Show Partners Finds Economies of Scale With NEP

In producing big-ticket shows, economies of scale can help keep costs down and create more-efficient productions. When producing Million Dollar Challenge and The Big Game for Fox, Show Partners did just that, setting up a single stage and producing both shows back to back over the course of a month.

“We set up, taped Million Dollar Challenge for six days, struck the scenic, reconfigured the lighting, put in the new set for The Big Game, and then taped for six more days,” explains Larry Rogers, president of Show Partners. “We have done some poker shows back to back, but we had not done these two back to back.”

Producing the two shows one after the other reduced the amount of travel time and budget required to fly crew members out to the site, as well as the rental cost of trucks and equipment.

“Our costs were reduced as we spread them over two shows,” Rogers says. “Even though we were there for a longer period of time, it becomes more cost-effective to do the shows back to back. The shows are similar enough that we reduced the setup time for the second event because most of the prep, like hanging the lighting grid, was already done for the first event.”

Using NEP’s SS18 and Super B units, along with some detail-oriented engineering planning, Show Partners was able to prepare the routers, intercom, and other infrastructure so that minimal adjustments were required as the team moved from one show to the next.

“In order to actually realize the economies of scale, you have to get it planned properly,” Rogers adds. “There were a lot of unique aspects to this, as we used XDCAM tape machines and Flash XDR from Inertia Unlimited to streamline the recording and make an easier workflow for postproduction.”

Neither of the NEP units arrived equipped with Sony XDCAM, so Show Partners prebuilt a tape room into the tape room of Super B, rather than SS18, and used SS18’s tape room for a statistics and analysis crew.

“We were able to have the Super B tape room built and sorted when the truck arrived on-site, and that saved us time,” Rogers says. “Then we used SS18’s tape area for our statistical and card information, which is a seven-person setup. Normally, they would either be outboarded or in a separate room, like the graphics room of the B unit, but, because Super B has the infrastructure to deal with an entire tape room, we chose to utilize that space.”

The biggest challenge facing Rogers’ team In realizing economies of scale is more personal than technical.

“Everybody’s away from home, and we get tired,” he says, “even the locals. We shoot 10-14 hours a day for six days. When you have more than 100 people working that many hours a day, we have to make sure we do things like relief crews and make sure people get breaks. To have a good show, you need to make sure you can help people stay focused on what they’re doing.”

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