IPad Tablets Changing Broadcasting

Everywhere you look these days programme teams are utilising the IPad tablet whether it’s Jake Humphrey during Formula One coverage or Richard Bacon on radio five live.

In some respects it has replaced the good old clip board to hold important show content and pink sheets, and of course as a presenter or producer you can use it to manage the direct and immediate link with the audience through social networking possibilities.

More so though the BBC is finding ways to harness tablet PC’s that effect programme production teams and the end user.

For the viewer they recently tested with 300 viewers the TV Companion idea.  It provides extra content as the programme airs via a second screen, a browser or an IPad tablet.  It recognises that people use their laptops or Ipads while watching TV programmes.

TV Companion allows a viewer to access extra user content during the programme run time.  The possibilities of this are huge, as a viewer you can only access extra content while the programme is on air and for the programme provider as an extra incentive to keep someone with you.

Imagine if you will the X Factor giving away a song performance of that night for free as an incentive for viewers / browsers.  Imagine also the opportunity for advertisers and revenue generation linked to ‘on-time’ browsing of programme generated content.

Of course the BBC objective is provision of extra programme content as a pull towards the BBC’s additional online content.  It was recently tested successfully with 300 viewers of their Autumn Watch programme.  Watch this space for more form the BBC and copycat from commercial operators.

I can also see how this can be used with radio content as well, we have the rather excellent radio player, what if that could also give you additional content as a listener, an exclusive interview or version of a song recorded for a particular broadcaster.

The BBC is a superb place for innovation another of their ideas is using the Ipad with a Portable Production Tools.

The R&D team are building production tools and content platforms that are designed to work with the production teams in programme making.  BBC software designers like Paul Harter, have been working on Portable Production Tools (PPT) for the iPad.

They are designed for production teams to use between filming and the editing suite, where during the production process and down time between the shoot and when the team get access to the editing suite.  PPT provides an opportunity to edit on the move before getting to the main production studio.

The BBC decided to develop their own proprietary app and they built it from iOS libraries as opposed to using Apples IPad Movie software.  This has provided an agile and exacting piece of software that allows production share content easily.

Using the PPT the production teams upload their rushes from the shoot to a central server along with metadata relating to the programme content.  They can then push this to a 64GB iPad, which can cater for 200 hours of material.  Content is encoded into H.264 and can be adjusted to improve quality and performance.

Once content is on the tablet, the editors, directors and other production staff can pull, cut and edit the material as they see fit, including shifting scenes into thumbnails in preparatory for the editing suite.  They can also include notes in Meta form to annotate specific edits.  After which all the details can feed into the main edit suite into Final Cut Pro and Avid.

If you watch the show ‘Mongrels’ the ‘Muppet’ inspired comedy about dogs and animals you’ll have seen a show that used this new PPT editing tool.

The question has to be what were the production teams doing with their down time before the PPT came into effect?  And has it improved edit times and final production of programmes.

I wonder if the BBC R&D team will develop ideas for radio production, I can think of several instances where a PPT tool could be useful.

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