BBC Studios and Post Production (BBC S&PP), the BBC’s commercial facilities arm, is implementing tapeless workflows and taking the Corporation's long-running soap 'EastEnders' HD this autumn, much earlier than previously assumed.
The move comes as the BBC Trust has agreed an extension of daily hours on the existing, dedicated BBC HD channel from an average of nine hours to 12 hours a day. Other high profile programmes, including The Apprentice and Strictly Come Dancing, will be switching to HD production in the same timeframe.
For EastEnders, BBC S&PP is introducing new HD and tapeless workflows and working with Dega Broadcast Systems to carry out a major technology refresh of the galleries and studio areas at its Elstree studios to support the move. New equipment includes Sony HD cameras and monitors, Ikegami CRT HD monitors, Avid HD edit suites and Unity storage, Protools sound desks and a significant investment in low energy lighting. It is also deploying the new multi-camera ingest technology INGEX, which removes the need to digitise and enables material to be logged simultaneously at the point of capture.
Sony HSC-300s studio system cameras were selected because they met the production’s key requirements. They are digital triax based, so can be used to shoot both on the lot and in the studio without having the additional expense of upgrading the existing infrastructure to fibre. The location camcorders are being upgraded to Sony’s tapeless PDW-700 XDCAM HD422 camcorders. Both the systems camera and the camcorders are fitted with common CCD sensors, vital to minimising the time it takes to grade and finish programmes.
Mark Bainbridge, General Manager Sony Media and Broadcast commented: “We have really enjoyed working with the team at the BBC to help them transition to HD acquisition. Working closely with Eastenders we provided a future-proofed HD solution which can be easily integrated into their existing infrastructure. Sony’s HSC-300s and PDW-700s are a strong combination for studio and on-location shoots, especially when combined with Sony’s unique OLED viewfinders, which eliminate lag when panning and allow a camera operator to focus with greater speed.”
BBC S&PP (formerly BBC Resources) has been the preferred partner for EastEnders production since its inception in 1985, providing the studios, crew, technical equipment and all the post production facilities and staff. During the 25 years it has worked with EastEnders, BBC S&PP has helped the programme move to widescreen and stereo sound.
The new HD tapeless technology is due to be in place in the summer. EastEnders is expected to start shooting in HD in the autumn and to broadcast on BBC One HD towards the end of the year.