Community TV productions

Now that community TV has started up again, this time without the curse of ACE TV hanging over it like the sword of Damocles, I'm bound to get some more enquiries related to community TV production work (as happened before ACE's brief stint with a license).  So I'll provide some canned responses to the usual queries, but do feel free to ask specific questions.

Will I provide equipment/expertise/whatever for free or cheaply?

As a general rule, “no” (which includes being “credited” instead of being paid for services rendered—normally you credit people as well as pay them).  I can't work for free, or I don't get to eat, and I can't pay my bills (which includes not being able to do paid work because I'm occupied with work for someone who isn't paying me).  Nor can I provide equipment at a rate that doesn't pay for its maintenance and replacement.  Community TV may be your interest, but this is my livelihood.

However, I do occasionally give some advice and assistance for free, if it doesn't put me out, or you manage to catch my enthusiasm.  I have been known to support productions, when there is something in it for me (e.g. I've done contra-deals where I've provided some equipment, and they've either provided some other equipment or crew for one of my productions).  And I do keep some old, but still serviceable, equipment that's okay for community TV work, and isn't expensive to hire.

If you're feeling adventurous, you could try something like the following:  Find a local football club that wants a match filming, that can pay for it, and give you permission to film them (or a theatrical performance, a concert, etc., but these tend to have recording rights complications).  Find sufficient crew for a multi-camera shoot (at least two people), find someone with a van, and hire equipment from me cheaply, on the proviso that you'll provide crew and a van for one of my jobs as a contra-deal.  You'll get training on the job, a decent production, a foot in the door for other work with me, and get paid for it, too (the last part depends on how much you can convince your client to pay to be filmed—equipment, any expenses, yourself, plus others).

And why might you do that, rather than arrange it some other way?  They might not want you to take all their gear away from their studio.  You can get all the equipmented needed from the one place, it works, and you have a someone (me) to make it (the equipment and the production) work without any hitches.  There's no conflict of interest (I'm not a member).  The not-for-profit ethos of the station isn't a part of the equation.  And from what I've seen of the current community television station equipment in Adelaide, they can't do a live multi-camera recording on location properly (you'd be cobbling domestic/prosumer equipment together in a convoluted and unreliable manner, and you don't have everything that you need).  Likewise, the experience level of many of the volunteer staff that work in community television doesn't cover that sort of work; mine's technical and production, and includes live-to-air broadcasting.

Contemplating it?  Contact me.  I'd suggest by phone, rather than other methods, as there's a number of logistical issues you'd need to work through that just get too convoluted, and delayed, for doing through e-mail going back and forth.

Will I provide equipment for unsupervised use?

Generally, “no,” though I'm not so precious about some of the older equipment.  I've found that even under supervision people break things, but that being supervised means the difference between repairable and irrepairable damage.  As far as I'm concerned, my supervision only needs to be extended to technical set-up and technical operation (the role of the “technical director”), I'm not interested in taking over and directing, though I can do just about any behind the camera job that you don't have your own crew for.

Will I provide equipment to unskilled operators?

Again, the usual answer is “no.”  Though it's not too hard to train people how to use (and how not to break) the equipment.  It's up to you to get organised enough to arrange this before you need to hire something.  I've spent years teaching people most aspects of television production from scratch.  It's not hard to teach most people the basics.  At a pinch, we can get people up to the task of doing basic filming with about an hour of preparation.  The obvious training period is to film a rehearsal of a performance.  But the catch is that you need to get the gear in and set it up, before.

What sort of community television work have I done before?

I provided the complete multi-camera video production facilities to one of the prior community television groups, SCAT (for SCAT's second test broadcast), as well as training their crew, beforehand.  Subsequent taping work with the same group of people during the next Fringe Festival (a five-camera production in the Lion Bar, in the Lion Arts Centre), 5MMM's thirteenth birthday celebrations at the Old Queens Arms (three-camera video taping of various bands), and Space Trash (a two-camera studio-style recording of a pilot episode for a soap opera, filmed at Angle Park and the Lion Arts Centre), to mention just a few.  My pages about community television in Adelaide provide a bit more information.

As you might be able to tell, I'm geared up towards multi-camera location work.  If this is the sort of production work that you're interested in, and would like to be able to arrive at a location with just about everything needed to do the job in one hit, then speak to me.

What sort of equipment can I provide?

This is a quick listing of some of the equipment I currently have available (below), but you probably should have a look at the equipment hire page for more information.

The newer equipment:

Some older equipment:


Why spend money on a community television production?

Of course that's up to you.  There are various ways you can produce programmes without having to spend much money, though there are times when you find that you can't get the facilities or expertise you want for free, or they're completely booked out.  The situation's probably a bit similar for community radio:  They'll have facilities to produce programs, but if you had a band that wanted to record something and have it aired, you'd probably have to produce it separately.

When I was involved with the SCAT mob they encouraged people to use them to produce TV, but the following group to broadcast (ACE) went in the other direction (refusing access to equipment, refusing to broadcast live television, charging extortionate fees, etc.).  Groups had to provide their own production facilities, or hire someone else's.  I don't know how the current mob are going to arrange things, but I'll guess that there's probably going to be more demand for production facilities than they can, or will, provide.

For some people they want to produce a program, their interest is in their show; they'd rather have the technicalities taken care of for them.  Others have an interest in the technicalities than the presentation, so you can find some people who will produce shows for free or on the cheap.  But they often have limited facilities (it takes money to build up studio production facilities, and you can't do that if you don't get paid).  I can fit into both of those scenarios, and others (like providing facilities and training novice crew to do their own productions).  And I've been told that I'm one of the few places that you could get almost everything that you need for a multi-camera production in one hit.

If you're contemplating recording production, and you're not sure of what might be involved, or aren't familiar with different ways of doing it, you might want to read my page about video recording productions.  It outlines some of the different approaches, and some of the problems that they may have.  It does pay to think though how you're going to do something, as what might seem like it's going to be cheap might actually cost you a lot in post-production, and what sounds like an expensive way to film (e.g. multi-camera, with several crewmembers) can actually be cheaper as far less post-production work is necessary (e.g. one day of fully crewed work might finish a job, compared to several days of single-camera filming, or a collection of uncoordinated cameras, and a week or more of post-production, etc.).  Television stations do live multi-camera shows, because they can, and it's efficient (it's instant, flexible, relatively cheap, etc.).  Conversely, the magazine style shows are often produced days or weeks in advance, because it takes that long to complete them.

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