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April 2014
Issue: March 1, 2011

Post Script: Reality TV

By: Marc Loftus

I don’t watch a whole lot of TV. For the most part, cable news plays in the background as I focus on any number of different hobbies — usually in a different room. 

But, when I do find time to sit in front of the set, I find myself gravitating toward unscripted programming. Not the Kardashians or the Real Housewives, but the shows you’d find on History, Discovery and A&E. Sons of Guns is pretty cool, but I think it’s probably a guy thing. Hoarders and Confessions: Animal Hoarding are just downright disturbing. 

This month, I had a chance to talk with a number of post pros who are working on reality programs. Fred Ruckel and his wife Natasha produced and posted a show detailing their new home’s construction. They used Panasonic P2 cameras and had a transfer station set up on location to move media off cards, allowing them to return to the field for acquisition. Most reality TV series are being shot on tape, do in part to the vast amount of footage that’s acquired for even a single episode. But, Panasonic recently reduced the prices of their P2 media (see page 9), so maybe more reality shows will use this solid state technology for acquisition. Time will tell.

Terry Curren and the team at AlphaDogs in Burbank are veterans when it comes to post production for reality programs. The studio has numerous shows to its credit, but just completed work on its first series that was shot using the Red camera. Check out our feature on page 18 to read Curren’s comments on why Red is, or isn’t, a practical choice for the run-and-gun style that so many of these series follow. 

In related news, Philadelphia-based production/post house Shooters recently launched ShootersTV, a new reality/non-scripted content division. ShootersTV has signed a deal with Peleton Entertainment, a NYC television agency that represents producers working in the reality and documentary arenas. 

The initiative follows Shooters’ successful co-development and production of original shows for Food Network, including Dinner: Impossible. According to ShootersTV editor Scott Markowitz, the plan is to leverage the studio’s resources to create less technical barriers for the editorial team. That includes using a proprietary system that keeps all of its field cameras and mics perfectly synced, and performing offline editing using Avid Media Composers.