Integrated production is more than about cost

Fully integrated production systems that allow one or two people to run an entire newscast or sports show are becoming increasingly commonplace, but not for the reasons you might think. Ken Swanton, president of Broadcast Pix, said that the cost savings are certainly an initial attraction.

But, “We're seeing production staff at places like Turner Broadcasting, in Atlanta, asking for more control over the various separate devices needed to create a sophisticated multi-camera TV show,” he said.

The days of big budgets and even bigger production environments are slowly giving way to systems and workflows that allow broadcasters to adapt and change course quickly. It's also a reflection of the need among broadcasters to serve more distribution platforms — TV, Internet and mobile — than ever before.

Swanton said that production professionals in the control room also want to take advantage of the file-based workflow their editing counterparts now enjoy, so the traditional production switcher now has to do so much more than it ever could. Leveraging computer-centric folders enables a graphics generator or clip store to accept files from anyone on a network and quickly bring them to air.

There's also something to be said for the space savings that come with a system that builds all of the functionality needed for a full production into a single mainframe. Swanton said this translates to lower real estate and cooling requirements, and a production control room can be established virtually anywhere.

Perhaps more important than saving money or reducing staff, broadcasters want the most operational value they can get out of every piece of technology they buy, Swanton said. Even as the economy begins to improve, this price-performance proposition will not change.