Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Post Vancouver

Life after WUGC 2008

It's been more than a month since we've been back from Worlds and it's flown by just as quickly as the event itself. The memories are vivid highlights of the week.

* Ground breaking webcasting we did with Ultivillage
* Match Diesel smashing his fists on the walls of the commentator booth in frustration/excitement (and then not exactly admitting this on his blog)
* My being in a hot tub with two sexy but completely vacant women on my birthday while spraying
Allison and our expensive camera with cheap Champagne for 'effect' and somehow not getting sh*t for it.

There's too much more to mention.

The entire year leading up to WUGC2008 is a blur. started partly as an excuse to go to Vancouver and watch the worlds best players play the game we play. Who wouldn't want that? Tom and I talked about that Tom and I did for WUGC 2004 in Turku. Back then Tom went alone with a rather large group of volunteers including some now GB stars like Caesar, Brummie, Danny Hoyle and more. I stayed home and did editing :(. We thought we'd update the delivery method and reduce the man-power this time. Our purpose would be to create some video podcasts of our time there to give people a real feel for the event. I thought... 'I would enjoy that if I wasn't there.' Great! We had enough forethought this time to start early, actually learn how to do video editing, learn how to properly use a microphone and camera, and try to build up some viewers in advance so we weren't just there suddenly doing all this work recording and reporting and editing for 10 viewers a day. Tom and I found our areas of expertise, him mostly in front of the camera and myself mostly on editing and camera work. It all worked really well producing an Unplanned/Fantasy Football meets Waynes World style of show.

Fast-fowarding ahead to just over a week prior to WUGC, Tom and I were bricking it because we'd had no response from the WUGC staff in spite of contacting them well in advance. Tom had been turned down for the official announcers job (yes the guy, 2nd only to Tony Leonardo, who has done more event and Ultimate related commentary and public speaking than anyone in the world was looked off) and we thought this was going to end up being completely guerilla coverage with no support at all.
Enter Ultivillage. Patrick (Dick) Cloutier emails us and he's watched the commentary trailer kindly made for Tom by Si Williams and loved it. He doesn't know boo about me but wants us together to do commentary on the first ever webcast for the show-game between Canada and Great Britain!!! Whoah! We've got contacts, we've got free broadband, we've got VIP access and media passes. We're in.

What a week it was! I highly recommend going to an event like Worlds as a spectator. You've got the highest quality Ultimate being played non-stop to an extent that you can't possible watch all the games you want. Vancouver was beautiful and made me slightly homesick for the first time in years and the event itself was executed as smooth as you could hope for and more.

This may sound ridiculous or obvious but BlockStack has a tendency to make it all up as we go along. We thought for this though, we'd get some real planning in. Not to be. Once again we found ourselves pouring over the schedule each morning at the all you can eat buffet breakfast (sweet!) and planning the day which was loosely around key games. Unlike other events, at first we weren't allowed to film games because of the Ultivillage DVD deal. We were going to have to be more creative for sure. In spite of the additional pressure, most of the planning went to into the bin and we were filming primarily using distraction as our guide. If our attention was gathered by something then surely viewers would want to see this. Brilliant. Distractions plus big games = podcast: and we did this daily, spending most of our evenings at the computers editing hours of video into 30 minute shows while the ladies fetched food and drink. Credit to our ladies Alli and Catrin for putting up with all this.

So all is going well and suddenly Ultivillage come to us with a proposition. Do commentary on new daily webcasts from the show pitch and also for all 6 finals on Friday and Saturday. YEAH!!! Whoah hold on! How will we do the podcast if we're webcasting the whole time? With Difficulty. We brought in a few friends (Chris and June) to join the regular crew helping to film some stuff for us in the final days. Perfect! We did the commentary and it was a blast! Tom and I came up with new techniques for double teaming the play by play when you only get a semi-correct roster 5 minutes before. This largely consisted of one of us starting it off and forging on until we didn't know/remember a name and using a description and a switch of commentator. "HUGE SWING ACROSS THE BACK TO THE GIRL IN THE DISTINCTIVE YELLOW CAP... ...MELANIE HILL WHO MAKES A GREAT BID ON A DISC TROUBLED BY THE WIND"). It was great.

Sitting in the sun shine talking crap about your favourite sport with a good buddy, watching some great games, all the time receiving emails from around the world telling you what a great job you were doing. It's hard to imagine things working out better. We'll post some of our favourite emails in a future blog post. But rest assured if you did email us that we read every email that came in and almost all of them made us smile.

Unfortunately our finals episode did suffer in the end because of our own lack of attention to filming and especially our lack of editing time for it. Two days of finals footage and we had to check out of the compound the day after only giving about 6 hours editing time max. Not enough.

We're calling it a big fat success. I can't believe we haven't celebrated what we've accomplished yet. Two guys knowing nothing about modern video editing, camera work, how to podcast or even how to present a tv show ended up with VIP media passes at WUGC 2008, being
the faces and voices of the first EVER Ultimate webcasts with Ultivillage and released daily shows from the event with tight editing and interviews with all the top players in the World!

We're a little pleased with ourselves at the moment. This is the reason for what I said in the beginning. It's been a while since BlockStack has popped up and is enjoying a much needed break.

To put some perspective on the what we've accomplish and the price of it, here's some stats on the show so far
Total number of Shows: 8 in Vancouver, 2 in Copenhagen, 4 in Paganello, plus 6 on the sofa.
Hours of footage recorded: 55
Hours spent editing (appoximately): 160
Money spent on equipment: £2000 +- £100
Money spent on travel: £2,000+ each
Most watched show: WUGC 2008 - Monday Masterstroke (Ep 4)
Total views (all shows): 38,000 and counting

We just need some time off to gather our thoughts, restock the holiday time and save some money and maybe take a nice bath. We'll be back.