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Streamline Your Production Pipeline

Want to produce great shows on-time and on-budget? Re-evaluate your production pipeline to break up time-consuming tasks.

Tweaking the Process When It's Already Too Late

Eventually, they did work to speed up the process a bit, but because they did not think through the process beforehand and separate the stages, there was no way to overlap or "double up" what was happening. They could not have a performance in front of the judges while also shooting a pre- or post-performance interview. These different stages really needed to be split apart.

So we slogged through it, everyone clearly getting weary as we went past midnight. Camera moves slowed down. The calling slowed down. Mistakes were made as everyone just plain wore out. The quality of the show suffered.

Finally at 2am, we had our final contestant. Yes. 2am. Needless to say, the contestants were tired too, but at least they were able to take a nap during the day while waiting.

Anthony Burokas
It's midnight and we're not done yet.

How to Break Down the Process

The next episode of American Idol I watched was a revelation. The crowds were there at dawn. They processed tens of thousands of people. Hundreds went before the judges. And when they did their little highlight on the "last contestant of the day," I noted that the sun was still shining through the windows. It was low, near dinner time. But the Idol crews know how to break the process down to make sure things don't get bottle necked.

My takeaway was this: when looking at a large-scale production, of any kind, isolate the biggest, most time-consuming chunk. For us, it was the on-stage performances and judging. Do not connect anything to this stage. Make sure everything around it can happen independently.

In the chart shown below, I drew out their design for production. Contestants waited only once. After that, the entire production crew waited on a single contestant to pass through the chain. By breaking it up, we could have each stage of the production pipeline working at the same time, and the contestants would have a shorter wait at each stage.

Production Pipeline Chart

Arranging things to happen at the same time increases overall productivity.

For them, this would have required having a separate director and gear for the pre- and post-performance interviews--or just recording in-camera and cut it in post. This way, we could stack up the performers before the judges and have the performances one after the other with no waiting.