Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Korean TV Star

Imagine this scenario (which I'm pretty sure most of us have experienced a few times):
It's 1 AM and you can't sleep.
You saunter downstairs (or lazily locate the remote next to your bed) and flip on the TV.
An infomercial for an amazingly sharp set of knives that will cut through anything (cinder blocks included) catches your eye and sucks you in.
Next thing you know, you've got the phone in one hand, credit card in the other and your knives will be delivered in 4-6 weeks.
Sound familiar?

These type of infomercials don't only exist in the US - they're also super prevalent here in Korea as well. I am starring in one of them!

Two weeks ago, my friend Ruth sent me a text asking me if I wanted to make some pretty quick and easy cash. I of course did not hesitate in saying "YES!" and was given the details for our endeavor:

- Interacting with a "robot" while using a language acquisition program
- Interacting with Korean actors in showcasing how the product can be helpful
- Answering questions on camera in regards to the usefulness of the program

I was all in for this and agreed on the spot! Definitely don't regret this decision!

Ruth and I met a friend of hers, Angie, and headed up to northern Seoul for the shoot. Angie and Ruth met at a meditation-type retreat awhile back and have stayed friends since. One of the people in charge of the commercial was Angie's cousin, hence the connecting piece to this whole project. Once we got to the studio (following a dodgy cab ride through some interesting neighborhoods), Ruth and I were both pretty blown away!

The commercial was being shot in a large warehouse that had about 10 different home scenes set up for use to take pictures at. So while things were getting set up, Ruth and I had a good time just taking pictures in the different "rooms" until we were needed.

The program that we were interacting at is an English language program. There is a microphone (looks like a little robot guy - hence the "robot" interaction) that hooks up to a computer and corresponds with a software program. This program has two different avatars, Julia and James, and the user is able to interact with them by asking them questions. The avatars provide an answer back (sometimes they don't line up with the question) and you can have a pretty simple conversation. It's a pretty cool tool to help someone who's trying to master English practice. You can see what was picked up in the microphone, so if you are making mistakes, they're easy to spot out.

Ruth and I had a great time interacting with this new software and doing the acting scenes with the Koreans. At one point, I was told that I was talking with my hands TOO much (hard to believe, huh?), so I had to tone that down. But it was really neat to be on "set" and "under the lights" to put this commercial together. Also, they are considering using my face for James. So in essence, if this pans out, anyone who interacts with James (ironically also my middle name!) would be talking to me! Cool, huh?

Still waiting to see if we get to see a copy of it when it's all finished. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we do because I don't have a TV here in Korea to see it when the commercial airs.

Who knows - maybe we'll inspire some Koreans at 1 am to pick up that phone and in a month's time, interact with our new friends Julia and James!

On set, using the software

Asking for the time - and getting no where...

Having a blast!

Part of the studio that we were shooting at

That's my face on the avatar! Dashing, huh??