Exploring the company we keep at UCI and beyond

Roller derby girls. God Without Religion. Harry Potter enthusiasts (fanatics?). These are a small sampling of the groups and organizations that have formed at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and around Orange County. Members share a devotion to their cause and a desire to pursue it in collaboration with others, which are the subjects we examine in this blog.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Good Evening UCI": UCI's First News Show

“Steve,” Logan calls over his shoulder. “The guy e-mailed back.” Three days ago, on September 26th, 2009, Logan had been watching a YouTube video titled “Big News SNL Open” that had been uploaded by Phillip Wilburn, a viral video voice impersonator. He had loved his imitation of Don Pardo, the current announcer of Saturday Night Live, and had e-mailed Wilburn asking if he would record an opening for the news show he wanted to start: Good Evening UCI. Logan had originally wanted to do a variety show, but was convinced by Steve to focus on news instead. Steve had just returned from a broadcast journalism internship with a CBS affiliate in Sacramento and chose the name “Good Evening UCI” as a spin-off from Good Morning America.

Logan still wanted the show to have style, so they compromised and agreed to do an opening sequence similar to that of Saturday Night Live. They traded shots of the city for shots of the beach, New York City restaurants for Newport restaurants, and kept the applause and jazz music in the background. Even the font is similar. To Logan, influences are a major part of the creative process. Imitation is, after all, the sincerest form of flattery. But Logan also uses it as an edge against competitors. He started his own newspaper in high school and copied the layout of a rival high school’s newspaper. They even had a pirate flag in the office. He had then copied his website, ZotReport.com (which is now disabled) from DrudgeReport.com. And in the beginning, he wanted Good Evening UCI to copy Saturday Night Live. However, aside from the opening, the two shows are nothing alike – a fact which the two co-founders are proud of. The show covers UCI-focused events and issues, while adding “Food Review” segments covered by Tyler and Daniel, and “Arts/Entertainment” covered by Mike. There have been segments devoted to health, covered by Andrew Vo. On average, Logan and Steve spend 3 weeks filming and editing in order to put out a 10 minute video featuring themselves and their cast. As self-proclaimed perfectionists, they don’t mind scrapping complete stories if it’s not up to their standards and thoroughly enjoy pushing themselves to meet their own deadlines.

Logan downloads the audio clip attached to the e-mail, excited to hear how it will sound. As Steve takes a seat, he hits play and the voice booms through his MacBook speakers. The 2 minute and 19 second clip has Wilburn rereading the script Logan had e-mailed him – although the announcement used now is only 16 seconds long, Wilburn had done it four times to give the two more choices. “From Newport Beach, it’s Good Evening UCI! With: Steve Scifo, Daniel Miller, Tyler LaBrie, Mike Wong, and Logan Frick! And now, ladies and gentlemen, get ready for Good Evening UCI!”

They look over at each other and double over in laughter. “We can’t use this, man,” Steve says in between laughs. He shakes his head. “It’s too cheesy.” “I know,” Logan agrees. “Did he sound this corny when we first heard him?” “At least he did it for free,” Steve says, getting up. The audio clip continues to play and the announcement is repeated again. “You know, it still sounds like Saturday Night Live.” Logan looks over at Steve. “Maybe we could make this work. If we add the background music, it’ll probably work.”

Which it did. Almost two weeks later, on October 12th 2009, Good Evening UCI’s first show aired. As an independent venture, the first episodes were filmed using a flip video camera. However, they eventually proved their potential, and ASUCI, UCI’s student government, purchased a larger, HD camcorder with wireless microphones for the group. Logan is the Visual Media Commissioner and the newly elected VP Administrative Affairs in ASUCI. Steve also won his run for VP Academic Affairs. They added friends Mike, Daniel, and Tyler, who are involved in Pi Alpha Kappa, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon respectively. They are also all involved in ASUCI. Logan characterizes Tyler and Daniel as the funny people, the comedic relief. Mike is the good-looking guy, the suave guy. Steve is the reputable, trusted, news-guy, and Logan is the guy that films everything and ties it all together. Melly Lee, a student photographer who took the pictures used in the opening sequence, describes the cast as “pretty funny guys” while Michelle Kim, who took the photo used in an article by UCI Communications, characterizes them as “classy and hilarious.” To date, they have filmed 9 episodes, and are planning on having the 10th be the season finale. These episodes can be seen on their Facebook page, YouTube account, and website. They are also linked on the ASUCI Homepage, by clicking “Media” under the “About” droplist. Begun as a fun project, the show aims to “[capture] the stories, essence, and interests of the students at UC Irvine, while entertaining and informing.”

Past episodes have featured issues like the UC budget cuts and events like sports games and concerts, even gaining exclusive interviews with artists B.o.B and Charles Hamilton. They also report on UCI Greek events, as well as philanthropic events, like Take Back the Night, which promotes domestic violence awareness. In general, the show gets good reviews. Because UCI has been known as the school that traded the possibility of a football team for a new library, many have been skeptic of this university’s school spirit. Enotes.com, made popular by its abundance of study guides, also has college guides and has placed “not much school spirit” under “The Ten WORST things about UC IRVINE.” However, it has also said that it takes time, and “although not vocal, the UCI spirit is still somewhat visible.” And this spirit (apparently muted and gradual) is exactly what Good Evening UCI wishes to promote and instill upon its viewers. “I like that [the show] covers a good range of stuff,” Rishi Purohit, a fellow member of ASUCI, comments. “It’s short, it’s interesting, it’s good.” Catherine Gliniak, another student, was so excited to be interviewed during the baseball game that she told all her friends that she was on it. Even Brian Clarke, the UCI Director of Greek Life, watches and enjoys the show. However, what viewers may not know is how time-consuming the process takes. The ninth episode began with 5 hours of raw film, which Logan then whittled to 10 minutes. Only the best and most visually appealing scenes were kept. (This includes cheering crowds, dancers flipping, or men singing unbelievably high pitched solos in gowns.) After it’s shortened and tied together, Steve then records the voiceovers. These 10 minutes seem to flow pretty effortlessly, but there’s a lot of work in order to create this brief, but effective broadcast. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Good Evening UCI’s process for the ninth episode, aired May 19th, 2010:


Logan and Steve decided to cover Songfest because the event brought the entire Greek community together. Songfest is an annual philanthropy where sororities and fraternities pair up and perform a musical, while earning points for collecting canned goods and personal items for the OC Food Bank. On Monday, May 3rd, Logan and Steve headed to the Koll Room in the Bren Events Center to film Delta Gamma practicing for the show. They film a few minutes of their practice, planning on contrasting that with the final show on Friday. They visit the Bren again on Wednesday to capture more footage of the behind-the-scenes work. Finally, they watch and film the entire final show on May 7th. Arriving forty minutes early, they stand outside and test the clip-on lavaliers that Steve will be using inside. It takes twenty tries, with Steve speaking louder and louder until they find the right range. Steve’s voice must be perfect once they film his lines inside; with little downtime in between performances, they have only one take to get it right. This is because when the musicals aren’t playing, the crowd is deafening. There is less than a minute for Steve to film his shot, because videos of the next performance will be shown on the screens on the side of the stage. When that happens, the supporting sorority and fraternity will cheer. Also, Steve needs the room to be relatively silent, with no distracting stage action. When the final moment does arrive, Steve and Logan rush out in suits, and the camera shines a light, spotlighting him near the audience. His takes a few steps back and approaches the camera, hoping the microphone will catch his voice and record his 5 second introduction. Besides timing, natural instinct is also a factor in filming this event. Logan, having a feeling that Sigma Chi and their partner, Kappa Alpha Theta, were going to win Best Performance, moves to stand in front of their crowd to capture them standing up and cheering just as their name is announced.


A week before Songfest, Logan and Steve attend UCI’s baseball game against Cal State Bakersfield. After searching UCI’s baseball website, Logan and Steve decided to attend the game on April 30th. They interview students, players, and fans. While interviews make be a few minutes long, they are shortened to a few seconds when aired (if shown at all) in order to keep the episode fast-paced and interesting. Artin Soroosh’s interview, which lasted two minutes, was cut to 10 seconds. Clips are also meant to be engaging; Steve has 9 takes from this segment – not because he stutters, or forgets what to say – but because they wanted a player to hit a ball right after Steve finished talking. Logan has to hold the camera facing Steve, while looking over to see when the ball was pitched. In addition, panning over from Steve to the field has to be done slowly enough for the shot to be clean, but fast enough to capture the hit. However, with all the work done, and more than an hour of film on camera, this segment almost didn’t make the final cut. That night, a serious mistake was discovered.

“Oh shit,” Logan says under his breath. His eyes are focused on the computer screen, scrolling through the footage from the UCI baseball game. He marks the scene of a kid playfully sliding down a grassy hill, and keeps fast-forwarding until he sees which parts he wants to keep. Confused, he quickly notices the silence, and hits play on a random image. No talking crowds, no cheering, no noise. “There’s no sound there,” Steve says in a deadpan voice. Realizing that a silent slideshow would never work for the news show, Logan swears and kicks the computer’s monitor under the desk. He shoves his chair back and stands up. “How did this even happen?” he asks, angry with the mistake. Steve, already examining the equipment, holds up the microphone cord attached to the camera. “We didn’t unplug it.”

For two hours of footage, the only sound the camera was picking up was the dead air inside Logan’s pocket. No, he thinks, refusing to believe it. Not after three hours of filming! The lighting was good. The shots were good. If we can’t use this then the whole segment is short. He begins to pace, fuming about how this one simple mistake could ruin the entire episode. He glances up at the whiteboard in front of him, looking at the scrawled words: “Bottom line, no more errors.” A list of mistakes made in the Good Evening UCI show is written beneath it, alongside the date it was made. The corner of the board reads: “This organization has gone 23 days without an error.”

His mind flashes back to the night of Take Back the Night, a domestic violence awareness event, when the memory card failed and the footage wouldn’t transfer to computer. It took three hours to figure it out. The second mistake, which Steve jokingly calls the “Crisis of the Keys,” is when he accidentally took the keys to the ASUCI office, where the editing takes place. Steve would have no way to get inside and the show had to be uploaded onto their YouTube account soon. Already late to work, he exited off the 55 freeway and called Steve, telling him that he would hide the keys in a random location. He parked outside an electronics store called Micro Center and hid them in a bush, giving him step by step directions as he drove away. He almost smiled at the thought. But at least those had worked out. Steve sits and stares, finally shaking his head. “We’re going to have to do it again.”

“I have work. I can’t go,” Logan replies, knowing that another baseball game is happening the next day. Steve crosses his left leg onto his right and tucks in his arms – his trademark thinking pose. Both know how important the footage is to the ninth episode, the last episode before the season finale. But this Saturday is especially busy. He sighs, knowing that it has to be him. “You know what, I can make this work.”

At 6 pm the next night, Steve takes the video camera back to Anteater Ballpark, with the sole intent of capturing three sounds: the crowd talking, the crowd cheering, and the “chink” sound that a bat makes in contact with a ball. Forty-five minutes later, he leaves the game and returns to the office. He opens iMovie and detaches the audio from the video. The program can split one file that contains both the images and sound into two separate files. He copies the sound bytes from the second game, and pastes it onto the first video. So much stress for just two minutes of video, he thinks. But at least we can use this for the show now.


Not based on UCI issues or events, the restaurant reviews and guest chef appearances were added to the show in order to keep with the student body’s interests. (Because who doesn’t like food?)

The third segment filmed was Andrew Vo’s segment on healthy snacks. Andrew, who has also played roles as the guest chef on the show, was discovered to be great on camera when Daniel and Tyler were reviewing T.K. Burgers, a restaurant in Huntington Beach. A friend of the two, he had tagged along and was asked to step in. The segment was later scrapped because the microphones were on the same channel and had only caught static, but the group decided that Andrew would have guest appearances on the show, filming his own health food segments. In the ninth episode, Andrew talks about healthy snacks and meals, while Daniel and Tyler go to 85°C Bakery, in the Diamond Jamboree Plaza. They had arrived with Logan the day before, but had been turned away because the management had not wanted a camera inside the store. They then called corporate, who gave them permission. When they arrived the day after, the bakery was very nice, even giving the reviewers free drinks. “I love the perks,” Daniel says before sitting down.


Logan then ends the ninth episode by exiting an elevator and thanking the audience for watching the episode. Interestingly, the elevator is in the basement of Fashion Island. Logan had originally wanted to pop out of a garbage can, but after sneaking into the Employee Only zone to examine all the trash receptacles, he decided it would be too dirty to climb in. He’s slightly disappointed, but he knows he still has one more show to go. He walks to the camera and out of the shot, telling his 1,369 Facebook fans to “be sure to watch for our season finale coming up.”



  • Interview with Logan & Steve: 1 hour, 19 min
  • Fashion Island filming: 40 min
  • Greek Songfest filming: 3 hours
  • UCI Baseball game filming: 1 hour
  • Interview with Logan: 2 hours, 40 min



No comments:

Post a Comment