Reality TV: Sideshow streamlines pilot production
Issue: February 1, 2017

Reality TV: Sideshow streamlines pilot production

SANTA MONICA — Sideshow Studios ( is using virtual production technology to create game show pilots, social experiment reality programming and competition shows. The process eliminates the need to build physical sets while still giving programming a high production value.

“This process affords producers incredible flexibility in post to make refinements to the format, change in-show electronics, graphics or overall set design to realize even more cost savings,” says Peter Bailey, Sideshow Studios’ co-founder and CEO. “Our extensive experience with this production technique allows us to create realistic and amazing environments for composited live action and animated gameplay that result in truly engaging formats.”

Sideshow produces live-action shows employing a large, 180-degree greenscreen stage. They create 3D sets and model props, screens, and lighting, along with show electronics. Realtime monitors provide contestants with a way to follow along.  

In addition to live-action pilots, Sideshow has also used animation as a production tool, including on OhSit!. Warner Horizon Studios ordered the animated pilot for the competition game show, citing the vast cost savings over building a practical set for the pilot. According to Phil Gurin, head of the Gurin Company, it was the fastest sale to date for the company. OhSit! aired on The CW. 

“We pay extreme attention to technical directing, ensuring contestants are accurately placed in the virtual set and cameras are positioned and measured correctly,” says Bailey. “In addition, with this technique, we can create wide sweeping show-open jib shots that establish the set and  allows us to push into gameplay to communicate format scope, excitement and comedy.”

Sideshow is currently working on four other Gurin competition reality game shows, including Time Crunch with Craig Ferguson.

For Apploff Entertainment and NBC, Sideshow worked on QuizUp, a format based on the popular mobile app. The studio has also developed an immersive 360-degree virtual reality pre-visualization solution that serves as a major component of its pre-production, production and post production services package.