SEVERAL months behind schedule, November saw Match of the Day finally bid farewell to London's TC5 and head north to Salford’s MediaCityUk. After Thought hears from Series Producer Ian Finch why the new Manchester home has been worth the wait.
Throughout October whilst the nation watched Gary & co. live from London, Match of the Day series producer Ian Finch and his team were working on unwatched tester shows behind the closed doors of their new Salford studios. The ‘dummy runs' they produced were Ian’s final opportunity of ensuring the seamless transition of Match of the Day, mid season.
“We wanted to test the edits, VT editors, studio facilities and technical infrastructure of the new studio. The majority of our problems surrounded VT with Avids crashing, incoming lines breaking up and problems with ingesting material. Those four weeks also helped us get some of our newer staff fully up to speed; roughly 65 per cent of our staff have made the move north. It also gave me the opportunity to test out our new graphical look ‘on-air’, so I was able to tweak, adjust and reject various elements.”
As well as aiding the BBC in spreading the spend of the license fee, it was felt that a move to Salford’s brand new HD facilities “would make more sense” than a patch up of the ageing TC5. Designed by Peter Aston of BDA Set Design, the new studios received a Craft & Design nomination at this week’s RTS Awards. The upgrade of the technologies at Ian’s disposal were significant:
“TC5 was really beginning to show its age with an old vision mixer, talkback units and glass monitors – the majority of which weren’t even in widescreen. We couldn’t produce HD programmes unless we hired in additional equipment at extra cost. In Salford, everything is HD – high definition cameras, more precise lighting, 5.1 surround sound plus full HD graphics. The production galleries have huge multiviewer screens that can be designed to the director’s preference, the vision mixer is the latest Sony model and the talkback units are state of the art .We also have access to two servers to run our studio backgrounds and programme wipes from – in London, these were powered by PVRs.”
The benefits aren’t purely technical, as Ian explains:
“We are now more joined up as a department. In London, VT was on the opposite side of the building to where the studio was based and our offices were miles away again. Now it’s just down the corridor from the studio and production office so it’s much easier to keep across everything. We’re also much closer to our colleagues in radio and online, so there’s a greater opportunity to share material and cut down on duplication.”
And the best perk to leaving London?
“The traffic is so much easier to deal with! Everything is up and working now; people have found the transition rather easy and we’re all very happy with the set-up.”