Capturing and keeping viewers’ attention is the key to the commercial success and longevity of any broadcast production. This is especially true of the live entertainment environment, where a raft of game shows, talk shows and live entertainment programs are all striving to keep their viewers. In addition, shows can be cancelled with little notice if they fail to deliver, which creates a high-pressure environment and means studio workflows need to be able to mold to different productions’ needs in a flash. Flexibility is, therefore, a pre-requisite in any multi-camera studio production workflow.
In such an undulating and often unpredictable landscape, it can understandably become a bit of a balancing act; on the one hand, studios need to deliver ever-higher-quality-content and production values, yet on the other, they need to remain highly productive and flexible. The simple fact of the matter is both hands need to come together and join harmoniously to deliver on all of these elements, or risk a disjointed and unsuccessful production.
For example, the proliferation of high-quality talk shows, particularly in the U.S., requires a large and complex setup with delay functions, as well as live editing for fast turnaround. They also have to be interoperable with various other tools to handle file ingest and post-production to ensure a high-end playout, fast. This level of workflow complexity is fast becoming a standard studio expectation, across every type of production.
Complexity can constrain creativity. However, this very shift leaves broadcasters with something of a conundrum; the need for more complexity means a more time-consuming production process, which in turn limits the scope for creativity — the very thing that will provide differentiation in a crowded and often cutthroat marketplace.
It’s no secret that the consumer’s appetite is becoming increasingly ferocious, and that’s true of all types of production. Studios have to make sure consumers don’t go hungry by providing high-quality, speed and increased complexity of their program in terms of editing, graphics and interactivity with presenters and/or end users.
Another issue facing studios is the need to be much more flexible than in the past, due to a much more competitive landscape in entertainment production. If a show isn’t successful in its first few weeks, then studios are often faced with the dilemma of amending it, lest the production gets scrapped altogether. And so studios need a technical setup comprised of equipment that’s easily available on the market and also easily understood so they can quickly and easily access what they need to adapt it.
However, the nature of studio production also means that they can be working on multiple productions that are completely separate and come with completely different requirements. That can be a real challenge. Productions need a system that can cope with, say, XDCAM in the week and a totally different codec during the weekend.
One thing we’re going to see a lot more of is situations in which a single studio is used for multiple productions, meaning the need to balance speed, adaptability and highly creative values really comes to the fore. The crucial thing is to ensure fast turnaround — from multi-cam ingest through to editing, post production and playout — in order to help the studio to stay one step ahead of the game, as well as allowing more time for creative teams to do what they do best — be creative — instead of spending all their time carrying out regular production processes. Tape-based workflows simply can’t handle that type of responsiveness.