A day of job shadowing on Digital Village, BBC Bristol

My mentor, Tina, who had a friend, Brenda Sweet working in BBC Bristol. She contacted her, so we could ask the post-production facility, the Digiatl Village, for work experience. As Tina got the contact to Jane Greenwood, who is in charge of the Digital Village, we managed to arrange a day visit on 3rd March. Tina was also arranged to have a day off, so she could pick up from my flat to Bristol.

On 3rd March, Tina and I arrived to the Digital Village at BBC Bristol. We met Jane, whose role was to make sure everyone was doing their jobs. At the ground floor of the Village, there were a group of digital technicians and each one have a diiferent roles. First, there was a meeting discussing what they were doing now and what there needs to be done. Before the meeting, we met Kat who worked as a digital technician according to my information. Her role was organising the old programme footage onto the tapes and plave them in a library, possibly a shelf.

Matt ingest the footage, needed for the editing. There were Final Cut Pro 7, a version before Final Cut Pro X, and the machines where you put the film tape cassettes. He used them to convert the footage (in cassettes) to digital files. He had the information, from the people who looked at the footage, which were timecodes from start to finish, so he could get the clips they needed. Organisation was a vital skill for his role and even for those who worked in both the Village and BBC. I saw the footage of Steve Backshall with the goat herder, which I think it may be filmed at least few years ago. BBC Bristol has been mainly known for making nature documentaries which I remember seeing their logo at the credits of a nature documentary. Anyway, Matt let me had a go on ingesting the footage.

The digital technicians worked on the ground floor, the editng support and the editing department worked on the second floor. In the editing support, there were a recent graduate, Manus and an apprentice Dom working there. Manus earned a degree of music and sound, and since November last year, Dom started the apprenticeship for only a year. Both of their roles were to provide guidance and help for the editors, and they could also do a bit of editing if the editors couldn't able to get it done.

On the equipment and editing software, there were cameras used for filming; Canon C300, the most common camera to use in TV industry, Sony PMV 500, Canon XF 305, P2 2700 and P2 3700. BBC used the Panasonic cameras which you get the footage on cassettes before the digital cameras. These camera were already old and they will be expected to be replaced. For the Village, they used Final Cut Pro 7 both for organising and editing. There was also Adobe Premiere Pro, a more popular choice on editing however they only used Final Cut Pro X for the news because it was quick to edit. There were issues with Final Cut Pro for instance; the crashes which the editing support were already became experts on how to deal these issues. Recently, they used Final Cut Pro X for editng an episode from Flog! series as an experiment. BBC used to have Avid long before Adobe Premiere Pro took over.

The Village recently made a new role which was sort of a media adminstrator. The main reason for this was that the guy, who was still working for media management in BBC Bristol, wasn't able to do two jobs at the same time. Ed, who was doing the new role, organisig media, ingested files, back up files on hard drives, deleting or keeping media files in archive tapes. He showed the footage from Frozen Planet including the behind-the-scenes and those that didn't get in the finalised version. He started working in the Village, five years ago, from ingest footage to sorting out stuff including time lapses (another role in the Village). He did editing support for a few months before he got the new role. He recently accepted a job in Doghouse Productions, a post-production company in Bristol, and planned to leave BBC this year because he wanted to do something different.

In Kaz's role, she sorted out the digital library and made sure the settings for footage was right for example; the framerate. If the footage has a H.264 codec, they had to be converted into Pro Res by using Adobe Media Encoder. So they could be placed in the library. Kaz also use Cinema Tools to conform the footage that have more or less than 25 frames per second, in order to get 25 fps on the footage. As I mentioned a role of organising time lapses, the time lapses were the shots where the camera sets up to take a photo every second or ten seconds or even more. Then use all of the photos to create a fast sequence. They showed me some of the time lapses from Life Story series, which came out in October last year.

After Tina and I looked at the editing department, we met Steve Williams who was working on the sound editing of one of the episodes in the new series of 'Antiques Roadshow'. He won a BAFTA for Best Sound for a programme featuring David Attenborough. He used Pro Tools for editng the sound, before we came over, the director and producer came to have a look and they were impressed however he wanted to improve the sound a little. For instance; there was a loud sound of a bell ringing during the dialogue. He managed to make the bell sound a bit quieter, so the viewer would not find the sound annoying or interrupting the dialogue. There was an issue in the sound when the host was walking down, we could hear a noise which came from a clip microphone. He couldn't get a good sound because this was in a long shot, so during filming, they couldn't use boom mics to get the sound.

We came back to the editing support team to see what they do. Manus has been given a job which the editors couldn't get it done. This was to convert video files, from a set of DVDs, into mp3 files. The mp3 files has to be put underneath the finished cuts of 'Wild & Weird' series on Final Cut Pro 7. He had to make sure the sound synced well with the cut. After he had done a few, he let me have a go and he showed me how it's done and how to use the skills to get the work done quickly. When I finished with it, Dom showed me more of the editing skills as he organises the footage from Frozen Planet and I had a go on that as well. I noticed the similarities between Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Pro X.

At the end, unfortunatly I couldn't get a proper work experience for unknown reasons however I enjoyed and learnt a lot about the diferent roles and skills needed for the roles. The team at the Village were impressed with me and I think it was because I am a quick learner despite it took a while for them, as digital technicians and editing support, to learn and know the skills.