Normally when you ask people what they do for work, a high percentage of them work on a full time contract. This event was to try and get all those who don't fit into that percentage in a room together, to network and show off MediaCity:UK's new buildings at Salford Quays, Greater Manchester, UK.
The event was run by http://www.bectu.org.uk and http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/bbcnorth to aid the link up with the huge amount of craft freelancers the North West (and East) has to offer.
The phrase "North West" being used by the BBC and The Studios was questioned by some of the freelancers who had travelled from the East for the event, who said they would travel over here to work, so they wanted to make sure they weren't just using the Granada region to search for workers. This prompted the response that "BBC North" covers all the way across the sides of the isle, but also upto the Scottish borders, and that they were looking for freelancers that would work in the area, not just living here. This seemed to have a positive but subdued response from the audience.
The evening was split up into separate portions of intros, networking and question and answers; with little stalls set out from BBC Childrens, BBC Health and Safety, The Farm, and BECTU. Having been to the Women In Tech's Networking meeting a few weeks earlier, I was expecting more of the elaborate stalls and staff to talk to from all the relevant departments based at the BBC North, however this didn’t seem to bother anyone. The normal feeling of being 1 of about 12 ladies in a room of 100+ was back, and a very different contrast of environment, this was very interesting as both of these events had taken place in exactly the same venue.
Areas BBCNorth are looking for craft freelancers in seems to focus on Sport, Childrens, Vision and Production, with The Farm and Fac365 dealing with the majority of the bookings. They are using Gallowglass for designers, backdrop workers etc. and there will still be some element of direct bookings from the BBC Production Managers internally.
So moving on to the technical bit that I promised those followers on twitter. The programmes and the formats...
Radio Broadcasting - VCS, playout and edit software - Startrap, Craft editors - Sadie and Pro Tools
News Television - studios presentation - Quantel to record and edit, Qcut, Final Cut Pro for craft editing
News Radio and Networking programmes - VCS
Sport - EVS, ipdirector, with FCP for craft editing
For Vision and Childrens they have the use of the 30FCP edit suites in house and 10studios.
For long-form production are using DMI, Fabric (very exciting purpose built for the BBC) for archive, production tools, and as a reporting tool.
*Fabric is based on Premiere Pro editing software and is being produced with Adobe. This enables rough cutting at desktop by almost anyone, before using the costly post budget. This doesn't come without it's long list of pros and cons though. For an idea of how this works in terms of processes, here are some slides from the DMI project that works on Fabric.
For acquisitions the default options seem to be HD AVCI100 and SD IMEX
, DVCPRO100, for News the PMW-500, and smaller cameras for production crew are Sony1500 and Canon305, with the general format being mp2.
As the majority of the cutting is now done on either Fabric on Final Cut Pro, this seems to be the default programme to work on and send on prior to delivery, This raised the question of what format they were using and if they were planning to upgrade any time soon. The internal editing suites with FCP are managed by The Farm externally, which might seem a little weird at first but when the kit goes down, or an error message pops up, who is best experienced to fix it? The suites run FCP7 and there is no immediate plan to upgrade to X, as they feel that they are happy and financially better off to keep with 7 as a stable solid programme. Think what you will of that.
Overall the session was very interesting and useful too. I even signed up to be a BECTU member, so hopefully that will be a mine of information and support too. For those of you who are interested in the formats and preferred vision devices, this has been helpful as I’m very much aware finding this definitive information is pretty darn impossible.