Behind the scenes of Ginnaste, Vite Parallele

Ginnaste, Vite Parallele (Gymnasts, Parallel Lives) is a successful TV programme based on an original format aired by Italian MTV. 2012 sees the broadcast of a second series, produced by Fremantle Media, one of the biggest TV production companies in Italy.

Fremantle Media producer, Rachele Fontanesi, comments: “The idea was born from a contact with Centro Tecnico Federale di Ginnastica (Italian Gymnastic Federation) of Milan – that is the place where athletes live and train the whole year long – and also because MTV had asked Fremantle for some new format ideas to schedule. So this new experiment was born in 2011 and Ginnaste, Vite Parallele was broadcast during the year with such a quick and notable success [that it has been] repeated and [expanded] this year.”

The first series described the long and tiring training sessions, international competitions, the selections (including the resulting conflicts and friendship) and school issues. It was well-received and a second season was commissioned immediately.

The production group was organised and moved from Rome to Milan, working to a ‘docu-reality’ format. The director went to live side by side with the athletes and started shooting with a portable camera, followed by two other cameras as support.

The TV crews were very agile, made up of just a filmmaker using a Panasonic AG-HMC151E camera, which is very light and can be used for many hours without tiring out the camera operator.

The athletes belong to the Italian National Gym Team and spend their lives together. The show follows the arc of their sporting lives and even tracks them to major competitions, including the European Championships and the London Olympics.

Three cameras and many shooting hours per day resulted in an incredible quantity of video material delivered to the MTV production centre in Milan. Here the material was reviewed by two directors, who commence the long process of selection in order to shape the series’ key plotlines.

In a sense, it’s a workflow that is in reverse to the traditional one since there is no script before shooting and the ‘actors on the scene’ are actually not acting at all. It may only be after many hours of reviewing material that the directors are able to compile an episode and then, in time, a full series. For the first season 30 episodes of 30 minutes each were created, while in the second there are 40 episodes, each again of 30 minutes in duration.

Rachele Fontanesi remarks: “There is no playing; it is no fiction; the athletes are not acting a part. Our images just describe their sports and competition life, which is something unique, unknown and interesting . This is an uncommon choice of life; they left their parents and homes to live together for gym [training] and a sports career.”

After receiving all material on SD, it is loaded onto a server within the post-production centre and is available to the two directors, who assess all material and select the sequences to be used. They then prepare some rough edits that the craft editors will follow to shape the episodes on Final Cut.

All export is then published on DIGITAL Betacam and addressed to the MTV TX department for transmission in via Belli in Milan. All graphics are supplied by MTV and the editing areas insert what they need to, so every episode is complete before transmission.

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