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Old September 11th, 2009, 02:16 PM   #1
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Shooting a pilot for the Travel Channel - Need portable gear

Hey all!

I've got a client that wants to shoot a pilot show for the Travel Channel. I'm looking at getting more portable gear. I've got gear for studio and small distance on-location shoots, but nothing that would do well in a plane.

I currently own a Canon XH-A1 and a HV20. I'm looking at switching to 2 Panasonic HMC150's and a Canon HFS100 so I can have a SDHC workflow.

I'm also looking at getting an assortment of Litepanels to replace my Britek light kit.

I'm also considering a small Steadicam...perhaps the Merlin.

I have a Rode NTG-3 but I'll need to pick up some lavalieres too.

Any other thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks!
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Old September 11th, 2009, 03:05 PM   #2
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I would see what technical requirements are for Travel Channel or a parent company. Unless you have long lasting relationship with channel your technical specs must be 100% correct or it will get rejected. AVCHD doesn't fit the standard. Most places require 2/3" chip camera.
Here is a link to BBC page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/commissioning/production/hd.shtml
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Old September 11th, 2009, 03:09 PM   #3
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Robert is right but I *think* Travel Channel with take XDcam and if the subject matter is right they might take HDV.

I would contact them and ask them for the tech specs before you do anything else.
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Old September 11th, 2009, 03:54 PM   #4
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Dumb question: does a PILOT need to meet the technical specifications required for a series? Pilots are normally proof of concept and seldom get aired.
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Old September 11th, 2009, 05:22 PM   #5
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Shaun,
Good question. I was contracted to do a pilot earlier this year and although the project fell thru (darn it) when I contact the stations the people were thinking of airing on i was told that they wanted the pilot (actually not a pilot but a *demo* show) to be of the same tech spec that the on-air shows would be. Maybe it was just them or not, I don't know but I would think that would be another good question to ask.
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Old September 11th, 2009, 07:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemmich View Post
Pilots are normally proof of concept and seldom get aired.
Depends on the network. Pilots are less proof of concept than proof you know what you're doing and can deliver a show that meets their standards, both creatively and technically.

At every Network or Studio I've been with, the pilots almost always get aired eventually. Although sometimes that only means "Bonus Features" in the DVD release.

Demos are different.
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Old September 11th, 2009, 11:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
Dumb question: does a PILOT need to meet the technical specifications required for a series? Pilots are normally proof of concept and seldom get aired.
Shaun, it depends. If you have good track record, it doesn't. But a new hire it has. They want to see if you can produce, even your technical ability.
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Old September 11th, 2009, 11:56 PM   #8
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Travel Channel do lots of their shows in HDV, No Reservation as an exemple, there have been some mazgazine articles on the equipment they use, do a search on this site , you should find the links.
I would do the pilot as close as what the final product is intended to look like.
By making the wrong choice of equipment you may help selling your client concept while eliminating yourself of the project.
I am travelling in India for 4 months with a Canon XH a1 and a HV30, 2 sets of Senn Ge 2 and Rode NTG2 and 1 Videomic.
For lights I have a Coollight LED and recommand you to look at them , they are very well built and still light and well pack in a soft case provided by Cool Lights. And they are very affordable (at least than 500$). I should have bought 2. I use the Manfrotto 001 stand for the light. I also have a Vidled Deluxe and a Micro litepanels.
I have been on the road for 2 weeks, we are 2 and so far so good.
Good luck with your project.
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Old September 12th, 2009, 11:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Morane View Post
Travel Channel do lots of their shows in HDV, No Reservation as an exemple, there have been some mazgazine articles on the equipment they use, do a search on this site , you should find the links.
Robert, do you know what kind of post production process do they use? I know even Discovery will allow HDV (Deadliest Catch), as their bronze program, but I have heard that it is quite complex process in post-production facility to deliver the content. Any thoughts on this?
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Old September 14th, 2009, 01:23 AM   #10
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No I don"t know. you should contact them. My strategy would be to avoid the tech department and talk with someone directly involved in a specific production (find wich one may be closer to your own project). When directly and openly approach people tend to be quite generous with information,
Also keep in mind that when a show becomes a big success , they get more involved and tend to spend more on production and post, So make sure to compare their top rating show with their smaller ones.
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Old September 14th, 2009, 08:29 AM   #11
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Thanks a ton! This is great info for my to present my client.

In the link that Robert Rogoz posted from BBC, the indicated that they would accept the RED One for independent productions. I'm wondering if they would accept the 2/3" Scarlet when it comes out?
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Old September 15th, 2009, 04:58 AM   #12
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Since the Travel Channel is part of the Discovery network go to Discovery Channel | Producer's Guide and scroll down to the HD and SD Technical Specs form and download it. The information you need will be there. And yes pilots should meet their tech specs.
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Old September 15th, 2009, 12:08 PM   #13
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Two things: the link above is for Discovery Canada, which isn't the same as Discovery Channel in the US; it specifically sends you to another site for US submissions.

And Travel is not part of the Discovery Networks in the US, at least not yet. I believe Discovery are making a bid to absorb Travel, but Travel has different ownership at the moment.

Here's the link to Travel's Producer page in the US, but it says you have to be a contracted producer to get to the content:

Producer's Passport

Edit: I registered my company with them and got to some of the key pages. Here's a really important note for the OP:

"Please note that Travel Channel is not accepting unsolicited proposals at this time. Any unsolicited pitches and materials submitted will be returned or discarded unread."

and, when you go to their policies page, you get:

"We're sorry, only users that associated with greenlit companies have access to these areas."

So although this doesn't go to the original question about tech specs and equipment, it does go to the things I've posted many, many times before: Unless you have been asked to produce a show, contracted to do so with the Network and are being paid to do so, it isn't a pilot. It's just a hobby that you're trying to get someone interested in, and you have almost no chance of doing so without a track record. If you do in fact have a contract, all the tech specs and requirements will be explained to you at the time you sign the deal.

Not to belabor this, but here is some more key info from the site, which I suspect holds true for must US networks:

Quote:
Please refer to your Production Agreement to determine the method of delivery.

SUBMITTING AN IDEA
What if I'm not a Producer, but I have a good idea?
TCM will only consider proposals from production companies, accredited scientists, and research/scientific organizations. If you do not meet one of these criteria, but wish to pursue your idea further, we suggest that you contact a production company.

Can you recommend a production company I can contact or let me know who you prefer to work with?
TCM collaborates with hundreds of production companies and thus does not make recommendations.

How do I break into the business?
You may want to contact a university or college for information about their television and communication courses. Or, you may want to consult an industry publication such as Real Screen or Broadcasting and Cable for further information.
Again, if you already have a Production Deal with them I apologize. But if that's the case you should already have all the technical info you seek.
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Old September 15th, 2009, 02:54 PM   #14
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I'm pretty sure The Travel Channel follow the same guidelines as Discovery. So for a regular HD commission the entry point is the Silver category which really means XDCAM EX as the minimum. You can often get dispensations to use cameras in the Bronze category but you have to demonstrate why you have to use HDV and can't use a camera from Silver and above. Cost is rarely accepted as a good reason. Good reasons would be "the Camera will get destroyed" or "We need to shoot covertly" or "It would be impossible to use a larger camera", but not "because it's all we can afford".
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Old September 15th, 2009, 08:10 PM   #15
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Respectfully, the Travel Channel has "a service agreement with Discovery Communications, L.L.C. to manage Library Services, Technical Evaluation, etc." So it's not a big step to a partnership/ownership. The link is to Discovery Canada which is majority owned by Discovery Communications and the tech specs for Discovery Canada are the same as Discovery US.

As Alister said the Sony EX is the minimum camera for your shoot and Adam's points are well taken but often ignored by those "breaking into the business." Having shot many times for Discovery, Nat Geo, etc. the EX is the bottom end camera they prefer, with XDCAM HD (50 Mb/s data rate) or HDCAM being the preferred format. The exceptions for Z1's etc. are limited and can't be for more than 25% of the total program.
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