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This has not been invented ...

Small guide for living with non-professional teams.

When we face the issue of equipment renewal we find that the most accessible options come from the consumer electronics market. State-of-the-art home audio and video equipment offers large production capacity with very attractive cost levels. We are talking about the small non-linear editors, the tiny digital camcorders and the explosion of multimedia accessories for personal computers... in this gigantic market we can find some pieces that can be successfully integrated into the collection of "black boxes" that we use in our daily work.

Starting to work with these teams can become the shortest route to quickly improve our production values. In our midst, desktop video entrepreneurs have come sooner to graphics integration, non-linear editing and even 16:9 production. In fact, in several markets the small "project studios" offer a more current look than the large conventional facilities.

Many producers are seduced by the attractiveness of these powerful toys and begin to acquire them without being very clear about how they are going to use them. I think we have all witnessed the case of some entrepreneur who decides to take the risk of acquiring some very new equipment to discover after a while that simply does not meet his expectations ...

It is the typical case of the character who decides to use a non-linear editor as a video server, and very soon discovers that it does not serve him because he needs an operator selecting clips and pressing keys. Or that of the risky producer who intends to use his small digital camcorder next to his sixty-thousand-dollar studio cameras. You have to take with reservation the famous phrase that says that a mini-DV camera offers a level of quality similar to that of a betacam SP camcorder ...

- Publicidad -

Producers who have been frustrated in their encounters with consumer technology (read "cheap") have coined a phrase that has made a career in the Latin American television industry: "these pots have not been finished inventing ... " – this is a somewhat simplistic explanation that comes from failures caused by lack of planning. It is possible to use this type of equipment... if some "lateral thinking" is applied.

How to get started...

The thought of replacing an online editing room with a pocket editor is as irresponsible as trying to change an image composition system with an ordinary personal computer... price differences have a raison d'être, and can almost always be measured in terms of productivity. Low-cost equipment is like village doctors: They can do many different things... but they are never as good as the specialist.

These products have been designed for a specific niche of the market. They are the perfect solution for someone who wants to have high production values with a very low investment. And generally that is associated with very long working times, which are not attractive to "full-time" production houses, which need to sustain very high productivity on all fronts.

It is quite possible that the non-linear editor that is used for event videography in the United States will be successfully used in our countries by news operations... as long as there is a prior analysis of the working conditions and the capacity of the equipment. Rather, it is about designing a space within our own market in which new equipment can be successfully inserted...

A small change of attitude

What is the basic difference between project studio operators and large producers? The volume of your trades. The existence of a home studio can be justified by producing a program of 30 minutes a week. The large studio must deliver many hours of finished products to offer an effective return on investment.

- Publicidad -

Our television production is marked by the low availability of equipment (and capital). This has led us to implement work systems that allow us to obtain more time in the air with a relatively small installed capacity. Many times we measure in hours the production plans that in other markets would need several days for their execution.

That is why for many producers the work system characteristic of non-linear editors can be essentially inefficient. They perceive the up-edit-down cycle as a waste of time... and that's why they keep insisting that new equipment hasn't been finished inventing. What is evident to these characters is that they can mount a 24-minute magazine in about eight hours in a linear editing room... and for any non-linear team it is difficult to beat that mark.

Teams from elsewhere...

Most of these small teams have been designed to respond to work systems different from ours. A home-type camera may be too light to use at busy press conferences... a non-linear editor with timecode support can be very inefficient to operate with footage recorded on old Umatic tapes... and a homemade audio station definitely can't be used to set soap operas to music. These conflicts can lead to an erroneous assessment of the potential of type teams. prosumer.

Generally, the adoption of this type of equipment requires a re-approach to work systems, which will almost always represent a significant improvement in the quality of the products thanks to the fact that the filmmakers will invest more time in the preparation of their work. Perhaps some companies are not in a position to assume in the short term such a radical change in their way of working. An example: Lightweight cameras... one-person news teams. Of course, the rider-cameraman-assistant can offer a somewhat lower technical quality... but the economic benefit is overwhelming.

An option that is gaining a lot of strength is a kind of outsourcing... stations and large production companies can benefit from the advantages of this new equipment if they sponsor small project studios that can offer them finished products at very reasonable costs thanks to the adoption of these new technologies.

- Publicidad -

Accompanying the older brothers...

But what happens when you intend to integrate equipment of this type into existing facilities? On the one hand, some users begin to show the well-known symptoms of resistance to change. And engineers start having problems when they try to use them in a multipurpose way. Although a workstation has the potential to function as a character generator, effects unit, switcher, and still store , it may well be cost-effective to use it solely to generate graphics in a linear editing room. And this does not rule out that occasionally it is installed in a mobile unit to function as an effects unit... Let's not forget that most of this equipment was designed to work in a garage, not in a television studio.

In many cases it is convenient to leave aside part of the capabilities of the equipment to make it more reliable and more productive. A consumer team can do the job... but we have to accept that sometimes it fulfills it by following a different path.

This brings us to another question. This type of equipment, almost always based on personal computers, has different technical support needs than conventional equipment. And perhaps they also need operators with a different background.

It's not about immediately hiring all the "hackers" in the neighborhood... in fact this is one of the most frequent errors of administrators. And another frequent mistake is to assume that equipment with a domestic vocation can be operated by anyone... let's not forget that a cameraman is a cameraman, and that a proud father with a home camera is usually a mess (as a cameraman, of course).

Consumer equipment requires professional support to deliver quality results. And this includes professional installations, professional operators, professional technical support and in some cases accessories that enable the equipment for professional use. How does reporting do with a camcorder that doesn't have XLR audio jacks? - Or edit important material using a two hundred dollar video capture card?

What is needed to ensure good levels of quality and productivity with these equipment is to train those who know how to make television to use them, not to try to make the "computer guys" learn to make television in a few hours. And make an effort to integrate them effectively into the professional environment, without forgetting that in many cases domestic equipment will have a shorter useful life, and with longer periods of downtime.

A final thought. If we are thinking of using equipment that responds to certain work systems, perhaps we should consider the adoption of those work systems. More time, greater technical rigor, segmented news operations, post-production based on off-line editing... perhaps it is time to stop thinking small, especially if we aspire to make our industry stronger with participation in international markets.

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