Five Thoughts For Thursday – The One about The Voice

Along with many people I watch The Voice on BBC 1 on a Saturday night. Well I say watch, it’s more audio visual wallpaper. You know it’s there but you don’t really notice it until you glance up and see the bit of edge that is curling up or the inexplicable tea stain two thirds of the way up the wall. How?

Well it got me thinking.

  1. It’s not really all about the voice, despite what the producers say. It only really works because we, the viewers, can see the person singing and we wonder how anything good is going to come out of their mouth. Or in a Susan Boyle like epiphany we marvel at the outstanding voice coming from a less than outstanding looking person. Judgemental I know but the programme doesn’t work without it does it?
  2. It’s not a talent show it’s a light entertainment television show.
  3. Boy George looks genuinely crestfallen when rejected as a coach by one the singers.
  4. The way in which they communicate the back story to the judges is incredible. The show is as dependent on heartbreaking sob stories as The X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. What I do admire is the way they manage to shoehorn it in. All the judges need to ask is “what’s your name and where are you from?”  That’s all. Still they manage to add that they have lost 11 stone, overcome crippling fear or any other of the many obstacles life throws in our path.    The more heartbreaking the story the more the judges look like complete bastards for not turning.
  5. Appearances are everything and then again they’re not. Generally speaking all of us have to interact with other people. Appearances do matter, you can’t avoid it. Your opinion of someone, especially a first or second one, is largely based on how they look to you. I say how they look to you because how they look to you is largely based on your preconceptions. I dare say all of he judges, past and present, have their own misconceptions about people based on how they look.



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The Mikado theatrical trailer

The Mikado

Conceived, produced, directed and film by me Gordon O’Neill.  Find out why over 16,000 have viewed this theatrical trailer.

This production was to promote the Abbots Langley Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s production of The Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan at The Watford Palace Theatre from the 3rd to the 6th February 2016.


The song chosen was “I’ve Got a Little List”. I chose this because it is one of the best known songs from the show and is traditionally rewritten and updated for every show to bring a contemporary edge. You can see an example  by Opera Australia’s twist on YouTube.

The aim was to use the song to introduce the characters and the production.  As a G&S novice I turned to my wife, Sue, to produce the lyrics. She is in the show and knows more about the plot and the characters than I do. Which to be honest would not be difficult. She produced some excellent lyrics and Geoffrey Farrer who plays Ko-Ko had the task of learning them.

The next step was to record the song. We arranged a session at one of the regular rehearsals in a local church hall. First we recorded Geoffrey’s song with piano backing and then recorded a chorus with the rest of the cast who were at rehearsal. This was mixed down and we were ready to set up filming.

The difficulty with any production is to be able to get the cast together in one place to film. We planned that none of the characters needed to be in the same shot together. If they did then I could do that in post production.

The concept was to have Ko-Ko in his study devising his Little List and the cast to be filmed in front of a green screen and then the stylised Tokyo background from the show’s publicity behind them. The great thing about choosing the green screen route is that it can be done anywhere, including my dining room. Each character was filmed responding appropriately to the lyrics about them. I also recorded them singing the chorus. Those involved quickly learned how difficult it is to lip-sync.  Still they all got there in the end.

I filmed some additional scenes. In the end I didn’t use them but it is always good to have more footage at your disposal. Although these clips were not used in this production they may be used in a future production for the show.

Ko-Ko was filmed at his desk in his study. In reality our dining room. Studios are nice and preferable if you want to record sound but it is amazing what you can do with a few props, lighting and framing of the shot.

The entire production was filmed on a Canon 5D Mkii with a Samyang 35mm prime cine lens and edited in Premiere Pro CC. The opening was filmed using a budget slider I bought on Ebay, not the lightest piece of kit but OK for this.

I love doing these theatrical trailers and it is great to see the significant numbers of people viewing the video.




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