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#intothespotlight: Periodic, the first Romanian late night show

From this May onwards, there will be a new feature on our website, called #intothespotlight, which will bring into attention local TV series, web series and brands which support the Romanian cinema. A monthly Q&A article with the people behind the curtain, the film enthusiasts who make sure our industry develops in beautiful and diverse ways. Freshly picked and packed, a piece on PERIODIC, the web series produced by deFilm and Brrlog, after the well-known American “late night show” format. Our first #intothespotlight with Barna Nemethi, Dragos Apetri and Razvan Dumitru.

BARNA NEMETHI

An American format – a Late Night Show, updated to our local style, with an animated C.A Rosetti as a host. How did it all start?

I think this show has reunited a bunch of ideas that we had for a long time and that’s why we got so excited about it. First of all, I dream of an American late night show for quite some time – I think this type of TV format is in television the equivalent of what the New French Wave means in film. But maybe that’s just how I see it because I’m so fond of it. Moreover, I think it’s such an appropriate way to talk about our society and our communities; because there’s a lot to talk about it and our generation needs to find its voice as soon as possible and not just in film, but also in the TV industry, radio and all the other media formats available. For this to happen, there has to be a show out there which is not just about ratings and pure entertainment. Our interests and ideas should slowly find their spot in the public speech as well.

There’s a long way from an idea to the final product. Which are the people who helped you develop the idea you had and how did they become part of the project?

We had the idea for a long time before we actually gained some courage to do it. The first obstacle was the budget: we had to raise the money which was time-consuming. Afterwards, we started looking for the perfect team that would work with deFilm, the production company. We already knew Dragos and Gabi from Playtime Post; they were our “to go” guys when we needed editors and other affiliated post-production services. When we met Vlad and Razvan, the two animators, we already had some tests in this direction so they understood right from the start what we were looking for and the chemistry was there (and stayed). The same was with Laura Stefanut and Gabriel Sandu, our two journalists who helped us do all the research for the show, and the ones who keep updating the online platform www.brrlog.com .

But I think everything really came together when we started working on the first episode: we found a mutual style of work which implied delivering an episode once at two weeks and slowly everyone found his place in the project. And we all continued to grow, and learn, and improve our style of work with every new episode.

What’s Periodic’s biggest objective, other than delivering correct information?

I think that before having access to accurate information, there’s the need of wanting to be informed. And I think this is the biggest objective that the show has. A thirty minute show, with new episodes every two weeks, cannot satisfy one’s whole need of being informed, but it can rouse enough curiosity, concern, even panic, to make one keep reading or waiting for the next episode. The lack of education and information in our country are the biggest obstacles to a more prosperous society and country.

The last episode – Wrong Arguments, was launched two months ago and looking at the show’s number of viewings for each episode, I noticed a decrease. What are your future plans for Periodic?

For us the whole first season of Periodic was a pilot, a tryout which could help us explore and discover how a “late night show” kind of format is made and developed. We searched a lot to find the most appropriate style for the subjects we tackled. Sometimes we were too tedious or pedant, other times too profound or clumsy. That’s also the reason we haven’t promote the show in any way, other than word of mouth. We just wanted to explore, see how people react to it and how much it can grow organically. Even though the episode on Romanian Press doesn’t has more than some thousands hundreds of views, the same content written on Brrlog’s page was shared by EuroNews and has raised a few million views on Facebook. From our point of view, the first season was a real success. Right now we are focusing on raising money for the second season and as the first time, as soon as we get the money, we start working on the show.

 

DRAGOS APETRI

How different is Periodic from the other productions you worked on?

Give the fact this is a first for us, I might say it is quite different. We usually do films and commercials so a TV show based on a “late night show” forma it’s something new. It was pretty cool to develop with the rest of the team such an idea and to find the most simple and direct ways to the final result. Obviously, using international references and updating them to the local feel.

How much does the editing process last and how much freedom of creativity do you have?

There are many stages that are part of the editing process: the editing of the shots filmed in the studio, which after goes to the animation department, the editing of the interviews, the integration of the animated material on the studio’s background, and then the editing of the whole episode, with all these pieces together. It usually lasts about four to five days which are very intense.

About the freedom of creativity, we never complained about it so I guess that’s a good sign. We always discuss about all the aspects regarding the show, its rhythm and content.

What does Periodic brings new in Romanian media industry and why should we watch it?

I believe Periodic is a good initiative brought to the Romanian online sector, a type of project I have never seen before around here, which may seem a bit odd at the beginning having a C.A Rosetti animated as a host, but still interesting and easy to follow. And the subjects it brings to discussion are concerning us all and sometimes even give us headaches. And that’s why I think they should be put out there and if they lead to more profound debates, even better. This way it could be a win-win situation for everybody.

 

RAZVAN DUMITRU

Animation is an unexploited field within the local media industry. Who came with the idea of an animated historical figure as a host?

The idea of an animated host came from Brrlog and we were so delighted about it, especially because it is such a representative figure in Romanian history and we had to find him a much more contemporary look. The character’s design came so naturally and it only took a few sketches and drawings to reach the Rosetti we have now in our show.

I guess the first episode was also the hardest one – first drawings, decisions, styles of animation and so on. Which are the stages you go through for each episode and how much time do you need to get to the final result?

Definitely, the first episode was the hardest one of all, but the main reasons is because we had no idea if we could stick to the timeline given, which was one week.

The first stages were more complex, as we decided the concept, designs, and the basic directions of the animation. Once we decided how the character will look like, we went on and animated it, using the 2D technique called “puppet rigging”. All these details were then stored in some “core” files that were the starting point for every episode.

What are the most difficult aspects of the show from your point of view, as an animator?

The lip sync for sure! J I mean the whole process of synchronizing the facial expressions with the audio recording. It’s the longest process and also the most boring one.

Is there any freedom of creativity for you or are there instructions to follow?

We had a lot of freedom to create and come up with ideas, many of our proposals made it to the final product. Usually we come up with some ideas or sketches, we write them down in some black notebooks and we discuss with the whole team each one of them. The most realistic ones are picked (in terms of producing them within the timeframe) and the production stage begins. The whole process is kind of funny!

What does Periodic means for you career as animators?

I would say this has helped us a lot, being the first animation of its kind in Romania. Beside the fact we have entered a new market where we already started gaining experience, this has also given us the opportunity to structure our studio better. Now we are ready for much bigger projects.

Periodic is produced by deFilm and Brrlog. For all the show’s episode, please access the following link 

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