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Plot Perfection with BBC Radio 2 500 words Competition

BBC Radio Two DJ Chris Evans started the children’s short story competition 500 Words back in 2009, and it has grown phenomenally ever since, becoming one of the biggest writing competitions for children in the world with over 120,000 entrants this year alone. The initial aim of the competition was to get children excited about reading and writing, and this year was no exception.

As well as getting children involved in the writing itself, the Chris Evans breakfast show production team wanted to encourage and advise entrants on how to approach their stories with a series of short web-based videos. The producer of 500 Words commissioned boutique broadcast hire company Run Hire, based in the heart of London’s production community, to shoot and produce five videos for the series. Run Hire then approached Trickbox TV for help with the project owing to their longstanding relationship after working effectively together in the past.  

Hosted by Naomie Harris, AKA Miss Moneypenny from the latest James Bond films, the team continued on the 007 theme and headed over to the Spectrecom Studios in Kennington to shoot the first video of the series. The short video featured a group of literature-loving children thrown into different creative scenarios shot against a live green screen. This was all then set up on a large plasma screen so that they could really interact with the various backgrounds and vividly envisage and explore their imagination in front of their own eyes.

Simon Hotchkin from Run Hire said, “The point of the 500 Words competition itself is to spark the children’s inventive imaginations and get them excited about the written word, so it was important to get them actively responding and exploring through the use of the green screen. In this way they could really interact with their own ingenuity.”

Trickbox TV set up a temporary flyaway gallery, so that the parents and production team could also view everything going on in front of the green screens.  

Due to the fast moving nature of the content, live keying proved difficult as the children jumped on and off screen. Two versions were recorded, a clean version of the children against the green screen and a separate edited piece, which enabled the post production team to pick and choose the shots that fit well with the children’s imagination. Despite the challenging nature of the content, the team worked meticulously during the live footage to create a clean key and the final look of each shot was faultless.

“No matter what the production entails, with Trickbox the answer is always ‘yes’”, Simon noted as he reflected on how impressed the whole production team were with the whole project. “They will always work out a way to do it and this shone through on this production as it’s something unusual that is not necessarily done everyday, but they made it work.”

“Most importantly however, Trickbox TV took care of all the technical elements which gave the children a free reign to go wild with their own inspiration,” continued Simon. “The whole team are real workers, and ensured that the production ran smoothly throughout.”

You can view the video here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03hjqg0

“No matter what the production entails, with Trickbox the answer is always ‘yes’

Simon Hotchkin, Run Hire