Mediapason Group evolves new autonomous production model with Top Calcio 24
From its HQ in Milan, the Mediapason Group – which is home to channels such as Antenna 3, Telelombardia, Milanow, Top Taste, Top Tech and Top Musica – has evolved an intriguing new TV production model which has recently yielded a new channel, Top Calcio 24.
Initiated on DTT, the channel is a synthesis of modern television production. From the traditional production scheme in studio, which usually involves at least 15 technicians, they shift in favour of a very lean personnel approach. In fact, there is only one journalist, who in addition to reading the news and interviewing guests is able to operate all the equipment required to go on-air. The television production scheme launched by Top Calcio 24 is very up to date as it allows large-scale savings and enhanced optimisation of resources.
The channel is basically a spin-off derived from the great experience of production and transmission of channels like Telelombardia and Antenna 3, which are also dedicated to the production of sports content. Top Calcio 24, as the name suggests, is dedicated to the major sporting events of the day as determined by the sports editors, enhanced with insights, interviews, previews and news material pertaining to the world of soccer. Top Calcio 24 is also the third channel in terms of audience in Lombardy.
Behind the scenes
Sandro Franchini and Riccardo Colella, who are responsible for the technical structure, outlined the evolution in technologies involved in the development of this channel.
“From seven in the morning, one reporter prepares a minimum number of news on his personal computer in the editorial office, on the topics of the day,” says Franchini. “Then he enters into the study, turns on the lights of the set, sits at his desk and, thanks to [automation] of the playout, he receives the line and goes on the air. He begins to comment, and is able to manage the cameras and the calls of the viewers, while the latest news flows on the sides of the screen. He may also interview a studio guest, lead the press review from the web, and also becomes the director and video mixer of his transmission.
“He actually operates on his own a couple of remote control panels on his desk, placed left and right of his monitor, and cuts between the cameras in the studio.”
“The proprietary engineering involved in this interesting project – which attracted the attention of many other broadcasters ‘on a pilgrimage’ to witness – has resulted in the creation of solutions capable of controlling all necessary functions of a typical TV direction, both in audio and in video. In addition, the telephone hybrids are activated for live spectators’ comments.
“By these remotes, a mouse and a keyboard, the journalist is able to do everything, including the airing of clip contributions and photographs. He can also write headlines and captions on the fly.
“In the shooting studio we placed a few small motorized PTZ cameras by Panasonic, already appropriately oriented and with auto-iris. They capture the journalist, who can choose which camera to air. Of course, the normal advertising entries are scheduled and aired thanks to the prepared playout.
“In practice, the journalist is able to operate just like the commercial radio DJ who [often] made radio programmes on his own, commenting and directly operating all the equipment.”
Riccardo Colella adds: “The investment in technology has been low since the control systems required are in practice only the remote control functions of the equipment already present in the tech area – [and on top of that] it was enough to just use some special interfaces. A little bit of training for journalists and the whole thing turned out to be a winning idea that has paid off in no time.
“This production scheme was then extended to all the planning of Top Calcio 24 and Milanow channels, yielding an interesting television production model that allows large-scale savings and extreme optimisation of resources.”