In Cambridge we had the best part of 30 hustings and public debates in the run up to the 2015 general election. That’s not counting the events for the constituencies of South Cambridgeshire and South-East Cambridgeshire. I’ve been to many of them – filming my fair share of them too, along with Richard Taylor.
The graph above is a snapshot of the past 28 days of views on my Youtube channel – from the date of this blogpost. Moving from 20 views per day to a post-peak of around 100 views a day for me is astonishing. What I’ve not been able to do is to drill down into geographic locations of users.
What you see in the above table is the list of which videos are getting the most views, and for how long people are watching for. What strikes me in the above-table is the presence of the non-Cambridge-City videos, the presence of The Green Party throughout, and the presence of Chamali Fernando in the top two. The other thing is that most people are not watching the full hustings videos through.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised – the broadcast quality (in particular the audio) is not great. Without amplification the quality of sound is inevitably poor. There are also a whole host of things that impact on sound quality. This could be as simple as depth of an individual’s voice, to the direction they happen to be facing when speaking.
Editing the audio takes a lot of time If I simply recorded and uploaded what I had filmed, I’d have got a fair amount of criticism for the poor quality of the audio. Given that we’re talking about a general election, I felt I had a responsibility to try and amplify the volume of the voices of those that otherwise spoke in softer tones. (Or simply where I happened to be on the other side of the hall/room).
As a result, the audio of those on the other side of the room of the camcorder sounded more ‘airey’ than those much closer. In most cases, this was simply a case of having to set a camcorder up closest to a plug socket. Hence on two of the hustings I filmed, having Daniel Zeichner & Chamali Fernando further away from the microphone compared to Julian Huppert & Rupert Read (the latter two having audibly louder voices) meant I had to adjust and equalise the sounds accordingly.
Was it my job to compensate for candidates who were weaker public speakers compared to their opponents? I saw it differently – seeing it as my responsibility to help ensure the candidates were heard to allow the voters/listeners to make their judgement. Also, simply turning up the volume doesn’t automatically compensate for a person’s competency as a public speaker. Remember that for many people, public speaking does not come naturally. Having to submit yourself to cross-examinations in public 30 times in the space of a few weeks is incredibly draining.
“So, who was the best then?”
I’m not going to comment until after the election.
I know – but I want people to form their own judgements & opinions without being swayed by me. That’s the whole idea of filming the debates and the candidates. With the 1-2-1 interviews I tried to film them in a way that would encourage the viewer to want to have their own conversations with the candidates. Hence the ‘soft’ nature of the questioning. This was deliberate on my part. The reason being that it gets candidates to relax, smile and talk openly rather than in scripted political soundbites.
Mental exhaustion Filming and editing has taken a huge amount out of me. But over 10,000 minutes of video footage viewed seems to indicate that my work has been of some use to more than a few people. I’ve not been able to process as many videos as I would have liked, let alone filmed as many of the hustings, events or campaigning sessions as I would have wanted. I’ve done as much as my health has allowed me to do. With that, I’ll leave you with the opening speeches of the Cambridge University European Society Hustings.