Shows & camera movement
With the move to larger TV studios or film stages, camera movement is being addressed with alternative mountings from stabilized rigs and Furio dollies to Technocranes and Jimmy Jibs.
Endemol’s “The Voice,” produced by the BBC at Elstree for a live Saturday night slot earlier this year, featured 15 cameras mounted on MovieBird, Jimmy Jib, Technocrane, stabilized rig, seven camera peds and two fixed cameras front-of-house with several high wide remote cameras. This is comparable with productions the scale of “The X Factor.”
Where such “shiny floor” shows once used to train cameras on the stage with an occasional audience shot, producers now are shooting larger sets in almost 360º. The space has to be designed to shoot from almost any angle. Hiding rostrums behind the stage trained on a judging panel is an example. Additional cameras are provided in many backstage locations, including the pressroom and green room, which creates a richer viewing experience.
Positioning cameras further away from the presenters places additional demands on the prompting system. The autocue screens for the judges on “Dancing on Ice,” for example, are located out of necessity on the other side of the rink from the judges’ seats. This makes large, high-brightness, 4x3 monitors a must for easy reading.
Dedicated TV studios like Fountain TV (home of the UK’s largest TV studio and host to “The X Factor,” “The Cube” and “Britain’s Got Talent”), are built with laser-leveled floors. But, in other spaces, notably sound stages, flooring (often wooden) is variable.
To generate smooth movement, especially for formatted shows that require repeat moves, tracks can be laid to emulate pedestal movement.
Producers are taking individual shows out of purpose-built spaces altogether. The 2011 UK final of “The X Factor,” for example, was staged at Wembley, while the BBC took last season’s final of “Strictly Come Dancing” to Blackpool Tower Ballroom (where it was also shot live in 3-D).
Elstree Studios’ MD Roger Morris notes that, unlike broadcasting “The BRIT Awards” or “The Country Music Awards,” there is no direct and profitable revenue from ticket sales for most live TV productions. Technical costs are far higher in such large venues, and production problems such as acoustics are far more daunting, he says. Unless a show is stripped across a week, then the cost of a single set standing could be astronomical. The conventional, fully-equipped TV studio is fairly dead cost-wise, he believes, with set standing and OB trucks or de-rigs a more
At the same time, there is rising demand to house complex sets with large audience numbers on stages in excess of 10,000sq-ft. It’s one reason why Pinewood Shepperton (majority owned by Peel Holdings) has spent heavily on a new 30,000sq-ft facility (which housed “Got To Dance,” “Love Machine” and “The Magicians”) and committed to a “transformational digital investment program” for TV.
Re-launched in September, its TV facilities feature a new “super gallery” housing production, lighting, vision and audio control areas for use by either of its upgraded two TV studios. The sound control room will be based around a 64-fader Calrec Artemis Beam mixing console.