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Television Production Systems, Part 2

Aug 24, 2010 12:00 PM


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Editor's note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes Timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the Timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

At Brookline Access TV, public-access television has moved into the 21st century with macro driven switching, modern lighting systems, and digital mixers. Executive Director Peter Zawadzki takes us through the new BA TV facility including its Broadcast Pix Slate 5000 productions systems.

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OK Peter, in part one we were talking about the production studio and the Slate 5000 switchers that you're using at BA TV, and we didn't get into the graphics, how do you all the graphics. You're obviously going to be graphics heavy on some things, like maybe election returns and so forth. How do you do all that?
Peter Zawadzki:
Oh goodness, graphics are the one part where we do a little bit of everything. It all depends on what level producers are coming in at or the level of the show. I mean, we have people that come in off the street that want to do a show, really don't want to be involved that much in the production. They just want to be able to sit in front of the camera, say what they have to say, and that's the extent of their involvement. Most access centers would turn somebody away like that; we cater to everybody. So when somebody comes in off the street and wants to do a simple program, one of our staff takes over, creates some simple graphics, and we actually use the built-in Inscriber with the Broadcast Pix to just design some simple graphics, which works out really well. If somebody comes in and they want to be really involved and they want to have cleaner, crisper graphics, what they end up doing is they go into [Adobe] Photoshop or Illustrator, create a very clean and unique lower-third and any other show branding. Then what we do is we always tell them, "Create the templates, do all that in Photoshop or Illustrator and then bring it over into Inscriber to actually type in your titles and everything else ... and that way you can edit it on the fly." So if there's a name change or you have a new guest, you don't have to keep on going back and editing your Photoshop files; you can just go into Inscriber, change the title, change the person's name, and you're good to go. At the same time, we also use digital lower-thirds, and we bring them in as animations. But at the same time, we try to avoid creating animated lower-thirds with titles on them because of the problem of if something does happen—if there's a spelling mistake or last-minute, I guess, changes—we can, instead of having to go back and go into [Apple] Final Cut and edit it and change it and export it out, we do everything in two layers. Layer one is going to be our animated lower-third, and then layer two is our CG layer done in Inscriber that sits over the animated lower-third. [Timestamp: 3:11]

OK and your graphics, obviously, that's one place where you can either save or lose a lot of time by just the way you set it up ahead of time, having all your dominos lined up in the right direction.
Correct. What we end up doing is we try to use Inscriber as much as we can for simple graphics and/or working with premade templates that we've done, but always try to use it as our actual text layer so titles and everything else go and are created in Inscriber. If you want to go above and beyond that, then we bring in the animated lower-thirds or Photoshop files to work as the background key behind it. [Timestamp: 3:45]

And you've got macros on the Slate 5000. you do of lot of stuff with those?
We do. It depends on, again, it depends on the show. We've designed macros to work with some of our chroma key so we can actually automatically—if we have a chroma key show that has multiple backgrounds before each different camera, what we end up doing is saving those into macros and we launch the macro, which will then automatically bring over the proper camera with the proper background. We've also designed some macros to automatically initiate the beginnings of shows. So it's cleaned things up, especially for the beginner-level type of programming, so if somebody wants to come in and do a show and they're not that familiar with the Broadcast Pix system, we have a couple pre-done macros in memories to help them along the way. If they're going to be doing a show which is all chroma key, there's a memory for chroma key, they hit that memory, and it configures everything so chroma key is active on all three of the cameras. It's automatically predefining backgrounds as they want so they don't have to go in and waste the time in configuring every single input, turning on all the chroma key and everything else—which is fairly easy, but this just eliminates that out of the fold for a new user. [Timestamp: 5:07]

And tell me a little bit about your lighting. That's one area, obviously, where you can really make a difference between looking old-style public access and looking like a real pro operation.
Yeah, we actually went with all-new fixtures. We are using fluorescent fixtures by Kino Flo lighting and it's worked out well; we have a DMX on every single fixture so we try to spend a lot of time configuring our lighting. We're also using some lighting from Color Kinetics to do washes on our sites and on our walls to give it a little bit of depth and color. So we're working a lot with our lighting. We actually have couple lighting specialists been coming in and doing some workshops for not only our staff but also for our membership, and it's definitely improved the quality of our lighting. [Timestamp: 5:55]



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