Many of you have asked us how our teams prepare and create our live shows. With three live channels, including Gems TV running twenty four hours a day, our studios are always frenetic –
but despite all appearances, there’s a method to the madness! Every team on Gems TV has a presenter, producer and a director, who each have a fixed role to play in bringing their show to your screen. If you’ve watched our live channels, you’re more than likely familiar with many of our presenters already and know what they do, but you may not be aware of the importance of the teams supporting them.
To explain how these roles work together, we’ve asked one of our teams to talk us through their typical day at work. Presenter Jim Brooman, producer Gareth Parsons and director Zoe Booton have worked together as a team for well over a year and can be found on Gems TV from 11pm to 3am.
Every show begins with the producer. This role is quite different to producing roles in other TV or film work – it is much more akin to being a shopkeeper for four hours than anything else. Just as a shopkeeper will create a beautiful window display to best show each item off, a producer will put together a show that will create a coherent whole with pieces that work well together.
As a producer, you will decide what the themes of each hour will be and you will have to find the products to fill those hours and work out what prices you might sell them for. This will usually involve talking to the merchandising team and seeing what new gemstones or new designs are available. Producers are driven to find the most exciting new products and bring their customers the best deals. Choosing products to feature in the show is known as scheduling and starts a few days before the show.
Gareth says: "In the days running up to a show, I'll fine-tune my ideas and begin to get an idea of how it will work. Around 24 hours before we go to air, I begin putting my schedules together. I do a lot of work from home. When and where you work is quite flexible, so it’s easy to fit life around it. On the day of the show, I get into the office at around 5 to 6pm. I then make my final decisions about what is and isn’t in the show and make my last checks to ensure that everything will work together to create something distinctive."
At 8pm, presenter Jim Brooman arrives. He will have already checked the schedules to give him an idea of what might be coming up, and would already know if there was going to be an important show, such as a launch or a special guest. Once he has arrived, he will check with Gareth to see what the finalised schedules look like.
Jim will then research every piece. There are notes on every item so that presenters can record what was said about it in every auction and how many sold. This can prove an invaluable tool for presenters to prepare their shows. If there is a themed show it is even more important to research the story of the gem. We also make recordings of every gemstone launch and have written records of where each gem was sourced and what makes it unique, as well as the information in our CEO Steve Bennett's gem encyclopaedia, The Lure. Jim will have a look at this material and work out what to say and the best way to say it.
Apart from making sure that he knows what to say, Jim must also make sure that his show is entertaining. Supporting material is key to this. PowerPoint presentations, rough samples, or books from our library can all be used on air to ensure the show is both entertaining and informative. It is always important to tell our customers how beautiful our jewellery is, but it is equally important to explain where it came from and what makes it unique.
The third member of the team is Zoe, the director. She arrives at Gemporia Towers by 7pm. She begins her day by checking with Gareth to see what hours have been 'locked off'. This is when an hour is finished and the vault are told to start picking samples for it. Once an hour has been picked, Zoe heads upstairs to the security hatch and checks that every item is there and is correct. Zoe takes responsibility for ensuring that every item is signed out and returned correctly.
Zoe brings every hour downstairs and checks the schedules to see which items have already been recorded and which will need doing. These 'Lazy Susan' recordings are an invaluable way to show our customers our jewellery close up in three dimensions. Any brand new items will need recording, as will every Star Buy, the Midnight Megadeal and 'Brooman’s Bulletin'. Zoe will also record any hours presented on a wheel, as well as any group shots that work well together. She’ll also check to see if any items have phenomenal effects which can be filmed.
At 9:30pm, Zoe will join Gareth and Jim for a show strategy meeting. Here, they will discuss the themes of the show, the pacing, the run order, any supporting material Jim is planning to use and what displays to present the jewellery on. Together the team sets up the displays and discuss the pieces and what makes each one special.
The team usually manages to squeeze in a quick bite to eat and a coffee before they hurry down the corridor to the studio in time for their show to start at 11pm. The producer and director sit in the gallery – a soundproofed booth with windows overlooking the studio. The producer and director's voices are relayed to Jim through an earpiece in his ear.
The handover from the shift before is always extremely busy, with people scurrying this way and that. Jim's show follows what is our busiest shift here at Gemporia, so it is vital to keep up a fast pace and keep our customers interested in what is coming up. Gareth must ensure that this happens, making sure that Jim gives a high energy introduction when he takes over from Kate McCarthy. For the rest of the show, Gareth will decide how long to spend on every piece of jewellery and will let the team know what piece will
be shown next.
Gareth takes responsibility for the on-screen graphics, loading products on the system, the price crashes and end price. He can see the sales on his computer screen and will let the presenter know how popular an item is. He will also give direction in Jim's ear to help him structure his presentation and remind him of the show plan.
Zoe will sit in the gallery with Gareth and will take charge of the visual output of the show. Along with being able to talk to Jim through his earpiece, Zoe can also talk to the Tech Op team. Throughout the show, she will call the shots, letting her team know what camera moves to make, at what pace and when their camera is live.
Although directing is the most technically difficult role, using a complex mixing desk and looking at a vast array of preview monitors, the most important skill a director needs to have is listening. Zoe must listen to Gareth to know what is coming up next, what items to preview and how best to preview them, but she must also listen to Jim to make sure she is choosing the shots, recordings or slides that best explain what he is saying. For example, if Jim is saying 'look how this ring looks on the hand', a viewer needs to see that. Likewise, if he is talking about how the gem will act in bright light, it may be easier to see on the Lazy Susan recording.
Sound is a joint effort between the director and producer – with Gareth running any music or sound effects and Zoe controlling the presenter’s mic. Zoe will take her pacing queues from the music Gareth chooses, letting her crew know how fast to move their cameras. Zoe also takes charge of adverts, cueing them up and making sure that the right ones are played out at the right times.
At around 10:30pm, Jim will go and get ready to go on air, making sure he is neat and presentable and puts his mic on. At 10:45pm he pops on air to do ‘Brooman’s Bulletin’, letting the audience know what will be coming up on his show and opening an item for pre-orders.
11pm is Showtime! Even after six years of presenting with us, the first few minutes on air are still an adrenaline rush – a combination of nerves and excitement about the show coming up. The most important thing is to keep our audience watching and entertained, so letting them know why the show is going to be interesting is vital.
Listening to a director and a producer while saying something else is a skill in itself. Many customers assume our shows are scripted, but scripting 24 hours of TV a day is clearly not possible – Jim must rely on the many extra hours of gemstone study between shifts to see him through. However, it is live TV and anything can happen, which every presenter (including Jim) assures me is the very best part of presenting!
Jim Brooman can usually be found on Gems TV from 11pm to 3am.