Getting technical with The Uplink

by Jason Madanjian / Beacon Staff • April 19, 2012

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Stephen Selnick and Marion Mason host The Uplink, which explores video games, anime, Twitter, and other web trends.
Stephen Selnick and Marion Mason host The Uplink, which explores video games, anime, Twitter, and other web trends.

The crew of The Uplink are having technical difficulties. Their practice Skype interview is riddled with glitches. The audio keeps dropping out and video is fuzzier than a peach. And they’re facing this only 15 minutes before the show airs. But with some quick tinkering, the problem is solved. After all, these technical wizards get to practice what they preach — that technology is awesome.     

The Uplink, which aired on the Emerson Channel at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday each month of this semester, is Emerson Independent Video’s only tech news show produced by and for geeks.

Stephen Selnick, who also serves as co-executive producer, and Marion Mason host the live half-hour program. The show features updates on the latest news in technology along with reviews of both movies and videogames, inspired by programs on TV network G4, like Attack of the Show and X-Play.

The show is the brainchild of executive producers Selnick and Rob Barton, who were introduced via mutual friends and realized they both wanted to make the same type of television show.

“I wanted something that interested me and that could also be shown to future employers,” said Selnick, a senior broadcast journalism major who recently interned at G4.

The show is catered to a web-and-tech-literate demographic that the producers were surprised to find was not represented on the . Tuesday’s taping had a total of 24 studio audience members plus crew roaring with delight over the show.

“I’ve had people tell me that this is the first show on the Emerson Channel they want to watch,” said Selnick. “I’m amazed this show hasn’t been done before.”

And while the show can trace its roots back to the geek-friendly network G4, the producers also wanted to make it uniquely them.

“We work on our identity within this show. Every episode becomes a bit more us,” said Selnick.

The show creates this identity with a tone that speaks directly to its target audience: geeks. A joke about a girl kicked out of a convention due to a skimpy character costume landed big with the studio audience. 

After showing the photo, co-host Selnick remarked, “And geeks at the convention had to be informed what cleavage is.” 

It’s witty and biting humor like this that shapes the show, and makes it easy for the audience to click with the charismatic Selnick and Mason.

For this final episode, the program sent correspondent Claudia Mak to Anime Boston, a convention for fans of Japanese animation to congregate, dress up, buy collectibles, and celebrate the medium. The convention is held at the Hynes Convention Center every year.

“They sent me to so many fun locations,” said Mak, a freshman journalism major and a former Beacon correspondent. “There is no other show like it at Emerson.” 

The show is filmed at Studio B on the eighth floor of the Tufte Performance Production Center. The set has a purposely clean, simple design, reminiscent of Apple’s aesthetic. 

The two hosts stand behind an X-shaped podium with a vertical television screen and two slanted red pillars behind them. A bright eggshell white wall serves as the backdrop. 

Off to the side stand more television monitors, where correspondent Brianna Baxter hosts “The Stream,” which informs the audience on tech news. Other segments include “Reel Talk” in which Phil Rosenberg reviews the latest geek-centric movies and “The Level Up,” where Matt Regan reviews video games — on Tuesday, he panned Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.

“Web Recap” allows Selnick and Mason a chance to unleash their humor on a variety of clips found on the Internet in a manner reminiscent to the Comedy Central web roundup Tosh.0.

After showing a clip of a rapper accidentally dropping his microphone, Mason quipped, “And for a second, every white person in the audience thought they did something wrong.”

The show is packed with segments and complicated graphics, a trait Barton takes pride in.

“We try to push the boundaries and make a really complicated show,” he said. “But I don’t want the audience to see the effort when watching the show.”

Clarification: A previous version of this article described The Uplink as an Emerson Channel show. The show is not produced by Emerson Channel. It is produced by Emerson Independent Video and airs on Emerson Channel.