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Man, I’m sore. But it’s a good sore. For over a month I have had my weekends taken up with taping shows. It’s fun. Yet until this weekend, taping went for twelve hours each day (including the long wait for the studio to be free). I got blisters on my feet, and my throat and muscles are sore.

On the bright side, I’ve lost three kilograms.

Chris has told me horror stories of doing his show. Where it takes us usually two to three hours to tape an episode, it takes his show around six. He also doesn’t see the scripts until the last minute. And the first day, they made him go out and by the pants for his costume.

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I’m also hearing some grumblings about how cheaply EBS is paying all the production companies, and thusly the crew, writers, and actors, even though the government has poured lots and lots of money into this project.

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Where’s this money going?

Nonetheless, it’s fun doing the shows, and I’m really cutting loose with ad libbing and adding more humor to the scripts when I proofread them. I also throw in some inside jokes for friends and family — while also taking out potentially embarrassing sex and drug references unintentionally written in the original drafts (“Take your pot and keep watching”).

This weekend, we all got our acts together to make the taping go more smoothly. We laid down some rules for the kids:

  • Don’t play with the props.
  • When the director says “cut,” it doesn’t mean it’s time to run around the studio.
  • “Standby” means “Shut up and pay attention.”
  • Don’t tear down the set.
  • In between takes, it’s a good idea to study your lines rather than playing with props, cutting up, and tearing down the set.

They acted great. A show of their determination was when we were doing this whole miming sequence. One kid accidentally ripped out a loud fart. All the kids stayed in character until the very end — when they rolled over laughing.

If you want to see the other shows on the web site, it looks like you have to register. I’m working on a way around that. If you really want to see the other shows, email me.

The Saturday before last, we did our first location shoot at the English Village in Incheon. English Villages are special little campuses created by the government that mimic life in an English speaking country. Students go there on field trips and learn how to use the post office, eat in a fancy restaurant, and go to a supermarket. We went there because they have these types of facilities.

Location shoots have their own different issues. In the studio, the slow downs can be because of misplaced camera shots, actors flubbing lines, and waiting to rewind the tape to redo a show. On location, the slow down comes from doing multiple takes of the same lines from different angles. Since these shoots were mostly of the kids (as aliens), I actually got a little break to relax. In one scene, I played a snooty librarian. I sat at the librarian’s desk and caught up on all my blog and news reading on the librarian’s computer while the kids did their shoot.

The next scene was a restaurant scene where I played a snooty waiter. The kids are supposed to act bad at first and then, after we teach them manners in the studio, order and eat a nice meal correctly. This involved properly setting a table to show the kids which utensils to use. Luckily my days as a real life waiter and my recent thumbing through of The Joy of Cooking’s table setting section for kicks gave me insight on how to correctly set the table. The poor crew was very unsure and asked me all these questions.

The cruel part was that the kids had to eat this take out food from Outback. I went up and served them salad. They munched on the salad for different takes. Then came the potato soup — all cold because of the time it took to set everything up. They had to eat the soup with a straight face. It reminded me of I Love Lucy when Lucy had to do that commercial for that tonic that tasted awful. The kids tried hard to act like they enjoyed the soup.

Then they had to put butter on bread and eat it. Next came their main courses–chicken and steak. And they each had to eat them for many takes. They started looking green when I brought out the cheesecakes.

On Easter Sunday, we went to Ilsan to give Brant and Terra their much belated wedding gifts. So you finally get to see what we got Brant…

Well, for Terra, we got some nice traditional plates. For Brant, it was a…Waffle Maker

Belgian waffle maker. He had been saying for years how he missed his aunt’s chicken and waffles. It’s close to impossible to find a waffle maker in Korea–I’ve been looking for over a year. So I ordered some from the States and had them sent here (one for him, one for me).

We broke out some beers and watched my shows on his computer. Those shows are great to watch while drinking. My family, I have been told, did something similar.

We had dinner on meat street–some great ribs. Then we called it a night. It was basically my only day off in a month.

The following week flew by quickly. We’ve been working on making little movies in all our classes. One of my classes is doing a heavy special effects laden one where they are being chased by evil cyborg replicas of themselves. We have finished the script, and I have been doing special effects tests (I bought copies of FXHome CompositeLab and EffectsLab, which kick ass). Now we’re making little costumes and props.

Here’s an effects test I made using FXHome.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnlZeP7bP7c]

We filmed in the studio all the next weekend. Our budget has already been cut back so that we have no more dance numbers (phew!) and no more Flash animations. We all have our acts together now, and the shoots were a lot faster than before. Six hours in the studio were cut down to a little over four. We do two episodes a day.

The kids are better behaved, our acting is getting better, and the crew and director are getting into a groove. I know I will offend many Australians with my bad Steve Irwin impression on one episode.

“The lwai-on is hawngry. ‘E sees a hambagah!”

The Einstein shows were a lot better too. Eun Jeong about peed her pants when I walked in the door after taping and took off my hat.

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