Ask The Experts: Spielberg's expensive 'Robopocalypse'

If you've been on the 24-hour rollercoaster regarding whether Steven Spielberg's "Robopocalypse" had its plug pulled or the robots haven't actually been deactivated, the ride has resembled an old-fashioned wooden track, complete with jarring turns.

Was it a budget issue as widely reported? Was it a script issue in terms of direction? Did Spielberg simply not like the production's overall path and decided to pump the brakes before the project lost control? 

The answer might be a mix of all of those things, but it got me to thinking that while all of those issues may affect the broadcast engineering community on some level, budget concerns are always especially relevant.

When wearing the designer & facilitor cap, engineers are faced all the time with having to maximize their system's capabilities while adhering to financial constraint. In today's environment, I'm sure you've been asked or at least thought about an IP-based facility, or been faced with the gut-wrenching, ungodly huge task of transferring your station's archives from tape to files.

Perhaps a few extra monitors are omitted, or critcal software upgrades go unpurchased. Maybe, in other really rough circumstances, it's an entire planned edit bay or set expansion that gets the ax. Any of this sound familiar? I'm betting it does. In fact, I'm betting every one of you has your own specific example of being asked how to "adapt or die," as the IABM Conference's not-so-subtle tagline posed last November.

So then, my question for you, experts: How did you adjust and/or react to your budget "realignment" when the status quo wasn't good enough, but your hands were tied in terms of implementing what you thought were the best solutions?

Engineers are hardly ever short on ingenuity in those cases, even if it meant just staying extra-diligent in making sure the old equipment stayed clean, conditioned and functioning as if brand new. (It's amazing how well this works, actually... in all facets of life.)

Obviously, I'm interested in hearing your scenarios, and your peers are too. 

As for Spielberg, a complete guess on my part says I bet we see a movie at some point as I can't bring myself to believe that someone with that kind of resume and prestige would allow financing to hinder artistic ambition. (Or, maybe I'm just used to hearing and seeing James Cameron...)

But, if the movie winds up never happening, then I suppose the true, heart-warming moral to Spielberg's as-of-now unproduced story is that humans will always be safe from over-budget robots and production technology.