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Cover Story: Posting Reality TV Programs

Cover Story: Posting Reality TV Programs

by caristewart on December 22, 2010

Post Magazine, March, 2009

By: Christine Bunish

Now well entrenched on broadcast and cable networks, reality programming has expanded beyond competition-based shows to include documentary-style series and real-life help panels, which require post production workflows tailored to their individual needs.


Hollywood’s Base Productions produces a slate of documentary-style reality shows that currently includes the second season of Known Universe which airs on National Geographic TV, the second season of Sports Science on Fox Sportsnet, and the second season of Crime 360 on A&E.

“Our signature look is really high-quality production and CG, and we spend a lot of time on our mixes and sound design,” reports director of post production Scott Bramble. The shows are unscripted. “When they set up a task for the athletes in Sports Science they don’t know the result,” he says. “For Crime 360 we follow the homicide detectives through the process from day one, whether they solve the case or not. New evidence can surface and red herrings can wreak havoc on a post production schedule.”

“Since our shows are very effects driven and have fast-paced cuts, the mix plays a huge part,” Bramble notes. “There’s hardly any [sound] downtime on shows — music, whooshes, drones, sound effects all drive the pacing of the shows forward.” A lot of sound design begins in-house as a road map for mixer Blaine Stewart at Post Plus Sound, who replaces or refines elements on his Digidesign Pro Tools system. He delivers some shows in 5.1 surround and others in standard four-channel.

Once shows are locked in offline they move to color correction with freelance colorist Eric Stolze, who uses Synthetic Aperture’s Color Finesse plug-in. Then Swanson tweaks and polishes the cuts, adding any last-minute CG sequences.

“The process is really all about juggling multiple formats in a short amount of time and being as efficient as possible when each show has different needs and delivery specs,” says Bramble.

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