Touchcast

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (hint, hint) may have noticed that I’ve been steadily developing an addiction to video blogging with Touchcast.

Touchcast is a video-based app that you can use on iPad, Mac and PCs to create shortform videos featuring ‘web within the video’ content, such as images, webpages, ‘click-to-buy’ links, Instagram and Twitter feeds. You can record video by cueing up this content (known as Vapps) before recording, or film first and add Vapps later – in other words, you could do a pristine, polished multi camera edit, upload it into the app and add the extra layer of vapp-based content before publishing.

Currently I’m using the former method and fairly sparingly still – I think the key to a good Touchcast is to not throw everything at your viewers but to acknowledge each vapp you’ve included. Hopefully one day I’ll also have a reason to use some of the other features, such as switching between front and back cameras on my iPad during recording and using the whiteboard to draw on the screen.

My first two Touchcast efforts were food-based, the first also serving as a review of Jack Monroe’s ‘A Girl Called Jack’ book  and the second using one of my favourite online recipes; salted caramel millionaire’s shortbread. They mostly feature images so you can actually see what you should expect when actually making the recipes.

With more link-heavy Touchcasts, it’s advisable to let your viewers know that they should save exploring the extra content until after they’ve watched the video once through (or they can put it on pause).

I’m hoping that in future I’ll be able to produce interview-based features. At the moment, Touchcast lets you record to up to five minutes at a time, but you can merge projects together to create a longer edit, so it might mean recording outside of the app, which I’ve not done yet.

Naturally Touchcast is great for shameless self-promotion, so I’ve recently uploaded a video about the interactive Writing for BBC Radio Comedy iBook I produced. If you haven’t already downloaded it for free from the iTunes Store, you can get it here or find an online version over at the BBC Academy of Production website.

Visit my Touchcast channel here and let me know if you give it a go!

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The New Year list

I’m deliberately not calling this post ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ because I don’t think I need to change who I am – and nor should you – but because I’m a fan of a to-do list and this is a good excuse to create an ‘action plan’ for 2014…

2013 has been, for the most part, fine. It’s gone ridiculously fast too. There were big changes at the start and end of the year (I got dumped by email in January – ouch) and changed jobs (moving to EastEnders in late December), but for the most part I feel like I’ve coasted along.

However, everyone should take a moment to think about the good bits as well as the disappointing receiving of electronic communications and so here are a few of the highlights…

#Team NCA

The BBC Radio New Comedy Award returned in 2013 (we got a BBC Production Award nomination for the 2012 multiplatform element that I produced which was pretty cool) and I found myself without a budget so recruited a big batch of amazing volunteers to help film and edited each film myself. The core group of Producer Tilusha, Production Co-Ordinator Tam and Production Management Assistant Isma were bloomin’ hilarious and wonderful. And of course the most fabulous Executive Producer Alison Vernon-Smith and the stylish (and talented) Production Manager Hayley Nathan. My favourite production of the 18 months I spent at BBC Radio Comedy.

Grainne & J-Bugg shake up the Beeb

I found two excellent, talented friends in the new Radio Comedy bursary writers…

A Summer of gigs!

Thanks to Elena Dana, I finally started gigging in London, even making my jazz debut. And I got a new telecaster… now to get an amp (see 2014 to-do list…) I also wrote at least three songs I can count among my favourites.

Making my own damn icing, thank you very much

When I baked in the Get Flat in 2012, someone else was around to do the icing while I made the batter. My early solo icing efforts were watery and rubbish. Then one day, thanks to a Primrose Hill Bakery coffee buttercream recipe, I cracked it. (Although I did have a massive icing fuck-up the other day and had to buy the pre-mixed stuff for a Xmas party at Grainne’s but never mind…)

Comedy! Comedy! Comedy!

I saw some amazing shows and met some hilarious, lovely people this year. People who made me laugh included: Bridget Christie, Phil Wang, Steve Bugeja, Rob Carter, Katherine Bennett, Kate Lucas, Adam Hess, Tom Craine, Joe Lycett, Dean Sekhon, Peter Brush, Grainne Maguire, Mae Martin, Nick Helm Sarah Campbell, Nish Kumar, James Bran, Joe Davies, Ivo Graham James Acaster, Dane Baptiste, Jonny Pelham (and many, many more – go and check them out…)

Producing a book… sort of

In the New Year the BBC will be releasing an iBook about writing for Radio Comedy that I produced… I’ll post more about this in 2014!

Anyway, 2013 review aside, there’s loads for me to be getting on with next year, so here’s some stuff I’d like to do in 2014…

  • Buy amp to go with new telecaster (rather than playing through mixing desk connected to computer speakers)
  • Finish painting bedroom – there’s no longer a reasonable excuse for the large unpainted patch behind the wardrobe!
  • Cook a wider variety of foods (other than jacket potato, pasta and homemade sauce and stir fry)
  • Invite friends over more regularly to share wider variety of foods
  • Apologise less for the way I look
  • Be less passive when someone judges the way I look unnecessarily
  • Buy more cushions for my large sofa
  • Keep up the exercise and resist chocolate/ice cream temptations!
  • Practice guitar more
  • Find rhythm section to play with me and Reece (who I’m working on songs with)
  • Get keyboard out again
  • Record more music – and record it better
  • Read more on my Kindle
  • Find permanent contract
  • Renew ISA
  • Fill up ISA
  • Invest in more loose leaf teas
  • Save up for Canon 5D
  • Be better at getting people together – but not feel so guilty if I don’t
  • Enjoy self as much as possible
  • Blog more!

There’s definitely more – most of that reads like a shopping list! I must have January sales on the brain….

My Harkive – 9th July 2013

I start at 8:00 when my alarm forces me awake and I immediately turn on the radio.

I won’t lie – this is almost permanently tuned to Radio 1, although the track (that even Nick Grimshaw comments as sounding like a ‘rubbish Cotton Eye Joe’) makes me wince (I later find out that this is called Ring A Ling by Sneakbo. This morning it’s mostly chat though – I’m an out and proud Grimshaw fan so this is fine by me. Plus, I’m 24 so I’m still within the Radio 1 target audience. (I know you’re judging me!)

As I head out the door to the district line, I have a listen to a mix of a song I’m working on on my iPod. It might sound odd to some, but I find it useful to listen to my own music (sometimes I find it quite hard) on various devices so I can see if the listening experience changes – for example, my macbook speakers are pretty poor so an iPod is far more preferable. The track in question is called Twelve Feet Under and I’ve put it on Soundcloud and shared it with friends to try and get their thoughts:

Often I listen to a podcast or something from the BBC Radio Comedy output on the tube to work – this morning it’s The Show What You Wrote, which is being podcasted as the BBC Comedy of the Week. However, as it finishes before I arrive, I pop my iPod on song shuffle and on comes the Sufjan Stevens song John Wayne Gacey Jnr.

Later, at my desk, I notice a blog post on Twitter about The Rumble Strips by This is Fake DIY. It includes a Youtube video of their song Alarm Clock, so I give that a listen. I was never a big fan so I listen more out of curiosity than nostalgia. It’s ok, but I prefer the upbeat (but slightly similar) sounds of the dearly departed Larrikin Love.

After lunch I have a major hayfever attack and run out to Boots to get some eyedrops. Trying to take my mind of my swelling, itchy eyes, I take my iPod with me. As before, it’s still on shuffle. The tracks it treats me to are Magic Touch by Golden Silvers, Four Kicks by the Kings of Leon, Night Terror by Laura Marling and Live Wire by Fyfe Dangerfield. I do have some current stuff on my iPod, including Bastille, Lianne La Havas, Bastille, Daughter and Kate Nash’s underrated third LP, Girl Talk – oh and Yeezus by Kanye West, but I also have plenty of older stuff I can’t imagine not taking on the go with me.

After work I hop tubes between Great Portland Street and Angel. My iPod is still in an eclectic mood and plays A New Found Land from Villagers’ (brilliant) second album Awayland, The Look of Love (Nina Simone version), Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) by Florence & the Machine, The View from the Afternoon from The Arctic Monkeys (who I have never stopped loving in the past nine years), Isobel by Bjork and She’s Lost Control by Joy Division. Naturally the latter sets me perfectly in the mood to see comedians John Robbins and Joe Lycett test out their Edinburgh shows… or maybe not.

Post comedy, it’s back to dashing between underground lines. Impressively I manage Angel to Bromley-by-Bow in three different lines and four songs… although I do chat to my friend Doug from Angel to Bank so technically I only listen to my iPod for the second two lines. These songs are Landfill from Daughter’s Wild Youth EP, Old Stone by Laura Marling, New by No Doubt and, rather perfectly, With You Now by my friend Jake Flowers’ band Oaken Lee. I say perfectly because I’ve just received a message from Jake about Twelve Feet Under.

Don’t forget, you can still submit your listening habits from the 9th July over at Harkive.org now!

Creating a film about creating The News Quiz

On Thursday I published a short film I made for BBC Radio 4 called Creating The News Quiz.

I was very lucky to have the chance to visit the QI offices (they’re just as cool as you’d imagine – they have a collection knitted QI bobble hats and a wall of fake moustaches) earlier this year to meet with producer, presenter and broadcasting legend, John Lloyd.

John is one of those people who you meet because of one thing – be it because of his role as the founder of QI (so much more than a TV show), producing the radio series of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with his late best friend Douglas Adams or presenting The Museum of Curiosity for Radio 4 – and then go away discovering he’s responsible for more than you could ever have imagined. Occasionally you’ll see him as a talking head on a BBC Two programme talking about some epic advert he made in the eighties, or a classic telly show such as Not the 9 O’Clock News.

John himself isn’t a name dropper, or someone who’d ever assume people would know who he was or what he’s done. He’s just a really brilliant person, basically, so I was dead chuffed that he agreed to chat to me about the early days of his time in BBC Radio. I don’t want to say too much because it’d be great if you watch the film above and see for yourself, but the story involves Nicholas Parsons, former Film [insert date here] presenter Barry Norman and a 13 hour turnaround – from reading the morning papers to broadcast.

The News Quiz airs at 18:30 Fridays and 12:30 Saturdays on BBC Radio 4.

London 2012 Opening Ceremony (and much more)!

Some of you may know that I’ve been rehearsing for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony since April

I’m now in the final stretch, with just two dress rehearsals before the performance itself on Friday. I’m not actually allowed to tell you what I’m doing or even hint at it sadly, but I’ll do some posts after the event to explain a bit more about what we’ve been up to – do comment if you want to know anything in particular (or give me a Tweet).

As well as the Olympics, it’s all go at work. We’re about to go on tour for the BBC Radio 2 New Comedy Award and I’ll be covering some amazing shows in Edinburgh for BBC Radio 4 online, including Just a Minute and Dilemma.

On Friday at 6.30pm, the first episode of the new Chain Reaction series goes out (so you can listen just before the Opening Ceremony). The first pairing is Jeremy Front and his sister Rebecca. The rest of the chain is made up of Chris Addison, Derren Brown, Tim Minchin, Caitlin Moran and Jennifer Saunders (how brilliant is that?). I’ll be speaking to the guest interviewer each week – see how I got on with Jeremy here.

Lastly radio-wise, I’ve also been preparing for The Now Show 2012 – Live! with Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt. We made a silly video to promote the show before recording a show from the current series. The show’s broadcasting live on Monday 30th July, continuing every other week night across the Olympics (that’s six episodes, kids).

Check out the aforementioned video here.

In other news, I’m part-buying a flat in Bromley-by-Bow as part of the Shared Ownership scheme. I’ve never spent vast amounts of sums on anything, so the deposit leaving my savings is going to make me wince like a man hit in an intimate place. I’ve been Pinteresting my prospective furniture. Predictably the majority of it is from IKEA! I plan to bulk buy basics and then shop for more interesting pieces once I’ve replenished my funds.

If you’ve got any budget furnishing links, do share them.

Turning 23

On December 27 I’ll be 23…

… It’s not considered a landmark year, but the last 12 months have been so erratic, it seems to feel a bit more significant. I’m in my third office in a year (Sky this time, after a great six months at Channel 4) and things are finally settling down a bit. I’m also enjoying being away from my Shoreditch shoebox of a bedroom – Willesden Green has been good to me so far!

However, the settling down bit is scary. Nothing, as ever, is set in stone. I’ve got ten months left of my fixed term contract at Sky so time will tell if I find anything more permanent. I do like experiencing different workplaces – the corporate operator Sky has about 17,500 employees compared to Channel 4’s Public Service Broadcasting 800 (again, approximate). It’s also a very different role to my previous ones.

I’ve not had the chance to podcast recently so I’m hoping to get back to the music in 2012, if there’s a demand for it. I need to get over the North West thing – in Shoreditch I’d go off to gigs and events most evenings but I’m more of a hermit in my new home, perhaps it’s the cold or maybe I’m risking getting too comfortable.

I had one of those epiphanies the other day, the kind that will seem irrelevant to everyone else, where I realised that podcasting and blogging are activites I can pursue independently. I don’t have to rely on anyone else to put my plans into action – but neither to I have to ask anyone. And that’s sometimes dispiriting.

The two things that I’ve loved doing in the past, presenting and music, have required me to find others to help me go further. I can write songs, but I’m scared to play guitar solo, plus I’m not a very advanced player. It’s great to be able to play with others as it makes the whole process more fun, but it’s also nerve wracking to reveal what you’ve written.

The last track I wrote was the first in several months. It’s short and it’s ‘demotastic’; long pauses, Garage band reverb and general poor quality. But it’s the idea that counts, I suppose!

I also would like to move from radio into onscreen presenting. I guess I could do this at home with vlogs but I’d love to film future music interviews and get out and about. Unfortunately this requires assistance so I guess I’ll need to pluck up the courage to start asking people to help out. I’ve always been quite embarrassed to admit how much I enjoy presenting for fear of it changing people’s opinions of me. I enjoy meeting new people, and I like the excuse to find out the hows and whys of music and more – interviewing is the tried and tested method of getting those answers.

Soon, I’ll be revealing my top musicians of the year, so if you’ve got a band you think I should listen to, leave me a comment below.

Get Frank Podcast: The One with Tom Williams

The other day I finally got my act together and hot-footed it over to the Shepherd’s Bush Empire to see Slow Club play their biggest ever headline gig.

Not only was it a massive deal for the Sheffield two-piece, but it was also a dream come true for my podcast interviewee this month, Tom of Tom Williams and the Boat.

I first met Tom whilst working as a BBC Blast reporter in Kent, and have seen them perform in tiny local venues and bigger platforms such as the Avalon stage at Glastonbury. In the podcast, Tom chats to me about what the gig means to him and the band, the success of their debut album Too Slow and what to expect from the imminent follow-up.

Also featured on this month’s podcast are haunting new duo The Kindling, Bird, one of Liverpool’s most exciting songwriters, experimental acoustic artist Daughter, Get Frank favourite Oaken Lee and former Amazing Folk Roots act Urusen. There’s also a spot for vibrant ska-band By the Rivers, who are soon to embark on a UK tour in support of The Specials.

Listen to the podcast here – and check out the contact page for details of how to get involved with the next one!

Get Frank Does Leefest

Although I gather the usual term would be ‘fresh from the field’, I actually am exhausted from the field, (having spent a consecutive weekend in one).

However, I’ve finally recovered enough to give a bit of time to putting this, the Get Frank Does Leefest podcast together.

I’m so incredibly grateful to Rich, Dave and all the guys at Leefest for making me feel so welcome. It’s the most fun I’ve had at a festival in a long time and, despite going on my own, I was kept company by some amazing people.

For this extended edition of the Get Frank podcast, I hit the press area of non-profit festival Leefest to chat to some of the emerging acts gracing the stage over the weekend.

PLAYLIST
Fraser – ‘Let It Rain’
Public Service Broadcasting – ‘Introduction (Let Yourself Go)’
The Stanley Blacks – ‘Caroline’
Jose Vanders (feat. Luke Leighfield) – ‘Blindsided’
Professor Penguin – ‘Pirate’
Loose Talk Costs Lives – ‘Hemlock’
Pengilly’s – ‘Writing Things Down and Thinking Things Over’

Highlights from the festival include; Professor Penguin’s performance of ‘Pirate’, Sneaking a peek at The Stanley Blacks as they recorded an exclusive performance of ‘Caroline’ for Leefest TV, Jose’s entire performance (particularly her introduction to her track ‘Man on Wire’ and her exquisite phrasing), Loose Talk Costs Lives’ shirts, Pengilly’s bottle of ‘adult lemonade’ and the night that followed, Public Service Broadcasting’s on-stage telly and the guys from Fraser, just well… being the guys from Fraser! Finally, thanks to Zanna for the lift to the station!

Listen to the podcast here

Second chances, Leefest and Pengilly’s on film

I’m currently sat in my room listening to loads of bands from tomorrow’s Leefest lineup getting far more excited than is good for my little, beating heart

I’m hoping to cover the festival for my next podcast, having invited lineup curator Rich Legate to join me on my last episode, which you can listen to and download right now by clicking on the handy soundcloud module below…

It’s been a difficult week for everyone, I’m well aware. Seeing people’s tweets, messages and general social networking statuses have been heartbreaking – but I’ve also found equal emotion in the incredible images of crowds holding their brooms aloft and grouping together to clean up and erase the damage. For some this will be impossible and all we can do is try to support them. I’m lucky to have amazing friends who have all been Tweeting and texting to see if I’m fine – thank you! I hope you are all safe too, and will remain so.

As we reach the weekend, London is starting to breathe again. My sigh of relief will come this weekend at Leefest, as I try to brave working the press area of a festival again (it’s been a while!) Again, I’m lucky to have been given my own ‘second chance’ by Dave, Rich and all the Leefest crew, who’ve been immensely supportive and accommodating of me and my very new, admittedly green podcast.

I received a brilliant email from Ric of Leeds/London band Pengilly’s today, to say that the long-awaited video for the band’s single Toby’s Hill is ready for your visual and aural consumption. And my word, was it worth the wait.

PENGILLY’S “TOBY’S HILL” MUSIC VIDEO from BROWN BREAD FILMS on Vimeo.

Live, the band are a sight and sound to behold so make it a staple of your future new music agenda to check them out live sometime soon. In fact, why not this Saturday at Leefest? You can still get tickets for the two day festival (which starts tomorrow). You can either get a weekend ticket, which includes two nights of camping, or a day ticket. It’s a non-profit festival and money will be partly reinvested in next year’s event and also donated to local charity, KidsCo. So many ‘small’ festivals have fallen by the wayside this year – through the dogged determination of its young team of organisers, Leefest has resisted throwing in the towel and is on the eve of greatness. I can’t bloody wait.

Hopefully I’ll see you at Leefest tomorrow, if not, I’ll be bringing an update soon!