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Broadcast Solution for Public Access TV, Part 1

Jun 14, 2011 3:09 PM, With Bennett Liles

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Yeah, that’s a real factor on having them easy to use because you never know from one week to the next who might be on a crew for something. Where do you recruit technical production people for the station?
In terms of production technicians, we are a Nabet CWA union house. For the professional production technicians and most of our people for that are people that are starting their careers, so generally out of high school or out of college they get their first job here, and then can step out from here to somewhere else. But they learn their trade here and that tends to be a nice thing because you got a lot of young people around who are very enthusiastic about it, but it also means that you are dealing with a lot of people that don’t have a lot of experience. [Timestamp: 8:19]

Well, you’re probably good on the training with those cameras I would figure.
Yeah, they do a lot of training on the cameras and a lot of really on hands—you get one of the guys who’s been here a couple of years and they will take other people out with them and they will learn through that hands-on process onsite at hump location. [Timestamp: 8:37]

So how is MCM equipped for postproduction?
Postproduction, we’re OK. We just, along with the cameras we were able to get—we use Final Cut Pro. So we were able to get new Final Cut machines—five of them—so in house we have six edits suites, two of which are still tape based, four of which are available for access users and those are Final Cut Suites, one that’s available for staff use that is pretty much taken up by the production department, and then a professional editor whose job is only editing and they have their own suite as well. [Timestamp: 9:11]

Well that’s good to have—that’s really good to have.
Yeah and that person gets a lot of work and he actually sits right next to my desk and he’s constantly coming out and going, “What is up with people? I can’t get all this work done.” So they’ve been very, very busy. Two of the production techs are editors as well and they also do an awful lot of work. [Timestamp: 9:3]

So you’re shooting in the field with HD, but you’re airing it in standard def?
We’re airing it in standard def and the studios are still standard def as well so that’s one of the things the county is very concerned about. They’ve talked a lot about it over the years. We were at a meeting a couple of years ago where they were talking to the Comcast guys and they said, “What about carrying us in HD?” and the Comcast guys didn’t blink an eye. They said, “We’re more than willing to carry you in HD, but you’ve got to understand our contract with the county says that you could carry it on the lowest available tier, and if we move you to HD you won’t be available to everybody—you would actually be a premium service.” [Timestamp: 10:07]

So down the road, everybody expects that’s going to happen and we’re working our way toward that end point and it’s just primarily funding at this point is the only thing keeping us standard def anywhere. [Timestamp: 10:21]

So after shooting and editing, you’re exporting you’re QuickTime files and rerendering that for air?
Yes, and one of the things about this place is kind of a wild west in that people can do whatever they want as long as we get a copy of what they’ve shot and produced, and it’s up to them how they do it, but our personal recommendation has been that if you’re using the field cameras you shoot it in HD, you edit it in HD, you finalize it in HD. That gives you an HD output and an HD master and then you take it back in the final cut and dump it out as a DV for airing or for distribution. So it gives you two copies and then you can do what you want with it. [Timestamp: 11:02]

OK you’re shooting out there in the field. I guess you’re taking the UXT version of the cameras out there for field work?
Yeah, the professional guys all have the UXT’s with the SxS card adapters on the back. We don’t have any SxS cards yet. We weren’t able to afford them when we purchased the cameras, but eventually, hopefully within this coming year within the next few months, we’ll be getting some of those because we really want people to be recording to the primary SDHC card but also backing up to the SxS card. [Timestamp: 11:31]

And they’re out there mainly shooting single camera stuff, bringing that in and editing and pretty much single producers?
Well they got a couple inhouse producers; they don’t have a ton, and those people tend to stay pretty busy and they do a variety of things. We do have a production system, which is a VT4 or a Tricaster—I guess Tricaster’s the newer version. But that’s a big system take out, but that is a five-camera location multi-switched unit, and they’ll do that for different events. That’s how they cover a lot of the jazz festivals is to take that out and shoot with that, and they typically wouldn’t use the HD cameras for that right now we’re looking at a product from DataVideo that is a smaller more compact unit. It’s more limited, but it’s basically a studio in a briefcase and it will do HD, has built in com system, and built in audio mixer for up to four cameras—four channels I think all around. So if we can get one of those that would help a lot with the system moving on. [Timestamp: 12:30]

Alright, well it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good handle on your upgrades with the new JVC cameras. That’s certainly a good start—PEG stations have to do what they can with what they’ve got and maximize resources all through the production chain. I’m really glad to have you here for Part 1 and in Part 2 I want to talk about your master control and automation and how you do audio and video switching and other things but I appreciate your being here for the first part of this thing.
Alright Bennett. Thank you very much.

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