HD breaks more ground in reality programming on ABC’s new series The Benefactor, in which billionaire businessman Mark Cuban gives away a million dollars to one of 16 contestants. Matchframe Video, one of the largest independent post houses in Los Angeles, was tapped for post-production on a show that had footage coming from every direction and format-all within the tight confines of a network schedule.
Bill Admans, senior editor and HD finishing artist at Matchframe, has been on The Benefactor team from the very beginning, even during the early stages of pre-production. "Even before we had secured the contract, we started doing the tests based upon what the show would need," said Admans. One of the biggest challenges was juggling SD and HD formats. The show is about 90 percent HDCAM-shot, Admans says, but has "countless pickup shots, from hidden pencil cameras to handheld field cameras – even low-end digital cameras and stock footage," notes Admans. The variety of formats led Admans to post the show entirely using Matchframe’s Avid DS Nitris editing system- including heavy amounts of compositing and color-correction.
One of the keys to the show’s success in post came from DNxHD, Avid’s new 10-bit codec. "We have about 40 percent more media than if we were doing a drama show of the same duration," says Admans. "The neat thing about [DNxHD] is that I could bring in much larger handles on the footage. Consequently, when revisions to the show came in, we only had to do minimal additional digitizing." The show was mastered in 1080i, with lower-resolution material upresed on a Teranex system.
Is HD the next technological wave for reality shows? For Admans, the answer is a resounding yes. "Without a doubt, the industry is going HD," notes Admans. "Last year all the primetime dramas and sitcoms on the major networks switched over to HD. This year, it’s the reality shows."