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Tornado Productions – a corporate profile

Tornado Productions was formed on 1st July 1999 when Gavin Starks brought together six people with the right skills and experience to create a compelling business proposition for the emerging media market: a broadcast-quality digital media convergence consultancy and webcasting production company. From day one, the team's remit was to create a company with three main aims, each with an emphasis on media convergence:

1. to provide production and hosting facilities for streaming media content
2. to build a distribution network and content management system for that network
3. to become a content portal for media created by third parties, perhaps even by Tornado itself

With these aims in mind, the team went on to write its business plan. This culminated in the company's incorporation on 15th September 1999.

One of Tornado's first projects was an eight-day webcast for Sportal.net's scrum.com site. This project was immediate proof of concept that, based on extensive in-house skills, the Tornado team could professionally manage the creation, integration and webcast of up to fifteen video clips a day, all amidst crowds of merry rugby supporters! Since then, Tornado has gone from strength to strength across many target markets, providing first class video production, webcasting, web design and integration services to the likes of Ginger Media, Rapido TV, Virgin Mobile, Motley Fool and Artists Direct.

Tornado is dedicated to supporting the Arts. Clients include the Tate Gallery, the Institute of Contemporary Arts and Axiom. In the pipeline are projects with the South Bank Centre, Badejo Arts and the Moral Support theatre group.

Gavin Starks was a founder of the the European chapter of the International Webcasting Association (IWA) in 1997. Tornado Productions has a strong global association through this by Gavin's representation on their Board in the UK and US and at the key international conferences. Gavin spoke at Streaming Media Europe on the future of digital media convergence on behalf of Tornado Productions and represented the IWA as Tornado Productions at Streaming Media West, the leading conference in this field with more than 8000 delegates.

To illustrate Tornado Productions' activities - here a project description:
Sportal appointed Tornado Productions to webcast events relating to the 1999 Rugby World Cup to be published on its rugby website, Scrum.com. Sportal came up with the concept of the Pubcast, a broadcast based at a pub or bar during major sporting events, and worked with Tornado to realise this concept. Pubcasts reflect the atmosphere of sporting events in the form of a 'video fanzine'.
Based at The Stoop Rugby ground in Twickenham, The Rugby World Cup Pubcast included Haka chanting and rugby ball kicking competitions, fans' jokes and songs, comments on the progress of the Tournament by players and coaches, karaoke and crowd reactions. On the day of the final, Tornado sent crews to both London and Paris to soak up the excitement of the Australian and French fans.

A typical day's Pubcast:
Rather than carry out a live webcast, Sportal and Tornado decided to stagger the uploading of footage onto scrum.com throughout the day. This allowed Tornado to edit short and snappy clips for the site, and to weed out any unsuitable footage (such as profanities and racist comments) before it was published.

8.00am: Crew arrives onsite at the Stoop Rugby Ground, Twickenham.
8.30am: Pre-production meeting
9.00am: Studio lighting, camera and computer equipment installed onsite.
10.30am: Camera crew filming in the streets of Twickenham to obtain fan's comments on the match day ahead.
11.30am: First batch of day's video rushes checked and edited as Harlequins players are interviewed on camera.
12.30pm: First batch of video encoded and published to Scrum.com
1.30pm: Start of match. Harlequin's interviews checked, edited and encoded.
3.00pm: End of match. Camera crew film fans in the Rugby Club bar.
4.00pm: Final footage edited, encoded and published to Scrum.com.
5.30pm: Getout


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