Make: television — scripting process

Make: television — scripting process



Only one more day until the Make: television show premieres! These photos of me and Bill Gurstelle are from the VCR Cat Feeder we built for the first episode. Here’s a look at how we scripted the segment:

The process of writing the scripts for the Maker Workshop segments was pretty organic. Executive Producer Richard Hudson, Producer Michael Smith, Technical Consultant William Gurstelle and I started off shooting bullet points at each other via email. Once we knew what the major build steps were, they would format those into individual shots, including where the cameras would be, where I’d be standing in the workshop, a props/tools breakdown, and the script itself.

Once we got on set for rehearsal day, we’d run through this a number of times, refining what I’d be doing on camera, and adjusting the talking points. It was a lot of fun and chaos as we all brainstormed and threw ideas into the air to see what would work. We realized as we went that it was better for me to hit talking points as naturally as possible, rather than memorize a script. Those talking points were what we followed on the shooting day, along with the refined camera locations and set directions.

If you’re not familiar with this project, it uses the timer function on a VCR to schedule the feeding of your cat. Seems pretty straightforward. However, as Bill and I started building ours we both realized that VCR drumhead motors have a feedback loop to shut things down if the RPMs drop below a certain speed. This means you can’t use them to turn much without either defeating the feedback sensor (not too easy as it turns out) or using some gearing to turn the high RPMs into high torque. We were on the phone a lot cursing VCRs, but in the end, Bill’s pulley wheel design saved the day.

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John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He builds project for Adafruit Industries. You can find him at and twitter/IG @johnedgarpark

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