The Spectrum Show

Dedicated to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum

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Episode 64

Infocom games on your Speccy, chat and reviews. What more do you need!
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Issue Eighteen

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The Spectrum Show

The Spectrum Show, the monthly YouTube show that has now been going for over 3 years. Never missed a month, never late and always well received. How?

Many people have asked how the show is put together, how long it takes, what I use for various bits and where all the information comes from. Well,here is the answer...

The Script

Each episode begins with the script. Yes, it is scripted and not made up on the fly. The basic script is usually about twelve pages long, including the special feature. It can of course be longer if the feature is an arcade shoot out!

The first segment of the show is the news. Although I have a large collection of magazines, it is much more convenient to search through scanned pages, and so I plough through various magazines that cover the month in question. I prefer to look at weekly magazines such as Home Computing Weekly or Popular Computing Weekly, because of their regularity, tend to be quite accurate with dates. I peruse each news section and add to the script around five to six news items I think are interesting. I very rarely copy them word for word, often embellishing them with further detail if required. At the same time I check out the weekly charts, usually compiled by WH Smith, and grab a selection of games that are new in.

The Feature

Next we have the main feature, quite a lengthy but enjoyable task. If it’s a hardware review, I spend a good few days setting things up and generally playing about. Testing things out, making notes and often video. If I have hardware setup, I don’t want to do it all again to grab some footage later on, although this has been the case a few times.

Video Equipment

For the video I use one of two options, depending on the kind of shot I need. For normal, long to middle distance stuff I use a Panosonic HC-V510 camcorder. This is a small HD device that is fine for most things. If I am doing close-ups or shots that require very short depth of field, I will call on my Canon 550D DSLR. This will let me manually set everything to give me great close up detail. My Canon is also used for any photography I need, like box shots, or anything for the blog.

Game Reviews

How do I chose which games to review? Easy, I take a mixture of old and new games I personally enjoy playing and games I have not played before. I also try to make a point of not using games that everyone puts on YouTube like Manic Miner or any of the Ultimate games.

Once the games are selected, I break out Spectaculator and load them up. Each game I play for over an hour before I even start to write about it. I have to get a feel for the game, how it plays and how it uses the Spectrum. This is very important. After the first hour, I jot down a few notes before moving on to the next game. When all of the games have been played, I go over the text again and fill it out. At this point no video have been taken. I also play the games on real hardware, usually splitting the play time.

Grabbing Video

This has changed since I did the feature in issue 1 of the show magazine, and I now use Ashampoo Snap 8. I set Spectaculaotr to 300% size, set Snap to grab the window, and play each game again, getting more than ten minutes of footage for each game. During this capture I often add things to the script that were missed the first time round. This may be bugs, features, quirks or things I didn’t pick up on.

The Audio

At this point the script should be complete and I am ready to record the audio. I try to record it all in the same period to maintain the level and sound of my voice. This is not always possible though, and those with sharp hearing can tell when different segments of the show sound slightly odd. In one episode I had a cold for most of it, except for one game review!

To record the audio I use a free program called Audacity and Samsung Meteor microphone. This replaced my old headset over a year ago and gives great sound. I have to tone down the bass a little in Audacity, but apart from that it's a great bit of quality kit.

The recording usually takes about one hour, after which I have several files for each section of the show.

Editing

To edit everything together I use a very expensive program called Adobe Premier Pro CC2015. I pull all of the audio, video, image and title files into the project and begin the slow process of sticking it all together. This process can take a few days, even a week, until I am happy with the results. Once complete it gets rendered out to a single MP4 file which takes about 40 minutes. Reviewing the finished show often shows up problems, bad timings or cuts, and of course this means reediting and re-rendering.

Once happy - it gets released, and the whole process starts again.