Christina Velocci: interning on lifestyle series Decked Out (week 2)

Back in October our NSI Lifestyle Series Producer students blogged about each day of their bootcamp training. The next step in the course is an eight-week internship on a lifestyle series. We’ve asked our students to write a weekly post about their experiences.

Christina Velocci, Architect Films, interning on Decked Out


Christina is a communications graduate from York University and journalism graduate from Humber College. She has been working in the television industry for over seven years. Her experience includes television news as a production coordinator, videographer / reporter and, most recently, a news writer. Her current position is in lifestyle television as a researcher/coordinator at Architect Films

One of the very important parts of a show is audio mix sessions. I had a chance to attend several of them over the last couple of weeks and this is what I got from those mixes.

The sound of a show really provides a theme and tempo, a feeling that coincides with what you see on screen. A series producer should have a good relationship with their sound mixer because he/she is one of the many collaborators that will help carry out the vision for the show.

Our show in particular is a very complex marriage of sounds that work together to make a very distinct feeling. Although there are more than three elements at work, I’m going to focus on the three I see as most important and how our series producer worked with our sound mixer to achieve that vision and feeling.

Music is a huge element of our show. Decked Out has music that runs through the entire show. That said, we have 20 to 25 cuts in each show – each cut with its own sample of music that is hand picked by our editors to fit the scene. So when I say music is an important element, I mean it. And our music really has to match the style of our host Paul Lafrance. Paul has a rock star style, so each song suits and reinforces his rock and roll image.

Our show is also unique because it’s a construction show and construction is noisy. We really need to make sure the viewer can hear the construction (so the viewer can feel engaged in what’s happening on screen) but at the same time, ensure it’s not fighting with the music or the host’s voice.

Finally, there’s Paul Lafrance. He has a big voice but as big as it is, it needs to be heard above construction noise and music. So our sound mixer Ben Doner works with the series producer to make sure these three elements work together in a clear, concise way.

Audio mix session: one of the days I attended was the final mix for four shows. Our sound mixer Ben and series producer Bree went through each section of the show listening for any changes to levels that might need to be made. Ben had his own notes he made beforehand (changes he thought should be made) and went through each one with Bree. Although the series producer has the final say with all changes, there is a lot of discussion between the two of them. I think one of the reasons the audio sessions (that I attended) ran so smoothly is because Bree really respects Ben’s opinion. And even if she doesn’t take it all the time, she still listens to his ideas and really takes them into consideration.

Like I mentioned before, music was listened to over and over. With the type of music we use (rock style music), the volume has to be just right. If it’s too loud, it will fight with Paul’s voice and if it’s too low, you really don’t get the right feeling from the cut. So Bree and Ben listened to each piece of music over and over making small adjustments as they went along. With four shows to go through, minute by minute, the job can seem daunting from where I was sitting. It’s tedious work and both people have to have a lot of patience but it really pays off when you hear it back and the smallest change makes a huge difference in the overall sound of the show. The collaboration of these two people is so important to getting the job done as smoothly as possible. I think without the series producer and sound mixer working as a team, the job would be a massive hurdle to overcome.

I think the reoccurring theme I have discovered is relationships: how important they are in a show and how a series producer creates and maintains them. That theme was very strong during boot camp and seems to be reinforced during my internship. I think the success of series producer really hinges on their ability to foster good relationships with everyone they’re working with and giving each person the tools to do their job well.

Next week I’ll explore the relationship between series producer and picture editor by sitting down with the editor of our newest show Disaster Decks.

About Decked Out

Decked Out is an outdoor construction show that follows charismatic designer/carpenter Paul Lafrance through the process of creating backyard decks with a ‘creative edge’ for his roster of clients. It is an entertaining, funny, irreverent show for the viewer who is fascinated with, or even mildly interested in, watching (and learning about) the creative process of designing and building impressively intricate outdoor decks and beautiful backyard spaces. Each show follows, from concept to completion, the story of a backyard makeover with a focus on the construction of the unique deck project.

The central character throughout the series is Paul Lafrance, a 38-year-old carpenter and designer who runs his own small, successful boutique construction company. What’s compelling about Paul’s personal story is that he did this without any formal training, he learned carpentry and design all by himself. He’s a good-looking, well-spoken rock-star-like dude with a bit of an edge – while at the same time being very personable and charismatic. Paul’s creative edge and energy is visible in every episode and is an integral element of Decked Out’s identifiable tone.

NSI Lifestyle Series Producer is made possible by Program Partners Shaw MediaCorus Entertainmentand Bell Media; Supporting Sponsors Cineflix MediaPaperny EntertainmentFrantic FilmsRTR Media Inc.Big Coat ProductionsCellar Door ProductionsArchitect Films and Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA).

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