Here’s my guide to the best seminar sessions at BVE at Earls Court 2 this week (15-17 Feb).
The Audio Room
On the first day of BVE, the audio room is dedicated to a ‘new radio day’. These seminar sessions obviously have a radio focus, including Monty Funk Productions/Prism Sound’s Pete Nash’s seminar at 1pm entitled ‘The drama documentary – creativity at its best’. Nash’s background is as a sound designer on BBC radio drama docs, which be began working on in the early 1990s.
“I’ve done around 20 of them and they represent the ultimate in crafting sound design, being free of the constraints of video,” he says. “One not infrequently ends up with around 2,500 edits in a 45 minute drama documentary.”
In this session, Nash takes the audience through the making of Laocoon, a drama documentary for BBC Radio 4 about a sculpture coming to life. “I’ll be taking the drama/doc apart and showing how it’s constructed,” says Nash. “I use SADiE as it’s really the only tool that can cope with such large numbers of precise edits in real-time, and without having to watch the system ‘rendering’ all the time. It’s also the primary craft editor of the BBC for national radio.”
From 16 February, the audio room’s focus turns to audio for TV and film – on Thursday, at 2pm, the chairman of the Association of Motion Picture Sound, Chris Roberts runs a panel discussion called ‘From production to post – managing audio workflows’.
“The aim is for the panel to represent a good cross section of those who handle sound media, so we’ll have a sound recordist, film sound syncing specialist, assistant picture editor and sound editor/dubbing mixer,” says Roberts. “I hope to be able to discuss the challenges presented dealing with sound files through the various workflows from production to final mix. As part of this, we’ll cover the solutions that have been discovered or devised, issues with metadata and its importance in workflows and the continued importance of EDL management, particularly for conforming and re-conforming. I’d like the session to be fairly informal, so there will be no ‘death by PowerPoint’”.
Broadcast meets IT
The ‘Broadcast meets IT’ section of the seminar programme is, naturally, rather tech-heavy, with sessions covering video standards, IT infrastructures and ‘The Cloud’. One session that should appeal to a broad audience though is ‘File-based workflows mean operational efficiencies – or do they?’, which is being run by ITFC’s senior operations director Lesley Marr at 12.30pm on Tuesday 15 February.
“My experience is that technology suppliers claim file-based workflows improve efficiencies, but, in reality, many facilities struggle with this,” she says. “In this open discussion panel session, we debate whether it’s really possible to create operational efficiencies going file-based and, if so, how? The common assumption is that everything is faster, easier and simpler, but is this necessarily true? You have to integrate legacy systems, add in transcoding time and things like that, and this all stands in the way.”
Marr intends to cover everything from production shooting ratios to post production file formats and the interoperability between different technologies. The panel members will be a mix of technology providers and users, including Chris Wright, md of Dalet, and Niall Duffy, md of MediaSmiths.
Arri Production Skills Centre
Camera and production kit maker Arri has its own ‘skills centre’ as part of BVE’s seminar programme. What’s sure to attract the bulk of visitors is its daily DoP focused sessions centring on Arri’s recently launched Alexa digital cinematography camera.
The seminar, which is being held at 12.30pm every day, has a different DoP each time explaining how the Arri Alexa was used on their production. The sessions include clips from the productions in question.
On Tuesday 15 February, the speaker for the ‘Alexa – the camera of choice’ session is Adam Suschitzky, the cinematographer on Outcast (shot with an Arri D-21) and the well received remake of Upstairs Downstairs, which he shot with an Alexa.
The session on the following day is dedicated to the use of the Alexa for shooting commercials, and will be held by a yet to be announced DoP.
The final day’s Alexa session will be presented by Mike Spragg, who recently shot Kidnap and Ransom with an Arri D-21 and is currently shooting ITV’s Paul McGuigan-directed Monroe on an Alexa.
The Producer’s Theatre
The producer’s theatre has a large number of producer-centred sessions, covering everything from casting actors to 3d, music and pyrotechnics. One of the stand-out sessions is ‘Ad-funded Productions: 5 Top Tips for Success’ on Wednesday 16 February at 1pm.
The seminar is being organised by the Indie Training Fund, and presented by Tiger Aspect’s commercial partnerships director Claire Heys. “I aim to give content makers five key steps to deliver successful advertiser funded deals,” she says. “I want to give them an understanding of an advertiser’s expectations and why they might invest in TV programmes.”
The session covers the best practice in deal making and liaising with the advertiser and the media agency and “client management tips from the start of the process right through to transmission,” says Heys. On top of this, the seminar looks at the new product placement regulations – what they cover and how to put deals together between the producer, advertiser and broadcaster.
Post Production Theatre
The post theatre spans sessions mostly centred on the technology used in post production. Televisual is, however, hosting a session that’s broadly business rather than technology focused. Entitled ‘The Televisual Industry Debate’ and being held at 3.30pm on Wednesday 16 February, this panel session brings together those running some of the UK’s biggest and best post houses to talk about the future of the post industry.
Televisual’s contributing editor David Wood is chairing the seminar while the panellists include Helen Stanley, md, commercials, Framestore and Darren O’Kelly, md, The Mill. The session centres on what it means to be a ‘post’ house in 2011 – is post still a service industry or are post houses now more like production partners to their clients? The panellists will also talk about how they see the post industry developing over the next five years, and whether they believe post will have continued its move up the production food chain and if traditional service-only post houses will still exist. As well as this, there will be a discussion about the key areas of post production in 2011 and whether 3d is here to stay and really worthy of significant investment.
Total Delivery Theatre
The total delivery theatre hosts a series of seminars about web and mobile based content delivery, including IPTV and broadcasting to the iPhone/iPad. One of the highlights is a session (at 3.45pm on Wednesday 16 February) called ‘How to start, operate, monetise and sell your own UGC channel’, which is being held by i2i’s Philip Radley-Smith.
Radley-Smith says the session is aimed at companies and individuals wishing to become online content aggregators, broadcasters or “to just jump on the internet TV band wagon.”
He aims to cover issues including what’s required to customise an ‘out of the box’ channel to create your own channel. The session also looks at key factors such as who is going to watch your channel and submit content to it, how to market and promote your channel and, of course, how to monetise your channel.
‘Production on a budget’ kicks off the seminar programme in the production theatre at 10am on Tuesday 15 February. Presented by Urban Fox’s Christina Fox, “This session is designed to help anyone buying shooting kit on a budget to get the best value for money,” she says. “We’ll take people through the most essential features on a camera and help them decide which is best for their shoot.”
By the end of this session, Fox says, visitors will be able to “understand the differences in cameras, have a list of essential equipment with which to get started and also have a summary list of microphones to consider.”