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February 2014

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Page 20 of 51 Post • February 2014 19 Unscripted reality programming poses unique challenges for the production companies that shoot crime shows, home-themed content and paranormal adventures, and to the post facilities that support them too. It's a world where massive amounts of footage is the norm. Workflows can be tape- or file-based, or both, and color grading can range from filmic to edgy and authentic. FINDING BIGFOOT Folks worldwide have been "Finding Bigfoot" for the eponymous Animal Planet series for three seasons now. From West Virginia to Nepal, their quests have been documented by Ping Pong Productions ( in one-hour episodes that find the show's investiga- tive team pursuing "compelling evidence" of the creature, says Jeffrey Williams, one of the show's five editors. He and his colleagues cut Finding Bigfoot in the Hollywood offices of Ping Pong, which is equipped with Avid Media Composers and a Studio Network Solutions' SANmp shared stor- age system. The show is shot entirely on location with Sony XDCAMs as the primary cameras and an array of GoPros, Contour cameras and FLIR infrared cameras for night imaging rounding out field produc- tion. Three to nine cameras cover any given scene, Williams says. "The field crew shoots for seven days and post will get 60-80 hours of footage for every episode," he explains. "They also spend half-a-day shooting aerials that give a real sense of scope to these wild environments. These aerials help stitch the episodes together and really set the show apart." It takes the assistants two weeks to ingest and build group clips for the editors' Media Compos- ers. "Every episode comes with a beat [scene] sheet and field notes, and the editors pretty much take over from there. We have a lot of creative freedom to tell the best, clearest story in post. There's a fairly established rhythm for the show, but the field and post have been able to take chances with that structure this season to keep the storytelling fresh and exciting," says Williams. "For each episode, multiple editors will contribute a scene or two in the early stages, but there's ultimately one primary editor for each show and the team has six weeks to deliver the first cut to the network. It's a tremendous amount of work in what feels like a very short amount of time." Despite the volume of material the "very organized and efficient workflow keeps everything moving smoothly," he reports. "After we lock the episode and everybody signs off on it, another in-house editor onlines and color grades the episode on an Avid Symphony Nitris. We mix here and have just started to deliver to the network on LTO at their request, so we're pretty much tape- less from start to finish now." Color grading consists of "balancing and enhancing daytime scenes of the beautiful locations," he says. "Since this is a paranormal-type show, audiences enjoy the moody night-vision look, so we match multiple cameras to a single night vision look so viewers can experience them seamlessly." The challenge for the editors cutting Finding Bigfoot lies in "the storytelling," Williams says. "There's so much material to go through and we're always looking for ways to make each scene stand out, but we have to stay true to what our cast finds with each encounter they investigate. There's no faking it. So we focus on finding unique and compelling character moments, dramatic night scenes, and funny moments with the cast. That's what makes the show so popular." Reality Finding Bigfoot uses Sony XDCAM as its primary acquisition format, but also captures on GoPros and infrared cameras. This genre of programming relies on efficient workflows and lots of storage. By Christine Bunish TV

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