thanks for watching it. Thanks for the nice comments. I hope you continue to spread the word, and stick around for subsequent episodes.
You ain't seen nothing yet...