Tag Archives: TV Production

From Small Town to Tinsel Town: How Does the NAB Show Help Students Achieve Their Career Goals?

As part of the Digital Media Leadership program at the University of Northern Iowa, some of us are fortunate enough to be able to attend the National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB) in Las Vegas. The addition of a set of sessions called “Post Production World University”, the 2016 NAB Show has placed a special emphasis on young professionals and the association’s desire to help them succeed. But does attending the NAB Show actually help students succeed in their careers? We think it does.

NAB Show PanelThe media industry is constantly evolving and upgrading. At the University of Northern Iowa we have access to multiple editing platforms and HD cameras. This practical experience is incredibly valuable, but having the opportunity to talk and meet with current media professionals and get advice for college students and recent graduates about the media world is something far beyond what we can expect from our day to day work in the traditional classroom setting. The ability to learn from masters of their craft and other currently successful members of the industry-this is what students gain at the NAB Show.

Whether a student plans on pursuing production, distribution, marketing, or any other career in the media industry, they will be able to find useful information at the NAB Show. While the sessions aimed at young professionals are designated as part of a “Post Production” conference, topics like “10 Rookie Portfolio Mistakes to Avoid” and “Understanding Intellectual Property” are vital to success in the media industry. The NAB Show is also a tremendous source of inspiration for those of us who are just breaking into the industry. Seeing successful creatives tell their stories, share their techniques, and give advice offers students who attend a leg up on other young professionals by learning certain tricks and tools of the trade at the conference rather than picking them up on the job.

NAB GoPro Booth   Canon Exhibit NAB Show

Personally, we are very excited to talk with individuals who work on large Hollywood films and ask them their advice for young professionals. Coming from a small state with few ties to Hollywood, other than being the birthplace of John Wayne, we plan to ask the speakers at these sessions what specific steps they took on their career path that led them to where they are and if they would recommend we try to follow a similar path. We hope to learn not only tips on how to be successful in the world of big-budget filmmaking, but also advice on what not to do or mistakes to avoid making.

It’s plain to see that students have a lot to gain from attending the NAB Show, especially students with ambitious career goals. Giving us the opportunity to attend the conference is just one of the ways that UNI is making our personal goals achievable.

Carly Beisel, Mackenzi Brophy, Olivia Guns

Broadcasting in 4K: Just a Matter of Time?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, you’ve probably heard something about 4K.  4K is something that has been around for years in the film industry.  The term comes from 35mm film and “4K” is referring to the number of vertical lines in the resolution.  As explained in the video below, 4K is 4 times the resolution of our typical 1080p HDTVs.  4K TVs (or UHDTVs) began rolling out into the consumer market in 2013, and as with any new tech, initial sales have been slow.  Now, in 2014, as these UHDTVs are becoming more mainstream and more affordable, broadcasting companies are starting to figure out how to broadcast this new high resolution.  But there are some challenges that go along with this, as expected.  For one, the bit rate itself is giant.  It takes 8 times the bandwidth of typical broadcast HD to push a 4K signal. The key to broadcasting in this new resolution will be next generation compression with HEVC.

5391099_origThe next generation of video compression standard is upon us.  HEVC is the successor to our commonly used H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codecs.  Using science, HEVC has been developed to make 4K resolution (and other resolutions), still look amazing while drastically reducing the overall file sizes.  See the video below for a more visual explanation of the process.

Now that you know a little bit about 4K and HEVC, it might not seem like broadcasting in 4K is very far away.  I believe we will start seeing 4K broadcast distribution sometime in the next year, maybe even by the 2014 holiday season.  Along with that idea, we may even see 4K distribution through streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Instant around the same time.  These are some of the topics on which I intend to ask questions about and hopefully gain some inside information on at this year’s NAB Convention, which I will be attending in Las Vegas early next week.

I will update this article below with my findings soon.

Rob Bauer

Who’s Running the Show? Television’s Writer-Producers

Showrunners have a huge impact on television shows and how everything happens, hence the name showrunner. In fact, a showrunner outranks the television show director in all respects. What does a showrunner do? That is a good question! An article in The Hollywood Reporter The Top 50 Showrunners of 2012 gives a great breakdown of what the best showrunners do, and how their strategies lead to some of the best shows on television!

The Hollywood Reporter article discusses how a showrunner has direct responsibility for the day-to-day creative output of a scripted TV show that has aired for at least one full season. The showrunner also has to think about the show’s Nielsen ratings, especially relative to other shows on the same network, and to Emmy attention and critical praise. 

New GirlThe New Girl airs on FOX on Tuesday’s at 8pm. The showrunners discussed changes in casting, beginning with the pilot episode. In the pilot, there was a character named Coach who was the third roommate. In the next episode, however, he was replaced by a new character named Winston. The show changed as a result.

For the AMC hit The Walking Dead, a previous showrunner, Glen Marazza, wanted to make some major changes to the show, by killing off the infant child of a main character. The network did not like that idea, nor did the show’s producers, and he was soon released from the show. The new showrunner Scott Gimple, has done a great job in pleasing the network, the producers and the audience, which continues to grow.

Walking Dead

Showrunners are literally running the show. They take care of all aspects of the show and work to make that show successful. What are your favorite shows, and what do you know about who’s actually running the show?

– Sammy Kaster

What’s REAL About Reality Shows?

They are dominating networks everywhere and viewers just can’t get enough.  From dating shows, talent competitions, and personal exposure, reality TV has definitely proven over the years that it is here to stay.  But, have reality shows gone too far, taking parody and satire to the extreme?  And more importantly, are we wrong for watching?

Reality shows continue to stay relevant because they provide an endless amount of questions such as: “Are we what we watch?” “Are these shows abusive?” and “Is it ok because it’s not us who are the ones looking crazy?” These shows allow viewers to escape the issues in their everyday lives such as the failure of the economy and problems within their own homes.  Viewers enjoy feeling better about their own lives watching others live destructively.  Reality shows let the viewer know that things are not so bad and that there is somebody who is always worse off.

blog2“The Best Funeral Ever” is one of TLC’s newest money-makers on their Sunday night lineup.  This show glorifies the home-going celebrations of the deceased by putting together themed funerals, such as baby back ribs BBQ shindig where an oversized grill serves as a casket.  It’s quite obvious why this show might raise a few eyebrows.  It has even been known to have carnival themed funerals where the ashes even ride the rides.  Other controversial shows are “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” “Teen Mom,” and a Viewer’s Choice favorite “Toddlers & Tiaras,” which routinely pulls in more than 1 million viewers.  In the summer 2010, “Toddlers & Tiaras” premiered with an audience of 1.2 million. During the 2011 season, “Teen Mom” reached their season high in January with 4 million viewers.  3 million of those were in MTV’s target demographic of 12-34 years old. 

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TLC says when producing content for their network they are only interested in one thing, will people watch.  When people watch, ads are bought and shows stay on the air, simple as that.  The irony of all this is that the same executive producer of these over-the-top, non-educational programs is the same executive producer for “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?”  Hey, at least they covered all their bases.

The manipulation of these shows can be so deceiving that it can make the viewer questions their own values and beliefs.  The amount of heavy editing creates programs that are sometimes more artificial than the scripted primetime shows.  Here are the Five Biggest Lies that we are fed by our beloved reality shows courtesy of one critic.

  1. They have No Social Message – These people should be looked at as pure entertainers for our viewing pleasure and nothing more.  Women are constantly told ‘how to get a man’ (i.e. The Bachelor) and how to be submissive.  These shows play into the many social biases that surround us and we eat it right up.
  2. They Liberate People from stereotypes and bigotry – It’s like taking one step forward, only to move 3 steps back.  Fascinating drama and humor comes at a price and we watch it every day.
  3. They Dominate TV because viewers want them – What you probably don’t know is that many poorly rated reality shows only exist because they can cost 50-75% less than scripted programs and benefit from revenue streams such as product placement and endorsement deals.  They are merely filling airtime and money has been made long before shows reach our living rooms.
  4. Today’s audience is too sophisticated for manipulation by producers – Producers like to think that content is acceptable because the consumer “knows better”.  The term ‘frankenbiting’ is defined in media as stitching together bits of conversations over time to create scenes which may be partly or completely fabricated.  Pure deception at its finest.
  5. Critical thinking about reality shows means rejecting them – Let’s not be afraid to get educated!  We are human and need our daily dose of entertainment just as much as the next man and that is ok.  Knowing the facts and differentiating between fiction and non-fiction is key here and producers are preying on the weak.

Will I stop watching reality shows? Heck no! The fascination is undeniable however, they are not for everyone and what’s REAL must be understood.

Brandi Fields

Producing with Integrity

Most of us have seen the lower case or capital “e i” on the upper right hand side of the television screen for select children’s shows. I have learned that ensuring that a show is both educational and informative is only the beginning when producing programming for children. In fact, it is necessary to have integrity as well, and to be extremely meticulous in all three of these aspects of production.

In fact, I have seen this best demonstrated by the children’s television programs produced by the independent television company I am interning with. These programs promote education and literacy by featuring them in different segments throughout each episode. In one program, children from all over the country and world are invited to submit their original writing. The producers of the program make sure to read all stories submitted. Once a story is selected, a script is written for it. The scriptwriter is very careful to maintain the structural integrity of each story and anything written by the child is attributed to them. They also ensure that proper and inoffensive language is used and maintained throughout the script. The family of each child is then informed that their child’s story has been selected. After the producer has approved the final script, the costuming and sets are designed.

The producers of this program make sure to dot every “I” and cross every “T,” even down to the correct pronunciation and gender of the selected story’s author.  Although, this takes a lot of time, I have seen how extremely valuable these extra steps are to the child and their family.  During the production of the show, correct grammar and pronunciation are also checked and changed if needed.  In the production phase of the show, the child’s story is brought to life by the talented skills of professional actors. Finally, in post-production, the show is edited, special effects and all of the final touches are made to perfect the show. After the final cut of the show has been made, the child’s family is mailed a DVD of the show and receives a call to inform them when the show will be broadcast. This has been done for over 1500 children.

Although, this is just one case study, I have learned through observation—more than anything, integrity and responsibility are vital as a producer/media manager. In this case, not only is the producer responsible for including educational elements in each show while maintaining the story’s integrity; but they are also responsible for making each subsequent season as valuable to the child and audience as the first.

– Tamara John